The author was literally born for this. Writing and living an adventurous life. You can tell from his words and his sentences. you read this book in one deep breath and you forget about the rest of your small world. His curiosity and eagerness of understanding the real truth about the most remote God's forgotten country and people, from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone, is overwhelming and contagious. Mr Pelton goes in search of the unknown and brings it before your eyes with the most amazing richness language, witty observation, and thoughtful literal references. There is a lot of deep personal thoughts on life and what bring us to do certain things that other would not understand, like his need for adventure like his lifeblood! But the phrase I most loved was : - I pause when I’m asked, “Is there anywhere you fear going?” But I don’t tell them that my greatest fear is not having a place to return to. That I will lose one side of my balancing pole and go reeling off into the darkness below."
I believe this is what is happening in most of the hard core travellers like myself. I would recommend this book if you are an adventurer or if you wish you were ( like me) and if you love good writing... sorry, great writing.
Liberia and Sierra Leone have no future, no hope, only the constant nihilistic friction of dissonant cultures. There is the South. A land of safaris, superficial civilization, careening economies, and Western influence. A land unraveling in chaos on its east and west extremities as well as in its center. There are the Great Lakes, the countries that border the Great Rift Valley, the cradle of man and the wellspring of the Apocalypse. Here colonial influence still flutters, ripped and bloodstained in the wind. A land where there has been a great war between the Nilotics and Bantus but no one dares to intervene. A place so devolved that there is no law, no hope, no money, no future. Only warfare and survival. This is an abandoned world of mildewed, looted architecture and kids with bloodshot eyes wielding AKs with the stocks sawed off. For years I had carefully taped, untaped, and retaped the three Michelin maps that make up the entire continent of Africa on my walls. This giant map of Africa formed a six-foot idol that always sat facing my bed in my bachelor life. When I began married life, I carefully untaped and refolded each map, taking great pains to not lose the hours of visual adventure they contained. When I talked to people about my fascination with the “dark continent,” I was warned off by everyone I consulted. First my doctor went over a long list of incurable tropic parasites that awaited me: snail-borne parasites that burrow through your skin to stay lodged in your large intestine for life; insects that lay parasitic eggs inside your body that emerge from a blister in your leg (when you can’t stand it anymore you can pull out the three-foot-long worm, but only a bit at a time using a small stick to twist the worm around); worms that live inside your eyeball until you mercifully go blind; maggots that grow under your skin and eat your flesh; spinal meningitis that comes from the wind off the Sahara; strange diseases from monkey bites; quinine-resistant malaria from tiny mosquitoes. How much did I want to hear before I gave up my crazy idea? My travel agent would talk about plane crashes and hijacking. Fellow travelers all had tales of horror, and newspapers were full of stories about war, famine, revolution, and slaughter. Still, despite my new life as a businessman, creative dynamo, and family man, something was tugging at me. Someday I would go to Africa.
I watched the bowl of the horizon shift through the spectrum of dawn, and by the time the sun glanced across the water I had made up my mind. I could smell Africa and it was calling me.
My life’s work was to leave something behind that would echo and resonate beyond a brief flash of light. It was time to live like the wind and then to die like thunder.
The morning dawns cold and blustery gray clouds scud across the Victorian rooftops. As I walk through Hyde Park, cavalry officers exercise their horses. I pass pale yellow daffodils and brilliant green lawns. The scene of blanketed cavalry officers along Rotten Row could almost be a hundred years earlier. I have chosen to start my trip to Borneo here in this gray place at the heart of adventure. Just as young people are thrilled by the launch of the space shuttle, a hundred years ago this was a place that stirred souls and sent adventurers into the unknown.
To understand the soul of the adventurer, you cannot just browse through his journals, notes, and maps. You have to look him straight in the face to find out why he made the hard choice between reading about adventure and living it. It is not surprising that, trapped on this small island and smothered by rules, class, and blandness, England’s best have ventured into the most far-flung regions of the world.COLLAPSE