Travels with a Tangerine

Mackintosh-Smith, Tim. Travels with a Tangerine: from Morocco to Turkey in the Footsteps of Islam’s Greatest Traveler. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004.

Reason read: Admittedly, this is an oops read. I had Hall of a Thousand Columns on my list a few years back. At the time I didn’t realize you must read Travels before Hall so I vowed when the subject of “exploration” was to be honored again, I would circle back to Mackintosh-Smith and read Travels. The mistake lies in the fact I forgot to remove the other exploration book I had slated for 2017, Antarctic Destinies. As a result, I am reading them both.

Travels with a Tangerine takes us back to the year 1325 when the “greatest Islamic traveler” Ibn Battutah departed from Tangier on a pilgrimage to Mecca when he was 21 years old. There is nothing astonishing about someone wanting to take a pilgrimage to Mecca. What is so remarkable is where Ibn Battutah ended up. The trip took him almost thirty years and 75,000 miles. He spent his life on the road. At the same age, author Mackintosh-Smith sets out to follow in IB’s footsteps, admittedly taking short cuts because he doesn’t want to spend his entire life on this journey. But the result of this fascination is an interesting look back at the Arabic fourteenth century with eye an toward the future. Mackintosh-Smith’s humor makes it an easy read.

Quote to quote: “Then there were those reports of violence against Maghribi immigrants in Paris and Marseille, the deportations, the unimaginable shittiness of being an illegal alien” (p 31). Think about that sentence for a second. What has changed? Here’s another one, a little more lighthearted, “Defecation and ingestion of knowledge are such complementary activities” (p 105). So, that’s why men bring newspapers in the bathroom!

Author fact: Mackintosh-Smith is the winner of the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award

Book trivia: Illustrations by Martin Yeoman. They are delightful. I especially liked the monkey on page 249.

BookLust Twist: Twisted twice – once from Book Lust in the chapter called “Here Be Dragons: the GReat Explorers and Expeditions” (p 110) and once in Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “In the Footsteps Of…” (p 100-101).

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