I don’t think I fully grasped what it means to have such a strong sense of true wanderlust and drive for exploration until I read Kate Harris’ memoir, Lands of Lost Borders. This memoir can be defined in a multitude of ways: travelogue, philosophy, history of science. Originally from a small town in Canada, Harris drew inspiration from the writings of Marco Polo and achievements in space exploration to set forth on her ultimate goal: someday travel to Mars. She takes us along for a ride (Harris via her bicycle, reader via the narrative) as she reflects on her journey across the Silk Road and the burning question of how borders on a map shape our worldview. Setting off with her best friend, Mel, on a nearly year long bicycle ride, Harris narrates in great detail what she encountered in Turkey, sneaking through Tibetan checkpoints, and up high elevations into Greater Himalaya.
I really enjoyed how vivid Harris’ recollections of her travels were, to the point where I could draw pictures in my mind of the landscapes she crossed and feel the emotional ups and downs she experienced. To be honest, there were moments where I questioned Harris’ sanity in certain situations, but it proved to me how impressive her drive was to continue carrying on despite her doubts and, what at times seemed insurmountable, struggles. My favorite parts throughout Lands of Lost Borders were the stories of the people Harris met and interacted with along the way. Through these anecdotes, I received an education about places I’d never heard of and was challenged to think thoughtfully about some of the philosophical questions Harris brings up. I really appreciated how insightful Harris was about the nature of discovery and its role in science and history.