Book Review: Pink Boots and a Machete

June 18, 2012  By: Gretchen

This was a fun, quick read.  Maireya Mayor went from NFL cheerleader to National Geographic emerging explorer and Ph.D. primatologist following the footsteps of Dr. Jane Goodall.  This is her story of determination and following her dreams.

Mayor visits exciting and often primitive locales around the globe to study animals (and even discover a species), experience cultural immersion and to film for Nat Geo WILD.  We get to follow her through her childhood as well as join her on her expeditions and get up close and personal with the characters and animals she meets.

I especially enjoyed the chapter where she and four explorer colleagues (who had not met prior to the journey) recreated Henry Morton Stanley’s famous search for Dr. David Livingstone (for a reality TV show) through Tanzania.  Starting in Zanzibar and sailing to mainland Africa, then making their way overland to Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika (south of Greystoke Mahale) where the now very famous words ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume’ were spoken.  It’s a tremendous journey fraught with danger; I’ll leave it to you to read about how they did.

I found her constant focus on ‘being a girl’ (talking about hair, make-up and little black dresses) to be distracting and not entirely germane to the incredible path she has chosen and to the work that she has done.  I’m sure it’s a challenge in her field as it is more male dominated, but she’s hardly a pioneer in that respect.  However she can and should stand on her accomplishments rather than focus on their importance because she is a woman.

Either way, it’s an enjoyable ride and great armchair travel to some of the less comfortable places on Earth.