“There is no journey upon this earth that a man may not make if he sets his heart to it. There is nothing, Umbopa, that he cannot do, there are no mountains he may not climb, there are no desserts he cannot cross, save a mountain and a desert of which you are spared the knowledge, if love leads him” with this quote from H. Rider Haggard the book starts. “Crossing the heart of Africa” by the “travel writer” Julian Smith, a book that shows two stories, two men from different times, two trips with love as their guide. It tells the story of Ewart Grogan, the first who walked across Africa from South to North, from South Africa to Egypt (awesome, right?!), and he crossed in the late nineteenth century, when Africa was practically a mystery. When there was no malarone (malaria pill), it had significantly more animals prowling , African tribes and cannibals. The book also exposes the author’s experience, who crossed the same places as Grogan in the XXI century. What one took two years to accomplish, to the other took him two months. In “Crossing the heart of Africa” we have the same places but with a completely different scenario. The one of Grogan in the 1800’s and the one of Smith in this century. It shows that the world move fast. Very fast.
Anyway, Grogan did this to prove he was worthy of the hand of the woman he loved (yes, times really change)… And Julian Smith did it because he was about to marry, and the commitment overwhelmed him so he went on a trip in the search for answers, at the end of the trip he found them. Because travel changes you and it opens up your mind.
This book has landscapes and adventures, has history and culture and has vivid descriptions of Africa, from south to north…
The phrases that caught my attention were also partly because I identify some situations after being there… These are what I remarked in this book:
-To him the world was a place where you did what you wanted and had fun doing it.
-African public transportation, which mostly consists in learning to wait.
-The kindness of strangers offsets much of the aggravation of traveling in the developing world.
-Africa “is” anything implies a single amorphous entity, instead of fifty-three countries with a billion inhabitants.
-Travel can be the ultimate alone time… Away from home and surrounded by strangers, you can be anyone or no one, anonymous or camouflaged.
-You have to laugh or you’ll go crazy.
-Now he works as an accountant […] he sounds more proud of this than his time as a soldier.
-It was a scene that made one wonder if there be a God.
-He was in limbo: neither alive or death, just… gone.
-From here on, every step I take will be toward home.
-Coming home is always as exciting as leaving.
-We all have our alloyed portions of black and white paint. How we lay it on is a question of temperament.