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Walking the Americas: 1,800 Miles, Eight…

Walking the Americas: 1,800 Miles, Eight Countries, and One Incredible…

by Levison Wood

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Don't get your hopes up--the author no more walked from Point Barrow to Patagonia than you or I did; he explains this, a tad lamely, by protesting that his other books are titled with verb phrases which end with a one-word geographic locale and that "Walking Central America" would destroy that admittedly poetic symmetry. Anyway, what he did do is impressive enough, if only because in the course of his walk from the Yucatan to Colombia he crossed the forbidding Darien Gap; I've never read a traveller's account which didn't bypass its perils by boat.

This is a very successful book, though it's not particularly easy to see, let alone explain, why. Until they get to to the point in the Darien where the Pan-American Highway deadends at a wall, there is only occasional danger, and what there is the author underplays with minimal drama. He has, or at least exhibits, little personality or introspection, the people he encounters are occasionally surly but almost never threatening, and for the most part he gets along with his Mexican travelling companion as well as could be expected during such an lengthy, arduous time together. But the book nonetheless manages to be fascinating; I was especially surprised by the abrupt changes in national personality as soon as they crossed a border, since to outsiders Central American countries tend to run together. And his enlistment of the aid of an extremely recalcitrant combination of Panamanian military bureaucracy and local indigines to achieve his dream of walking the Darien is one of the great page-turners, as is, of course, the trek itself. All in all the book is a pleasure to recommend. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Jul 21, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've often wondered what it is about the Brits who seem to be compelled to venture off on what appear to be hair brained adventures. Maybe it's a natural inclination to venture out from a small, crowded island. or a remnant of their old colonial adventures, but they always seem to be out searching for an adventure. Levison Woods whose previous excursions have included venturing the entire length of the Nile River and climbing some of the tallest peaks in the Himalayas, this time embarks on an 1800 mile walk from the Yucatan to Colombia with an artist friend from Mexico.

Along the way he comes across indiginous tribes in Mexico, revolutionaries in a refugee camp in Nicaragua, fellow explorers on similar adventures and immigrants from such odd places as Nepal & Pakistan trying to make their way to the United States. He forges relationships with the military in various countries to ease the path of his journey, yet still comes across scary natural obstacles like quicksand, flooding rains and dangerous wildlife finally navigating the Darian Gap between Panama and Colombia know for smugglers and its wild jungle.

All through his journey, Wood relates stories of the history and customs of the countries he's passing through making this both an interesting volume of history as well as a great arm chair journey ( )
  etxgardener | May 30, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book through the LT early reviewers. I love audiobooks because I am commuting two hours a day. At first this one turned me off. First because the narrator sounds pretentious and snobby, which didn't at all match my expectations of the author. And second, because it got off to a slow start. But once we were walking the Americas, I really enjoyed it. The descriptions of the people and villages were on point, and he did a great job of picking up on the cultural differences between one country and the next. I only wish I were half as bold as the two walkers. What an experience. I learned a lot about immigrants, poverty, wildlife, drug smugglers, and local delicacies. ( )
  andrea58 | May 29, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm just getting back into a routine of taking a nice long walk daily, now that the weather is finally nice. I find that travel memoirs on audio are perfect companions for these walks, and even better when the author is walking along with you through their narrative. I admittedly don't know much about Central America -- it's not a topic to be addressed much in the American school system, other than a brief bit about the Aztecs and Mayas when leading up to a lesson about the Spanish Conquistadors. Without that prior knowledge, I really had no idea what to expect, and was delighted in what I read. I'll definitely be delving into some of the history he mentioned, such as the Scottish settlement in Darien, Panama, and the United States' continuous involvement in Nicaragua. I'll also look into the author's other travelogues. ( )
  Ltwente | May 17, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This audio book was a true delight! In addition to being a fascinating recounting of the author's four month long trek across Central America, the book also folds in fascinating historical information. The style reminded me of the works of Bill Bryson, one of my favorite authors. Fantastic narration by Barnaby Edwards brings Wood's tale to life beautifully. If you enjoy history and travelogues, this one is for you. ( )
  ficmuse | May 7, 2018 |
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Walking the Americas , Wood chronicles his latest exhilarating adventure: an 1,800-mile trek across the spine of the Americas, through eight countries, from Mexico to Colombia. Beginning in the Yucat?n-and moving south through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama-Wood's journey takes him from sleepy barrios to glamorous cities to Mayan ruins lying unexcavated in the wilderness. Wood encounters indigenous tribes in Mexico, revolutionaries in a Nicaraguan refugee camp, fellow explorers, and migrants heading toward the United States. The relationships he forges along the way are at the heart of his travels-and the personal histories, cultures, and popular legends he discovers paint a riveting history of Mexico and Central America. While contending with the region's natural obstacles like quicksand, flashfloods, and dangerous wildlife, he also partakes in family meals with local hosts, learns to build an emergency shelter, negotiates awkward run-ins with policemen, and witnesses the surreal beauty of Central America's landscapes, from cascading waterfalls and sunny beaches to the spectacular ridgelines of the Honduran highlands. Finally, Wood attempts to cross one of the world's most impenetrable borders: the Dari?n Gap route from Panama into South America, a notorious smuggling passage and the wildest jungle he has ever navigated. One of the rawest and most exciting journeys of his life, this expedition required every ounce of Wood's strength and guile to survive. Walking the Americas is a thrilling personal tale, an accomplished piece of cultural reportage, and a breathtaking journey across some of the most diverse and unpredictable regions on earth.… (more)

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