If you haven’t heard of Levison Wood, get on board! He’s the madman who walked the length of the Nile, the Himalayas and last year the Americas. His programmes are ace and you can get them on All 4, he’s pretty easy on the eye too but that has no bearing on my decision to watch….honestly. It’s all about the geography.
I’ve never read any of his writing before so thought I’d give his account of Walking the Americas, from Mexico City to Colombia a go.
Firstly, is it any good? It most definitely is. I was expecting some ghost written affair from someone who had just watched the TV programme but that isn’t the case. There are stories and experiences that didn’t make it onto our screens. A lot of travel books can deluge you with facts but Wood slips these in amongst fascinating anecdotes about his life as well as the history of the particular country he’s trekking through. This makes it really personal, definitely helped if you’ve watched his programmes but I wouldn’t say they are essential.
Some of the situations he finds himself in are, quite frankly, ridiculous. Dealing with lawless gangs, walking through neighbourhoods even the police refuse to visit and camping in the middle of the jungle where the bugs are more scary than the wildlife. Wood comes at this with the stiff upper lip of us Brits, nothing is going to stop him from achieving his goal of walking these crazy routes before heading off back to his snug bolthole overlooking Hampton Court Palace.
I do have a criticism, the book is nowhere near long enough. You get the feeling that tons of interesting titbits were cut to make this a bite sized companion to the series. Maybe he is saving some for his inevitable memoirs in the future.
The camaraderie that Wood and his companion, the fantastic Alberto, have is very endearing and it’s interesting to see how they both deal with the twists and turns of their trip differently. Alberto being very vocal and dare I say, dramatic, whereas Wood just gets his head down. But they are the perfect foil for each other and get each other out of tight spots in equal measure.
With Wood fast on the road to becoming a national treasure, I’d definitely recommend this book for an escape to the Americas as we wait to see what bonkers trip Levison has up his sleeve next. Be warned though, you’ll be straight on the internet booking a trip of your own afterwards.