Travels through Africa tend to make for fascinating travel narratives because the depths of Africa are usually places that fewer of us get to – and for that reason alone Tahir Shah’s In Search of King Solomon’s Mines: A Quest in Ethiopia is already a great armchair travel story. The premise, too, is a great start: Shah come across “an inky hand-drawn map hung on the back wall of Ali Baba’s Tourist Emporium” in Jerusalem’s Old City, and when the shopkeeper explains it is a treasure map leading to King Solomon’s mines, the quest is on.
With research into old folklore and the experiences of travelers in bygone eras, Shah sets off to Ethiopia. Things start badly when a rabid guide dog bites him shortly after he arrives, but then the real search beings. And while the search gives a goal to the trip, the story is really in the local people that Shah meets along the way. A great set of photos in the middle of the book introduce the reader visually to some of these interesting people. But if you want to know if Shah’s quest ends up in a real gold mine, you’ll have to read the book yourself.
photo credit: Marc Veraart