Eight Feet in the Andes

I think, perhaps, several years ago I would have been more inclined to like this book by Dervla Murphy. I think I would have admired her, thought her ambitious and adventuresome for climbing the Andes mountains with no companions except her 9-year-old daughter and a mule, living on the land and the generosity of the Peruvians. I think I would have found her feminist observations — why can’t a woman do this by herself, anyway? — inspiring.

Now… I just think she’s crazy. Crazy for even thinking about hiking through the Andes. Crazy for taking her daughter along. Crazy because… well… let’s just say it’s not something I even remotely related to. (Not that I have to, but it didn’t amuse or inspire me, either.)

It took me a while to get into the book — it’s a diary, and those are hit and miss with me. This time, it was more misses than hits. There’s really no story here. They hike from place to place. They have food sometimes; they sleep in various places. They almost freeze, rescued by a native family who didn’t speak a word of Spanish or English. And, by the entries in mid-October I was tired. Tired of her whining about modern civilization (though early on I thought it had Wendell Berry-esque overtones), tired of the paces she put her child through. Tired of Peru.

So, I abandoned them. Sure, I checked the back: whew, they made it to the end of the trail safe by Christmas Day. Yee-haw.

That’s the third book for the Armchair Challenge. Not one memorable one yet. Maybe I ought to re-think my list….

3 thoughts on “Eight Feet in the Andes

  1. Are you looking for new ideas then? I have some. 🙂I especially enjoy Ella Maillart’s books. They’re a little older so she writes about things that no one can ever experience again.A few weeks ago I read <>A Woman’s Asia<> and it was unusually good.And I really liked Vikram Seth’s <>From Heaven Lake<>.Obviously these are all about Asia, but what else would I recommend?


  2. Hey, you should try The Royal Road to Romance. I hear it’s great, and I just found my copy hidden under a chair. Also, I know how you feel. Sometimes when I watch shows about people getting stuck on horribly dangerous mountains, I just think, well, you knew it was dangerous! You knew hardly anyone survives! I just stop thinking they are inspired, and just start thinking they are crazy. I guess I just don’t like to hike where I need extra oxygen, but that’s just me.


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