In Trouble Again

by Redmond O'Hanlon | Travel |
ISBN: 0679727140 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingeponine38wing of Winchester, Massachusetts USA on 1/9/2019
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This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingeponine38wing from Winchester, Massachusetts USA on Wednesday, January 09, 2019
With about 25 good-sized cartons of "books I'd like to read someday" and my advancing age, not to mention my agonizingly slow reading rate, I'm paring down to what I might reasonably be able to read in the next few years. So this is one of the books to part with.

I look forward to future readers' comments in order to know what I've missed! :-)

O'Hanlon takes us into the bug-ridden rain forest between the Orinoco and the Amazon--infested with jaguars and piranhas, where men would kill over a bottle of ketchup and where the locals may be the most violent people on earth (next to hockey fans).

Journal Entry 2 by wingeponine38wing at Winchester, Massachusetts USA on Thursday, January 10, 2019

Released 1 yr ago (1/10/2019 UTC) at Winchester, Massachusetts USA


On its way to GoryDetails via US/Canada Wishlist-tag game. Hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, January 14, 2019
The wishlist book arrived safely today; many thanks! I loved the excerpt of O'Hanlon's Into the Heart of Borneo that I read in this Penguin 60s A River in Borneo, and put more of his books on my wishlist in response. Love the ominously-gazing cayman on the cover of this one!

Journal Entry 4 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, January 31, 2019
I really enjoyed this! From the opening line, "Having spent two months traveling in the primary rain forests of Borneo, a four-month journey in between the Orinoco and the Amazon would pose, I thought, no particular problem," the author's snarkiness and apparent naivete was quite entertaining. (His courage and staying power are also admirable; I would have turned back at the very first mass-insect-attack, assuming I'd have gone at all!)

He seems to love traveling in remote, difficult, and dangerous places, reveling in the many different birds, beasts, fish and insects he encounters, and in the wildly varying personalities of the individuals - from the much-put-upon guide to the eerily-competent hunter to the bemused inhabitants of the most remote villages.

Some of the fun comes from the author's attempt to get a traveling companion. He starts with James Fenton, the poet who accompanied him to Borneo: "He would be flattered to be asked. He would be delighted to come." Um... not exactly: "I would not come with you to High Wycombe!"

Eventually O'Hanlon finds Simon Stockton, an old college friend who now runs a big casino - and would, O'Hanlon is certain, enjoy a little jaunt up the Amazon. And, surprisingly, Simon agrees to go, delighted at the chance of a big change (and lots of photographs of exotic birds). He brings along plenty of books, too, which endeared him to me, but early on I doubted how long he'd last. [Hint: he does not complete the journey; I'll leave his breaking point for the reader to discover, but his final blowout with Redmond is epic. Then again, perhaps he should have done more due diligence on what the trip would be like before he agreed to go...]

The goal of the trip is to reach a fierce and remote people, the Yanomami, who are feared by the other local people; indeed, getting his crew to agree to go at all is one of the author's bigger challenges. (Since he got back to write the book, we know that at least some of the party made it out {wry grin}, but it still got quite tense.)

The very long journey was arduous, colorful, exciting, excruciating - great fun to read about, but something I'm glad I didn't have to undertake myself. (Perfect subject for a travel book!) Despite the amazing number and variety of life forms in the region, keeping the party fed was often an issue, leading to several scenes of "spot interesting new bird/animal/fish, and then eat it". And I learned that during the rainy season it's possible for local folk to starve - the heavy rains drive the fish too deep to catch, make it very hard to hunt, and generally wreck the food-gathering system... (Late in the book, this near-subsistence-level situation explains some of the laws of hospitality regarding sharing food with one's hosts and NOT grabbing the first dish of stew, something our hero is not aware of at first.)

I kept finding passages to chuckle at, often having to do with the author's reaction to yet another attack by crawling or flying things that bite: swarms of blackflies, ants, ticks, and more. He did come prepared with salves and insect repellent and whatnot, but the effectiveness of these things tended to diminish under constant pressure of travel, heat and humidity, and lack of ability to wash. (Again: fun to read about, glad I wasn't there!)

I found it interesting that the most-valued trade goods/gifts were Polaroid photographs; everyone seemed delighted to see the images of themselves and their friends forming before their eyes. Made me wonder if more recent expeditions take Polaroids - or do they rely on digital cameras with instant-print gadgets, or use some other form of trade goods entirely?

O'Hanlon's style is definitely dry and snarky, not least when describing yet another new culinary experience, such as sampling the fruits of a forest tree: "Pablo split some open with his machete: inside was a big fibrous nut covered in fleshy, orange-red pith: you eat the pith, which tastes sweet and creamy and butterscotchy at first, until, by nut three, you realize that some chemical is removing the skin from your lips, the surface from your tongue, and a layer of tissue from your throat. It is then time to stop."

There were so many bits that I wanted to quote that the book wound up studded with markers - but I'll stop here. It's a dandy read, and I recommend it!

Journal Entry 5 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, 20 Broad St. in Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, January 31, 2019

Released 11 mos ago (2/1/2019 UTC) at Little Free Library, 20 Broad St. in Nashua, New Hampshire USA


I left this book in the Little Free Library on this chilly day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2019 Keep Them Moving release challenge. ***

*** Released for the 2019 Clean Start for the New Year release challenge. ***

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