My favorite adventures are ones that other people go on and then write a good book about what happened. When I saw the subtitle of Sarah Marquis’ book Wild by Nature, I figured I was in for a treat. The subtitle is From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot. Would I want to do something like that? No, never. But to read about it… ah!
Sarah Marquis, from Switzerland and in her late 30s, has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and done a long hike across Australia before she pulls this adventure together. Going through Mongolia, China, Siberia, Laos, Thailand, and Australia takes her three years, with some detours and starts and stops. She travels very light and eats very little. She has electronic communication via cellphone and satellite with her expedition leader, and that is essential at some rough times. She wrote Wild by Nature after the trip, though she did take notes en route.
She’s at home in nature… it’s when she has to deal with people that her troubles begin. Here she’s staying in a yurt in a Mongolian village. She’d much rather be alone out in the wilderness in her tent but it didn’t work out that day (page 86):
I’m happy despite everything, to have a roof over my head. I go inside, take off my shoes, and collapse on the mattress. A few minutes later, two men burst into my yurt at full throttle as if they are a commando unit unto themselves responding to the call of duty! They’re dressed in black city clothes. I observe them. They’re here for something specific, they’re clearly not the police.
The news of the arrival of a stranger must have traveled through the village quickly. I let them look at my things and nose around. After a few minutes, I gesture that I want to sleep and push them gently toward the exit. The skinnier of the two has fire in his eyes that he fixes on me. I keep calm, showing no emotion whatsoever and start yawning to emphasize my indifference.
But suddenly I’ve had enough, it’s been a long day, I’m tired, and I’m sick of this village full of crazy people. I raise my voice and shout, “Get out of here!” To my great surprise and my even greater joy, they leave. And they don’t return.
She tells many tales with similar elements in them. I devoured these parts of the book, and also the stories of the physical difficulties she had to overcome. It’s really amazing what people can do.
But the elements that really fascinated me were when she talks about the peace that overcomes her at quiet moments. Here’s an example as she walks across Australia (page 207):
My days become a gentle repetition of nearly total tranquility. Solitude alone is there to soothe me. The dread of being stalked by sinister characters long ago departed my days and nights… which doesn’t mean that I want to run into people. I always hide for my own safety. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the bush with great bulls by my side, lying down like lambs, or even kangaroos, which are becoming less and less fearful. My energy is calm and serene. Is this why birds come right up to me?
If you like this sort of book, you’ll love this one! Here it is at Amazon.
And if you are into Pinterest, here’s an image if you feel like posting it. Thanks!