Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister

africa book

I admit it, I’m a travel book junkie. I love reading about the experiences other people have had traveling around the world while I sit comfortably at home. Africa is one of those destinations that I love to read about but I am not too sure that I want to visit, ever. 

I picked up Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister and did a little virtual traveling the other day. The pictures that the author included were amazing! I have to say that there is nothing quite like the raw nature of those countries he visited. 

The story he told about his travels was interesting as well. I never thought that there might be monuments and museums about the slave trade in Africa. I suppose that anything can be turned into an attraction. With a little more dedication and money, I’m sure those remote places could become educational and even a profit center for the otherwise isolated settlements. 

I chuckled at the author’s horrible transit stories. I mean really, a vehicle with 15 people stacked three high (that was the image I got from reading the account anyway). The hassle with the ATMs, customs and police bribes, general miscommunication, and so on are quirky, real tidbits that make an adventure story ring true. 

lister

My favorite section was the description of the elaborate tea preparation in Chinguetti, Mauritania, and the Terjit Oasis. I also marveled at the villages that were only accessible by ladder in Djiakan. I could just picture women with babies tied to their backs ascending and descending those ladders. 

I would have liked to have a little more explanation about the author’s thoughts on certain items, like his opinion on renewable energy which he says he was “pretty sure you know how I feel”. Well, I didn’t. Or the thing he had for volcanoes and waterfalls. What thing was that? More details would have been nice. 

Regardless, if you are an arm-chair traveler by choice or circumstance, Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister will take you to distant lands.

four star

The World is Your Lobster by Lee Mountford

Lee and his wife Nicki decided to take a belated gap year in their 40s and travel the world. Beginning in Melbourne, Australia, they went to 27 countries, covering a total of 77,427 kilometers and sampling 276 domestic beers. Lee recounts the highlights and little adventures in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, with corny jokes, and nearly funny puns. You can’t say the man didn’t try. 

The adventure itself had some inevitable lows, including icky accommodations, being charged extraordinarily high prices, and one instance of denied entrance to the temple for the blatant display of knobby kneecaps. They met some memorable characters on the way, such as the Italian Hamster and Paul, the poetry reciting Russian. 

As I was reading, I kept thinking that I would love to see some of these pictures Lee was yammering on about. Lo and behold, midway through the book, there was a QR code above to view some of the pictures online. Since I may be one of the last remaining people in the world that does not own a smartphone, that feature wasn’t as exciting as the link to their Instagram account. (https://www.instagram.com/worldisyourlobster/). My personal favorite photo was of Lee carting around the hotel safe in Myanmar.

Roundabout the time when the Mountfords arrived in Europe, both trip planning and book proofreading went to the dogs. Random apostrophes appeared in places they had no business being (her’s). Muddled homophones confused the issue at times (who’s vs. whose). Enough inconsistent capitalization sprouted up to drive this English teacher bonkers. (Eiffel Tower, Eiffel tower, eiffel Tower, anyone?) Maybe Maggie-Jane, the orange Brazilian VW camper van that the couple was trundling around in, affected the grammar in some way.

Like all good things, eventually, the journey came to an end. Nicki and Lee took up the yokes of the middle-aged once again, albeit with a gleam of wanderlust in the eye from time to time. So if you are an armchair traveler and enjoy a good travel story, or in this case hundreds of good travel stories, then The World is Your Lobster by Lee Mountford is the book for you!

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.