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All his life Benicio Quispe has dreamed of being a guide on the Inca Trail. He gets his chance when the top travel agency in Cusco, Peru hires him. Alberto Salazar, his assigned mentor, fits Benicio’s idea of a perfect guide, but he’s also everything Benicio never dared to dream of in a boyfriend.
Alberto learned a long time ago to be discreet about his sexuality. It’s a necessary sacrifice to keep the respect of the guides and porters whose help is critical in a successful hike. So he pushes aside his attraction to his new junior guide and goes on as usual. But when a group of old friends arrives to hike the trail again, they convince him a relationship with Benicio is worth pursuing. His newfound resolve is enough to get them on a first date, but no amount of courage can change the attitudes of their family and friends. The risks on the trail are easy compared to finding a path through the challenges keeping them apart.
Reading The Path was a nice journey, funnily since, ya know, it’s all about one man’s journey to connect his professional dream and his personal life passions. ;)
Benicio knows what he wants to do with himself: share his hiking and trail knowledge with others. As a gay man, he lives a solitary life, in a country and city where homosexuality is best kept quiet, both professionally and personally.
When Benicio finds a job with his ideal travel/tour company and he’s paired with a more experienced guide named Alberto, things begin to shift in uncomfortable ways. Benicio and Alberto find common ground and eventual attraction through their shared love of the outdoors, and soon they’re “out” to each other and trying to form a relationship within the strict social confines of their personal and professional lives.
The Path was a pretty read; it was very well written and filled with interesting history, geography and general information about the Inca Trail. I enjoyed Benicio and Alberto as MCs. But there’s just not a whole lot to the story beyond what I’ve shared, and beyond the blurb about the book. I wish I could gush about how these two men spent hours talking and getting to know one another, but it never felt that way.
Instead, it went like this: on one page they were NOT together and on the next they WERE. No build, no UST, zero angst…just lots of telling with no showing.
I had a hard time cheering for Benicio and Alberto to get together because I never got to know what they were all about as a couple (or by themselves for that matter). At the end of my reading experience, I can’t tell you what they saw in each other outside of the fact that they liked to hike, worked for the same company and happened to be gay.
Something else that niggled for me (big time) was the fact that Benicio and Alberto felt like they needed to keep their love affair a secret. Whether it was accurate or not, it was frustrating and sad. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept—even in 2014—and I thought it especially worked within the confines of Benicio’s rural South American family. But it felt slightly forced, like maybe the secrecy was there as a plot device. In addition to that, there was some trail-related drama toward the end of the book that felt contrived.
All in all, I didn’t dislike The Path; I just wish it could have been more romantic and slightly less boring.