Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

English Professor releases memoir

Camping illegally in the ruins of Tikal National Park, located in Guatemala, English Professor Kelly Daniels had no choice but to bribe the ranger to escape being arrested with two of his fellow travelers that he met the week before.
Daniels discusses this adventure and many more in his over a yearlong journey through South America and Mexico in his first book, “Cloudbreak, California: A Memoir.”
Daniels also talks about his relationship with his father, who was a “free spirit(ed) surfer” as well as a hippie. He also fled bail from the charge of selling drugs, so Daniels did not get to see his father too often.
Daniels describes his memoir as “a story about what happens when a boy romanticizes an outlaw father and tries to seek to emulate him, even as he tries to reject him and his values. The second definition would be that it’s a travel adventure memoir.”
Along with describing his father, Daniels bases his memoir around his six-month travel through Central America in 1993 and the seven months he spent in Mexico. In these journeys, Daniels almost perished numerous times due to his travels through civil war zones. The cover of Daniel’s memoir was designed by Art Professor Kelvin Mason.
“It was very intense for your basic American kid who lives in a fairly safe and protected environment in America,” said Daniels. “Go to a place like Guatemala or Honduras, and it opens your eyes to see how shocking the differences are.”
Through his book, Daniels wants  “to make an argument for wandering for a little while.”
He hopes those who are around the age of finishing up with college who do not know what they are going to do can be inspired and possibly even feel guided by his memoir, since he felt the same way when he graduated with his English degree.
“Traveling helped me find what I wanted, what I was good at and what the world needed worked out for me, mainly because I just didn’t give up,” said Daniels. “I didn’t give in to something that didn’t really fit me, and it would be nice if this would encourage others.”
Currently, Daniels is working on his first novel based off of his experiences in Guatemala.
When he traveled to the country, there was a travel advisory, since the peasants thought that first world visitors were stealing their babies to harvest the baby’s  organs and would therefore attack all American and European tourists.
“I’m pretty sure (this) is nonsense, but it’s one of those hysterias that everyone believed, and that fascinated me,” Daniels said.
Daniels’ memoir “Cloudbreak, California” is available online on amazon as well as at Augustana’s Bookstore.

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English Professor releases memoir