Dervla Murphy's journal of her cycle tours of South Africa in 1994 gives a day-by-day view of that period. When Dervla first pedalled across the Limpopo she fancied that she "understood" South Africa's problems because for more than 40 years she had - from a distance - taken an interest in them. Twelve hours later that illusion was shattered. This text reflects her moods of confusion and elation, hope and disappointment as she tries to come to terms with a country even more complex and fractured - but also more flexible - than she had expected. The journey of more than 6000 miles took her through all nine provinces of the new South Africa. As the months passed she came to realize how simplistic it is to see South Africa's conflict as only "black versus white".
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Dervla Murphy is a fine and accomplished Irish writer who has penned 16 books, and has both a detail-catching eye and great personal ambition. Between 1993 and 1995, when she was in her early 60s, she rode her bike 6,000 miles across South Africa--alone--when the Republic was engulfed by racial strife. The question is, Why? As Murphy herself admits, it wasn't for pleasure. Was it then to personally document a country that she herself likens to a mental asylum, where disease and danger followed her like a stalker? Was it to show that she cared or illustrate that she could make such a trek despite her age and the tumultuous social environment? Whatever her motivation, there are numerous problems to conquer: She gets tick fever, her bike is stolen, she is continually warned that her path is not safe--yet on she bikes through gales and parched desert, into impoverished villages and the occasional wealthy town. Struggles abound, and Murphy documents them all, like a martyrish "Little Caboose," with nearly every page darkened by some hardship or sketch of sadness. She uncovers some of the complexity of post-apartheid society--where fears rage like an airborne epidemic--and she skillfully records scenery. But this dense and detailed book is like the subject of apartheid, ultimately depressing. When Murphy confesses that she has "come to love the place," it's hard to believe her, or to understand why. --Melissa RossiAbout the Author:
Dervla Murphy has written more than twenty books recounting her adventures all over the world on foot, mule, bicycle, and just about every other conveyance imaginable. Her books Full Tilt, Eight Feet in the Andes, The Waiting Land, Muddling Through in Madagascar, On a Shoestring to Coorg, Cameroon with Egbert, Transylvannia and Beyond, The Ukimwi Road, and South from the Limpopo are available from The Overlook Press.
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Book Description Flamingo, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 000655105X