Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Review: Travels in a Thin Country: A Journey Through Chile

I've been reading this book for a REALLY long time. I do love travel memoirs, however I haven't read many and if I recall correctly I've only read ones by Bill Bryson, who is quite hilarious and entertaining. It took me a while to get acquainted with Sara Wheeler's writing style. I really don't know if I ever got used to it. 

I think what took me so long to get through is that I found the first quarter of this book where she is traveling through the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile painfully boring. I love deserts, so I suppose it wasn't the desert itself, but not much actually happened. I mean, yeah, she did travel through it, but all she wrote about was in this style, "I saw this, I talked to this person, we got back on the road." 

I left this book alone for months, I put it down somewhere in the desert. I decided to give it a go again and as Sara moved further South the book became considerably more interesting. I loved the parts where she traveled to remote islands off the coast and down through Patagonia and into the Archipelagic Chile. Those areas just seemed absolutely breathtaking and interesting. 

One thing that got me though, was that every time something interesting was about to happen to the author, she would immediately change the subject. She would state that this interesting thing was about to happen, and then... on to the next thing. It never made any sense. Maybe she didn't quite know how to record those memories or maybe she was simply saving them for herself. 

Anyhow, my interest in Chile has certainly increased. Right before I picked this up again, I actually acquired a pen pal from Chile and I'm looking forward to both practicing my Spanish and learning more about modern Chilean culture through her. This book was published in the very early 90s after the country had gone much political and economic upheaval. I'm interested to see how things are nowadays. I admit that Chile is a country I know very little about. The country does seem incredibly dynamic. 

I do think that I might one day read other books by this author, as she has another in which she travels through The Arctic in some countries of particular interest to me such as Canada, Greenland, and Norway. She has another written about Antarctica. She did travel to Chilean Antarctica in this book and it was quite interesting so I think I'd like to read one where she has a more long-term stay there.

All in all, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. 

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