I really enjoy reading books about places that I have visited and travelled through so that I can relate to where the author is describing, bringing back memories not only of the places but also the people that I met there and the experiences that I had. It is great to have the memory jogged a little and to see how your views of somewhere compare with what you are reading. Here are just a few books that take you through Argentina. Maybe they will bring back memories to you or inspire you to go and explore for yourself.
The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux is a well-known travel writer, whose other books include Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar and The Mosquito Coast. The Old Patagonian Express tells of Theroux’s journey from his home town of Boston, Massachusetts in North America, through Central America and on through South America, ending in Patagonia. The Old Patagonian Express (La Trochita) was in fact the name of the last train on his journey, one of the most famous and historic trains in the world. Built as a steam train in 1922, La Trochita linked Ingeniero Jacobacci, a small town in the centre of the Patagonian plateau with Esquel, the most southernmost stop for the train. The train ceased running in 1993, but was brought back to life again in 2006, now operating as a tourist train.
Where the Earth Ends by John Harrison
Having met John Harrison on a cruise to Antarctica where John was part of the expedition team and one of the lecturers, I have always been interested in reading his books. Where the Earth Ends is a fascinating account of John’s journeys through Chile and Argentina through Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego. Following in the wake of his ancestors, the book is an entertaining travelogue that tells of John’s journey to discover lost tribes and the history of the indigenous inhabitants of the region and to sail the waters of Coleridge’s albatross. John’s great-grandfather sailed square riggers past Cape Horn and his grandfather sailed the Horn in steam and diesel and so his affiliations with the region are strong.
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Published in 1977, this book became an instant classic and made Bruce Chatwin famous almost overnight. Chatwin spent 6 months travelling through Patagonia. His inspiration to explore Patagonia originally came from a piece of animal skin that had been given to his grandparents. The skin piece was part of remains that were discovered in a cave in Chilean Patagonia and turned out to be from a giant sloth or mylodon. Chatwin travels around the southern tip of South America that he describes as ‘the uttermost part of earth’. He collected stories from settlers including those from the descendants of Welsh immigrants and went in search of the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy. His book interweaves beautiful descriptions with snippets of history and fascinating anecdotes.
The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara
Ernesto Che Guevara – famous Marxist revolutionary and a hero to many, is the author of The Motorcycle Diaries that was later made into a movie. The book is a memoir that relates the epic eight month journey taken by “Che” and his friend Alberto Granado in 1952 aboard their Norton bike that was affectionately named “The Mighty One”. They covered thousands of kilometres by motorcycle, raft, horse, steamship, bus and hitchhiking, crossing the Andes, the Atacama Desert and the Amazon, a journey that led them through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. The journey was not just one of adventure but also one of self-discovery.