Boris Kester implies you don’t have to do what he does to find the kind of self-growth, coming with The Long Road to Cullaville: Stories from my Travel to Every Country in the World. But it certainly helps. Kester sort of provides you a massive, sprawling home away from home with the read – charting his fearless adventures across some of the most coveted, and infamous, places on the globe. But stress on the word infamous. As far as Kester is concerned, such dangers – while to be fully acknowledged – are part of challenging one’s self. It’s a critical part of the self-growth he’s on.


At the risk of trite comparison, I think about The Long Road to Cullaville to Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia. While fearless international travel has a far more black-and-white presentational quality than the cooking of five hundred and twenty four Julia Child recipes in the span of three hundred and sixty five days, those sorts of stories share a single whole. Simply put, it’s about committing yourself to something deeply personal, that isn’t just about yourself. Something that’s an ideal from a personal conviction, but that forces you out of your comfort zone and into potentially uncharted waters (literally). “Travel and adventure go hand in hand,” Kester writes, in aforementioned vein.

“They don’t exist without taking risks. Images and reports about terrorist attacks and insecurity flash around the world in a matter of milliseconds. They enlarge the risks, feed the fear and put the ‘Dangerous’ stamp on a country. Once obtained, it’s very hard to get rid of. It’s because of those images that people ask me if all that traveling isn’t dangerous and if I have gone mad.”

He also writes, “Reality on the ground is always different. Often very different. Especially because of the people I met on the way, I realized that the large majority of people around the world are kind to their visitors. This also applies to countries that are supposedly dangerous – or even more so there. Man is apparently keen to welcome the stranger and to protect him. That helped me a lot to have confidence and bring my travels to a happy conclusion. Was I scared? No. Fear is a bad counselor, especially for the traveler. This is certainly the case for the adventurer who wants to visit all the countries in the world.”


In effect, face your fear(s). Never think that because your Goliath is watching, you can’t be David – sticking to the path, puzzling things out, and not assuming the worst – being prepared for it, but not assuming its immediacy. There’s something really hopeful about that. Beautiful, even. Not everyone can do what Kester does. Not everyone can effectively globetrot around the world – covering some of the most mercurial and volatile places on the planet. But everyone can have goals, and everyone can work their way up to climbing up their own, personal Everest.

“In this book, I will take you along on travels where risk was unavoidable,” Kester writes. Not a bad way to live one’s life, too.

Garth Thomas