Travel notesIssue 16 | October 2012

How to Use the Lonely Planet Guide in South America

by Stephen Rosenshein

Never try to do anything the way The Book says to do it. It is likely the rules, prices and routes have all changed since the articles were written—three months ago.

Never count on The Book to explain just how absurd a bus ride in the Peruvian Andes might be. Eight-cent adjectives won’t smell like half-frozen mud or press against your chest with thin air or sell you giant corn boiled in a copper pot with a slab of salty cheese.

The Book will not tell you to take the giant corn and shove it inside your jacket to stay warm when fifteen-thousand feet above sea level.

Never pay a fee, tax or additional charge The Book does not mention. The Book, though vindictive, is frugal. You can rely on it to save you money.

Never stay in a hostel recommended by The Book. It is likely they have grown lazy and/or raised prices since receiving this international seal of approval.

Also, never stay in a hostel recommended by the taxi driver who picked you up at the airport, bus or train station. The dueño is a relative and the driver will return later for a kickback.

Never describe places using adjectives you find in The Book. Everyone you meet has just read the same page. They all know the air in Baños, Ecuador is charged with sexual energy. Regurgitating eight-cent a word descriptions will not get you laid.

The Book is heavy and bulky. It takes up valuable space. When you leave a country behind, tear its pages out and leave them on the nearest bookshelf.

About the author

Stephen Rosenshein is originally from Seattle and a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at San Francisco State University. His translations, fiction, and poems have recently appeared in Foliate Oak, Foundling Review, and Samizdat Literary Journal.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok