Leon McCarron - The Land Beyond - December 2020
The latest stop on our journey from conversation to conversation was a truly international affair as Leon Zoomed live from Urbil, Northern Iraq, whilst we were joined by members of the community from as far afield as Australia and the USA.
This was a fabulous opportunity delve deeper into the thinking and philosophy behind Leon’s writing and adventures, aided ably by the community who had some great questions to pose. Big thanks to Harriet for opening the audience question floodgates by probing how Leon manages to hold a natural conversation with the folk he encounters, and yet still capture the details of what they discuss.
Alain then followed up with a query that gave Leon an opportunity to share his own major critique on the book, about the limited perspective provided to a lone male traveller in the middle east. During which Leon mentioned the writing and adventures of Lois Pryce.
Given the nature of Leon’s work, we spent a lot of time on how he achieves his connection with people and cultures, and then how his writing conveys this so very vividly. This uncovered some surprising moments, such as the teenage Palestinian quoting Ghandi to him, and reflections on the importance of trust - trust in others and trust in your instincts to warn you off potentially dangerous situations.
We opened up the magical aspect of the writing, walking thinking process which was clearly a key element in making this such a rewarding journey. This happy medium of being...
"...fast enough to make forward progress but slow enough that you don't miss anything, for better or worse. You feel every part of a hill, you watch a landscape change, you notice how countryside changes into a city...even bad smells..."
As a geographer myself, I was particularly excited to hear that membership of the Royal Geographic Society is more than just ceremonial elbow patches. In all seriousness, it was fascinating to hear how the Society played a practical role in supporting and inspiring Leon’s adventure ambitions.
Ultimately, just as with the book, our conversation revealed a welcoming culture of hospitality that awaits to embrace everyone fortunate enough to travel in this much misunderstood region. For that newfound connection, we are profoundly grateful.