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Travelling Light with Hambridge, Crafford and Brummer

Joan Hambridge and Willemien BrummerThree women, in three different seasons of their lives, discussed their experiences and lessons learnt as travel writers at the Via Afrika stand, while the Book Fair wound down for the day yesterday.

The discussion – in Afrikaans – saw Joan Hambridge, Willemien Brummer and Mariette Crafford in agreement about the number of women writing about travel in South Africa: too few. Hambridge voiced a common concern: “There is a perception that women can only write about internal thoughts and emotions, and not about adventure and the external experience”.

Mariette CraffordFor Crafford, this experience comes with children. It’s difficult for her to travel without them, a fact that pushes her in certain directions. “My children influence where I travel to – if it’s not child-friendly and accommodating, I may not go.” It’s much easier for her to just “pack up the vehicle and throw in the kids for a lovely trip to the bushveld”.

Willemien BrummerBrummer, on the other hand, is interested in people as much as place: “I use the people to tell me about the place I’m visiting,” she said – and then gets drawn into their stories. She held up as an example a visit to Pollshoek and an old lady who has delivered all the babies in the town, because there’s no chance that an expecting mother would be able to get to the nearest hospital – hours away – before giving birth.

Women need to be financially and emotionally independent in order to gain the most from travelling, the three agreed, somewhat controversially – while also cautioning that this shouldn’t be at the expense of safety.

Quote of the hour: “There’s a perception among editors that women aren’t interested in travel writing.”
-Joan Hambridge

Joan Hambridge