Tschiffely’s Ride was the saga of a 1930s adventure recommended by Pat Smythe in her Three Jays series. Possibly the one where she talked about her own trip to South America. I read it at the library in my early teens, and decided a couple of years ago to get a second edition when I saw it online. It had an inkstained cover, but then, how long ago did that happen?

I’m adding in comments, rather than reviews, on two other books, which are past their sell-by date.  Tschiffely’s Ride has the benefit of being a historical memoir. The others will be studied in the future, when people research ‘why didn’t they do something?’

Tschiffely's Ride

Tschiffely’s Ride

by Aime Tschiffely

A vivid account of an incredible 10,000 mile journey, on horseback and one of the great travel adventures of all time. [goodreads]

My review

Well, this does not disappoint.

Aime Tschiffely takes us from the initial idea he has in Buenos Aires, to find some native ponies and travel up through the Andes, cross the Central American countries, and end up in New York. They thought he was mad, of course. But he trusted in these hardy Argentine Pampas horses, named Gaucho and Mano. He planned, prepared, and made ready for nearly every eventuality.

It creates a magical picture of the hardships people went though in the 1930s. For the most part, Tschiffely camped out, or constructed a shelter when he couldn’t get the tent up in the pouring rain. Then there were the inns. Basically four walls, with or without roof, often shared with the animals. This had the benefit of ensuring nobody stole the horses in the night. Sometimes the pigs had been the previous occupants. Some larger villages had rest houses, which were rather like hostels, and occasionally, he met up with the gentry, who had heard of his adventure, and been alerted to look out for him. Then he was royally wined and dined, everybody celebrated his progress, with speechifying and parties all night, when all poor Tschiffely wanted to do was sleep!

He did get sick at times; the horses suffered their own mishaps, but somehow they made it through, thanks to both their own hardiness and the willingness of strangers to help.

The detail Tschiffely applies to his adventures with the country and people of S America in the 30s creates a huge impression. It’s really quite overwhelming. And the impressions of N America are as bad as I remember them. I’m glad I have my own copy to dip back into when I want.

Two 2009 books on the Climate Change situation

I have had both these books since they were published, both in 2009.

I did read the Summary of the Stern Report, as it was called, and understood that this highly respected financial expert had calculated that we might see a few points drop in global GDP if we spent a great deal of money changing our ways to reduce the impact of climate change. But if we didn’t, we were going to lose a great deal of money, GDP would crash, and the world would be in a very sorry state. I paraphrase, of course. And a lot of people started to take action.

I read part of James Lovelock’s last book, and wished I’d read it when it first came out. Here were all the same dire warnings, but in a more social ecosystem style. The same solutions staring us in the face, the costs of which would be amply repaid by our survival. It got so depressing, reading about the opportunities to keep our CO2 levels down below 400 parts per million (only 50 parts above the ‘safe level’, passed in 1993), that I gave up. Atmospheric concentration now (13 June 23, NOAA) stands at 419.3, and that’s a 23.6 increase in the last ten years. Basically, this book does not help us. We are way past most of its worst predictions. Including the shocking idea that Arctic sea ice might melt completely by 2050. Um… make that 2030.(Guardian Nov 22). Of course, Lovelock was also writing when the prospect of global population surpassing 7 billion looked likely. – that’s 8 billion now.

So, don’t read these books now. They are out of date, and will either lull you into a sense of false security or make you mad. Read the Climate Change Panel Reports, and other reliable reporters, and take as much action as you can. Of course, it needs all of us to take action. And the main problem is that the super-rich aren’t.

So, find a copy of Tschiffely’s Ride, and enjoy a trip nearly a hundred years into the past, instead.

Tschiffely’s Ride and other old books

2 thoughts on “Tschiffely’s Ride and other old books

  • 29 July, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    Tschiffely’s Ride sounds like my kind of book! ANd yes, I’m afraid climate books are rapidly out of date as we fail to pay attention to what they say.

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