When I was nineteen years old, I set off backpacking in Europe and the Middle East on my own. It was 1974-75 and the world was a safer place then.
Still curious and restless (hey, I grew up in the middle of cornfields), it took another two year odyssey 1976-1978 wandering through Latin America and West Africa before I returned back to a familiar part of the earth. Returning from that last trip, the moment I entered U.S. air space, I lapsed into a delirium which I suspect was the first case of malaria ever documented in the state of Indiana.
In Latin America and Gambia in Africa, my brother Tom, 17 months my junior, traveled with me, sort of. We’d separate for long stretches to do our thing and then in that pre-cell phone era we somehow managed to rendezvous even when we were several countries apart. Sometimes we left each other notes at U.S. embassies where we could be found, while other encounters were just pure serendipity.
I can’t recall how we got this travelogue gig with the Lafayette Journal & Courier or who thought up the title “Postmark” with a colon, followed by the name of the country we explored. They paid us ten bucks an article. We didn’t travel with a camera so the newspaper came up with these corny drawings, a few of which I have included. I added some web photos to others just to spice ‘em up.
From a “politically correct” perspective the travelogues are rife with embarrassments. Yet, I surprise myself by what I took note of and observed at a still relatively raw age. Ultimately, the articles are what they are, and I have resurrected them because, IMHO, they still make for entertaining reading.
Our father berated Tom and me for “wasting” our youth when we should be in college, but as our monthly Postmark column grew in local popularity with everyone asking him “Where are they now!” he eventually accepted our wanderlust and its documentation.
Thanks to Mom for saving the original newspaper with every single Postmark.