What follows is kind of a little man’s recollections and projections for his own sake; yours too. However, any readers or curious pedestrians might discover in these pages some idea of what lies ahead for themselves as they sojourn in an increasingly robotic, impersonal maelstrom of instruction and companionship. I am on a voyage around the world in a new century literally, and the last century retroactively and metaphorically, using the tools of the Digital Age.
In the monstrous mountain of fact, fiction, and non-fiction, and drowning in an epic flood of ever more earth-defying feats of photographic and artistic flights of fancy, I place my own account of actual events and fantasy. These impressions may be lost and may not pass to the attention of a passerby on the digital highway, or any other road. However, like a rusting auto abandoned in the barren Sahara, pieces of this tome could be examined and dislodged and used to extend the life of another traveller on the track.
A hint to you again: many details are within the images. Look for them carefully.
I cannot continue without persuading the reader to join my story; and so in short summation I affirm that my life and studies have not been confined to weekend jaunts to WalMart’s or summer days languishing at the beach.
The personality quirks that distinguish myself, and probably unsettle some people, have all-in-all served me well; propelling me forward safely and leaving me now in later years still healthy and relatively sound of mind (I think “relatively” here).
For at least brief periods, I poked around the edges of jungles and deserts and river basins —including the central Amazon rivers of Brazil, the Congo River swamps of Central African Republic (C.A.R.) and Zaire, the Okavango delta of Zimbabwe and Botswana; the Namib of Namibia; Mayan ruins of Guatemala; the Tonle Lap Basin of central Cambodia, the Mekong Delta and a forest of North Vietnam. I floated on the Mekong (Vietnam), the Brahmaputra (Thailand), the Yangtze (China), the Congo and Zambezi (Africa), and the Colorado. I survived the cliffs of the Upper Indus (Pakistan), looked upon the Yellow River (China), the Swan and Murray and Murchison (Australia), and Parana (Argentina), and the great European waterways. I hiked the central jungle highlands of Indonesian New Guinea (Irian Jaya) and Komodo Island.Deserts I crossed include the great central African Sahara, and the vast semi- wasteland of the Sahel (Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon), the dunes of the Namib (Namibia), plus parts of the Kalahari (southern Africa); the Taklamakan (China) and Gobi Desert; the Mojave (U.S.); and the Tibetan plateau and Bolivia’s high Altiplano; not to mention also the vast Australian Outback (west and central Australia).
I love mountains. I skirted the edges of China’s great Tien Shan, Kunlun, and massive Karakoram ranges. I trekked into the great Himalayas (in both Tibet and Nepal); plied the Andes Mountains from north to south to and through Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego; camped in the Air and Hoggar (Ahaggar) Mountains of the Sahara, the Virungas of central-east Africa, and on Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro, which I ascended to the rim.I sampled the Snowy Mountains of South Australia, southern New Zealand’s Mount Cook, the North Atlantic’s Lofoten Islands (north of the Arctic Circle) of Norway, the Alps and their finger ranges such as the Dolomites (Austria) and Pyrenees (Andorra); the Southern Ghats of India; the volcanoes of the Galapagos Islands, the Azores, the Hawaiian Islands and of Indonesia. I ascended in 1990 not only Kilimanjaro but also Nyiragongo Volcano in East Africa, a molten vertical peak that has since exploded at least twice and consumed the lives of masses of people living in the vicinity of Goma.
And of course there are the U.S. Rocky Mountains and Appalachians, the vast ranges of Alaska, and places like the Great Plains, Sierra Nevada, the Grand and Red canyonlands, the Canadian Rockies, and the many smaller footprint regions of the North American continent (New York’s Adirondacks, Virginia’s Shenandoah, and the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, for example).
In the course of such travels my life has been threatened. I was robbed and mugged (beaten twice on the streets of Washington DC, no less, where I lived for most of my life). I stared at evil ignorance at gunpoint in Africa and Lebanon, confronted and escaped a likely Ugandan kidnapper, had my passport confiscated and sanity severely tested (Afghanistan) and experienced warfare first hand (Beirut, Lebanon), was detained by police (Algeria), faced water-rationing (Sahara), was airlifted in a remote medical emergency (Namibia), had all my belongings and photographs stolen in a flash (Manaus, Brazil). I have relished the wonders of political incorrect places (from the American standpoint) of Iran and Cuba.
I and certain wild animals on a few occasions crossed paths. As a result, I have been chased by both Asian (white) and African (black) rhinoceroses and by African elephants and by thieving baboons and the masterful Virungas’ silverback gorilla. I encountered close up or labored on foot in the vicinity of large snakes, white-tip sharks, Indian tiger, orang-utans that walk about like tall men, monkey troops and gibbons, hyena, lions, wolves, black and grizzly (brown) bears, moose, cheetahs, hippopotamus, crocodiles, alligators, wild hogs, wild dogs, and many other of earth’s great natural creatures large and small (too numerous to recount).
With this last journey, can I, with you, keep up the pace?