21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
An amazing inward and outward journey,
This review is from: To the Moon and Timbuktu: A Trek Through the Heart of Africa (Paperback)
Nina Sovich's memoir "To the Moon and Timbuktu" is a breathtaking solo adventure across North Africa. It's also a quest to find a balance between adventure and solitude, security and love. Nina said too much solitude made her crazy whereas too much security lead to restlessness.
Unhappy with herself, her marriage and work at Dow Jones, Nina at age 33, left her year long life in Paris to trek through Western Sahara, Mali, Mauritania and later Niger. She said life in Paris had become hard, her work drained her and left her scattered and she'd lost her ability to read signs of love from her husband who worked twelve-hour days.
Nina, originally from Connecticut, mostly attended boarding schools in her early years while her Swedish mother took long sojourns around the world. Her American father, like her husband, worked twelve-hour days at his dental practice.
Nina's beautiful prose flow like the Sahara Desert - the stark beauty of landscape, the fascinating people, dusty towns and heartbreaking poverty. The town of Ségou on the Niger River was the most beautiful. She said, "the Niger here is clean and light, empty of industry and people stretching nearly a third of a mile across. Brown grass sways in a light wind and mango trees cluster by the river like old women at a well...A white crane swoops near the water, loses sight of his prey, and pulls up into a high arch before cutting out over the savanna...There is nothing but golden savanna and swaying trees as far as I can see. This isn't Eden. This is the world after humans have passed on and God has returned to the earth."
If Ségou is heavenly, Djenné, the next town, is hellish. Nina says, "It was as though the gods wanted to pull me back down to earth. The landscape dried out, the baobabs disappeared, and people became religious." She said the food became scarce and the people were "...hot, cranky and unwashed...for the first time I saw ill-looking children with distended bellies and listless eyes."
Nina Sovich's story reminds us of the struggles and contradictions in our own lives and how we are, or could be, travelers in a world of marvels.