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Hypertravel: 100 Countries in 2 Years Paperback – January 26, 2012
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About the Author
Veteran blogger and traveler Hardie Karges made his first trip out of his home country USA at the age of twenty-one, a trip to the neighboring country of Mexico in the winter of 1975-1976. The next year he went to Central America and stayed almost three months, the following year South America for almost four. He was hooked. Thus began a career in the import and export of folk art and handicrafts from around the world. He has now been to some one hundred forty countries, has published poetry, made videos, and writes blogs on travel and world music, in addition to his personal blog. "Hypertravel: 100 Countries in 2 Years" is his first full-length book.
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"Hypertravel" is his account and it's a breezy, fun, fast-moving (as one would expect) and enriching account of bombing around the world.
Karges is an old-school backpacker, a hostel-seeking, Wi-Fi-hungry traveler who depends on a good slug of coffee more than Jack Reacher. He searches for quality Chinese food everywhere he goes, battles gout and deals with his not-so-deep approach to sleeping. He thinks about his Thai wife Tang, who is at home in Los Angeles, and wonders where the relationship is heading. He has a fascination with border crossings and how each country handles the check-in process, the whole visa stamp and visa approval thing.
Once you settle into Karges' style, a fine mix of chatty conversation interspersed with witty slices of poetry and moments of sheer beauty, you'll find yourself extraordinarily engaged. "Hyptertravel" flies.
You get that feeling of being out on the road, of pushing your limits of comfort and communication and confusion. When Karges gets lost, you might never feel more clueless. When Karges gets robbed and assaulted, you'll feel the same anger at his attackers. When Karges encounters another pit being passed off as overnight accommodations, you'll never feel more disgusted.
Karges' view of the world is at the street level. He's rides buses and he walks. A train here, a plane there, but most of "Hypertravel" is hoofing it. A little bit of Bill Bryson, a little bit of Brad Newsham ("All The Right Places") and a little bit of early Paul Theroux.
His humor is sneaky and sly. "Argentina rolls under the bus like Nebraska and her mother-in-law, just going on and on about nothing, vast plains dotted with towns and cows."
In Buenos Aires: "What I can't believe is that o many people seem to like the confusion, meeting with friends and chatting on sidewalks where three sets of shoulders couldn't fit sideways. They seem to feed off the stress, like Matrix mugwumps getting a bio-electric buzz."
In Paramaribo (Suriname): "My first three days...I stayed in a great little place a half hour's walk from downtown that had everything you could ever want for the price of a U$ Grant--Internet, full breakfast, A/C, in-room coffee & tea, and as spic-and-span as my German grandmother would have it. If anything, it was TOO nice. I was afraid of losing street cred with you, my readers." (That's no typo, U$ Grant....Karges has fun with the words and doesn't mind an occasional BTW or IMHO. The feeling is very much of travel journal or well-done blog.)
Djibouti: "Guide books won't tell you when a place sucks; I will. They'll act like Djibouti is the Promised Land; I won't. I could write the guidebook on Dijbouti in one word: `sucks.' It should make interesting reading."
Karges doesn't go for the big sights, the big tours, the famous spots (much) or the postcard settings. He's after the flavor, the color, the food, the music--an impression more than sharp relief. These are his encounters, not necessarily the routes he's recommending.
Karges makes it look easy, he makes it look (mostly) like fun and makes me want to hit the road.
(Full disclosure that Hardie is an old college friend but I haven't seen him since 1974 or 1975. He is a terrific observer and one helluva writer and I'm glad I got to read "Hypertravel.")