The Lost Girls: Three Friends,
Four Continents, One Unconventional
Detour Around the World
by Jennifer Baggett, Amanda Pressner, Holly C. Corbett.
SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING:
READING IS ADDICTIVE
If you are a young woman between the ages of 25 and 30,
DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!
When you read, you inhale the drug inspiration. That can lead to introspection. In a short time you can find it difficult to control your life. Symptoms include restlessness, rapid heart beat, panic attacks, insomnia.
Introspection can cause you to question your existence. It can cause you to quit your job, to leave your home, your family. You could lose the love of your life — everything! You could succumb to the Lost Girls Syndrome!
And Jennifer, Holly and Amanda got it bad.
Approaching the age of 30, three young women set out in the summer of 2006 to have one last glorious, year-long, worldwide fling, before settling down to become the career women, wives and mothers society demands of them. They decide to go backpacking through South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Each woman has one particular experience on her wish list: Jennifer wants to see Kenya; Holly wants to study meditation in India; and Amanda wants to hike the Inca Trail in Peru.
Jennifer, Holly & Amanda
This is not a travel guide, per se; it is a book about female bonding and self-discovery (“to become unlost”). That is the real journey. The exotic locales the girls visit simply become the catalyst.
The women spend the first two months dividing time between Peru and Brazil. Most of this period is one of cleansing—shaking off the stress and anxiety of the demands of their chosen careers in the dog-eat-dog city of New York. They drift from one backpacker hostel and sleazy nightclub to another, playing out a two month long Spring break fantasy.
You know this isn’t about the travel when you read the chapter on Machu Picchu. One of the must-do items on the girls’ list is to hike the 26-mile Inca Trail in the Andes mountains, from the town of Loki to the magical ancient city of Machu Picchu. But first they must party most of the night. Their rundown health leads to illness and they are barely able to drag themselves out of bed in time to meet their tour guide. After an arduous 3-day hike, they finally reach their goal in time to see the sun rising over one of the greatest wonders of the ancient world. Then, exhausted, they promptly fall asleep.
We never do learn whether they actually explored the site. [Editor’s note: I’ve been to Machu Picchu. The best way to get there is to take the train from Cuzco to a hotel at the base of the site. Spend the night there. Then in the morning, just before dawn, witness the rising sun’s glow over the pink stone; and spend the day exploring. You’ll be rested and able to fully appreciate this architectural marvel.]
Next, the women take a one month break and return to New York. It’s not really clear why, other than to catch up with boy friends and to apply for visas to India.
The next stop, after leaving New York, is Kenya and one month’s volunteer work at a school for children who had lost one or both parents to disease, mostly AIDS.
This is where the book takes a 180, as the women face the harsh reality of Africa’s poverty. Here they sleep in roach infested huts, bathe by sharing a bucket of water with three others and discover the toilet facilities consist of a fly-infested hole in the dirt. But the real lesson of this experience is how the smallest of kind gestures can mean so much to those less fortunate. Giving is the best path to happiness, after all.
The rest of their journeys are framed by the Africa experience. There’s still time for frivolities, but the women have found a new sense of appreciation for the opportunities in life they inherited as Americans. Career issues take a back seat to family and charity. As the women return to America, they vow to remain friends for life.
A novel approach to the writing of this book is that the three women share writing duties—alternating chapters. They all come from the publishing business and all are very good writers. As a tale of female bonding and growth in maturity, this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I recommend it highly. The New York Times Bestseller List agrees.
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