We’ve talked at times around here about experiential travel. But what exactly IS this wordy concept anyway? It’s one of those things that’s hard to put your hands on and touch it, feel it. That’s why my ears perked when I saw the preview notes for Lyn Fuch’s new book, Sacred Ground and Holy Water:
I have survived enraged grizzlies, erupting volcanoes, Japanese swordfights, and giant squid tentacles. I have been entrapped by FBI agents and held at gunpoint by renegade soldiers. I have sung with Bulgaria’s bluesmaster Vasko the Patch and met with Mexico’s Zapatista Army commander Marcos. I have been thrown out of forbidden temples in southern India and passed out in sweat lodges off the Alaskan coast. My navel has been inhabited by beetles and my genitals have been cursed by eunuchs. I have shared coffee with presidents, beer with pirates, and goat guts with polygamists. I have contracted malaria, typhoid, salmonella, and lovesickness around the world.
That’s a mouth full. And kind of ballsy. But I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Lyn’s book, which just launched last week. What did I think?
One thing that really struck a chord with me in this book is Lyn’s extensive amount of weird, odd, and downright unusual travel experiences. An example is his ‘beach vacation’ in the middle of the pirates’ home base in Belize. We all know that there is that area where pirates hang out. But who knew you could even go there, or why you would want to? Lyn includes some fascinating details in his trip reports, such as pointing out that pirates have made this part of the world their home since the 1700s.
A clue, perhaps, to Lyn’s doggedness to this so brilliantly worded summary of the state of society’s fears and wants:
Bravado comes easy for kids. Not understanding life’s value, they wager the commoidty freely. Inhibition comes easy for adults. Not appreciating life’s brevity, they let caution steal their dreams. A little fear is good, but it must be mastered….Fear, in a sense, becomes the birthplace of courage.
Couldn’t agree more.
In another chapter, Lyn also took a trip back to the Netherlands, my former home. I was instantly transported back to places and settings I wish I were closer to. Instead of your typical guidebook tour, he looks up (that’s always the best view). He says what he’s thinking in his mind, and reflects not just on what he’s seeing but the big picture: how religion is presented, how people act/react, what people are wearing. It’s fascinating – sort of a social anthropologist, but only the interesting stuff
Other stories include visiting church services in the southern US, an unusual experience in Bulgaria’s capital of Sofia, climbing jungle temples in Mexico, and India’s answer to the Great Wall of China.
Completing the Picture
As much as I loved flipping through these anecdotes and stories, I did find a couple of areas lacking. One is the location context. Many people’s sense of geography is poor at best, and often where Lyn was actually at wasn’t clear, and that could have been more clear. (For example, the Dutch chapter includes “Rembrandtsville” in the title. It’s clever, but if you have never been, you might assume that he was actually in a town called that, and cursing your Google map for not knowing where this is.)
I also felt Sacred Ground and Holy Water falls trap to the same fate as many brochures and travel websites: obtuse language. The litmus test is easy – read a page out loud on a busy street. Would anybody look at you funny for the words you use? The English language has a very in depth vocabulary, that doesn’t mean every word needs flowery description. Some of these incredible locations can speak for themselves.
Get Your Copy
I’ll leave you with this simple quote from the book, which I think sums up why the author wrote it in the first place (and strangely ties in almost word for word with last week’s lifestyle feature, Why are we Afraid to Strike Out on Our Own):
Much of my life is a quest to answer a question.
Indeed. I loved this book, and if Sacred Ground and Holy Water sounds like your cup of tea – it certainly will inspire you to see more of the world – you can pick it up today from Amazon.