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Book details
  • SubGenre:Adventurers & Explorers
  • Language:English
  • Pages:584
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667800486


by Dr. Don Klein

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This memoir follows the life of Dr. Don Klein from his growing up normal in Hartford, CT, to college at UCONN, Dental school at Temple Univ. and a successful rock band for about 4 years at each venue. Next, a stint in the USAF with a year in Vietnam in which Capt. Klein connected with a squadron of career pilots that enabled him to fly all over Asia on Catch 22 boondoggles. After he returned home to CT, he he was not ready to settle down so went off to Europe, bought a delivery van and drove around for 4 months picking up stray travelers and ending up in Israel. Returning to CT, still in his 20s, he began plans for a major expedition by Land Rover north to south across Africa with a girlfriend. It was during that adventure from London to Cape Town that he crossed the Sahara Desert. In West Africa he came close to a near death with lions when he went to take a pee at night. In Zaire he changed the date on his visa and came close to being found out by authorities. His Vietnam buddy stationed in Germany flew to Nairobi and joined Don around the game parks of East Africa. In Mozambique he shipped his Land Rover to Rio de Janeiro where it was impounded by customs who wanted $50,000 for its release. With two new partners he drove the Land Rover through South America, over the Andes in winter, disregarded the currency exchange rule in Chile under Allende and thought they could drive up and into the ruins at Machu Picchu. They also thought they could drive from Colombia into Panama not knowing about the Darien Gap. On the positive side, because of that geographic error, Don was introduced to the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez—whom he would eventually meet in the author's home in Mexico City. Incidentally Don also hung out with the writers Ken Kesey, Paul Bowles, and the indefatigable literary agent, Carmen Balcells, who Don would meet and catalog her private collection of 30,000 Garcia Marquez books—between lecturing on cruise ships.
By the laws of nature I should not be writing this. By the laws of nature I should not even be here. By the laws of nature I should probably be dead. It happened in West Africa about 50 years ago. I had just walked 50 feet to take a nocturnal pee after a face-to-face warning by locals that it was not advisable to make camp here. Best leave. By some twist of fate, and without knowing, I somehow during that pee had just avoided what might have been my demise. At Sam Ash Music I found a used, blonde neck, Fender Stratocaster. It was a few years old and the popular sunburst finish had a few dings, rubs and scratches. Boy, was I one happy 19-year-old as I rode the train back to Hartford. It was a '57 Strat and I learned many years later that had I kept the guitar it might be worth upwards of U$50,000! I'm displaying it on the back cover of this book. My lead guitar's Strat was candy-apple red (he painted it to match his souped up Studebaker with the Corvette engine) and I decided to refinish my Strat along the same lines. However, when I removed the old sunburst finish and saw how aesthetic the natural wood finish looked I decided to just put a couple of coats of clear varnish on it and leave it as it was. All my neighbors stopped their lawn chores and watched as this slim black fellow in a 3-piece suit got out of the '59 gold Caddy and walked over to my dad. "I'm looking for Don," he said. "The boys in the band are in the house." On Wednesday night, Feb. 21, 1968, Ed, Ira and I went to a new club that opened on Arch St. in Philly called The Electric Factory. We heard that there was a new rock band from England appearing and we arrived early and paid $4.50 and got seats in the front row. The name of the band: The Jimi Hendrix Experience. In late June that summer there was a special event that occurred in Hartford. The Rolling Stones appeared in concert at Dillon Field near the Colt Arms Company. All the guys were dressed in bright white. Brian Jones was still with them and the venue only held about 8,000 spectators. Despite the Stones' popularity I remember the crowd was maybe half that number. The first car I ever owned was a 1964 Corvette Sting Ray coupe, small block engine, with a 4-speed transmission. The color was Daytona Blue with a black interior. It was low mileage and it was love at first site. I paid cash. I bought a Nikon Photomic FTN body and a couple of lenses. It didn't take long before I became hooked on photography and buying bodies and lenses. I joined the base photo club and developed my own black and white film. Nervously, I sat in the base commander's outer office. I saluted when asked to come in. I stood in front of the seated commander: "Capt. Klein: do you know that you have been repeatedly fraternizing with enlisted men on weekends?" It took me a few seconds to fully digest what he said. Fraternizing with enlisted men. It was a strange way of putting that I played music in a band with NCO's, but yes, I guess I was. "Furthermore, do you realize that by playing in that band in the nearby towns of Lompoc and Santa Maria you are taking jobs away from civilians?"
About the author
Dr. Don Klein is a lecturer whose expertise and interests include Latin American history and culture. Don's historical focus concerns Spanish and Portuguese voyages of discovery and expansion—in particular the exploration of the Andes, Brazil and its middle and upper Amazon River. On the cultural side, his expertise extends to the architecture, ethnology, music and literature of South America and the Caribbean—with emphasis on Brazil, the Amazon and the Panama Canal. Don is a veteran traveler with over 40 years experience on 7 continents. In the early 1970s, he flew to England, purchased a Land Rover, and spent a year driving from London to Cape Town, So. Africa. He then shipped his vehicle to Brazil and drove from Rio de Janeiro over the Andes to San Francisco, California. Don admits that this two-year epic journey was a lifestyle change. Among the changes: moving to San Francisco, where he honed his musical skills playing with Latin percussion ensembles, founded a not-for-profit arts organization and become an avid collector and connoisseur of 1st editions and other rare books. Beside lecturing, writing and photography for travel publications, Don is the bibliographer of Nobel Prize-winning author (1982), Gabriel García Márquez. His comprehensive work on the author was published (in Spanish) in 2003 in two volumes. Don holds a bachelors degree from the University of Connecticut in biochemistry, a D.D.S. from Temple University in dentistry and attended Cal Berkeley for Latin American Studies. Beside his many activities and interests he operated a private dental practice in San Francisco from 1978 to 1998, served in Vietnam with the U.S.A.F. with the rank of Captain, and is conversant in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. He currently resides in Hollywood, Florida.
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