Grant Lingel had a few hundred dollars, so he did what any person would do … he bought a one-way ticket to Mexico and never looked back. The resulting story has been compiled by Grant in his debut book, Imagine: A Vagabond Story.
Shortly after touchdown in Mexico, Grant hooks up with a gig at a resort in Playa del Carmen, where he meets a number of other traveling nomads looking for a good time on the beach and learns a thing or two about what not to do when you run into Mexican cops under compromising circumstances.
From there he joins a group of guys heading south to trip through Belize and Guatemala. The boys take their time exploring the countries, running around in a questionable van and ducking in and out of obscure corners, doing and seeing obscure things. Because I’m considering a trip to Guatemala myself, I was especially interested in reading about his experiences hiking among the active volcanoes and traversing through the dark caves near the Cahabón River.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Grant decides to leave the group of guys he’s been touring with in the van and stay for awhile at Finca Ixobel in Guatemala, an eco-farm with what Grant describes as stellar food and comfortable lodgings.
He eventually makes his way back to Mexico, hopping around the country to catch up with his close friend, Noret, in Mexico City and hooking up with Ben, a surfing Aussie who convinces Grant that his next stop in life should be a fishing boat in Spain.
But here’s the thing about Imagine: A Vagabond Story: If you’re looking for a book that chronicles one guy’s day-by-day backpacking journey, then this is the book for you. He details every moment of his experience … and by every detail, I mean every detail. The book is packed cover-to-cover with Grant’s sexual encounters and drug-induced stories … lots of them. Weed and coke play a role in almost every chapter, and by the end of the book, I found myself waiting for the next mention of drugs. As a day-by-day account of Grant’s experiences, he hasn’t edited this story into anything it wasn’t, and for that I give him props. If you’re looking for raw, rugged and honest, then you’ll probably enjoy this book.
If you’re looking for anything beyond a diary-type memoir, however, I suggest you look elsewhere. When I pick up a travel memoir, I want it to inspire me, which this book did not. Poorly edited and packed with clichés, I found myself ready to end the journey through Imagine: A Vagabond Story before Grant did. And while I appreciated the book for giving me ideas on things to do and see in Guatemala, I’m not sure I’ll be reading this one again anytime soon.
I received a free copy of Imagine: A Vagabond Story in order to review it.