Monday, July 27, 2015

Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya by Jamaica Kincaid

Most people go to a garden center or trade cuttings with friends to collect plants for their gardens. In Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya, author Jamaica Kincaid recounts how in 2003 she joined experienced botanists for a trek into remote Nepal to gather seeds for her garden in Vermont. The story not only teaches readers that many of our beloved nursery stock are exotics, it also reveals how Europeans and Americans are still traipsing across less accessible parts of the globe as explorers, often not understanding the people they hire.

I recalled Michael Palin's travel adventures in the Himalayan region while reading Among Flowers. Like Palin, Kincaid and her party encountered remote Maoist rebels who delayed their expedition. Kincaid even feared for her life in Maoist controlled villages that were so unconnected to the outside world that they thought the American president's name was Powell.

As you might expect, Kincaid provides a day-to-day account, recording the elevations the party climbs, describing the hardships and wonders of a place most people will never go. Among Flowers is a great book for seasoned armchair travelers.

Kincaid, Jamaica. Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya. National Geographic Directions, 2005. ISBN 9780792265306.

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