In 2006, author Richard Collins was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Spurred on by news of his illness, Richard and his partner Flic resolved to seize life by the horns and see more of the world. The Road to Zagora tells the story of their subsequent adventures.
Here at Seren we’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Road to Zagora, a unique sort of travel memoir in which the author explores the good, the not-so-good and the surprisingly funny aspects of travelling with Parkinson’s disease. We thought we’d give you a sneak preview of the book to wet your appetites – so read on to hear about the adventures of Richard, Flic, and Mr Parkinson.
A is for Aqaba (Jordan)
Travelling enriches your life and changes your understanding
of quite a few things. Home is a different place on your
return. You are a different person, having travelled. I have had
some preconceptions of other people and places quietly
overturned. I spend a lot of my time at home now because of
my poor health and have the opportunity to reflect on these
things. Or I do something daft like make an A to Z of place
names, each from a different country, and write a little
anecdote about each one. I once spent a couple of rainy days
doing this, starting with Aqaba in Jordan:
Forget Lawrence of Arabia arriving in Aqaba on camelback at
the head of a Bedouin army: we crossed the desert by bus, in
comfort, with wi-fi and air-con and reclining seats.
Aqaba is a port but also a seaside resort, a holiday destination
for Jordanians. We were at the beach on a Friday, the
Muslim holy day, and found that it wasn’t wall-to-wall joylessness
as Sunday is in some parts of Christendom (we once saw
a children’s playground in the west of Scotland with a sign
Closed on Sundays). People may have been to the mosque in
the morning but now they were having fun. Women were
dressed conservatively, some in long black robes, but it didn’t
stop them from going into the sea, snorkelling or messing
about on inflatable plastic ducks.
We had already had our preconceptions of Islamic society
challenged in the first Jordanian town we visited. The shoe
shop proudly displayed in their window a number of pairs of hi-heeled thigh-high leather boots in a choice of colours, red or
black. Did the women we passed on the street wear these under
their long robes? In what other context, we wondered, would
they be worn? I really can’t imagine.
The people of Jordan are renowned for their hospitality,
friendliness and sense of humour.