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Vagabonding Down the Andes ..

What a huge book. Six hundred and twelve pages of trudging up and down the Andes, scavenging for food, attempting to talk with the natives, and figuring how to carry his photographic equipment. How lucky for us that, at the very least, cameras can now be carried without the benefit of a mule.

Harry A. Franck has written many of these tomes and although they are not the travel books of today, full of witty stories and slights of culture, they are remarkably readable. It will take you awhile however.

Vagabonding is full of minutia about life throughout the Andes was around the early 1900s. There are mentions of bribes, mosquitoes, heat and cold, and well he’s sort of a curmudgeon with a knack for detail. Although he makes a point about how walking makes him invisible to the upper classes and how he wants to see the real people, he tends to make a fair amount of stereotypical or even derogatory remarks about the indigenous people. He’s writing is typical of his time, before the concept of PC and should be taken with a grain of salt. It is important to try to read a book in the context of the time it was written and to not apply your own, current belief systems to it.

There is a lot to be gleaned from this book, especially about geography, culture, food, people and I can only hope that my accounts give some similar rendition in the modern setting.

Amazon Link: Vagabonding Down the Andes Being the Narrative of a Journey, Chiefly Afoot, from Panama to Buenos Aires

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