The story of Simon Gandolfi’s solo journey, at the age of 73, from Mexico to Ushuaia on a 125cc Honda pizza bike, and the history and culture of the people he encountered along the way.
The author of a good travel book will always manage to convey their experience of that journey to the reader. Of course, what readers may want from a travel book can vary enormously. Some may desire information about the bike, others the people the writer meets or the landscape being traversed.
Luckily, Simon Gandolfi has incorporated all of these ingredients into ‘Old Man’ as well as a healthy dose of self-deprecating humour.
Even he thought he was mad riding from Mexico to Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, on a Honda 125. But given that he was 73 at the time and that he wore his ‘best for church’ leather shoes all the way, we could also be forgiven for considering him truly bonkers, or perhaps a little bit classy.
Being tri-lingual, Simon has an advantage over many of us, which means he can engage those he meets in conversations. This adds incredible colour to the book, as it does to any trip and the fact that Simon is a multi-published, very accomplished author gives you have a fully rounded book.
His delivery is somewhat staccato, which suits the diary style well, and his social interaction is illuminating, highlighting how Central and South America’s large northern neighbour, with co-conspirators in Europe, has historically treated the indigenous peoples and actively reinforced some derisory stereotypes.
The little Honda performed well throughout and it’s miniscule size didn’t compromise the journey one bit. Indeed it may have supplemented it, being the vehicle of choice for so many on the continent, it didn’t alienate him from those people he met.
You can also hear Simon talking about his journey on the BBC Radio 4 programme Excess Baggage.
– 315pp paperback with 16 colour plates
– ISBN 978 1906 321666
– Buy the book from the Overland Shop