92 Days, Travels in Guiana and Brazil [Evelyn Waugh]

Who in his senses will read, still less buy, a travel book of no scientific value about a place he has no intention of visiting? (I will make a present of that sentence to any ill-intentioned reviewer).

92 Days is a witty account of , well, the 92 days Evelyn Waugh spent in what was at the time British Guiana and Brazil.
He explains that his absolute lack of knowledge  about Guiana prompted his trip, although we learn in the afterword that his marriage had just ended and he was also seeking some respite from his claustrophobic London society. Armed with a rudimentary map, his wit and baggage that seemed to always be ahead of or behind him, Waugh in effect disappeared deep into the heart of the far flung British Colony, often sleeping in native indian shelters after spending all day on horse back crossing the limitless bush..

Thwarted in his attempts to travel deeper into Brazil, he tracks back into Guiana and back up the other side.  He describes the characters he meets as well as his feelings towards them, as any number of guides help him traverse the little travelled terrain, in between his refilled glasses of rum and indian subsistence diet.

You could always tell a Freemason, he said, because they had VOL branded on their buttocks.  ‘It means volunter, I suppose’, he said, ‘I can’t think why’ (Mr Christie)

Having recently read John Gimlette’s Wild Coast I realised I might have read this first, but no matter, Waugh’s humour and practicality were enough to make this an enjoyable read of somewhere I have no place to visit, which probably means I’ve taken leave of my senses.

The python averted it’s own delicately pointed face and slipped away into the bush; the toad showed little gratitude or surprise at his escape, but dragged himself laboriously under a log and sat down to consider his experience.


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