Travel Narratives

Che and Jack Agree. It's All About Movement.

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. -Robert Louis Stevenson

In the last two years, I read two books I found interesting (though not astounding) by two men with fetishes for movement. I found their stories ones I would only enjoy vicariously, but I definitely related to their desires to be on the road. Reading both of these at times I was myself on the move, maybe this is why they resonated.

Today, I wanted to highlight some of of their passages. Please welcome Che Guevara and Jack Kerouac.

Che Guevara on Movement

[The following are excerpts from Che's Motorcycle Diaries.]

It is there, in the final moments, for people whose farthest horizon has always been tomorrow, that one comprehends the profound tragedy circumscribing the life of the proletariat the world over.

Before Ernesto (a.k.a. Che) was conducting guerilla warfare across Latin America, he was motoring across it as a spry 23 year-old with a passion to move. This passion, as I recall reading this on my Big Journey, was the catalyst for his narratives as well as their downfall. While some of his adventures were exciting and exotic, some of his daily jottings were as thrilling as, "We drove all day Tuesday and found a little place connected to a restaurant to crash for the night. The next day we got up and fixed La Poderosa and rode all day until we found another place to sleep." Riveting.

There we understood that our vocation, our true vocation, was to move for eternity along the roads and seas of the world.

The real appeal for me was the idea of jetting across an expansive and diverse continent like South America. He crossed the Andes, met up with the Amazon River, and drank his mate in between long excursions on the open road.

What we had in common - our restlessness, our impassioned spirits, and a love for the open road.

Ernesto blazed these numerous trails with his friend Alberto Granado, but unsurprisingly, he met many people along the way with which to relate his impulses. While on my own excursions, I've often pondered the connective thread between all wandering souls, and though I think it's got to be more detailed and profound than his above description, I think Che is onto something.

What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two; melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land.

Are we that move the ones most lost or most in tune with the nomadic nature of man?

Jack Kerouac on Movement

[The following are excerpts from Jack's On The Road.]

We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one noble function of the time, move. (Part 2, Ch. 6)

This is word-jazz, a book that makes the classics list and calls for a straight-through reading session. This novel was more favorable to me when I read more pages in one sitting, because it has a flow, almost like reading Virginia Woolf for its realtime, stream of consciousness rhythm. Just as Jack rode stripes across the continent, he blazed through his own narrative, moving faster than his headlights.

Why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see? (Part 2, Ch. 6)

I admire Kerouac’s drive to find an honest and original form of expression, just like Van Gogh. For me, that’s what makes this book a classic.

What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies. (Part 2, Ch. 8 )

Reading this novel while on the World Traveler Intern, his descriptions like the one above made so much sense. I couldn't process the speed and activity of each day, but I kept leaning forward awaiting the next day. It was about a whirlwind, not the simple digestion of one experience.

They have worries, they're counting the miles, they're thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they'll get there--and all the time they'll get there anyway, you see. (Part 3, Ch. 5)

Profound, Jack.

Our battered suitcases were were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. (Part 3, Ch. 5)

Jack was impassioned by the constant change. I think my brain starts to trip around when I think of a stretch of road as symbolic of far more than the pavement ahead.

What's your road, man?--holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow. (Part 4, Ch. 1)

Though Jack's antics and tendencies went against the accepted norm in America at the time, his passion to do so was very American of him, buzzing around the country "nutty with independence."

Behind us lay the whole of America and everything Dean and I had previously known about life, and life on the road. We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic. (Part 4, Ch. 5)

Any lasting thoughts from you on movement and the road? Are you a fan of movement for movement's sake, or are you the anti-Kerouac/Guevara? Does this method of living and traveling make little sense to you? Let's get conceptual here.

Consume & Update: Fear, Soccer, and Post-Production

Back from Mexico and once again with enough time to consume the best travel gummies on the net this week. Sorry my schedule is all higgilty piggilty. Chew away.

Guillebeau Talking for TED

If you're a fan of Chris and his charisma, check out renowned non-conformist's TED talk from Carnegie Melon University. He discusses fear with some intriguing metaphors. What do you think about his message?

Most Celebrated Travel Books

Though I believe Frances Mayes should give it a rest with her lists of flower types and Italian herbs...and Ernesto Guevara could have cut his diaries a couple weeks short...and Elizabeth Gilbert got a wee too much publicity for her travel trifecta, I think this comprehensive list of travel books covers some great titles. Check out the entire list on World Hum and let me know which ones you would recommend to fellow narrative-hungry travel readers (cough, cough...me).

Most Celebrated Travel Books

Most Celebrated Travel Books

Why We Call It Soccer

Thank you, Nat Geo Traveler, for finally solving the mystery. Why do we call football soccer (or, inversely, why do others call soccer football)? Alas, we have an answer:

After some digging, I'm happy to report the following: Apparently American's word for football is a shortened version of Assoccer, an abbreviation of "Association Football," the term given the game as it was played at elite British boys' schools in the 1860s. "Assoccer" became "soccer" and the name somewhat stuck as it served to distinguish it from rugby-rules football.

As players, coaches, sailors, and the enthusiastic exported the game around the world courtesy of the British Empire, local languages appropriated "football" as a loan word. For example, the Spanish fútbol doesn't literally combine the Spanish words for "foot" and "ball" but is an approximation of the British word for the ever-popular game. The game came to U.S. shores in the late 19th century and was called "football" in the U.S. until after World War II when the increasing popularity of the National Football League (NFL) prompted a change in name. Where English is a country's first language, "football" often refers to the most popular form of football in that country. Only three English-speaking FIFA countries refer to the game as "soccer": the U.S., Samoa, and Canada.

