Friday, May 20, 2011

Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith

What better way to prove your love for a woman then crossing Africa?  In 1898 Ewart Grogan crossed Africa to prove to his future father-in-law that he was worthy of his daughter’s hand in marriage.  (It worked!)  In 2007 Julian Smith decides to follow in Grogan’s footsteps to prove to himself that he’s ready for marriage.  (Success again!)

This is part history and part travelogue.  I really enjoyed the descriptions of the wild animals and interesting natives (the cannibal tribes he faced were REALLY scary) Grogan encountered on the way.  I must admit, reading about the Victorian Age explorer was the best part of the book.  It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading about Julian’s present day worries (finding transportation is arduous at best), his reasoning for the trip is a little beyond me.  Yes, he loves his fiancĂ©e, but he still has cool feet.  How does trekking across Africa make him sure that he’s ready for marriage?  He does miss her, but couldn’t he have missed her from a Caribbean island?  Or in a familiar city?  Or is it only because he was miserable (hot, bug-bitten, ill) that he missed her so much?  I guess I wanted more Africa, less why he wasn’t able to commit.

Moral of the story: if you need to impress a future in-law or make an important life decision crossing Africa any which way is the way to go!