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Colombia RPCV Craig Carrozzi's South American Adventure Travel Trilogy
Colombia RPCV Craig Carrozzi's South American Adventure Travel Trilogy
SOUTH AMERICAN ADVENTURE TRAVEL TRILOGY
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Wedding of the Waters
Those who have traveled know that it is a constant exploration in human relations and Craig Carrozzi's trip along the Amazon River makes the most of this exploring. The author, a young American Peace Corps worker, spends his vacation realizing a childhood dream by traveling through the Amazon on a lumber boat. With a keen insight into the character of the people he encounters, Craig learns that there are as many reasons to travel as there are travelers, from the lovelorn young American woman, Sandra, to Fernando, a Peruvian student working his way to Europe. During the journey, there is confrontation and confusion, euphoria and contentment, fear and doubt, ecstatic moments of natural splendor, romance and frustration, all packed into a ten day journey. The trip culminates when the boat reaches the confluence of the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers, known as the "Wedding of the Waters" in Brazil, and symbolic of the shared adventure of our wanderers. --Great Expectations Magazine
Trade Paperback, 5 1/2 by 8 1/2, 396 Pages, Retail Price $10.95
The Road to El Dorado
Of all the countries of the Americas, Colombia is the land most identified with the legend of El Dorado. This legend drove Spanish conquistadores across a hostile land in a quixotic search for gold and other riches. The native people of the land were murdered, raped, pillaged, and enslaved. The Road to El Dorado is an allegory comparing the calamitous hunt for El Dorado to the modern allure of the drug trade and its equally disastrous effects on the Colombian social fabric. Told through the eyes and mind of a young American Peace Corps Volunteer who works in a Colombian juvenile prison, it is a true story of fractured idealism and Edenic knowledge. This entertaining book provides insight for anyone seeking to understand the civil mess in Colombia and the increasing U.S. involvement there.
"The Road to El Dorado" is autobiographical fiction, based on a true story, of a Peace Corp Volunteer's time working in a Colombian juvenile prison in the late 1970s. The theme and unifying element--El Dorado, the mythical land of gold sought and died for by numerous conquistadors and adventurers, and whose tradition is carried on by present day adventurers in the cocaine trade--is that blind seeking after material wealth is an absurd path that more often leads to catastrophe than to a better way of life. Then, as now, Colombia was a turbulent country. Revolutionary bands, narco-terrorists, petty criminals in the big cities, and state-of-siege powers for the police and military create a climate of constant insecurity for both the Peace Corps Volunteers and ordinary citizens. But Colombia is also a beautiful country--both geographically and in the richness of its culture and traditions--and offers an array of characters who affirm the power of the human spirit to live, love and dance under difficult circumstances. The first Peace Corps Volunteers were known as the Children of Kennedy. The later volunteers, in the dying days of Peace Corps Colombia, are known by their Spanish teachers as "El Cuerpo de Paseo" (The Vacation Corps). The protagonist, Gary Vachio, calls his Peace Corps group "The Children of Saturday Night Live," as they work, travel, and party from one adventure and misadventure to another. Vachio, a street-wise individual with plenty of attitude, weathers the ups and downs of his Peace Corps experience with cutting humor, a resilient character, and a constant questioning and reevaluation of his own motives and values; as well as those of Peace Corps and of his Colombian counterparts. Working in the prison, in a small macho cowboy town, he becomes so unsettled by the ambiguities of his position that he begins to lose faith in himself and those around him and ponders the inconceivable.
Trade Paperback, 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 , 439 Pages, Retail Price $19.95
Festival of Conception
Images of surf and sand, samba lines, bars, and the ornate crumbling colonial architecture of Brazil's Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos are backdrops for this reflection on his own life's meaning and direction by Craig Carrozzi. With companionable, street wise language, he gives us sounds, visions, and the characters that shaped his love affair with Bahian culture and his choice to plunge into the depths of the artistic life.
The narrative crystallizes a metaphor expressed in the book's title. The Festa da Conceicao (Festival of Conception) is one of Salvador's oldest religious festivals, but not its classiest. Carrozzi is warned by a rich expatriate New Yorker that this celebration attracts mostly lowlifes, that it “can get very dangerous for foreigners,” and that he should really skip it and wait for the “truly important and grand” Festa de Senhor do Bonfim. Hearing that the middle class ignores the Conceicao, he responds, “you’re making it sound better by the minute,” and of course he goes, and we with him, through the streets of the Upper City, then down into its depths, getting lost along the way, through an encounter of frustrated love with a classy prostitute and an ugly tiff with drunk revelers which almost turns into serious violence. Through all the noise and confusion, the modern world intrudes very little. We walk almost everywhere, which helps reduce the experience to its most essential elements and enable the clear conception of his own future which the author reaches at the end of the journey. From the dancing mud will indeed grow the bright lotus.
Carrozzi’s fluency in Portuguese and Spanish give him an ear for a world few non-Brazilians can know close-up, as we get to banter with bartenders, street vendors, Rasta musicians, and others. We float with young hipsters on a bus trip across Bahia, and unexpectedly catch Gilberto Gil sitting in with a local band. The color and enthusiasm with which Carrozzi paints his characters, who are for the most part quite ordinary people, calls to mind, especially in its earthiness, some of Henry Miller’s travel writings, though it lacks Miller’s wild-eyed and blustery ignorance. It also occasionally recalls fellow ex-Peace Corps author Paul Theroux’s stylish first-person accounts of “Third World” countries and their inhabitants. All in all, Festival of Conception is a great read for the vicarious traveler.
The text is complemented by eight original illustrations by Shely Johnstone in the Brazilian block art style. Intriguing scenes of people and places in Bahia.
Trade paperback, 6 by 9, 198 Pages, Retail Price $15.00