Elsewhere One Woman, One Rucksack, One Lifetime of Travel is a collection of travel stories by Irish journalist, Rosita Boland.
Boland started travelling as a young woman. She kept a diary and saved tickets and receipts and maps and other bits and pieces to remind herself of the places she had been, but took no photos, in keeping with her love for words.
Each chapter of the book starts with an unusual and relatively unknown word and its definition, a word which the author related to her emotions at the time. For example, the first chapter, Australia, starts with the word ‘eleutheromania’ which means ‘an intense desire for freedom.’
The Australian chapter told of the author’s experience living and working in a remote resort in the Daintree Rainforest with a handful of other travellers, swimming in a pool at the bottom of a waterfall, trekking an hour through the bush to get to a beautiful, secluded beach, drinking as only far-northern Queenslanders can and watching a rugby league team’s emotions run high after experiencing a boar hunt.
‘Brame’ means fierce longing, passion and this time, the author was travelling through Pakistan, madly in love with a man in England who already had a girlfriend. Travelling on narrow roads high above gorges to a remote location was terrifying reading, and on learning that there were many, many accidents on that particular road the author decided instead of returning by road she would fly out of the mountainous, foggy destination. The plane trip didn’t turn out to be much better. In those conditions it seemed sensible that instead of giving a safety demonstration the pilot said a prayer.
One of my favourite chapters told of the author’s visit to Antarctica on a cruise ship. She backpacked to the bottom of Argentina, then managed to jag an extraordinarily cheap ticket at the last minute due to a cancellation. I prefer the warmth to the cold and have never considered visiting the Antarctica before, but reading about icebergs that glitter more colours of blue than I could have imagined, and penguins getting on with their day, and the staff of a little shop at a place called Port Lockroy reading the visitor’s postcards at night to amuse themselves make me want to go too. Not even the author’s frightening story of her zodiac being caught in ice for four hours before they could be rescued put me off, but when I investigated the cost of a cruise to the Antarctica, I came crashing back down to reality.
This book, which would give the happiest of homebodies itchy feet also included stories from the author’s travels to Iceland, Bali, London, Japan, Thailand and Peru.
The stories are well told. They are evocative and give a sense of the places the author visited and the emotions she felt while she was there. I particularly liked the word ‘Fernweh’ which means ‘an ache for distant places’ but fear my own experience will be ‘onism,’ the ‘awareness of how little of the world you’ll experience.’
Thank goodness for books. And thank goodness for people like Rosita Boland, who not only travel, but tell the rest of us what it was like.