It’s a long way down from the top of the world,
but somebody had to take the plunge.
Overland From The
Polar Bears To The Penguins
After two years in Canada, Jeroen Vogel decides to travel down to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city on the weather-beaten island of Tierra del Fuego – overland, taking trains and buses from the polar bears all the way to the penguins, and beyond. His grand adventure takes him through fifteen countries – Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina – and gorgeous landscapes. Always trying to improve his basic level of Spanish, he chats with local people, goes off the beaten path, and describes each place without the sugar-coating often found in other travel books.
The bus was fantastic: it had stained seats, the ceiling was cracked and taped, there were holes in the floor, cracks in the back window, the open roof hatch was the air-conditioning, and I was the only foreigner on board.
American Safari combines an adventurous and long journey in the spirit of Paul Theroux with the wit and kind of humour of Bill Bryson, making for great reading for (aspiring) backpackers and armchair travellers alike.
The whore manoeuvred to the door and stood there waiting. The Smuggler pointed at her in a belittling manner; she was his toy, his purchased item, his inferior. He was the man, she was the woman. And was she just chubby, or actually pregnant?
‘She’s a fine girl,’ he said. ‘You can now have sex. I go outside.’
Here is what the editor had to say upon finishing American Safari:
This was an amazingly awesome book! You kept my attention throughout it, which is remarkable for a travel book. I enjoyed that it wasn’t your typical travel book, where authors only go to the touristy places. You went to places that were off the beaten path and that really made it interesting. Your conversations with others that you met enriched your content, making the book more interesting and more enjoyable to read. I enjoyed, too, that you kept it real and down-to-earth. I don’t like travel books where the authors sugar-coat the information. This book was nothing like that and I really appreciated that. You gave a realistic and upbeat description of each place. You enthusiastically said what you loved and candidly pointed out the not-so-great features, often with a spin of humor.
Partially retracing The Old Patagonian Express‘ route of Paul Theroux, Jeroen Vogel met the most remarkable characters, went off the beaten path, travelled from the polar bears to the penguins on public transport, and discovered that adventure is still very much a part of travel in spite of all technology.
This is a travel book that will inspire all travellers, whether they’re on the road, at home in an armchair, planning their own next escapade, or are simply a traveller in spirit. American Safari is destined to become the next classic in the travel writing genre.
In a black-and-white world, the train station’s waiting room was in use. A beggar slept on a wooden seat, unknowing of the train that had just arrived. Outside, the steam, dispensed by the brakes of the carriages, let up, and passengers – peasants, vendors, the poor – hurried through the doors into the waiting room, toward a crowd of hopeful taxi drivers. One man, discernibly bigger than the Colombians around him, wearing glasses and carrying a small suitcase, suddenly, alarmed, turned around and hurried back on board the train. Less than thirty seconds later, he stepped onto the platform once again, pushed his glasses higher up on his nose, and wiped the sweat off his forehead while he carried the leather jacket under his arm he’d just forgotten on the train. Near the wooden door to the waiting room, he overheard a porter and an older man carrying a bag of oranges starting an argument, upon which he placed his shoe on a bench and pretended to tie it while he eavesdropped on their conversation. His name was Paul Theroux, and he was here to write a book…
But when the colour returned, I stood with my nose pressed against the window, envisioning this scene out of The Old Patagonian Express. There was no bespectacled man with a leather jacket. The rail carriages no longer had glass windows, just holes; they were derelict, and had merely been abandoned at the station on the day that the plug was pulled. The waiting room was in use because it was now the local public transit authority’s ticket shop, but the guard wouldn’t let me in when I told him I wanted to go to the trains.
‘The bus,’ he said. ‘Only the bus.’