My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road by Mark D. Walker
“Color photos reflect the projects and people the author interacted with throughout his travels.”Amazon USA
My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road
Mark D. Walker
Critique by Midwest Review
My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road reflects on fifty years of travel miscalculations, disasters, and adventure. It provides a short but compelling read that will interest and delight both armchair readers and those who have faced their own travel challenges.
As Mark D. Walker reflects on these experiences, he notes that "how and why I travel have changed over the years." As he moved from being a Peace Corps volunteer to marrying a Guatemalan, becoming a family man, then traveling for business, Walker presents the quintessential highlights of his travel experiences in short essays. These are reminiscent of Paul Theroux, but with the added value flavor of autobiography and interactions with the communities he traversed with different purposes throughout his life.
Color photos also attract as he explores the work he did throughout his travels and the people he interacted with.
There are many travelogue books on the market which prove of special interest in a time when so much travel has been back-burned due to the pandemic.
My Saddest Pleasures differs from most both in its size and in its succinct considerations of how travel changes not just self, but the environments that the traveler encounters. The combined flavor of wonder, new experiences, ecological and social reflection, and adventure brings with it a newfound opportunity to understand the traveler's impact on a deeper level than most. Domestic and foreign experiences alike are outlined with these lessons in mind.
In this case, Walker's special attention to detail and purpose brings not just himself but others into potentially difficult environments to present eye-catching, memorable stories: "In typical weather, these rivers have powerful and dangerous currents, but they have added perils after significant rains. I wondered why we all had to put life jackets on until we started down the river and encountered massive piles of debris, including entire trees careening our way in the current! The operator, who was in the back, casually pulled the engine out of the water so we could pass over these obstacles. At that point, I began rethinking the wisdom of bringing a large group of Rotarians on these local canoes."
The result is a mindful reflection on experience and lessons from life which offers fellow travelers insights into embracing the unexpected: "...we’re almost at our best and learn the most when we miscalculate and have to depend on the locals (and our wits) to figure a way out of the mess."
Libraries strong in travelogues, short travel essays, and thought-provoking experiences captured in word and image will relish the wide-ranging encounters outlined in My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road, a portrait of discoveries, change, and "what ifs" in a pre-pandemic world of opportunity.