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too short but fun bit of travel writing for a good cause
on May 28, 2003
Bill Bryson is a fantastic travel writer, and made this very very short book (only 49 pages!) still fun to read. I definitely wish it had been longer, but as all of the book's proceeds go to charity (specifically CARE, a wonderful organization that spends its money wisely and helps those in impoverished countries help themselves), I don't really mind.
The book recounts his all too brief time in Africa (eight days), where he tours the east African nation of Kenya. He visits some of the areas in Kenya in the most need of CARE's help, such as the Nairobi slum of Kibera and the eastern refugee camp of Dadaab, filled with Somali exiles. It is quite sad to read about the horrible conditions many of these people face (wait till you read about what a flying toilet is), but heart warming to see that many are still hopeful and that all is not lost. It would seem that many of these people are good people; all they need is a chance.
...it was still fun to read and parts were hilarious. I enjoyed his early thoughts on Africa, such as the initial conversations with those who convinced him to go to Africa that except for the "diseases and the bandits and the railway from Nairobi to Mombasa, there's absolutely nothing to worry about"! I enjoyed reading about that railroad, which Bryson writes has a tradition of killing passengers and has even been named the Lunatic Express, though Bryson rode it without any serious mishap. Also lots of fun to read was his arrival in Nairobi; expecting the sunny little country town in "Out of Africa," Bryson was amazed to instead find traffic, high rise buildings, bill boards - as he puts it, Omaha! His description of a harrowing single-engine plane ride was very funny as well.
A fun little book, one in you can read in an hour or two.