Million Mile Walker Dispatch, Launching My New Book: My Saddest Pleasures, May, 2022

Dear Friends and Colleagues from Around the World,

The big news is that my new book will launch in two days!   I’ll also explore the implications of the bi-partisan support for increasing our military spending by $32.5 BILLION in the Culture Watch. As always, I will share My Writing, Interviews, Reviews, Voices of the Day, What Others Are Sayingand an updated Calendar.

Travel is the saddest of pleasures. It gave me eyes.” This quote from Paul Theroux’s Picture Palace helped put my fifty years on the road into perspective and allowed me to appreciate the miscues, disasters, and disappointments I’d experienced. It helped make me the traveler and writer I am today.

In this book, I’ll take you from isolated areas of the highlands of Guatemala to the highest reaches of the Andes to my present home in the desert Southwest. None of my “horror journeys” were fatal, but they could have been. Some of my stories will cause you to laugh at my predicaments, while another part of you will be thankful that you weren’t with me!  Here’s the initial response from well-known writers:

“Walker delights in this chapbook with amusing and touching anecdotes, insights into the lessons of travel, and good old-fashioned storytelling.”  Craig Storti, author of Why Travel Matters and the Hunt for Mount Everest.

‘As Walker writes near the end of the book, “After fifty years on the road, I was still capable of some real travel gaffes. And yet, we’re almost always at our best and learn the most when we miscalculate and depend on the locals (and our wits) to figure a way out of the mess.” Indeed, the saddest pleasures often turn out to be the best of them.’ John Thorndike, author of The World Against Her Skin and A Hundred Fires in Cuba/

This “…is a book that touched many chords within me. As a fellow world traveler, I delighted in his international travels and various adventures in places not often frequented by ordinary mortals. Anyone interested in intriguing corners of the world and a life lived by an unusual American man over the past half-century will find much to appreciate in this remarkable book.”  Mark G. Wentling, author of the three-volume Africa Memoir, 50 Years, 54 Countries, One American Life.

Please get my new book on Amazon or my publisher (and save a buck)  and rate it on Amazon after you’ve left some kind words—and shared it with family and friends:


Over eighty people attended “For The Love of A Story” event at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion in Carefree, Arizona. I performed “La Pulcera” (My Bracelet) and introduced the main character, my strawberry blond Guatemalan girl who just happened to be wearing the iconic bracelet. The best part of the performance was getting to know the other nine writers who also told their stories.


Culture Watch

Finally, both parties agree on something! A military budget that exceeds $813 billion, an increase of $31 billion over last year (according to Jim Rice of Sojourners, is an increase of $32.5 Billion). These funds are for upgraded nuclear-equipped ballistic missile submarines, land-based missiles, and bombers. The biggest winners, Lockheed, Northrop, Grumman Corp., and General Dynamics, are essential parts of what Dwight Eisenhower warned us against, the “military-industrial complex.” All of this while we can’t take care of basic domestic needs like support for public schools, childcare and paid leave, and primary health care for the majority of our fellow Americans. Not to mention the ongoing, never-ending lack of political will to fix our immigration system or address gun control after 10 Blacks dead in Buffalo and another 21 Hispanics were murdered in Uvalde, Texas, by teenagers with access to automatic weapons and an endless quantity of ammo.  It’s a sad day when increasing military spending is all our leaders can agree on…


My Writing, Interviews, and Reviews

My latest essay in  the May issue of Revue Magazine, “My Saddest Pleasures: First Stop Guatemala,”  includes parts of two stories from my new book but also includes new photographs

Allegro to Guatemala: An Expatriate Journey Through the Land of the Eternal Spring” will be highlighted in the June issue! My seventeenth article there—you can “search” their website with my name to see the others.

Click on the poster above for the latest on what I’ve done and my most recent book reviews in this month’s “Arizona Authors Association” newsletter. This includes my Million Mile Walker Review: What We’re Reading and Why.

The book is a travelogue of the human heart. And a road trip with a prodigal who’s already been where you think you need to go. The book was also timely, as Augustine was a great example of the influence and power of immigrants—he was a “mestizo”—born outside of Carthage in what is today Algeria and wandering the Roman Empire in Italy, which led to what anthropologists call the “stranger value.” While insiders find it challenging to see the world from any perspective other than their own, “the pariah has no fixed position, no territory to defend, no interest to protect. As a visitor and sojourner, as one who is always being moved on, he is much freer than the good citizen to put himself in the place of another…” according to Michael Jackson in “Existential Anthropology.”

As a travel writer’s aficionado, I was impressed how the author makes St. Augustine’s wanderings seem more tangible by comparing him to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, where the narrator, Sal Paradise, plays chronicler to the antics at the start of the story, Dean Moriarty. This contrasts with the author’s invitation to journey with an ancient African, who will surprise you by having “been there and done that.”  He’s no saint, which is why he makes salvation seem possible. The book is a travelogue of the human heart for the entire review. And a road trip with a prodigal who’s already been where you think you need to go. Click here for the entire review:

Since we’re on the road again, check out this classic This book seemed a “must-read” after writing “Tschiffely’s Epic Equestrian Ride” and my 15,000-mile trek through Latin America, “Traveling Solo,” which is part of my new book, My Saddest Pleasures. Cahill takes us on a “hellarious” trek with the professional long-distance driver, Garry Sowerby, from the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego to the northernmost point of the Dalton Highway in Alaska in a record-breaking 23½ days (which allowed them to convince Guinness Believe It Or Not to underwrite the trip, as well as confirm their record) ….and they convinced corporate sponsor GMC to give the Sierra truck and support the entire journey.

I’m a big fan of lists of challenges one will face on the way, as they are both revealing and humorous:

Dodge gasoline bandits for fun and profit!

Outrun drunken bus drivers on slippery mountain roads!

Thrill to mind-numbing poverty and desperation!

Zorro Uzi-toting terrorists in remote jungle locales!

Enjoy the staccato sounds of exotic war zones!

Joke with armed teenaged soldiers!

Experience the excitement of an automatic weapon at your neck!

Join the gay, mad festivities inside typical Peruvian jail!


Here’s the link to the remainder of the review:

 Voice of the Day

From Remarkable books.


What Others Are Saying

In My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road, Mark Walker celebrates fifty years of wandering the globe from isolated areas of the highlands of Guatemala to the highest reaches of the Andes to his present home in the desert Southwest. In his engaging and informal style, Walker shares his trials and tribulations. Whether you’re an armchair traveler or a seasoned one, Walker’s life and travels will be an inspiration!

Susan Pohlman, author of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home and A Time to Seek: Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality at Midlife.54


  • July 23: Payson, Arizona Book Festival
  • TBD Book Signing at Changing Hands Bookstore

You can find my 60 book reviews and 28 articles, plus several videos at . “Follow” me on Twitter., @millionmile_wal and Facebook a friend for the latest on international affairs and literature. And, as always, if you’ve read “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond,” by all means, rate it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads, or if you don’t have it, please consider purchasing it or better still, purchase my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road.

Mark Walker





Posted in All, Book Reviews: Latin America, Book Reviews: Non-fiction, Book Reviews: Travel, Million Mile Walker Newsletter.