by Hannah Hughes
Not all advice is worth listening to, and in Miss-Adventures: A tale of ignoring life advice while backpacking around South America, Amy Baker attempts to weigh up the plentiful of intrusive advice she received during her pre-departure to South America. Amy retells her misfortunate shenanigans on her six-month backpacking spree throughout Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, whilst comparing friends’, family members’ and often over-bearing work colleagues’ advice with that of an “expert” – i.e. Carol from reception vs. Mother Theresa – trying to establish, in hindsight, who it may have been wise to abide to.
In Argentina, Amy gets chased out of town by a mob of angry hooligans during her city cycle tour, battles her way through the anaconda-writhen Bolivian Amazon with her Tarzan-sculptured tour guide, scales ice walls to begrudgingly drag herself to the top of a 6000 metre mountain and accidentally gets tangled in the line of Colombian coke dealing con-artists on the Caribbean coast. The author’s stories are astounding and terrifying as she stumbles her way into a fair share of what-could-have-been-disasters, making for an entertaining read from the comfort of a sofa.
A laugh-out-loud chapter comes from the days Amy spent in the Amazon, which she did not anticipate being so hardcore and challenging. She sleeps in a three-walled hut with no protection from big cats, swims in crocodile infested waters, eats termites and pulsating worms, encounters frisbee-sized tarantulas, snakes, sloths and scorpions, and a whole lotta wildlife. “We ventured on, past banana-sized centipedes, glow-in-the-dark frogs and more snakes just chilling out on leaves no doubt pondering which tourist to sink their fangs into.” Amy did not find anything about the Amazon easy, but luckily for her, Arturo the tour guide – aka the long haired, machete bearing, animal hypnotising Amazonian King – provided a pleasant distraction…
Amy Baker is one of those people who seem to attract chaos like hostel kitchens attract lice, and not all her crazy situations can be blamed on her tropical surroundings; a lot of mayhem is self-inflicted. In Colombia, despite an NHS nurse advising Amy to not “ingest anything given to you by a stranger [because] people don’t tend to give things away unless they’re trying to incapacitate you”, Amy decides to eat a supersonic weed brownie from a hostel employee. Despite her high thoughts starting out innocently – “The mesmerising way the chunky teeth of that beige zip fit together… so seamless… so smooth… that was sheer mechanical genius” – it soon deteriorated into a case of extreme paranoia and thinking everyone was trying to kill her.
Every sentence of this book is injected with comedy, the author does not take herself seriously and she isn’t afraid to share her most embarrassing moments; her honesty is endearing and hilarious. If you’re into solo female travel tales that will leave you wondering how on earth a human gets themselves into such situations, then this book will grip, entertain, and – in equal measurements – thrill and alarm you. It is a light-hearted read and a reminder to not always take people’s advice as gospel, but sometimes, mistakes must be learnt the hard way.
Hannah Hughes graduated from University of Leeds with a BA in English Language & Linguistics (International). During her time at university, she spent one year studying in The Australian National University, Canberra. She has backpacked alone through South-East Asia, Australasia and Central America, taking sporadic jobs here and there to fund her trips. She has had several travel memoirs published, as well as a few articles about the fight against climate change. You can find more examples of her work at https://intrepidtimes.com/author/hannahhughes/