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Everybody (almost) envies a travel editor, and this sheaf of recollections and celebrations by Caskie Stinnett, ex-Holiday, ex-Travel & Leisure, shows the reasons why. Two thousand miles up the Amazon, Stinnett penetrates the sweltering, wet, muddy wilderness to find a Yagua Indian village where a handful of caramels is the price of entry; in the Tunisian desert, he negotiates the rope ladders of a hotel cave; ""you came a long way for a sauna,"" marvels his hostess at a Finnish lake. The odd, the authentic, the out-of-the-way--but also the awful truth of ""Arriving in Europe on a Night Flight."" Stinnett's best pieces generally are the most personal. His dynamic and Latin Mexico City, his still-tranquil St. Lucia (favorite Caribbean island), his hyper-sensuous Haiti are agreeably, not uniformatively met; his Switzerland-from-a-sleigh and roadside Bali are ipso facto more involving; but the prize here is ""The Search for the Lemon Tree House""--or the ideal barefoot beach resort. He comes close to finding it on an island off the coast of Malaysia where beach, breeze, sun beckon and the management says, in effect, take-it-or-leave-it. Stinnett fends off an importunate vendor and makes friends with a Chinese boy, drinks coffee and dozes. Evenings offer the alternative of walking along the beach, or not walking along the beach: ""a blessed nothingness."" On his Maine retirement island, by contrast, life is immensely complicated; no fogs ""on tiny cat feet,"" for one thing. But then Stinnett has a way of wrapping himself in any new place that distinguishes the ticketed traveler from the true discoverer. Nice work if you can do it.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Atlantic/Little, Brown