Most of us have dreamed of being the hero in some great “pedestrian epic,” covering great distances unencumbered by the trappings of modern civilization. George Meegan had a similar dream, only his kept him going for seven years and over 19,000 miles. This is his story, a physical and spiritual odyssey.
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- K Cornwinkle
Why do people do these things?
I was in my small house in East Africa in 1982 and my teenaged houseboy Shonga came running saying, "your friend is here! your friend is here!" This turned out to mean that another European was in town. It was Heinz Stücke, who had started bicycling the world at age 22 in 1962 (as far as I know he was still on the road until a few years ago). He stayed with me for a few days but I never asked him why he did it.
I thought I might find out why George Meeker chose to do his often painful 7 year walk. He gives different pieces of different answers at different points. I like the one where he says he is walking because of freedom -walking to demonstrate that he CAN walk. I can't say why I seemed to enjoy listening to one hardship after another, it is mainly a kind of a bizarre travelogue. A little bit of (justified) Paul Theroux distain and a certain amount of I AM AN ENGLISHMAN (he never does seem to learn much Spanish). But it is mesmerizing. And Graeme Malcolm's narration is spot on. I thought this even after hearing bits of interview with George Meegan in the afterwards. I had read elsewhere of Meegan's subsequent work with indigienous peoples as I started the book and it gave a nice flavor to his encounters with them as he walked.
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