Monday, 10 November 2014

On The tao of travel : enlightenments of lives on the road by Paul Theroux (Portuguese edition by Quetzal)

I have just finished reading a book I was recently given by some of my students, who know how fond I am of travelling and although I haven't been reading much in Portuguese lately, (particularly if any of the given authors happens to write in one of the languages I can speak), I did enjoy it.

I wasn't expecting it to be a collection of extracts by authors who have done a bit of travelling themselves, which is understandable once the Portuguese title does not entirely correspond to the full title in the English edition "enlightenments of lives on the road" (missing in the Portuguese edition).


I read it as a romance, though I feel I should have read it at regular intervals and not necessarily in one go, but having always liked quotes, as well as extracts from adventurous authors it didn't affect its reading, having allowed me to "revisit" some quotes I had read in the past.

Prior to having started travelling (in the real sense) I had already "travelled" a bit whilst losing myself in the descriptions of other people's travels and even some of my multiple penfriends' from all over the world as a teenager (theoretically trying to conquer my fear of the unknown yet being drawn to it).

Having become a fairly young mother interfered with my willingness to cross the borders and despite having accepted that fact as part of what would probably no longer be Fernão de Magalhães'  well known quote kept on surfacing "the sea is  dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore ... unlike mediocre, intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem impossible (...)".

My first "real" trips started when the enterprise I was working for had me represent its interests in various European countries and I decided to stay longer to "explore" those same countries at my own pace and without any other concerns than to do it my own way ..., that's when the introspective and humble aspects of travelling "kicked in" - "Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection" (Lawrence Durrell) ; "Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world" (Gustave Flaubert) and more so when I started travelling to Africa and staying over for much longer periods of time.

Over the course of years, whilst exploring farther away places  I realised the impact  Ralph Waldo Emerson's phrase had had on me and to which extent it did convey the truth behind the act of travelling, as I saw it  -"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
I can clearly understand Robert Louis Stevenson's "For my part I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move" because I do often feel it myself. In spite of having always enjoyed travelling on my own I have been on quite a few organised circuits over the last eight years and  on a few trips accompanied by my youngest daughter, whom I have "instilled" the curiosity to travel. I do strongly believe in  Hodding Carter's " Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings".

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