My friends Ruth and Annie went on a trip-of-a-lifetime this summer, an African safari. Lucky them. Now though, lucky me too, because for the past month, I’ve been vicariously sharing their experiences via Ruth’s blog, silver anniversary safari.
This is definitely my preferred way to travel: no injections, waiting around in airport lounges or hours of sitting in a metal box being hurtled across the sky. I jump straight into the heart of another culture when I open the latest instalment.
I’ll make a sweeping assertion that conveying the excitement and wonder of a place is the general aim for any travel-writer. The key to this particular travel-log is the narrative voice: the choice of language, and stand-point.
Now let’s just take the last thing first, and clarify what I mean by ‘stand-point’. I’m not talking about Ruth’s proximity to the animals, although at times, that was breathtakingly close. What I mean, and I’m sure you understood this, but I’d like to be precise, is how her thinking led her to interpret what she experienced.
What comes through strongly in these pieces is personality: there is humour, as well as wonder and fascination. The way Ruth describes the people she meets, the incidental events she chooses and the things she sees, show us our narrator as well as providing a brief insight into the culture she is experiencing.
Perhaps it’s because I’m mid-way through tutoring my Writing Family History course, that I’m also thinking about the value of Ruth’s piece of writing for the future. It is not just entertaining, it is a record of interactions with specific environments at this point in time. Imagine, in the future, someone tracing their family tree and discovering not just the photographs of this trip, but alongside them, the story that sets them in context.
*Photos taken from Ruth Boardman Anniversary Safari.