This is the true story of Thomas McFadden, an English drug smuggler who was arrested in Bolivia and thrown inside the notorious San Pedro prison. He found himself in a bizarre world, the prison reflecting all that is wrong with South American society. Prisoners have to pay an entrance fee and buy their own cells (the alternative is to sleep outside and die of exposure), prisoners’ wives and children often live inside too, high quality cocaine is manufactured and sold from the prison.
Thomas ended up making a living by giving backpackers tours of the prison – he became a fixture on the backpacking circuit and was named in the Lonely Planet guide to Bolivia. When he was told that for a bribe of $5000 his sentence could be overturned, it was the many backpackers who’d passed through who sent him the money.
This is the kind of book that every backpacker to pass through South America has read.
I read it in South East Asia where a battered, fake copy was passed from backpacker to backpacker until the pages fell out. Each new reader devoured it in a day or two and would excitedly chat about it to anyone who would listen.
I’m usually more of a fan of fictional stories but this real life is so far from anything I’ve ever read before that it almost felt like fiction. You have to keep reminding yourself that this actually happened
It’s like a regular book club but in a virtual world and you can join in from the comfort of your own home (PJs and white wine are optional but are very much recommended – although not for Jayne as it will be 6am in Australia!) Use the #TravelBookChat hashtag throughout the month to chat about how you’re getting on and finding the book.
#TravelBookChat in November
Book: Marching Powder by Rusty Young
Time & Date: Tuesday November 17th at 8pm GMT