2023 Winner of Peace Corps Writers’ Award for Best Travel Book

My Saddest Pleasures:
50 Years on the Road: Part of the Yin and Yang of Travel Series

Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73)


2023 Best Travel Award

This book is part of the author’s “Yin and Yang of Travel” series of ten essays, which was inspired by Paul Theroux’s (Malawi 1963–65) The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road

Mr. Walker has spent over 50 years traveling in many countries around the world, first as a Peace Corps volunteer, and later as a professional fund raiser for various nonprofit organizations or NGOs.

The book is an easy read. Walker writes in a conversational style, and it is only 63 pages. It is primarily a journal of his travels alone, with his family, and leading trips for donors to NGOs he worked for. His travel has been mostly off the beaten path rather than to popular tourist destinations. It is apparent he has learned to seek out and follow the advice both of locals and of experienced fellow travelers, which is good advice for all travelers, especially those who don’t follow the beaten paths.

Mark Walker

Walker has previously written a more comprehensive memoir titled Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond. If you have previously read that book, you will not find much new material in this one.

The author has a sense of humor about the various travel situations he has encountered over the years. As he says, “Obviously after fifty years on the road, I was still capable of some real travel gaffes. And yet we’re almost all at our best and learn the most when we miscalculate and have to depend on the locals (and our wits) to figure a way out of the mess.”

My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road: Part of the Yin and Yang of Travel Series
by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73)
May 2022
63 pages
$15.00 (paperback)


Leave a comment
  • Thanks, Evelyn, Cyberwit.net did a great job with the colored photos. I’m glad you enjoyed it–that’s why we write in the first place. I’m busy working on “The Guatemala Reader” and a book on Moritz Thomsen who inspired this book. All the Best

  • “Conversational style”? Who wants to read a physics book? Eckkkkkkk. Or, how ‘bout a book on botany? When I meet with other old coots for our Wednesday morning breakfast, that’s what we do- talk. Way to go, Mark.

    • Thanks Lorenzo–I always appreciate your wit and literary insights. And I agree–who needs the conversational style–but I did include some humor because when you’re off the beaten path the unexpected will abound.

  • I almost forgot! Some forty years ago when I began writing seriously, I remember a famous writer dude was interviewed about the length of a good book. He said something like, “Americans love the huge book. The bigger the better. Europeans tend to go for a well-written, well-edited and formatted small tome.” I’ve been following the European model ever since. A few fiction examples are Kerouac’s Teresa, Brautigan’s Confederate General in Big Sur, Faulkner’s The Bear, Melville’s Tepee , Non-fiction PC memoirs might include Fletcher’s Heat, Sand and Friends or Maytree’s Land of Smiles.

  • Lorenzo,

    Thanks for sharing. That’s my philosophy as well–actually, most of my writing is in the form of 2,500 word essays.

    My Saddest Pleasures is 63 pages, and it looks like The Guatemala Reader will be 150 pages.

    Short and sweet–and hopefully profound.

    Today I’m reviewing “Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders” which is 238 pages and I’m starting End Times by Peter Turchin which is 300–my max–although Theroux took me 430 pages into “Deep South” and I enjoyed the journey!

  • Ooops–Lorenzo–I see that one of your books was a Best Travel Book winner in 2012!! Well done–that makes the recognition even more meaningful.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2022. Peace Corps Worldwide.