Looking for Esperanza: One Woman’s Search for Hope in the Other America is the story of a journey.
On one level, it’s a journey through geographic space, as a woman leaves a three-decade career in newspaper journalism, straps on a backpack and strikes out on into the unknown, forging a path through ten Latin American countries. She takes her storytelling skills with her, offering a window into the strange and wonderful, the shocking and the inspiring things and people that she meets along the way.
On another level, it’s a journey through time. It’s taken seven years to compile the dozens of hours of interviews conducted along the way, to translate them, analyze them and glean the best of them. During those years, much has changed – both in the countries and the lives of the people she visited, and in her own life. She uses the book as an opportunity to drill down and discover deeper realities – universal realities that have to do with social and personal change, humanity, and the nature of hope in a wounded world.
In 2010, environmental travel writer Tracy L. Barnett left a 25-year career as an award-winning newspaper journalist to take the trip of a lifetime. A search for hope in these hopeless, cynical times was what was called for, she thought. In Spanish – as is often the case in Spanish – it sounded more poetic, and at the same time, more concrete. So in the ferment that arose from the end of her career as a newspaper journalist, the idea for The Esperanza Project was conceived. In the following year, she would weave together the threads of her previous work and three of her greatest passions: travel, Latin America, and the natural environment. She would travel through the Americas, beginning in Mexico and working her way down, in search of people who are, in a multitude of ways, seeking to heal our broken planet.
From Mexico to Argentina, she found them: permaculturists, indigenous people, ex-guerrillas and business people with an environmental ethic. There were bicycle activists, organic farmers, medicine people and entrepreneurs; chefs and hostel owners, truck drivers and taxi drivers, government officials and religious leaders. All of them confirmed her belief in the desire for – and in many cases, the commitment to – a more regenerative, life-affirming culture.
The writer’s search for hope in a broken world is reflected in her own inner journey as she moves through an extraordinary landscape. As the world changes, so does the traveler.