Tag Archives: South America

An Epic Family Bike Trip Across the Americas

Family Travel

By Jennifer Close

Family Bike Trip in Andes
“Nearing the top of our very first big climb into the Andes. We were terrified of that climb, but made it!”


Book Cover
Destination: North American and South America Bike Ride

Book: Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World by Nancy Sathre-Vogel (NEW 2013)

Over one thousand days.

That is how long it took the Vogel Family to bike from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the end of the world in Argentina, as related in Changing Gears. While that sounds like absolutely no fun to me (let’s face it…I don’t even like a bike trip around the neighborhood), I did find myself identifying with Nancy Sathre-Vogel and her struggles to be the best mother that she could be. Continue reading An Epic Family Bike Trip Across the Americas

Machu Picchu: 100 Years

cuatroañosenflickr At Machu Picchu
At Machu Picchu

Destination: Peru

Book: Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time (NEW: June 2011) by Mark Adams

I’m celebrating the anniversary of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu this week, although for some reason the Peruvian government jumped the gun and celebrated early–on July 8.

Sometimes I really love this job. Once again I am able to read and share a book that amuses, amazes, and inspires the reader to pack her bags and hit the road. In this case a VERY old road in South America, known as The Inca Trail.  There are actually a lot of Inca trails, as Mark Adams discovers in [amazon_link id=”0525952241″ target=”_blank” ]Turn Right at Machu Picchu[/amazon_link]. Continue reading Machu Picchu: 100 Years

Travel Classic Two: Bruce Chatwin

Book Cover: In Patagonia

Destination: Chile and Argentina, South America

Book: In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

Bruce Chatwin uses one of the most engaging opening lines found in travel literature, or any other kind of literature, for that matter, to start In Patagonia (1977).

“In my grandmother’s dining room there was a glass-fronted cabinet and in the cabinet a piece of skin.”

When he asked about the strange object, he was told it was a brontosaurus that had lived in Patagonia in South America, “at the far end of the world.”  The hairy piece of skin becomes what Alfred Hitchcock called the MacGuffin –the object around which the drama builds. As he searches for the true story of the piece of skin, Chatwin develops a fascination for Patagonia which inevitably leads him to the far end of the world.

Patagonia Photo by Davidlohr Bueso

Chatwin tells stories in every paragraph, practically in every sentence.  He has the gift of looking at things in a skewed fashion and seeing them in completely new ways. “About fifty million years ago, when continents were wandering about…” he says. He leaves a museum, “reeling under the blows of Linnaean Latin.”

As he works his way south through Argentina and Chile, Chatwin meets with many people whose stories surprise and entertain the reader.  He also tells anecdotes about people who were once here, from Butch Cassidy and his gang to Darwin and his gang. Even Edgar Allan Poe plays a bit part in a story about the real life origins of his story Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. It is surprising the far-reaching impact of this remote place. But particularly, he is interested in the story of Charley Milward, a distant relative who found that piece of skin that was unfortuitously discarded, and of course must be rediscovered–or at least replaced.

Sometimes the journey, mostly on foot and hitchhiking on various decrepit vehicles, is very difficult. Sometimes it is very dangerous, as when a drunken sheepherder plays with his knife and wonders aloud what it would do the a gringo.  But regardless of whether you have the stamina to follow his route on the ground (and numerous travel agents stand ready to help you these days), In Patagonia provides a grand tour to take through reading a great piece of travel literature.

Photo by Davidlohr Bueso from Flickr, under Creative Commons License.