Road tripping around Chile for a couple of weeks from Santiago to Pucón via the Atacama Desert entailed both reading and being read to during the longer stretches of driving.
First leg of the trip
Reading: Another Massimo Carlotto book called Bandit Love published by Europa editions.
Closing the door on a crime-ridden past, Marco Buratti plans to spend the rest of his days in the darkness of seedy nightclub, sipping Calvados and listening to the blues. But things don’t quite go as planned and when his gangster friend’s girlfriend is kidnapped, Buratti is once again thrown head first into the criminal underworld he has been struggling to escape.
This is the third Buratti book of Carolotto I have read and although it was still highly addictive with a strong narrative and vivid characters it didn’t hit the same mark as the first two. This was largely down to the fact that the plot jumps around in time quite often, without a clear signal, so realisation only comes after a couple of pages and then you – or maybe just me – have to reverse and take stock of the situation.
Location: Alto Atacama, Atacama Desert – absolutely stunning, otherworldly location with numerous heated pools and delectable food for both lunch and dinner a first class hotel & service.
Reading: Graham Greene’s ‘The Captain and the Enemy’ which I secured from my travelling partner’s Uncle.
Victor Baxter is a young boy when a secretive stranger known simply as “the Captain” takes him from his boarding school to live in London. Victor becomes the surrogate son and companion of a woman named Liza, who renames him “Jim” and depends on him for any news about the world outside their door. Raised in these odd yet touching circumstances, Jim is never quite sure of Liza’s relationship to the Captain, who is often away on mysterious errands. It is not until Jim reaches manhood that he confronts the Captain and learns the shocking truth about the man, his allegiances, and the nature of love.
This was part read and part read to me which could explain much of the confusion that was felt during the duration of the story. The characters were classic Greene curious with an edge of eccentric mystique but the plot was slightly baffling. Bizarrely enjoyable but I was left dumfounded.
Location: Hacienda Vira Vira, Lake District of Southern Chile, Pucon. A newly opened hotel and extremely unique with a working farm including a cheeserie. The service was impeccable and the excursions offered ranged from a short hike to a stunning waterfall, helping make cheese with their on-site swiss genius, horse riding with a fascinating and overly experienced fellow and a relaxed wine tasting which ended up with bottles rather than sips drunk. The food and wines paired were exceptional and I rolled contentedly rather than walked out of the front entrance.
In addition to these two books that I read in their entirety I also had the pleasure of a few snippets from Travels in a Thin Country by Sara Wheeler which is about quite obviously her travels in Chile. If you can get past the first 50 pages of guff you are in for a treat. Bang on point and wickedly entertaining Sara Wheeler’s account of the country is absolutely brilliant to the point that no other travel writer has come close to tackling the subject with the same flair.
And that was it in a reading nutshell. I was sad to leave Chile especially as we were coming back to winter rather than spring however, Christmas wouldn’t be the same if we were sat in thirty-degree heat and I needed some new books!