As the days keep getting shorter and colder here in Prague, I find myself thinking more and more about travel to the tropics. And, of course, one of the best reasons to visit the tropics is to watch the sunset, lying in a hammock next to a loved one, with drink in hand. Now, sunsets in Prague are nothing to sneeze at, with the rosy light settling on the beautiful buildings, but it’s hard to beat the tropics. My worldwide favorite sunsets? The island of Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar.
As we at Gadling have reported, there are a million great attributes of this country: democratic, safe, remote, with a good economy, beautiful, friendly people, unbelievable food, perfect weather, mountains, beaches–should I go on? While most fly in through South Africa, we endured the 11.5 hour flight direct from Paris on Air France. But what treats await! I have never seen sunsets so consistently magnificent anywhere in the world.
The island country is an interesting mix of Africans and Indians and their cultures, with history as both a French and, later, a British colony. You can see the French architectural influence, and most people speak a kind of Creole French in everyday conversation. The official language and legal customs, however, are English. While not on most people’s radar screen, everyone has heard about the island, at least through the existence of the dodo bird, a former inhabitant. Mark Twain was a big fan, saying “heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
Dear readers: where are your favorite sunsets?
One of the first travel books I ever read remains one of the best I’ve ever read. Mark Twain’s Innocent’s Abroad helped define what I like in a travel tale: fascinating, novel information about a place, detailed interaction with others, and humor. Twain delivers all of these and more. And Innocent’s Abroad had me both giggling and mesmerized throughout its pages. If only every travel writer could inject humor into their work, the genre would be much better for it. Twain and Bill Bryson are probably two of the funniest travel writers alive, except that Twain’s dead. But that’s beside the point.
What I want to tell you about here is a piece over at Worldhum by Kristen van Tassel, who takes a look at several new books about Twain that focus almost exclusively on his itinerant habits.
Twain might be best known as a fiction writer, but the reality is he was a compulsive traveler. He went to the ends of the earth in the days when, well, they didn’t think the world was flat exactly, but much of the world remained unknown to most of the people. And these books seem a nice way to introduce oneself to twain’s travel writings. The books are called Mark Twain: On Travel, edited by Terry Mort, and Mark Twain’s Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race, edited by Lin Salamo, Victor Fischer, and Michael B. Frank of the Mark Twain Project. They appear to be more compilations of Twain material, which is fine by me. It would be nice if a new novel or travel book was discovered ,but as far as I’m concerned the world can’t get enough of Mark Twain.