Friday, January 13, 2006

400 Words

I am supposed to write 400 words on the value of taking local transport for Tim Leffel's new book.

I've been supposed to do this for months and now it's due in the next week.

I roughed out a beginning this morning but it needs a lot of work. It needs a lot less glibness and more, I dunno, honesty. Here's the start.

If you want to meet locals when you travel, get on the bus.

Locals don't take overland trucks or luxury coach tours. They don't shield themselves from the world in private taxis. They take whatever local transport is available in their home countries, and the poorer the country—and the fewer private cars—the more likely there is to be accessible public transportation.

It won't be comfortable in most cases, and you may find yourself wishing for a flat tire just so that you can pee. You will surely crave the "tourist bubble" and organized timetable that comes from floating along in private transport, but when you look back, you will embrace the chaos and color of your once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I have ridden in Peugeots with comedic Masaai warriors—they kept a running banter throughout the two-hour journey. Unfortunately, it was all in Swahili and all I could understand was the laughter of the Kenya-bound audience.

I need to write in some other experiences here. Then I need a sassy but thoughtful finish. Anyone see anything they hate so far? I know it's kind of lazy of me to ask for input when I've barely started, but I have to go to my first day of work today so I don't know if I'll have time to deal with it for the next 10 hours.


Jared said...

I like it so for. The only place it needs less glibness is in the structure (I'm big on structure). I suggest not ending any of your sentances on a negative thought. Go positive, negative then positive. There has to be at least two positives for every negative in a upbeat piece.

Anonymous said...

I think you should mention the time your driver overturned the truck then messed his pants. That oughta encourage the use of local tranportation...

Ed Ward said...

400 words? That's nothing. I dunno about Jared's formula; I'd just encourage you to write it like you were talking about it in conversation, leave it for four or five hours while you do something else, and then patch up the weak bits and get rid of it!

DareDevil said...