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Inspiring Book

In response to your question concerning books that have inspired travel, I have prepared the following piece:

The images of colorful crafts, traditional ceremonies, and, most importantly, her inspiring neighbors in her village described by Carol Spindel in her novel, In The Shadow of the Sacred Grove inspired my fiancˇe, Vanessa, and I to visit Korhogo and it surrounding villages in Cote d'Ivoire once we finished our Peace Corps mandate in Gabon, Central Africa. Kalikaha, the village where Spindel and her husband, Tom, lived while he was performing anthropological research, exemplified the idyllic West African culture that we had imagined before our original journey to Africa.

Once we arrived in Korhogo, we found a place to stay at the local mission and met a fellow traveler, Marianne, a doctor from a Southwest American Indian reservation. Together, we contracted a guide, who led us from village to village each was complete with the crafts we had read about a year previously.

There were 50* looms where women wove colorful linens, blacksmiths forged iron tools, newly completed clay water pots dried in the sun, and mud cloth artists who told us that their village was where Picasso came for inspiration. (In fact, Picasso never visited Africa which we did not realize until months later at the Picasso Museum in Paris.) Our visit culminated with a meal of grilled fish and fried plantains with the locals as it should have, in the spirit of Spindel's book, with the personalities of the Ivoiriens outshining any of their remarkable artistic abilities.

Though we were unable to experience Korhogo as Spindel and her husband once did, we got an excellent taste of what life is like in the region due to the background she provided us and our own brief conversations with the locals. I highly recommend pursuing "literary travel." It completes the picture and brings home the story the author intends.

Footnote: Upon Marianne's recommendation, we then traveled to Banfora, a little known travel destination, in Burkina Faso which turned out to be a wonderful digression of waterfalls and wild hippos before continuing to Bobo Dialosso and the pool of the sacred fish ...

Sincerely, Michael


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