Road to Osambre

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Experienced adventurer John Ridgway realized part way into his Peruvian journey that, perhaps, this time he had taken on more than he could manage. Self-doubt and severe apprehension haunted him throughout the trip, especially when his daughter became seriously ill and when the group was in the midst of apparently life-threatening situations. Traveling mostly on foot over hundreds of miles of forested mountains and valleys, the five travelers, with varied success, cope with the extreme weather, various ailments, including almost constant insect bites and high-altitude headaches, thirst, meager meals, dirty sleeping quarters, Indians with threatening personalities and intentions, physical exhaustion, intergroup tension, coca leaf smugglers, bureaucratic roadblocks, and above all, the knowledge that if they encountered members of the radical organization Sendero Luminoso, they would probably be killed. They realized that their fears were all too well justified when they learned that the object of the journey, Elvin Berg, had been tortured and killed by the Sendero Luminoso a few years previously.

Shortly after this discovery, Ridgway and his friends find Berg’s mostly Quechuan Indian daughter in a remote village and feel a responsibility to adopt her. The path to the successful adoption is another struggle, equally arduous in its own way.

Punctuating his riveting story with extracts from his wife’s and daughter’s diaries, Ridgway does not neglect the pleasures of the trip. He vividly portrays the group’s dealings with warm and generous Indians, the magnificent scenery, colorful small-town market days, and Andean flora and fauna. Maps and nineteen color photographs enhance the text.