An Inn Near Kyoto: Travel Writing By Women Abroad lurches between the painfully dull and richly lived. When the various American female authors in this collection are navel-gazing, the results are "Western" in a boring I-can't-enjoy-a-Coke-without-ice sort of way. However, when the ladies lift their eyes from their drinks or navels to actually observe the cultures around them, it gets a little more interesting.
Joan Lindgren on her visit to Buenos Aires reminds us of how much children can be valued in cultures where they are perceived to be little people:
The ultimate lessons to be learned here are from the children. Never has one seen such precious children, children content with the knowledge that when their parents got them, they ceased longing. A child is the ultimate gift....
And I beg off thinking about how the restrictions of their agenda would offend my radical feminist position, which I somehow forgot to pack. In Argentina, we who have floundered in the wreckage of the American family, part and parcel of progress, want to bask in the positives of this enigmatic society, in the tender, self-abnegating attentions of adults, the warm security of children whose minds never seem to have been crossed by the possibility of lovelessness. Here it is uncommon to hire sitters, for children participate. And they go to bed when they are tired, not when their parents are tired of them.