Up the Amazon without a Paddle

Doug Lansky

Up the Amazon without a Paddle.

Ever thought about going moose hunting in Sweden?  How about sheepherding in Australia?  Or maybe rafting the wild Biobio River in Chile?  These were just three of the adventures experienced by Doug Lansky, the nationally syndicated travel columnist, and reported on in his latest book, Up the Amazon Without a Paddle.  The book is subtitled ’60 Offbeat Adventures Around the World,' and it certainly lives up to its name.  From canoeing down the Zambezi River in Africa (and fending off hungry hippos with a canoe paddle) to diving for buried treasure off Key West, Mr. Lansky covers the globe, and, along the way, presents any erstwhile traveler with a plethora of suggestions for future vacations.  Mr. Laskey also offers interesting tidbits of information for surviving those vacations, should the reader decide to follow in his footsteps.

In the essay called “Riding the Bird” (Ostrich riding in South Africa), the author presents the reader with an entertaining view of a rather odd means of getting around:

“Envelope please.  And the winner of the Worthless Mode of Transportation Award goes to…the ostrich!  (Frenzied cheering by the New York City subway conductors.)

Yes, you can actually ride them -- ostriches, not New York City subways.  And what better place to learn than Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world.  I decided to visit Highgate Farm, one of three ostrich farms in this smallish town in southwestern South Africa where ostriches outnumber the residents sixteen to one....

…Whatever it is, an ostrich looks like the result of a cruel genetic experiment involving a giraffe and a turkey.  Ostriches’ eyes bulge out of their heads.  Their necks look like bungee cords.  Their ankles are where their knees should be and their feet are where their shins should be.  As a result, these seven-foot-tall three-hundred pound creatures run on two toes (at speeds up to fifty miles per hour) and can also use these toes -- I’m not kidding here -- to rip your chest open with a lightning-fast kick.  The best thing to do if you ever find yourself being charged by an ostrich in the wild -- something everyone should be prepared for -- is to lie down on the ground.  Better to have it step on you than kick you.”

That certainly is sage advice, isn’t it?  I know that I’ll bear it in mind, should I happen to encounter an ostrich in the wild!  If you’d rather your wildlife encounters take place in tamer surroundings (zoos, for instance, or books), be sure to ‘read all about it’ in Doug Laskey’s amusing and often thought-provoking writing.  Happy traveling!

Copyright © 2003, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.