Now we know.

Tony's New Book and 100th Episode

I compulsively document Big T's new blog posts, this one being no exception to the rule. I love the flow of his travel writing - even his travel writing that isn't about travel per se. After releasing his second book, entitled Medium Raw, he reflects on the tiresome, yet pivotal, regimen of self-promotion across the country, as well as the ambiance during production of his 100th episode (in Paris).

I've heard Tony didn't necessarily meet the expectations of various travel bloggers with the new book, and I'm sort of glad. If he's a cook, a traveler, and a writer, why can't he write about cooking (and the unexpected celeb chef phenomenon) without focusing about travel? Why would people assume his book would be about his travel tales and woes when the blurb on the front reads:

A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

Lay off, people. He's still a better writer than the vast majority of us.

Other Discoveries

Lion Burgers? Really, Arizona? Strike two.

This guy's just walkin.

The Michael Palin interview with World Hum

“Backpackers aren’t the bad guys. It really boils down to how we travel, and what the legacy is of that. We are guests in another culture, so the issue isn’t how do we stop tourism, the issue is how do we get it right.”

Problogger: 8 Habits of Highly Excellent Bloggers

Update on Nomadderwhere

Back Home Again

Back Home Again

Judging purely by my intense slumbers upon returning to Indiana, you'd think I slept not at all throughout production in Mexico. I was entirely pooped, and to compound it, my mom dragged me to the Indy Night Ride, which started at 11pm and took us for 20 miles around downtown Indianapolis by night. My butt bones hate life today.

Since I was too busy to read up on the gems of the internet over the past three weeks, I also wasn't able to recap the work I churned out. Hence, here are the pieces I wrote (or photoblogs I compiled) over the course of production with ProjectExplorer.

Bear with me, people. I'm hoping to get back on schedule soon!

Consume & Update: Tea, Ponies, and Good Reads

After perusing the web for the most interesting goodies, here are my suggested reads and views for the week!

Burning Man Timelapse

World Hum and Eva Holland displayed a video by Ben Wiggins of stunning, time-lapse footage that gives a visual account of Burning Man, an annual art festival that seemingly cannot be truly described by even the most verbose and enlightened minds. Below is an excerpt from the Burning Man website explaining the basics:

"...Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man project, gives a theme to each year, to encourage a common bond to help tie each individual's contribution together in a meaningful way. Participants are encouraged to find a way to help make the theme come alive, whether it is through a large-scale art installation, a theme camp, gifts brought to be given to other individuals, costumes, or any other medium that one comes up with."

The event took place during the first week of September this year, and for many days every travel publication exhibited photo blogs, videos and narratives from the sun-bleached Black Rock Desert location. Of all the attempts to describe this extreme experience, this was the most moving documentation for me.

Carnivorous Countries

Carnivorous Countries

Carnivorous Countries

"GOOD is a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward," and this poignant graphic by GOOD displays the realities of Earth's carnivorous habits. We can see here that the average Kiwi eats the equivalent weight of two burgers, a can of soup, and a Santa Claus each year.

Coffee Houses in a Tea World

I've recently discovered I'm borderline addicted to tea. After purchasing my first load in Darjeeling last year, I got very excited when the Internship brought me back to India for a top-off on my tea stash at home. This blog post from Intelligent Travel comes at a good time for my new obsession and also takes a wee gander at the concept of a coffee house in a tea-centric country.

Speaking of tea...

Trekking in Nepal

Trekking in the Himalayas

Trekking in the Himalayas

"It was 4 a.m. in mid-November, and I was stretching in a lodge in Thorong Phedi, Nepal, at 14,500 feet, trying to pump warmth back into my body and get rid of a throbbing headache brought on by dehydration and altitude sickness. Wolfing down chapati bread with jam and a fried egg, I chased it with pints of hot tea and water, and started to feel better. I knew I was going to need all my strength...Fifteen of us, along with porters and guides, were about to climb Thorong La, a pass 17,769 feet up in the Himalayas." Continue reading...

These stories are always worth the time to read them.

Other Online Discoveries

Be a Reporter at Sea

Day 20: 67 Travel Friendly Jobs

GAP Adventure's Coolest Travel Intern Job...oh really?

Update on Nomadderwhere

A new MacBook Pro now graces my presence, making it easier for me to create the work that I love to do.

I also had two presentations on travel this week in northern Indiana, which both went very well and were quite profitable. By selling hand-knit scarves and ceramics, I was able to collect $220 for the children at Palm Tree to receive more protein and fruit in their diets. I'm so appreciative of everyone who came to these events, listened intently, and found it important to contribute to my causes. Thanks again! The check to Cambodia's Hope is going out this week.

Did you find the Good Reads?

I'm pretty unbalanced when it comes to reading material. All I read are travel narratives, often with an adventurous or humorous twist. The stack on my nightstand is about two feet high with books from BookMooch and the library, all of which I want to read asap. If you enjoy the same genre and need some suggestions, check out my page on Good Reads, where you can find short reviews on all the travel books I can recall and see which have made the list for the future. Though I like brevity of articles and features, nothing beats the total transportation caused by a good book. This is why I aim to write a book myself in the foreseeable future.