Monday, August 16, 2010

Misadventures in Travel by Paula Edwards (review)

Misadventures in Travel: A Missionary's Experience in Brazil
by Paula Edwards
Copyright 2010
Hannibal Books
191 pages, incl. photographs

Misadventures in Travel is about a couple who chose to travel to Brazil to do a job that primarily involved driving around the coastal areas to look for fishing villages that other missionaries might find good locations for evangelism (teaching the people about God, in this case the Baptist doctrine) with occasional stops to chat with people about Christianity. I've found it a fairly slow read, but part of that had to do with the fact that there's no map in the book and the Edwards' did a great deal of traveling but almost none of the city names were familiar.

Eventually, I decided to look up Brazil (which is huge) on GoogleEarth. I printed out the relevant section for reference. If anyone wants me to review a World Atlas, just let me know. I really could have used one.

Scouting out fishing villages along Brazil's coast had to be a monstrous job, driving often on muddy or dramatically pot-holed roads and catching rides on ferries, some large and tidy, some that looked like they weren't necessarily up to the job.

What I liked about this book: There are some excellent anecdotes, especially about the kindness of strangers as Paula and her husband, Van, often had to deal with the difficulty of finding a place to sleep at night in a country where the choice was usually a pousada -- apparently, a small, family-run place that was not clearly advertised -- in the small towns or a hotel in more populous areas. Sometimes, they simply couldn't find a place to stay as night was falling and they had to decide whether or not to take a chance on finding another town. They experienced numerous car breakdowns, which often resulted in friendships with the people who helped them find tow trucks, dealerships, places to eat and sleep.

What I disliked about this book: It's shy on detailed information and there is no map of Brazil to clarify where the couple traveled, hence the GoogleEarth print-out. The back cover blurb explains their job better than the text inside but I still feel as if I don't quite get the purpose. I think the deal was that they were supposed to find places for Baptist missionaries to go evangelize, but they were particularly seeking fishing villages. I never understood why they were specifically targeting fishing villages, nor did I get why they got so excited every time they saw a Baptist church. My assumption was that they were simply looking to fill in the gaps and when they saw a church it meant, "Nothing needs to be done, here."

I was also frustrated by what I considered slightly lazy writing. For example, the author translated a city name, Porto de Galinhas, meaning Port of the Chickens and said there was a story behind the name . . . but she didn't remember it. In non-fiction, facts are important. I found it frustrating that she didn't take the time to research the story because translating the name without explaining its origin simply meant she'd told half a story and left the reader hanging. It took me about 5 seconds with a computer and Google to find the information left out:

Porto de Galinhas means Port of Chickens. During the 18th century, when the traffic of slaves was forbidden, "chicken" was the code used to refer to the slaves. "There are new chickens in town" was the way to say that a ship loaded with slaves had arrived.

Who I think would like this book: Christians, particularly of the Baptist faith, who are curious what it's like to do this particular job and/or adjust to life in a foreign country, and people who enjoy memoirs. But, be aware that there's a lot of everyday life and the anedotes are really few and far between . It could have been a much better book with some added depth of detail.

In other news . . .

It's official: Kiddo has left me with an empty nest. Technically, I'll be a weekend nester because he's planning to come home on weekends, but it feels like an empty nest -- especially when Miss Fiona goes off to hide for her Serious Napping Time and the house becomes ridiculously quiet.

This next few weeks is going to be an adjustment time for me, so if I disappear for a few days or a week or two, don't worry. It just means I'm trying to figure out what to do with myself and that might involve stepping away from the computer for a while. I will still at least show up to post scheduled reviews.

Just (also) finished: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway, a slightly-paranormal YA. Will review that as soon as possible. There are some books that have been waiting for review for several weeks, but I'm not sure what order they'll end up getting reviewed. If there's a particular book I've recently read and for which you've been waiting for a review, just let me know. I'll try to push it forward a little bit.

Off to clean my nest!

Bookfool . . . pondering more kittens to add a little noise to the house

©2010 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post at Bookfoolery and Babble, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. Holy boogers! An empty nest! I hope the transition goes well for you (and him).

    Shame this book wasn't more detailed. I always love anything dealing with travel and daily life in another place, but I would've been infuriated if I'd read the half-story (not even half) about the chicken name. Ugg! Seriously.

  2. I'll be thinking of you in the coming weeks as you navigate through this transitional period in your life. You and your son have a great relationship and I think it's great that he's staying close enough to come home on weekends. I'm anxious to hear what you decide to do with all your free time!!

  3. Andi,

    Funny that my nest is emptying just as you're stuffing yours full of family, isn't it? So far, everything's going fine. Kiddo has called or emailed with updates of things he needs or just to talk, several times. I love it that he's still communicating with us. :)

    I do think this book could have been much better if the author had filled in some gaps. In one place she said they had plenty of stories just about their year in language school, "but that's another book." Ummm, disagree. It would have rounded things out a bit to add those stories. And, the Port of Chicken story really did sort of annoy me. I found the story online in nothing flat! She could have obviously done the same. But, that's not to say I didn't enjoy reading it. I like looking at maps and learning about new places, so I had fun figuring out where exactly they traveled.


    Thanks. It's kind of an odd time, isn't it? I hate to have him leave home and yet I know he has to and that his leaving frees me up in many ways. It's just going to take some adjustment. I'm going to start by trying to do a thorough cleaning/tidying job of his desk and then his room. I warned Will and he said, "That's fine, Mom, just be sure to keep my game cases." I told him where I was planning to put them and he said, "Yeah, just throw them in there," and when I replied that I wouldn't throw, I'd stack neatly, he said, "I know. You know what I mean. If you 'throw' anything, it's going to end up neatly stacked. Just my wording." LOL

    I'm so glad he'll be here on weekends! I don't think I could have handled dropping him off till Thanksgiving, like we did with Daniel. I'll let you know what happens to that free time. I've got a lot of things swirling around in my head, right now, competing for attention. Maybe I'll get out the guitar and relearn how to play or get back to writing fiction or work on improving my photography . . . or get one of those job thingies. I keep thinking that or school might have to happen, at some point.

  4. Free time... I think you'll end up with another kitten!! Best to you on the empty house stress syndrome. I have a friend who is about to send off her 4th and she is not handling it well, all teary-eyed but fighting it. STRESS!

  5. Of course... I just had a thought! YOU are now a bit free-er to TRAVEL! Come fly here and I'll show you the boat and Plymouth Rock! We'll talk books and stack stone towers on the beach and take photos of whatever catches the fancy.

  6. Care,

    I'm definitely leaning toward getting another kitten. Miss Fiona could stand a little company, too. She obviously misses Kiddo trading off playtime with me. I was teary for one day, just one. And, the next day I had a doctor appointment, so I dropped off some things at the dorm and then we went shopping. I love having him close enough that we can just pop over to visit or take him out for a meal or whatever. :)

    Oh, definitely. I'll come visit you! We shall have to talk about that!!


Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!