Title: Junkie Buddha. A Journey of Discovery in Peru
Author: Diane Esguerra
Category: Travel Memoir
My Rating: 5 Star
It’s not very often a book reduces me to tears, but the Junkie Buddha is the kind of read that reaches deep into your soul while also pulling firmly on the heart strings.
I’ve always been fascinated with the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, but I also enjoy reading about how other people navigate their healing journey after a life altering experience. Diane Esguerra’s travel memoir combines the two.
Her son adored travelling in South America, and so, following his death, Diane decided to travel solo to Peru to scatter his ashes at the sacred site of Machu Picchu. Her story is beautiful, raw, honest, and humourous at times. She doesn’t hold anything back.
Carefully crafting her travel writing in amongst the memories of her son’s painful yet remarkable story, Diane honours his memory with a gripping memoir that I couldn’t put down.
I would consider myself a fairly confident traveller but what Diane deals with on her trip would turn your hair white. I’m certainly not that confident!
About 40 kilometres down the road from Titicaca, the coach driver pulled into a nondescript town called Juliaca, parked in the main street, and then vanished into thin air. No-one dared to get off the coach in case he reappeared and drove away without them. We assumed that he’d gone in search of a more civilised lavatory in which to relieve himself as the one in the coach was full to overflowing, but after an hour the general consensus amongst the passengers seemed to be that he either had prostate problems or a woman in Juliaca.
Diane used the precious memories of her son to guide her on this awe inspiring journey. It’s not just about grief and laying someone to rest, this book is so much more and will make you seriously think about life.
A year later in a country far away, gratitude welled up inside me as I acknowledged that the previous Christmas and Boxing Day had, in fact, bequeathed some cherished memories. Sacha had turned to me on the A23 as I was driving him and Mikey back to Brighton and thanked me profusely.
“That, Mum, was the best Christmas I’ve had for years.”
Her travel tales are wonderfully colourful and highly entertaining, and part of me wished she’d added a few pages of colour photos to the book so I could see the incredible places she so beautifully describes. This is the kind of book that activates all of your senses.
Although the reasons for writing this book are shrouded in sadness, it is one of the most uplifting books I’ve read in a long time. If you are looking for a superbly written memoir with the bonus of a trip to Peru (without leaving the comfort of your sofa), then I would highly recommend this book.
Our healing journeys differ. Some move country or hit the bottle. Diane’s healing journey was travel.
Her son loved travelling and mountain climbing in South America. He’d walked the Inca Trail and longed to return to the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu. On the first anniversary of his death, fragile and aching with grief, she travelled alone to Peru to scatter his ashes there.
Diane’s adventures en route were by turns scary, electrifying and humorous: flying over the Nazca Lines; a consultation with an Inca witch; an accidental brush with Peruvian porn. She immersed herself in the culture – and Peru reconnected her with life.
This is a story about profound loss leading to spiritual gain. And it’s a story about love.
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