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TLC Tour: The Catch Me If You Can by Jessica Nabongo

Title: The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman's Journey to Every Country in the World
Author: Jessica Nabongo
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult nonfiction (travel)
Pages: 416 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)100 countries

SummaryIt was a daunting task, but Jessica Nabongo, the beloved voice behind the popular website The Catch Me if You Can, made it happen, completing her journey to all 195 UN-recognized countries in the world in October 2019. Now, in this one-of-a-kind memoir, she reveals her top 100 destinations from her global adventure.

Beautifully illustrated with many of Nabongo's own photographs, the book documents her remarkable experiences in each country, including:

A harrowing scooter accident in Nauru, the world’s least visited country,
Seeing the life and community swarming around the Hazrat Ali Mazar mosque in Afghanistan,
Horseback riding and learning to lasso with Black cowboys in Oklahoma,
Playing dominoes with men on the streets of Havana,
Learning to make traditional takoyaki (octopus balls) from locals in Japan,
Dog sledding in Norway and swimming with humpback whales in Tonga,
A late night adventure with strangers to cross a border in Guinea Bissau,
And sunbathing on the sandy shores of Los Roques in Venezuela.

Along with beloved destinations like Peru and South Africa, you'll also find tales from far-flung corners and seldom visited destinations, including Tuvalu, North Korea, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Nabongo's stories are love letters to diversity, beauty, and culture―and most of all, to the people she meets along the way. Throughout, she offers bucket-list experiences for other travel-lovers looking to follow in her footsteps.

Review:  What a totally cool idea: travel to "every" country in the world (there are a number that she doesn't talk about visiting), write up a few pages about each one, take some photos, and turn them into a book! Sign me up. I love to travel and I was really looking forward to reading her reflections on each of the countries and cultures.

Nabongo has a zest for life that is infectious. She isn't afraid to go anywhere, talk to the locals, try the food, and experience the events that make each country unique. Some of my favorites were her visits to Cuba where she smoked cigars with the locals, North Korea where she discovered the people are more like us than she expected, and Tajikistan where she discovered a white marble city where all cars have to be white (talk about a dictatorship!).

I did enjoy reading about Nabongo's experiences, but for a number of countries, I felt it was a recitation of facts rather than deeper observations and feelings about her visits. But, if you are interested in travel, this book has a lot to offer.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Literary Escapes--I could put all 100 countries, but will just do the 3 that I mentioned in my review: North Korea, Tajikistan, and Cuba.

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