The Wander Year

Week 40 of the 2018 Reading Challenge

Book about travel—The Wander Year—Mike McIntyre

I’m behind again after going to my sister’s for a week. She lives in Salt Lake City, UT, and I read while I was there, but didn’t finish the book I was reading, so I can’t use it as a

Oh, I also bought a stack of books, but left them at her house because they wouldn’t fit in my bag :~( My folks are driving out there in the spring and will bring them home for me.

Anyway, this book is a kindle book I got a while ago, and haven’t read. The stories were originally a series in the Los Angeles Times, but they were beefed up a little for the book.

Mike and Andrea decided to leave their home, jobs, and pets to travel the world for a year, exploring some new places, and visiting others they’d been to before. They bought about half a year’s worth of plane tickets, so some of their travel was planned out, but some of it was also done on the fly.

Probably because Mike and Andrea are adults, they don’t do some of the stupid/destructive things that younger people are doing these days, with the “what happens in (whatever country) stays in (whatever country)” attitude.

That’s not to say that they don’t do anything fun or exciting. They certainly do. They try to travel cheaply, but not so cheaply that they are willing to stay in nasty lodgings. They go on fairly challenging hikes, they interact with people in places they visit, even knowing that they’ll sometimes be cheated.

They (just Mike actually, Andrea stayed outside in case he needed someone to call for assistance) even visited the San Pedro prison in Bolivia, a prison run entirely by the inmates which is like a little town that one can tour.

I was sort of expecting one of those travel books where they have a massive budget and you finish the book thinking, “I could never do that.” But this book was pretty doable. Well, other than the price they paid for carpets.

When Mike was given the job of writing columns about his travels, it was agreed that he would be real about it. He wouldn’t write only the good, but also the bad and the in between. Some of his descriptions feel very familiar. Like when he talks about a 105 mile bus trip in Bolivia which can take anywhere from six hours to a lifetime.

He continues with this thought: “Here’s the dirty little secret of travel in less wealthy nations. You often entrust your life to someone you might not trust to watch your baggage. Your perception of risk is warped. You worry about disease, violence, and terrorism, but what you should truly fear is any man with a wheel in his hands.”

There were a few things that bothered me…Particularly the chapter about bullfighting and the ballet. I definitely skipped large pieces of it when he started to get way too graphic about bullfighting. I don’t need those images in my head.

And, while he came to the conclusion that bullfighting is wrong, and even your cheap tickets come at a huge price, it took him six times going to see bullfights to decide that (not six times while writing this book, only one is covered in the book).

Also, eating llama meat after spending the day taking pictures of them. But I realize that a lot of non vegetarians like to see their food while it is alive, and even like to select the animal they will eat. Mike at least had the decency to kind of feel bad.

The book has a fair bit of repetition, but I think this is mostly due to the fact that it was originally newspaper columns, so he’d repeat a bit for those who hadn’t read previously. It’s not a terrible amount of repetition, just a bit at the start of chapters especially.

The book wraps up with some of the lessons they learned on the trip. One of my favourites is when Mike is talking about their interactions with people in China, and he says, “Our governments may disagree, but these people did not feel like my enemy.” An important thing to remember while traveling.

And looking back later, their opinion of India vastly improved :~)

I like that they give a by the numbers list of their trip. From expenses to countries visited, to most expensive and inexpensive meals and lodging.

If you’re interested in world travel, check this book out. It’s a good one.



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