Wednesday, October 4, 2017

On the Spotlight: LIVIN’: From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush, by Frankie Hogan

Front ADN3395 Digest-Soft-Cover (1)Title:
 LIVIN’:  From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush
Genre: non fiction
Author:  Frankie Hogan
Publisher: Wharton Reed
Find out more on Amazon
About the Book: In spite of a lifelong passion for travel, author Frankie Hogan admits that he often fell victim to “life getting in the way” until he decided, once and for all, to stop giving in to easy excuses, stop yielding to the reasons not to—and stop the cycle of procrastinating, putting off and waiting for the right time, the right circumstances, and the right companions.  It was time, Frankie decided, to get out there and see the world, to take in the history, nature and nightlife of places far away from home.  It was time to get out of his own way and travel—really travel—to off-the-beaten-path, exotic, far-flung destinations.  And Hogan, a South Philly native and streetwise everyman, did just that.  Livin’ is the story of the ride, the road, and the reward.
A travel guide like no other, Livin’ presents a first person look at the joys, the wonders, and the occasional woes of busting out of the comfort zone and seeing the world.  A tale told by a tour guide like no other—the affable, outspoken, and hilariously observant Frankie Hogan,  Livin’ is part memoir, part adventure story, part unconventional travel guide,  part laugh-out-loud narrative and totally irresistible.  Consider what would happen if you traveled the world with a Charles Bukowski-Jack Kerouac hybrid leading the way, and you will get a sense of what this tantalizing tome has to offer…
Unfiltered, uncensored, and unapologetic, Livin’ takes readers beyond the glossy brochures and postcards and lays bare the good, the bad, and the ugly.  A memoir that celebrates wanderlust (with its fair share of both wandering and lust) Livin’ is vibrant and vivid, irreverent and inspiring, uproariously ribald but abundantly real.
Come along for the ride as Hogan leads a tour from Egypt to South Africa, Amsterdam to Vietnam, Peru to Cambodia, India, China and more.  Livin’ is a larger-than-life tale about taking chances, conquering fears, taking the road less traveled and rolling with the punches.  A book that could inspire even the most steadfast homebody to hit the road, Livin’ is a journey in itself.
A hell of a storyteller with one hell of a story to tell, Frankie Hogan pulls no punches in this refreshingly candid narrative. Eminently readable and wholly unforgettable, Livin’ charms with its friendly, conversational tone and mesmerizes with its fascinating accounts of some of the most enviable travel destinations in the world. Moreover, Livin’ comes alive with Hogan’s colorful observations, joie de vivre, unmistakable wit and keen eye for the comical, the sublime, and the absurd.   Quite simply, Livin’ is a real trip.   
About the Author: Frankie Hogan is an American writer, director and filmmaker. He is founder and principal partner of Corner Prophets Production Company, a film production company.  A native of South Philadelphia’s Grays Ferry neighborhood, Hogan lives in Los Angeles. Livin’ is Hogan’s first book—a book he wrote in hopes of inspiring others to stop making excuses, and make their dreams of travel a reality.
 As noon approached, we split into different groups, depending on which optional tours were scheduled that afternoon. Two of our group, Austin and Brett, stayed put. They had chosen to bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia, with the falls as the backdrop. We watched one of the jumpers, and I give them credit; it takes balls. Not that I would have been against jumping myself, but I had a scheduling conflict. I was joining with the bulk of the group downtown to visit a local craft village. We walked the outdoor markets for an hour. There was good haggling to be done. However, the locals dealt in US dollars, and that priced up even local crafts. I was glad I had made it down to the market to meet some locals, but I was also glad I had done most of my shopping in South Africa. When I ventured back to our pick-up location, I ran into Laura and Luis. Laura was our group’s lone Mexican woman (who usually took longer than the rest of us to get through border control). She had brought her nephew Luis with her on the trip. Luis was wise for his age, wide-eyed eleven-year-old who had a look of amazement almost everywhere we went.
