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The Blind Masseuse

A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia

Alden Jones

Publication Year: 2013

Through personal journeys both interior and across the globe, Alden Jones investigates what motivates us to travel abroad in search of the unfamiliar.
            By way of explorations to Costa Rica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Burma, Cambodia, Egypt, and around the world on a ship, Jones chronicles her experience as a young American traveler while pondering her role as an outsider in the cultures she temporarily inhabits. Her wanderlust fuels a strong, high-adventure story and, much in the vein of classic travel literature, Jones's picaresque tale of personal evolution informs her own transitions, rites of passage, and understandings of her place as a citizen of the world. With sharp insight and stylish prose, Jones asks: Is there a right or wrong way to travel? The Blind Masseuse concludes that there is, but that it's not always black and white.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, About the Publisher, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-11

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Introduction - The Charm of the Unfamiliar

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pp. 3-8

...While walking home to Rafael’s house, I bumped into a cow. It wasn’t too unusual to encounter a cow in a place like La Victoria, Costa Rica; I was in farmland, after all. But because it was pitch black, I didn’t understand at first what had happened to me. My belly made contact with something firm, but...

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Lard Is Good for You (Costa Rica)

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pp. 9-24

...In Costa Rica, I lived on lard and coffee. There was lard in the bread, in the rice, and in the beans. There was lard in the cookies, in the imitation Doritos I ate at the school where I taught; it was coating the potatoes and being used to fry bananas in the cafeteria. Damaris, the woman I lived with, normally bought...

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A Normal American Life (New York)

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pp. 25-37

...The worst blizzard of the decade hit days after I moved to New York from the sunny climes of Costa Rica. Elevators all over the city were out. Snowplows growled through the streets like tanks and piled snow on top of the cars parked along the curb; the city became a maze of tunnels with five-foot walls of packed...

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Coke Is It (Bolivia)

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pp. 38-56

...street, wanted little to do with me, a white foreigner. But when I got sick, as Americans in Bolivia did, it was the most American of all American things that I turned to: the fizz and sting of Coca- Cola. But I’m already making excuses. The truth is I turned to Coke before I got sick. I turned to it like a tourist, because it was easy...

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The Blind Masseur (Costa Rica)

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pp. 57-68

...I asked directions from a blind man. This was in the Marriott hotel just outside of San José, Costa Rica. The Marriott was a luxury hotel with a driving range, two pools, and complimentary brunch. It was staffed by men who insisted on carrying one’s dirt- encrusted backpack even when one had a running rule to carry it...

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One Side of the Story (Nicaragua)

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pp. 69-86

...Diego and I hit it off at once. First of all, he could talk to me. I mean actually converse, which was unusual for him in his profession. Diego was my Spanish teacher, and I was the enigmatic student who came to the school in León who already spoke Spanish. Within five minutes of our first meeting, Diego laid his pen on...

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The Answer Was No (Cuba)

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pp. 87-104

...My friend Tim, codirector of Putney Student Travel, was skilled at talking me into things. This time he had spear-headed a program for American high school students in Cuba. Putney had finagled a license from the US Treasury. In the...

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This Is Not a Cruise (Around the World)

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pp. 105-129

...I could not get used to the windows in Classroom 3. They ran from floor to ceiling, lining the entire portside wall. The Pacific Ocean rolled by. Later, in other seas, there would suddenly...

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How to Be a Tourist (Cambodia)

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pp. 130-157

...Something about Cambodia had wormed its way inside me years before I went. There was no reason I should have zeroed in on Cambodia in particular instead of Somalia or...

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The Burmese Dreams Series (Burma)

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pp. 157-165

...The pictures tell you I was there. I took the pictures of the cows lolling and the water buffalo lumbering in herds. I took the pictures of the novice monk with the suitcase, walking along the road, between towns, in the middle of what appeared to...

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I Know What You Did in Egypt, A Letter to Gustave Flaubert (Egypt)

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pp. 166-178

...I also write because my feelings toward you, reading and rereading this text, have evolved, and I’ve been feeling an unexpected kinship with you of late. Initially, you were a villain (and in some ways you still are), an ethnocentrist traipsing about North Africa with a grin...

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pp. 179-182

...I could travel alone in the world for only so long. When I got married— and I would only have chosen a traveler as my mate—I would have to start thinking beyond myself. Three months before my wedding I made one last extended solo...

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pp. 183-184

...This book would not exist without Jason Wilson, champion of contemporary travel writing. Thank you, Jason, my shepherd. Along my travels my deepest gratitude has been owed to Jeffrey Shumlin, Peter Shumlin, Tim Weed, and everyone at Putney Student...

E-ISBN-13: 9780299295738
E-ISBN-10: 0299295737
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299295707
Print-ISBN-10: 0299295702

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013