When the Going Was Good

Evelyn Waugh says. during the height of World War II, that the days of pleasure travel are over, for at least two generations.  In the introduction to a collection of his pre-war travel writings published as a Penguin paperback in 1946:  “I was simply a young man, typical of my age; we traveled as a matter of course.  I rejoice that I went when the going was good.”

A cruise around the Mediterranean in 1929.  Being present at the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia in 1930.  Aden, Zanzibar and Kenya in 1930-1931.  British Guiana and Brazil in 1932.  Back to Ethiopia during the Italian invasion of 1935.

How fascinating.  How unpleasant.  How remote.  How primitive.

The world may have bounced back from the trauma of the 1940s (with exceptions, of course), but traveling where there are no roads, little food, terrible weather, poor or no lodging, ignorance and laziness, does not lend to one thinking that “the going was good” particularly.

Wonderful reading, Waugh was a superb writer with a superb sense of irony and sense of humor.  But his choice of travel locations leaves something to be desired.

“Then where do strangers stay?

“Strangers do not come to Boa Vist’.  If they come on business, the people they have business with put them up.”

‘ I explained that I was on my way to Manaos and had to wait for a boat.  They showed complete indifference, only remarking that they did not know of any boat to Manaos.  Then one of them added that possibly the foreign priests would do something for me — unless they had left.  The last time he was in Boa Vist, the foreign priests were all sick; most people were sick in Boa Vist'”

And this was a good day.

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