If you look, "The Book" is everywhere. Otherwise, "The Book" is nowhere???.
"You cannot buy it in any store, or send away for it online. You can't meet the author (there are thousands) and you probably won't be able to read it if you do find it, since much of it is written in Hebrew. It is what they call the bible of travelers." -Outside magazine.
This book is not a picture book, nor a textbook. It is not a library book or your sister's diary. This is simply, "The Book", and the guide to travelers of South America.
When you go traveling to a foreign place, you usually take a guidebook with you, so you know your way around, can look up the best restaurants, or the shortest way to get to a neighboring city. Guidebooks help us immensely, but this thing, "The Book", could be the most helpful of them all. So what is it?
"The Book" is a large notebook, many of them scattered around, its pages filled with extraordinary treasures. One page could be in German, telling the best place to rent a guide in Chile. The next page could be a helpful hint or warning, or maybe just a rant such as "On the day of my volcano climb, my guides didn't arrive on time. They didn't arrive at all. It's a lack of respect, and can't remain unpunished." "The Book" is the small writings of many authors, travelers, or anybody who passes its way. The travelers of South America all know where "The Book" is kept, in all its locations. They have written in it themselves. It is the scrapbook of there culture, hoping to help other traveler's generations down.
If you do ask someone, and do get your hands on "The Book", you will see and learn amazing things. There is something different and helpful on each page. What are the best hotels in La Paz? "Watch out for infested dogs on El Laboro!" Maybe you'll come across a drunken love note, or a simple "Casa: I'm in Israel at the moment. I've been waiting for you for weeks. Meet me in Saltina on the 11th?" "The Book" is its own community of people, culture, and thoughts. It's a place to vent and give advice, to heap your troubles or recommend the finest restaurants in Ecuador. "The Book" is different everywhere, because each one is a whole new set of suggestions, rants, notes and side ideas. Maybe a joke thrown in for good measure. So what if it's in Swedish? Or the next paragraph is Hebrew? Or the words are so tear stained you can't decipher them. The Book holds some sort of magic for all the travelers in South America. Maybe It'll hold something for you, too.
"I was walking in downtown La Paz when I came upon Edan. I hadn't seen him in over a year, and I had missed his smiling face. The first time I had seen him is when I rented one of his low end apartments, an address which I found in this very book. We've been great friends ever since. I don't recommend that particular settlement, although. It was infested! I do hope to come upon Edan in my travels again, before heading back to my home country. Traveling is a breath of fresh air, That is why everyone does it. Oh! And Travel is so much easier and delightful with the help of the book. I asked the waiter at Ko Bara yesterday if he knew where one of the volumes was at the moment. He did. The caf?? owned one itself! I quickly jaunted down my own piece of advice in hastiness, barely containing my excitement to read the entries. They are always so interesting, so helpful. That is what The Book is truly about, you know. Helping your brothers and sisters, even if you never meet them, along these dusty roads. I know many people who have started The Book themselves, handing a thick volume to anyone who asks for it, passing along the tradition. It is truly the bible of traveling in South America! No one could get along without it!"
Although "The Book" is famous in the backroads of South America, you could start one yourself, whenever you have a visitor, just ask them to jaunt something down. It's interesting to look back years later and see how much it has filled up. Who knows what you'll learn, what you can contribute. I encourage you to look up more about the book. I hope this week's column just piqued your curiosity.
Following the trail of an underground global legend the everywhere, and nowhere travel bible of the vagabond people.