A seed-gathering trek in the Himalaya, such as that made by Jamaica Kincaid and three botanist friends in Nepal, is no picnic. It involves walking either up or down all day long over steep and often treacherous terrain (level patches large enough to camp on are hard to find), often in great heat and sometimes in snow, while violent storms and hungry leeches abound, and encounters with Maoist guerrillas are frightening. This particular trek, however, lasted for only three weeks, was professionally guided, portered and cooked for, and covered the kind of ground which by now is familiar to a good many enterprising travellers. It provided an experience both testing and thrilling, but not an easy one out of which to fashion a whole book.
Kincaid does not try to endow it with more glamour or danger than it deserves. What she sets out to do is to share with the reader the reactions of a sensitive person accustomed to a comfortable life in Vermont when she finds herself toughing it in these spectacular mountains,