Thursday, June 10, 2010
Ecology, Traveling, and Writing
Author: Linda Ballou
Publisher: Winddancer, 2010
Reviewed by Yvonne Perry for WITS
With each story I read in Linda Ballou’s book, Lost Angel Walkabout, I thought, “This is the best story in the book.” Then, I would turn the page and find that the next adventure was even more interesting.
I love the way the author weaves accurate and little known native history into each story. This information isn’t what your typical tour guide might spout from a memorized script. This book and its information comes from roughing it in the wilderness in some very remote sites where most of us would not go with a group much less alone, which is Linda’s favorite way to travel. The aloneness is rejuvenating for her as she listens to nature and the spirits that dwell in each mesmerizing place speak to her. As for aloneness, Linda says, “Much is said of the virtues of connecting with local cultures, but in aloneness you can connect with the forces that shaped them.” I agree with her profound wisdom!
Not all of the trips were taken alone, however. I was especially touched by the story titled “Water Dogs” because of the tender way Linda showed grace and understanding to her 75-year-old mother who was along on a snorkeling trip. Linda was so creative in bringing the fish to her mom since Mom couldn’t dive under and hold her breath long enough to see them near the cave entrance below the water. But this story is also a favorite because of the humorous way Ballou depicts the cast of characters. In fact, her sense of humor in telling the story not only made me feel like I was on location with her, it gave me a sense of her lively personality.
What I didn’t expect, but found pleasantly refreshing was the spiritual aspect Linda brought into each tale. Her trips are inspired by her spirit guides, of whom she says, “Guides are simply that—guides. They try to direct you on an ever-changing path to soul-stirring moments, but the responsibility for the journey is ultimately yours.”
So, I guess that’s why Linda doesn’t blame her guides for forgetting to take her silk underwear with her on the trip to Dorothy Lake. She nearly froze to death when the zipper of her sleeping bag broke and exposed her backside to the elements. What’s an adventure without risk, right? And a little aroma from being wrapped in damp horse blankets to survive that night.
Tim Cahill’s interview was a very special treat and served as an interlude to gear up the reader for more action and adventure in the second half of the book. Having taken the time to chat with one of her favorite travel writers shows that this author has credibility in both the writing and traveling world.
Another thing that makes this book intriguing and sets it apart from other travel/adventure books is the eco alert at the end of many chapters. It’s sad to know that many of the places Linda recounts in her stories are no longer the quaint, rural, peaceful spiritual nests they were at the time of her visit. They have been ruined by greedy deforestation, over-fishing, and toxic waste. This was an unexpected call to action in our effort to care for the beauty of our Mother Earth.
Throughout the book, the author’s storytelling style is a great blend of travel journalism and real life experiences and spiritual insight that entertain and inform. Highly recommended reading.