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Reading on an Ecuadorian Odyssey

What do you take to read on a 12 day, fast moving, active vacation in the Sierra of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands? To read about my recent trip itself, click here.

I chose to read, while traveling to Ecuador, two absorbing works by other She Writes Press authors, and an iconic book about evolution and the study of the Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos Islands.

Leslie Nack’s Fourteen: A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing and Survival, tells the story of her experience preparing for and then sailing to Tahiti with her powerful, often abusive father, her two sisters and an assortment of other characters. The poignant themes of abuse, abandonment, family mental illness, and coming of age are thrown into relief in the authentic portrayal of adventure, excitement, and harshness of the sailing life. A great read to accompany my own, admittedly tamer adventure of hiking and biking and snorkeling in Ecuador!

Mariane Bohr’s Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer’s Adventure Across 21 Countries, tells a timely tale of a boomer couple’s year-long adventure in Europe, designed to fulfill long-held travel dreams and push the reset button on careers and the post-child-raising life. This book is a clarion call to all who believe that life begins anew at many turns, if only we have the will and persistence and common sense to make our dreams happen. For a runner, the thread of preparing for and running the Paris marathon is not only an extra treat, but a metaphor for the overarching theme of setting important, even lofty goals for our futures and then working steadily to achieve them. Isn’t that a great part of what travel is for?

Finally, I listened to Jonathan Weiner’s The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in our Time. I’m sure there are those who wonder that I read this Pulitzer prize-winning book once, much less have listened to it for a second time, as it is a dense and thorough review of the painstaking research that Peter and Rosemary Grant conducted on Darwin’s finches over a 20-year period on Daphne Major, in the Galapagos Islands. It defines and elaborates the argument for evolution, based on exhaustive and unique research. Full disclosure: I love birds and am a sucker for well-narrated science writing. To see and hear the story of Darwin’s finches unfolding as I hiked the islands of the Galapagos archipelago was a treat, and deepened my appreciation of both the book and the islands.

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