Trekking the Globe with Mostly Gentle Footsteps by Irene Butler (available on Kindle) Book Review
“A transformational world trek”
Book Review BY BARBARA GUNN, VANCOUVER SUN FEBRUARY 19, 2011
Also appeared in-
Victoria Times Colonist
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Regina Leader Post
When many baby boomers contemplate a getaway, they tend to think cruise ships and beaches, or room service and terry-cloth robes.
Not so Irene and Rick Butler. When the Lower Mainland couple decided to get away not long ago, their intention was not to spend two or three weeks at a luxury all-inclusive or lounging on a lido deck. Their plan was more ambitious than that -ambitious as in a 12-month trek around the world.
“After 35 years of being bound to the rigours of the world work, we made a decision to retire or ‘restyle our lives,’ as we called it,” notes Irene Butler in a book that chronicles the couple’s time spent walking, cycling and camel-riding in 12 countries on both sides of the equator.
That book -Trekking the Globe with Mostly Gentle Footsteps; Twelve Countries in Twelve Months -is Butler’s fast-paced account of the manner in which she and husband Rick went about that “restyling.” Less travel memoir and more adventure narrative, it begins at the beginning: when the couple decided to sell their business and plot a journey through four continents.
The Butlers’ game plan was simple enough. The backpacking boomers would adhere to a tight budget as much as possible (they challenged themselves to spend as much as they would have spent in a year at home); they would follow an itinerary that would allow them to “follow the sun;” and they would subscribe to a six-word motto: “We are not here to suffer.”
They also pledged to expect the unexpected. A good idea, it turns out, because the unexpected was precisely what they often encountered.
Irene Butler, an award-winning freelance travel writer, chronicles well the pair’s 12-nation journey, which began in Australia and took them to the mountains of Nepal, to the dusty streets of India, and to the centre of Tiananmen Square -among countless other places.
Not inclined to seek out fivestar hotels, the duo opted for budget-conscious digs, staying in hostels, inexpensive hotels, and even shared dorm rooms on occasion. (While staying in the latter in Tibet, Irene notes that “Rick didn’t mind one exhibitionist chick who pranced around in her thong panties and skimpy bra while trying (or pretending) to find some lost item.”)
Trekking the Globe is as rich with colour and history as it is with anecdotes of the travellers’ experiences, some of them humorous, some of them disturbing. At every stop, the two mingled with the locals -the beggars on the streets of India, alongside the sherpas in the Himalayas.
The couple, who would find themselves jumping aboard a moving train and being sideswiped by a truck before the year was out, would find themselves transformed at journey’s end, not only because of the people and places they encountered, but also because of the realities of their living-withless experience. “Living lean for the past 12 months made us shake our heads at our old idea of necessities, especially in the clothing department,” Butler observes.
Trekking the Globe is a solid read and promises to entertain -no matter whether you’re looking for tips for a backpacking adventure, or simply want to take in some travel vicariously from the comfort of an armchair.
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