Sunday, April 06, 2008

Holidays in Hell

A friend gave me a copy of P. J. O'Rourke's Holidays in Hell insisting it would be the perfect book to read after Indonesia. He was right. As I read this, I often laughed out loud. Ah, the medicine I needed.

Written in the 1980s, but still relevant, Holidays in Hell chronicles O'Rourke's trips to spots like El Salvador, Lebanon, the Philippines, Panama, Epcot Center (that's right), Poland, South Korea, during the student riots in the 1980s, South Africa, and the Middle East. He's hysterically funny and trenchant throughout.

I'll share some of page 69 to give you an idea of his writing:
Third World Driving Tips
During the past couple of years I've had to do my share of driving in the Third World--in Mexico, Lebanon, the Philippines, Cyprus, El Salvador, Africa and Italy. (Italy is not technically the Third World, but no one has told the Italians.) I don't pretend to be an expert, but I have been making notes. Maybe these notes will be useful to readers who are planning to do something really stupid with their Hertz #1 Club cards.

Road Hazards
What would be a road hazard anywhere else, in the Third World is probably the road. There are two techniques for coping with this. One is to drive very fast so your wheels "get on top" of the ruts and your car sails over the ditches and gullies. Predictably, this will result in disaster. The other technique is to drive very slow. This will also result in disaster. No matter how slowly you drive into a ten-foot hole, you're still going to get hurt. You'll find the locals themselves can't make up their minds. Either they drive at 2 mph*--which they do every time there's no way to get around them. Or else they drive at 100 mph--which they do coming right at you when you finally get a chance to pass the guy going 2 mph.

*As done in Makassar.


IamMBB said...

I think I'm going to buy this book for Steve.

Anonymous said...

Let me know what he thinks. I'm now reading O'Rourke's "Eat the Rich." Review to follow.