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Posts Tagged ‘Dark Star Safari’

        “It’s always better when you give a damn!” – John D. MacDonald

Kim and I with our Tusker's beer after a long, dusty day.

Kim and I with our Tusker’s beer after a long, dusty day.

Theroux Recaptures an African Night

I’m slowly reading Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux. I emphasize slowly because Theroux’s writing cannot be fully appreciated any other way. In the book, he has just crossed into Kenya from Ethiopia, having been shot at by bandits during his journey as a $3 paying passenger aboard a cattle truck whose normal speed is 10 mph because of the pot-holed, boulder-dotted, deep-rutted road.

Our tent in Pornini Camp in Kenya. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Our tent in Pornini Camp in Kenya. — Photo by Pat Bean

When the truck stops for the night in the town of Marsabit, he writes: “I walked around and found a place to stay, the Jey Jey … another three-dollar room. I had a shower in the communal washhouse, then walked to the market, drank a Tusker beer, and talked to some locals, boasting, ‘I got shot at.’ No one was surprised or impressed…”

Reading this flooded my little gray cells with memories. While I wasn’t shot at during my two weeks in Africa, I had experienced Africa’s rough roads (in a Land Rover with English-speaking native guides) and had stayed overnight in Africa (in isolated, but usually luxurious accommodations). But it wasn’t these things that ensnared my brain’s neurons, it was the mention of Tusker Beer.

The sundowner sunset. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The sundowner sunset. — Photo by Pat Bean

After a full day of travel that included crossing the border from Tanzania into Kenya, on roads as rough as Theroux described, I and my traveling companion Kim finally arrived at our tent camp near Amboseli National Park. We were just in time for a Sundowner, a late safari to a scenic spot to watch the sun go down. Still dusty from our day’s drive, we found a spot to park our weary bodies, and were handed a Tusker beer.

It was the perfect ending to an already perfect, if tiring, day. Thanks for the memories Paul. They made thus current non-wandering wanderer smile.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: A Birdy Lunch http://tinyurl.com/n8wmaup This blog makes me want to pack up and head to Costa Rico.

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             “The best travel is a leap in the dark. If the destination were familiar and friendly, what would be the point of going there?” – Paul Theroux

Recent art: Just as writers see through different eyes, so do artists. I call this recent pieces, with it wrong-way leaning trees, Runoff. The scene reminds me of the mountain backdrop in my former Ogden, Utah, home.

Recent art: Just as writers see through different eyes, so do artists. I call this recent piece, with it wrong-way leaning trees, Runoff. The scene reminds me of the mountain backdrop in my former Ogden, Utah, home.

            “There are still too many places to go, too many people to meet, too many good stories to hear, and they all tug at my imagination. Home and away, I see now, are the yin and yang of travel. Both are part of the same journey.” – Catherine Watson One is Not Like the Other I’m not sure how it came to be, because while I’m always reading five or more books at the same time, only one of them is usually a travel book. However, there are currently two in this genre on my reading table, “Dark Star Safari” by Paul Theroux, and “Home on the Road,” by Catherine Watson. Theroux, whom I once heard speak at a writer’s conference, has written over 35 books, his best known being “The Great Railway Bazaar first published in 1975. It’s about a 1973 four-month journey by train from London through Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and a return trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is considered a classic in the travel-writing genre.

I had this scrap of good art paper, 6X11 inches, and decided to do a quick watercolor of some flowers from a photo I posted a week or so ago.  I added the cat  as s surprise.

I had this scrap of good art paper, 6X11 inches, and decided to do a quick watercolor of some flowers from a photo I posted a week or so ago. I added the cat as s surprise.

“Home on the Road” is just Watson’s second book, her first being ”The Road Less Traveled,” which was first published in 2005 –  during the second of my nine years traveling full-time across country in my RV. I’m not sure where I was when I bought the book, but I did so without a second thought. Its title perfectly matched my goal of traveling only backroads and avoiding interstates and freeways as if their paths were flowing lava. Theroux’s writing constantly sends me to an atlas, a dictionary or Wikipedia. I love it, because I’m always learning something new. But the reading is slow; I’m sure the deliciously exotic “Dark Star Safari” will be stuck on my reading table long after “Home on the Road”  is back on my bookshelf or passed along to another reader. Watson’s writing, meanwhile, has a quite familiar flavor to it. Not only are the author and I of the same gender – there is no doubt in my mind but that men and women see and think differently – we also share journalism backgrounds. We’ve learned to seldom use a word readers don’t understand, and we both have the knack of letting a reader stand beside us and see what we are seeing. It’s easy reading — even when the setting is foreign. Both authors are writing award winners, and reading them together and having a prime opportunity to compare their writing styles, is a fantastic writer’s dinner. Like most things in life, it is not that one writing style, or book, is better than the other, just different. I Bean Pat: Gray plovers and ruddy turnstones http://tinyurl.com/ovtg3m9 This blog and photos remind me of the wonderful walks I take with my son Lewis when I visit the Texas Gulf Coast and we walk out on the Quintana Jetty. It is where I saw my first purple sandpiper, plus lots of ruddy turnstones.

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