My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road: Part of the Yin and Yang of Travel Series
by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73)
Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77)
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.
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.”
Reviewer D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer in El Salvador (1974-6) and Costa Rica (1976-7). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at: dwjefferson.blogspot.com He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.