While some of the books I review on my site are furnished by the publishers, authors, or publicists for the purpose of review all of my reviews are truthful, honest, and my sincere opinion.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Review: Journey on the Estrada Real by Glenn Cheney

Thank you to the author Glenn for letting me review this book.

About the Book

Glenn Cheney began a love affair with Brazil when he impulsively hitch-hiked there from Connecticut in 1974. Less than a decade later, disillusioned with the hectic New York lifestyle, he and his wife bought a rural banana farm in the state of Minas Gerais, the region through which the Estrada Real road winds its mountainous way. Cheney's familiarity with the area adds richness and depth to this travelogue, the compelling story of his journey on foot through one of the most remote areas of Brazil. The author makes his way through rural but populated areas, writing about people and an archaic way of life almost forgotten by the rest of the world. Throughout his journey, he is constantly aware of the fragility of the way of life he documents, and the extent to which the region lies under the threat of globalization. The personal connections he makes with the people of Minas Gerais are invaluable for our understanding of how these mountain people live; so far at least, untouched by the modern world.

My Review

The other book that I read of Cheney's was a historical book about the Pilgrims, and while I did enjoy that one I wasn't quite sure of what to expect with this book. This is more of an autobiography of his life, as well as the real story of road in South America.

The book started out a little slow, but the further along the Estrada Real we were taken the more interesting the story of this road becomes. The people he meets while walking each have such great stories. They're not amazing people, they're not rich and famous, they're just real people living the lives that they were given. While some of the people have high hopes, they aren't any different than anyone else. Everyone had dreams right?

While I don't know that I would ever try and tackle the feat that Cheney did I would at some point in my life like to see some of the places that Cheney visited on his journey. Some of the cities seem so vibrant and some of the wilderness was described so beautifully. By the time Cheney makes it to the end of his journey I was so enthralled with the journey that I didn't want it to end. I could feel the happiness, tiredness, and humbleness that Cheney experienced while on his journey.

When Cheney first described some of the places he was staying I thought to myself "I could never stay someplace like that". But the more he travels and the more commonplace these accommodations become I realized that for these people this is what they know. I can't imagine not having electricity and my luxuries and these people can't imagine having them. I was truly humbled by the lives of these people and by the fact that they have stuck to their way of life despite the fact that the whole world is changing around them.


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