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Distant Suns: Adventure in the Vastness of Africa and South America Paperback – 8 Sep 2008
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This book, picks up along the trail from Sam's two previous books, Into Africa & Under Asian Skies and continues his journey around the world on "Libby", his trusty BMW R80GS motorcycle. Joined now by his partner Birgit, on her extensively renovated BMW R60/5, "Henry", they travel southern Africa and after much persistence, manage to book passage on a cruise ship to South America, travelling economy class and with the bikes stowed aboard as hand baggage!
So begins a journey the length of South America, with its highs, lows and maniac local drivers!
Sam's writings are detailed, descriptive and very easy to read. I found myself right there alongside him and Birgit. If for whatever reason you can't go off and ride around the world on your motorcycle, then reading this book is the very next best thing.
I can hardly wait for his next book, Tortillas & Totems!
Buy all three of his books - you won't be disappointed!
The difference between Distant Suns and Sam's prior two volumes is palpable. Now, four years into his journeys, Sam finds himself returning to southern Africa and later to South America, but this time, as part of a riding duo with his very well matched intrepid and adventurous girlfriend, Birgit Schuenemann. The two ride from Kenya down to South Africa, before ferrying motorbikes and themselves on an improbable trans-oceanic voyage to Argentina as third class passengers on a first rate cruise-ship. From there, it's a series of adventures, exploration, highs and lows (emotionally and temperature wise) down to the southern tip of the continent, narrated by Sam with his trademark sense of humor and keen descriptive eye, before heading back up toward and into Central America - a trip interrupted by a medical evacuation back to the UK. Sam's poor back and slipped disks however prove to be no match for his undaunted spirit, as the medical evacuation only interrupts, rather than ends the trip.
While Distant Suns, takes us across two continents, in full disclosure, only about 1/3 of this book is actually set in Africa. This is, for the most part, a book about motorcycle travel in South America - and mainly in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Columbia. I also found this book to differ from Sam's prior books in that it is more descriptive of the landscapes and environments, but with fewer details about the colorful characters met on the road - natives and travelers alike. Maybe there were just more colorful and interesting people to talk about in Africa and Asia, but more likely, it's a result of the differing dynamic of now traveling as part of a pair rather than alone. That said, I very much enjoyed reading as Sam and Birgit's relationship develops and solidifies against the backdrops of their common adventures through southern Africa and South America. Birgit's curiosity, plus Sam's eye for detail and talent for descriptive travel writing make for a fascinating and inspiring read.
Sam's fourth book, From Tortillas to Totems, is now out, and that one is next on my reading list. A warning to those who are unfamiliar with Sam's writing however - approach with caution! These books may make you want to chuck that 9-5 job, dust off your passport, get on two wheels and head for the border.
I was looking forward to this book. Of all the continents South America is the one that appeals most. I read, and really enjoyed, the first two volumes to reach this place. It was the right action to take, they set the tone as the trip develops into a lifestyle. Sam's storytelling skills develop, along with his riding and travelling ones, as he takes us further along this season of his life. The focus is, in turn, on the people, their cultures, the journey and the landscape. This is not a book about bikes. Motorcycles are, normally, the most appropriate (or most desirable) means to an end. Along with the inevitable potholes we get people, pleasure and the occasional twist of pain. There is sufficient detail to amply whet your appetite and hunger for more. Now a quarter of the way through volume four, like the writer, I'm not sure what I'll do when the journey ends.
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