Guides to foreign travel tend to fall into two camps: Rough Guide/Lonely Planet hipster real-life travel; and posh folk writing idyllic memoirs of unrealistically tranquil settings, sometimes accompanied by tame wildlife.
Harry Whitewolf’s odyssey falls into a camp of its own. An autobiographical miasma of reportage, history lessons and ‘what to avoid’ advice you’ll never read in a mainstream published book.
Mad Harry (Whitewolf)’s trials begin in Cairo setting a pattern of maniac taxi drivers, market hagglers, crummy hotel rooms and ‘substances.’ Everyone has some or is offering some or knows someone who has some or offering some.
In between temptations by the Devil, in various guises, Mad Harry manages to reach some of Egypt’s most significant historical sites at Giza and Luxor and Alexandria; arriving by car, by coach, by boat; mingling with nutty tourists and bent security guards.
A summary of the book would sound like a perma-hunt for narcotics, but it’s more than that; it’s a personal interpretation of a world physically crumbling, but spiritually resonating through hidden knowledge and esoteric suggestion. A lot of detailed information permeates The Road to Purification creating one writer’s interface with ancient ideas and practices.
The reader has it easy, guided into the bowels of the pyramids and tombs, gently led along the Nile, whilst Mad Harry fends off the flies and the filchers, enduring bad coffee and shabby cafes on our behalf. We come away having learned a lot about an ancient civilisation that seems impossible compared to present day Egypt with its curious crowds and indifferent tourists.
Don’t call Harry a tourist, or even a traveller. The personality of the book is more akin to a pilgrim’s tale in the style of Chaucer. A raconteur, teacher, stranger in a strange land. Added together it all produces a vivid recollection of events and memories. No tame wildlife, no Baden-Powell beards.
Find it on Goodreads HERE.