Patagonian Road: A Year Alone Through Latin America (Paperback)
Spanning four seasons, 10 countries, three teaching jobs, and countless buses, Patagonian Road chronicles Kate McCahill’s solo journey from Guatemala to Argentina. In her struggles with language, romance, culture, service, and homesickness, she personifies a growing culture of women for whom travel is not a path to love but to meaningful work, rare inspiration, and profound self-discovery. Following Paul Theroux's route from his 1979 travelogue, McCahill transports the reader from a classroom in a Quito barrio to a dingy room in an El Salvadorian brothel, and from the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires to the heights of the Peruvian Andes. A testament to courage, solitude, and the rewards of taking risks, Patagonian Road proves that discovery, clarity, and simplicity remain possible in the 21st century, and that travel holds an enduring capacity to transform.
About the Author
Kate McCahill has been published in Vox, The Millions, and in the Best Travel Writing and Best Women's Travel Writing anthologies by Travelers' Tales.
"Kate McCahill is a blues traveler, singing for citizens of the world who have no public voice. She depicts beauty within despair, allowing us to hear a comforting melody in an unsettling breeze and see the gorgeous colors within a bruise. If a feeling of loneliness pervades her essays, so do feelings of wonder and pleasure. It’s simply impossible not to share her joyful and frequently bewildering sensations of travel." —Sascha Feinstein, author, Black Pearls
"Oh, what a stunning and gorgeous book this is, and one I can’t wait to gift my daughter when she’s ready. The story of a young woman’s year-long trip through the long and winding highways, foot-paths, city streets and dusty back roads of Central and South America, Patagonian Road reminded me of my own journeys and made me pine for the ones I never had. It also expanded my understanding of what the journey is—McCahill's rich and vivid and complex tapestry of landscape, culture, geography, ecology, and economics, shows us, lyrically and with great tenderness, how the individual is part and parcel of a much larger whole, and how we can’t find ourselves without finding the world outside ourselves. I lived and breathed every place this book touched down and when I turned the last page my heart ached for the journey’s end." —Robin MacArthur, author, Half Wild: Stories
"Elegantly written and beautifully observed, McCahill’s journey takes her across mountains and cities, into the reaches of culture and history, and into the self. Much of this is experienced from the seat of a bus, surrounded by a sea of humanity, both part of and an observer of the passing scene. A love affair is lost, new ways of being are found, and the adventurous McCahill turns herself not just not an intrepid traveler but into a fearless writer. By turns charming, scary, vivid, and reflective—Flung is a treat for the reader who need not buy a ticket but only open its pages to be transported." —Miriam Sagan, author, Black Rainbow and Searching for a Mustard Seed: One Young Widow's Unconventional Story
"With her Lonely Planet guide in one hand and Paul Theroux in the other, Kate McCahill backpacks from Guatemala to Buenos Aires losing love and finding a whirlwind assortment of ex-pats, aid workers, travel junkies, and locals. Patagonian Road is a millennial's adventure story, roughing it in the age of Skype and cell phones, through a Latin America still in recovery from decades of revolution, American meddling, and authoritarian misrule." —Douglas Glover, author and editor, Numéro Cinq
"Vivid . . . insightful . . . A beautiful debut." —Kirstin Valdez Quade, author, Night at the Fiestas
"A compelling addition to the growing genre of solo travelogues by women who end their journeys stronger, more self-aware, and more connected to the world." —Emily Dziuban, Booklist
"This welcome (and timely) call to explore foreign borders as well as our own comfort zones is highly recommended." —Benjamin Malczewski, Library Journal