“Frank, I am glad to find you,” she blurted out while I (self-deprecatingly) wondered why.
She had booked the falls helicopter ride, which didn’t allow children younger than teens. That’s right. It was babysitting time. Really, it was no big deal. He was a great kid. “No problema,” I assured her. She was relieved when she hopped on a bus to the chopper helipad. Luis, Tom (who was sick from malaria meds), Singh, and I hopped another bus back to the lodge.
We let Tom limp back to his room and sleep it off (poor guy). Now where to take the kid and what to do? What does the responsible adult decide? To the bar and poker table! All right, all right, I kid. It wasn’t a bar, per se. We took him to the outdoor deck of the main cabin that overlooked the watering hole. Singh and I grabbed a beer and ordered Luis a ginger ale, and we all looked down at a family of impala. The kid was right at home too. With a genuine fascination, he recited facts about impala. You came to the right place, Luis. I was no slouch on animal behavior, and Singh knew his shit too. This was a Nat Geo kind of table. We circled around and traded different animal facts for the first half hour. We took out binoculars and my camera long lens and looked for hidden gems in the bush. Luis took out the deck of cards he had bought at the market. We decided to have a go at a game of poker. We played a few hands and then he balked at the fact that we had nothing to bet with.
“Okay, let’s play for dollars,” I dared him.
His grin grew wide and he immediately accepted. I was dealt two pairs and chuckled to myself.
“How much you bet?” I taunted him a bit.
“Five dollars,” he proclaimed.
“Are you sure?” I teased.
He confirmed with a nod, I agreed, and he laid down four of a kind. He gave me a coy grin.
“All right, no more games for money,” I said.
Hustled by an eleven-year-old. Singh had a good laugh. We then went down to the deck below and watched as swarms of vultures circled overhead. The hotel held a daily vulture feeding that the giant birds must have timed, as over fifty of them seemed to come from nowhere ten minutes before a staff member brought a tray of meat to the lower level. Their size and wingspan took center stage as they flocked to the kill. When Laura returned, I promised Luis I’d get him his money when we all grouped back up. He was on his way to an elephant-ride safari but was envious of where I was going, which was another place he was too young to visit. My optional tour for the afternoon was a lion walk.
When I first booked the lion walk, I had preconceived notions. The main attraction for me was to be out in the bush, in the lions’ territory, and hiking with the future kings of the joint. Another assumption was that they would be future kings. I believed the lions on the lion walk would be knee-high youngsters. Maybe a hundred pounds, but far from fully grown. This might have been reinforced by online pics of the walk. My walk proved half of those assumptions incorrect. Lilly, Singh, and Sharon joined me as our bus picked up tourists and volunteers. Some of the volunteers were there on summer holidays from their universities. Man, to have your shit together that young. First clue of the reality when we arrived was the safety talk and precautions. The guide passed out indemnity forms and basic legal paperwork.
“Here is where we sign our life away,” I joked.
“Yes, death by lion is now your choice,” the guide agreed. He went over safety tips. “We have teenage lions right now, and as those of you who are parents know, teenagers can switch their moods very fast.”
The humor by the guides on this tour was tip-top.
“Let’s keep you safe. The lions are the leaders here. You are now a part of their pride. Never walk in front of them. Keep behind their back legs. If they stop to scratch or lie down or go to the bathroom, you stop.
Do not pass them. You will receive walking sticks. If a lion makes eye contact with you and then approaches you face-on, take your stick, hold it out at arm’s length, and say ‘No!'” he continued.
We chuckled a bit. He did too but then concluded, “They know this word. But if a lion decides you are a meal, it will be hard to stop him.” His face was serious now. “Stay safe. We want you to be safe. There will be a gunman leading our group. This gunman is for other wild animals, not our lions. We are here for the preservation of these animals, not to become their food.”
It was a good reminder of the pecking order. Let’s do this.

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