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Beyond My Odyssey

book concludes with a chapter dedicated to his beloved Bierzo, and in a very special way, to the two villages
where he spent the first years of his life: Los Barrios de Salas and Fuentesnuevas.
The reader will move along, understanding, as he goes beyond each page, in the first place, the so-called “Cone
of South America” with its valleys and fractured grounds, fiords and glaziers, “Penguins by heaps”, the Chilean
Patagonia from Punta Arenas to Cape Horn, Tierra del Fuego…and then in the Atlantic, something about
Argentina and Uruguay, all of it soberly described and ornamented with very interesting references to history.
In the trip to the Philippines, the reader will take delight in truly celestial places, such as the “Pagsanjan Gorge”
and its deafening cascade, besides an unending number of exotic names, such as the “Chendol” drink, the
“Durian” fruit “that smells like hell and tastes like glory”, or the “Barangays” etc…
I wish to leave in writing the pleasant and gratifying surprise it meant for me to be able to read the four books of
“The Odyssey” lived in person by my friend and old college companion, Roger Fernández, while encouraging
him, at the same time, to continue sharing with his readers his addiction to traveling, though the title “Beyond
My Odyssey” sounds to me like the end.
José Diego Rodríguez Cubero
“There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away”, wrote the American poet Emily Dickinson in the second
half of the 19th century. She thus expressed, as an illusion, a human aspiration that history records as action:
from the primitive nomads to the modern astronauts, the human being has always sought to conquer sea, land
and space to better its condition, realize dreams and ambitions or broaden knowledge.
In truth, the art of traveling has always fascinated the human mind and has flourished as a literary form from
time immemorial. Several adages, proverbs and sayings reflect this truism in many diverse and varied cultures.
While a wise Genoese adage prudently asserts that “It is better to wear out one’s shoes than one’s sheets”, a
very stimulating Arab proverb affirms that “Voyaging is victory”. For his part, Cervantes has written a practical
Spanish saying that advances the accepted assertion that “On a long journey even a straw weighs heavy”.
Unquestionably, many people travel much more nowadays than in times past. To move by air from city to city,
from country to country, from continent to continent has become routine, even after September 11, 2001. At the
same time, adventurous trips to less known, or rather out of the way places come now in tour packages. Even
thus, the classic concept of voyaging, which is that of going to a place radically different from one’s place of
departure, has almost disappeared. The most successful ones in this regard are those done in cruises, whereby
the traveler succeeds, at times, in visiting out of the way ports and going on excursions to places far away from
all civilization.
My vital experience seems to confirm that traveling or wandering through the world creates addiction,
invigorates the body, enriches and broadens the spirit and knowledge, and frequently becomes a source to
prolong conversations. Similarly, it makes valid, once more, American writer Mark Twain who ratifies that
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness”. It could hardly be otherwise, since by traveling
we become “citizens of the world” and open our minds to new cultures.
It has certainly been my fate to have lived a life somewhat adventurous, risky and daring, but also protected and
somewhat favored. However, I would like to make it clear, before anything else, my total agreement with Italian
dramatist Carlo Goldini who, towards the half of the 18th century, observed that “A wise traveler never despises
his own country”. As for me, not only have I never scorned, nor will ever scorn my beloved Spain nor my
“Small Fatherland”, El Bierzo, but rather, I resort to them for consolation, fortitude and rejuvenation. For that
reason, I decided to write the first chapter of this book with the purpose of sharing with my compatriots and
readers some of the benefits that I have harvested from traveling beyond my literary odyssey.