Journeys with Open Eyes, Seeking Empathy with Strangers


Journeys with Open Eyes is not a travel book although it provides a wealth of information about places far away and sometimes very close to home, both locationally and psychologically. Nor is it a history book, although the author, Hugh Roberts, was present in or around many of the world’s trouble spots immediately before or after some of the epoch-making events of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

‘Journeys’… is a book about people. As such it is concerned with Hugh’s empathetic approach to members of the human race, be they indigenous residents of the High Andes, Soviet functionaries, Arab princes, white South Africans of the Apartheid era and numerous others. There can be no doubt that empathy helped him in his career as an international Urban Planner but empathy like this is only found in those with a genuine love for humankind. He judges systems of government but rarely the people operating or imposing them. As a result, he invariably gets the best out of his fellows whether as friends, work colleagues or chance acquaintances.

Journeys… will entertain and educate the reader in full measure and should be required reading for all who care for the inhabitants of this planet.

Chapter contents

Preface What on earth am I doing here? Some of the extraordinary situations I have found myself in, and what I did about them.

1. Journeys through a Child’s Eyes – Learning to size people up at school and during early foreign travels.

2. Summer of ’69 – My Great American Road Trip; A first big journey abroad working and travelling on my own

3. Learning to fly – The challenges of learning a practical skill in a new medium.

4. MMBA – Miles and Miles of Bloody Australia; 3 months working with the Geological Survey of West Australia.

5. Among Africa’s last white rulers – South Africa and Rhodesia; Working in Johannesburg City Council and Soweto; Journeys through SA and Rhodesia.

6. Algeria – After the French had gone; New town and regional development experience in North Africa.

7. Bolivia and the High Andes – A new industrial city for Bolivia and comparisons with its neighbours.

8. Four decades of turbulence in the Middle East – Numerous project experiences in Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar and Oman.

9. Eastern Europe during and after the Iron Curtain – Poland 1974, Soviet Union 1977, Czech Republic 2003, Hungary 2009.

10. South Asian Mosaic – Projects and travels in India, Thailand, and Malaysia.

11. Island Postcards – What makes islands special; Stack Rocks in Pembrokeshire; L'Ile des Pins in the South Pacific; 6 others worldwide.

12. France and Spain – My alter ego; Projects, travels and family life over 40 years throughout France and Spain.

Chapter 13 – Back where I started? Not quite! How do I see the world now? Any different to when walking home from school for the first time?