Long Way Down

The Long Way Down is the 2nd DVD series/book by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman.  It follows their journal from the tip of England down to the horn of Africa.  Although ostensibly about motorcycles, it spend much of its time dealing with the social devastation resulting from poverty, tribal conflict, and AIDS.

I watched the DVD series a few years ago, and just finished the book (go Burbank library!) last night.  It’s a short read, about 6 hours or so, depending on your level of child-per-minute interruptions.

The first part of the book is marred by constant kvetching about the fast-paced schedule.  Riding a motorcycle is really demanding, but the constant complaining gets annoying.  Their first trip, the Long Way Around, had a much more flexible schedule, and Ewan and Charlie were able to get more in the spirit of a long-distance trip.

I really have no desire to go through Africa, but their descriptions of the people and scenery were gripping.  It’s amazing how much each country differs geographically.  I suspect that part of it is due to the different country’s developmental level and irrigation engineering, but think that it also shows how divisive different geographical landscapes are to people groups’ development.

Overall, this was a good read, but I would rate it as a distinct second to their original journey.  The faster pace and heavier focus on social issues takes away from the more carefree first film, which focused more on Ewan’s and Charlie’s friendship and the challenge of traveling in desolate areas.

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