Local girl excels! Former Heron Way and Millais student Amy Baker is a writer, an amusing writer, and she has just written her first book – an absolute cracker. Despite well meaning advice from nearest and dearest, colleagues and boss Amy decided to leave her secure job and head off to the other side of the world, often travelling on her own. Fortunately she documented her experiences in her highly entertaining book, aptly entitled Miss Adventures – a tale of ignoring life advice while backpacking around South America. And the good news is that on Thursday (March 16) Amy will be at Waterstones, Horsham from 18.30 to 20.00 for an evening of readings and signing with refreshments. She is no stranger to spreading her wings, telling the District Post: “I’d previously backpacked around Australia, Europe and Asia and was looking for an exciting challenge. South America sounded like the place. Friends had been there, I’d been wanting to see it for myself and it was an opportunity to improve my Spanish!”
Although Amy tried to break the news of her intentions gently she was bombarded with guidance, some was diplomatic but her boss pulled no punches: “You’re going to leave this job to go to South America to be a travel writer? This is utterly absurd! This is not a sensible move for you!” if he has read the book he’ll be having second thoughts.
Others questioned whether it might not be better to settle down and have a family, and is it wise for a woman to travel alone? Amy says: “These weren’t easy discussions but I’m stubborn and was determined to go, so I did! I was fed up with being sensible.” Amy had studied law and criminology at university, lived in London, is sociable and open minded and relishes meeting friends and making new ones. But, she was fully tested. She learned plenty about South America and as much about herself, her decision making, resourcefulness and endurance levels – and she shares that with readers, without holding back.
First stop was Buenos Aires, changing money ad hoc, discovering who to trust, before heading to colourful Caminito Street and then La Bombanera (the Chocolate Box) football stadium of Maradona’s Boca Juniors, only to be chased by marauding hooligans. Next came Bolivia, breathless La Paz, 3650 metres above sea level with cholitas – indigenous women – in thick pleated skirts and tiny bowler hats. A trip up the Amazon to the exhausting boiler room heat of the insect-laden, slithery rain forest followed, with its amazing, dangerous wild life and stunning guide Arturo, whose entertainment included wrestling with a massive boa constrictor. Further raptures came with handsome, but strange, Daniel, a Portuguese numerologist – light relief ahead of mountain climbing in the dark to avoid daytime avalanches, culminating in the mental and physical challenge of Amy dragging herself up a windswept, sheer ice wall.
In Ecuador there was the exhilarating swing at Banos, then on to Colombia, a particularly beautiful and captivating favourite, two friends flying out from London to participate in the enjoyment of the Caribbean coast.
There was sickness in Peru, some perilous swimming, one or two unsavoury characters, far more kindred spirits and many bizarre happenings along the way. The parting words of her boss were: “Amy, I know you’ll come to regret your decision … mark my words.” But, now that she’s back in the UK, how do her counsellors feel? They are all delighted to see her return unscathed and proud of her achievement! Just as well because Amy is not about to shred her passport, telling the District Post: “Next time I want to go east – India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Central America, too. My boyfriend and I are thinking of trying to circumnavigate the globe without flying, which is exciting!” And, with the benefit of her experience is there any advice that Amy would offer? “Just go for it, remain vigilant, plan ahead, make sound decisions – and love it!” The most reassuring send off Amy had was from her father, Horsham’s Paul Baker – “Remember, if you don’t like it you can always come home.” There will be more trips – and hopefully a series of books from Amy.
Miss Adventures South America published by Summersdale, Chichester. www.amybakerwrites.com