Book review: Flamingos in the Desert
I’m going to do something I haven’t done here, or anywhere else, before. This review of a book I have not yet finished. Why? Three reasons. Firstly, I’ve had it for quite some time and feel rather guilty it’s taken me so long after promising the author I’d take a look. Secondly, I’m about a third through and think I’ve covered enough to get a handle on it. I’m a slow reader and usually have about four or five books on the go that I’m forever coming back to. Lastly, I think for the right person it’s potentially a great Xmas gift.
I’ve been known to do a bit of walking myself and I’m always open to reading the experiences others who go a little bit further with the pastime than your average day-tripper. Kevin Borman certainly does that. If your normal reading matter tends toward Fifty Shades of Grey or some pulp fiction by a greedy ex-SAS sell-out this probably isn’t for you. However if, like me, you lean towards non-fiction books you can actually learn something from – this is well worth the time.
Start ‘Googling’ Almeria and, to be honest, it sounds a bit dull compared to other parts of Spain. All you’ll find is a few beaches and the odd tourist resort, Cabo de Gata, and a couple of cowboy related theme parks. I was keen to read this book as I feel having lived here just over two years now, I have barely scratched the surface of what the province is really about. The jacket promises some answers…
“From flamingos to earthquakes, gold mines to goats, prickly pears to wildfires, and white villages to the sets of cinematic history – Kevin Borman takes you on a unique journey from Cabo de Gata to the Sorbas Gypsum Karst and beyond,sharing his reflections and intimate understanding of the landscapes, wildlife and culture of this fascinating and little-known pocket of wild Spain. With maps, a detailed index and a link to an online photo gallery, this book is the ideal companion for the curious traveller, whether passing through on foot or spinning through the sunshine on two wheels or four.”
…and it delivers. Although this could be described as a guide to walking in Almeria (from what I have read so far), that would be unfair. It is so much more. The research and knowledge shines through and encompasses a huge variety of detailed information as the author winds his way around the various routes. Topics as diverse as flaura and fauna, geology, history and architecture are all covered in no small amount of detail.
It’s not a riveting read (that’s not to say it’s not well written), it is a mine full of useful information that might just help you see the province in a new light.
I’m a third of the way through the book and already it is peppered with post-it notes for things I’d like to go and take a look at, photograph, or find out more about. It’s also getting me thinking it’s time I got my rucksack dusted down and take a couple of trips on foot myself. When it’s finished, it’s just as likely to sit in the car as it is on a bookshelf. For the type of book it is, I can’t give it any better recommendation than that.
by Alan Gandy
Alan, along with Elle, is the owner of Spain Buddy. He was born in the North of England (Lancashire) and travelled extensively before eventually settling in Almería. Alan has 3 sons from the first of his 18 marriages, (Sam, Joe & Ben) who are all now adults. You can read more articles by Alan on his personal blog at AlanGandy.com and see more of his photography on his photography website as well as on Flickr and Instagram. Also, for less than the price of a cup of coffee each month you can help support Alan's photography (and get some freebies into the bargain). Click here to visit his Patron page to find out more.