“Humming birds brought rainbows to the earth, say the Nahuatl, brought colour. Colour rustles everywhere, which way to look first, everything is unfamiliar, tourist become traveller in the slow upheaval of connection.”
These words are from a book called Touching Ecuador by W. H. New. I bought it from a second hand bookshop in the old city of Quenca, in the Andes when I was vainly looking for Ecuadorian literature translated into English. It was the closest thing I could find. It is actually a poetry book written by a Canadian about Ecuador but it achieved the same end and gave me further insight into where I was attempting to be a traveller rather than a tourist.
Next stop Nova Scotia where I read ‘No Great Mischief ‘ by Alistair Macleod, a beautifully crafted family saga set on Cape Breton Island over three generations. Although I was visiting in summer, I could feel the winter ice through the pages and the strength of the familiy ties forged through hardship and isolation.
“In the late afternoon the sun still shone, and there was no wind but it began to get very cold, the kind of deceptive cold that can fool those who confuse the shining of the winter sun with warmth….They took two storm lanterns, my mother carried one and my brother Colin, the other, while my father grasped the ice pole …it was dusk out there on the ice and they lit their lanterns. Then their lanterns began to waver and dance wildly…They’ve gone under, said Grandpa.”
Last stop New York where I started ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara. It was like going into the personal lives of people I passed on the street and looking behind the doors of their tiny over-priced NY apartments:
“The apartment had only one closet but it did have a sliding glass door that opened onto a small balcony, from which he could see a man sitting accross the way, outdoors in only a T-shirt and shorts, even though it was October, smoking.”
What literature has helped you climb into your travel destinations?