Review published on April 10, 2017.
On an atlas, the small chain of countries that link the great continents of North and South America looks tiny. It is a beautiful and varied part of our planet, but their size on the map belies just how tough a part of the world it is. Not only is it hot and humid, but you will have to contend with swamps, malaria, spiders, jaguars, the jungle and the remnants of ancient cities. Not forgetting the armed gangs of drug smugglers and military types with itchy trigger fingers, this is not the place for your tourists. Thankfully Levison Wood is not your regular tourist.
His chosen 1,800-mile route along this slender piece of land would take in eight countries. He was starting with Mexico, where he had persuaded his friend Alberto to come along for the trip. He readily agreed, remembering the time he spent in Africa with him travelling by truck. Then Levison dropped the bombshell, saying that they would be walking it… Alberto still agreed to go with him every step of the way.
Levison Wood is one of the few adventurers left in the world who is capable and mad enough to undertake these sorts of long treks across parts of the world that people would not normally venture to. At times, it is an unbelievably tough journey, as they deal with hacking their way through the undergrowth, encountering migrants heading for a new life in America and the relentless task of putting one foot in front of the other. He is one tough guy to even attempt a challenge of this order, let alone complete it. Alberto and Wood have even joined the exclusive club of those who have managed to pass the impenetrable jungle at the Darien Gap. This is such a wild area that even the Pan-American highway stops in its two continent run. Although it is a reasonably well-written account of his trip, if you are expecting literary excellence then this is not necessarily going to be the author for you. What you do get though is an honest account of a unique hike with all the highs and lows from a genuine tough guy.
Great stuff. Now to watch the TV series.
Paul Cheney 4/3
Walking the Americas by Levison Wood
Hodder & Stoughton 9781473654068 hbk Feb 2017
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