What did we travellers do in the Olden Days to find out stuff?
Same thing everyone does today of course – Talk to other travellers. Up to the minute, mostly, with the benefit of face to face judgment in the quality of your source.
You did of course often have to wait till you got there to get the real insights. Anything published was either well and truly dated or seemed designed for people with a lot more money.
The South American Handbook however was the gold standard of travel guides for that part of the world when I first headed there. The version illustrated on the left was published in 1973. I had never even been to the big smoke of Sydney or Melbourne; had only ever hit Brisbane in transit to a posting in Darwin from my regional and fairly rural origins before I left Australia. Had never met a soul who had been to South America. So for months I studied that book more diligently than any text book I ever picked up. It was my planning partner and as far as I knew then, my first and only reference source and port of call for for six months.
Nostalgia dictates, that for this coming trip the only way to fly is to again consult the South American Handbook. Plus I get a nifty Then and Now snap.
Years of internet research habits have of course muscled in pretty systematically over the months of planning for this forthcoming South America expedition, but The Book will be on the road with me. I expect it to be much less thumbed after the coming trip than the 1973 version now sitting in my travel library but hey, it’s a talisman as life circles back for a minute or so.
To say I’m excited about this next trip would be an understatement. A three month expedition is really only enough to pick the eyes out of Latin America but if you add the time and joy involved in the planning phase, my pleasure is well and truly multiplied. I look forward to sharing it.
Luckily you don’t meet these people too often, but I will never forget a comment delivered to my naive excited face somewhere in the wilds of South America 42 years ago: “Oh, you should have been here 10 years ago”.
Why bother? Celebrate the experiences. It might inspire someone just like I was inspired all those years ago by the Hippie trailblazers. Even if you can’t turn up for absolutely ages, it will be special so spread the word I say and Enjoy every moment!