Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Travel, research, reading and writing

I'm back in Britain after a holiday of a lifetime - several holidays rolled into one, really. I wanted to celebrate a variety of things, including my shift from being a (very) full-time partner in a law firm who does some writing to becoming a writer who does some legal work.In the past, I was never able to take three whole weeks off work simply to roam the world, but when the chance finally came, I grabbed it.

Ever since I was a small boy, and read Thor Heyerdahl's Aku-Aku, which I bought with a book token birthday present, I've been fascinated by Easter Island, alias Rapa Nui. I suppose it's because it's such a mysterious place, with such a strange, almost unknowable history - to this day, there's a huge amount of uncertainty about the island's past, although Heyerdahl's theories are now discounted by many people. If you like puzzles, there are plenty linked to the island's many legends. Why were the moai built, and why were they later (mostly) toppled? What was the appeal of the sinister Birdman cult? And...well, you get the picture.It's a truly unique place.

Until now, the closest I've come to Easter Island is having a small version of one of those extraordinary moai in my rock garden, but at last I've fulfilled my ambition to visit this remarkably remote tropical paradise. And given that it's so far away, I contrived while I was out there to fit in trips to some other wonderful places in South America, a continent I've never visited before. More about mainland Chile, and Peru, tomorrow..

I've never mastered the art of writing while travelling, partly because I'm not a keen laptop user. But travel does offer a writer the opportunity to research, to read, and above all to think and imagine. Getting away from it all is good for the creative instinct, and that was certainly my experience on a tour which involved eleven flights, two rail journeys, and countless trips on bumpy roads by bus or taxi. I am certainly not a hardy or intrepid traveller, and no jungle trekking or camping was involved, but even so, by my standards, it was a truly epic trip.

I did make a very conscious effort to talk to those I met along the way, sometimes in quite a lot of depth, and this was in itself a kind of research, as I learned a good deal from some very interesting people. They included Paolo, of the Hotel Gomero on Rapa Nui, and Fritz, an Austrian professor and seasoned traveller, among others. And while my prime literary aim was to think out my next novel, I found myself digressing, as one extraordinary place after another suggested ideas for stories. Will they all get written? Not sure, but some at least will eventually see the light of day, because the memories I've brought back home with me are so vivid that I'm confident they'll prove as enduring as the mysteries of Easter Island..    


Margot Kinberg said...

What a holiday you had, Martin! I'm truly happy for you that you got that chance. Thanks for sharing those incredible 'photos, too.

Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

Am glad to find out I was not the only small boy that read and enjoyed Thor Heyerdahl's Aku-Aku.

seana graham said...

Wow, Martin. That's fantastic!

Christine said...

Welcome back, Martin! It all sounds fabulous. Hope to see you after my return from my own travels.

Kerrie said...

I read that too Martin, but have never been to Easter Island. What a trip!

Val said...

How lovely ..there is something about how Easter Island looks that makes me imagine it to be a very special place. I'm glad you got to see it.Did it meet your expectations?

I think meeting and chatting to people is often a brilliant or at least very interesting part of travel. It's amazing the stories you hear. I sat beside an off duty train driver during a train journey once and he could tell such tales, another journey (bus this time) an elderly lady described her adventures in Yugoslavia including drinking wine in a row boat in the middle of a lake ...she had great fun!
You must have a store of good memories to savor now.