Who would sleep between the rails? Were they fools incognizant of danger, or did they lack the survival instinct? Were they trusting their gods to protect them, or haughty enough to tempt Fate? Whoever they were, I realized that I was one of them. I had already slept between rails of a different sort, dozens of times, and frankly, I girded myself to sleep between many more.
Driven by a passion to know the world, enticed by the romantic promise of a former college boyfriend, and with almost no money and no plan for where or how I would survive, I take a Spanish freighter to meet the boyfriend in Spain. It’s 1967.
What turns out to be a five and half year quixotic vagabonding odyssey is suffused with ridiculous risk. The book traces two parallel journeys – the external, physically challenging, and sometimes brutal one through 32 countries, and the internal, emotionally and spiritually challenging one defined by self-discovery through confrontation with humanity and reckless self-abandonment. In the process, I do sleep on rooftops, train station platforms, in the desert, atop rebar in the bed of a rickety truck on a mountainous road, and on the lawn of the Taj Mahal.
Although the difficult lessons that I learned weren’t wrapped in neat packages, the questions they raised beg to be shared. Readers will perhaps see some of their own struggles in the many tales told in Sleeping Between the Rails: A Woman’s Odyssey. And they will certainly witness the triumph of the spirit.
Even in India, the land of multi-thousands of homeless sleeping on the street, anywhere they might find a somewhat flat surface, I was astonished to see a sign on a Calcutta train station platform warning, "NO Sleeping Between the Rails!"
"When Carroll steps onto the ship bound for Spain she never looks back—and neither will you. Each destination brings a new revelation, making her story a traveler’s adventure and a journey of the soul.”
- Susan Roesgen, WGNO
“News With a Twist” Host
"Ms. Devine's book does for women what Jack Kerouac's On the Road did for men. From Spain through Europe to Nepal to the Middle East and back again, one woman's journey on the highway to adulthood resonates with us all."
- Ann Benoit, Columnist,
Times-Picayune Northshore Bureau and book author
Memoir: A Woman's Odyssey
"All I wanted was the world. I didn’t know it would cost me my innocence, my pride, my dignity, a great measure of sanity, and almost my life, more than once."