Listen With Others

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Listener No 4706: Pedestrian Destination by eXternal

Posted by vaganslistener on 30 Apr 2022

Golly, I go on bit sometimes, so let’s try and keep this shorter. This was a great puzzle by eXternal/Steve Bartlett (who edits the Enigmatic Variations series so it jolly well should be). A nice bit of moving-lettery but plain clues to stop it getting too complicated, and the sort of visual theme we all seem to like – in this case the World Heritage Inca Trail from Lake Titicaca to Machu Picchu, a four-day hike.

Thankfully it wasn’t a four-day hike of a puzzle. Apart from suspecting a path joining two places I didn’t spot any more of the theme to start with, and began to fill in entries quite quickly NW to SE. CLOUD FOREST along the top soon appeared, but it wasn’t until I got to the SW corner (and corrected my mistaken FEASTS to FETAS) that LAKE became obvious – and at that point I guessed TITICACA and was able to start pencilling in the new top line and spotting some of the trail. All that took about two hours.

The pace then slowed, especially with the effort to get the crucial 38a German philosopher’s hesitance about housing unknown national (11) Z in HESITANCE* + N = NIETZSCHEAN: what a horrible word and clever clue. I called it a night after another half-hour or so with just a few left to spot in the morning. In fact I had a wakeful patch and the midnight oil produced 29d “Paunch spread to engulf this writer (5)” – a bit close to the bone that – parsed out as ME in RUN = RUMEN (I was slow again spotting the “this writer” trope) and it’s crossing 35a “Church music rector recalled (4)” – which I really should have seen – as R + EMO< = ROME.

Trickiest for me were:

9a “Helpful lodger about to raise voice (6, two words” where AU PAIR was obvious but I was blind to A + UP + AIR for a good while

14a “Pass water diviner, ignoring splendid fellow (4)” where again PEER seemed straightforward but I was slow in seeing PEE + (DIVINER – DIVINE)

37a “Terminates one US doctor from the east (6)” which had to be ISSUES and I eventually saw I + SEUSS<

20d “Picked up olive, for example (4)” where an I drops to the bottom and the parsing is PEACE (“olive” picked up or heard) as a homophone of PIECE (“for example” being the definition). The combination of the dropped letter and the misdirection in using “for example” as the definition not as a signal for definition by example confused me nicely – and of course P[I]ECE than had to change to PACE to complete the trail. 

Good work, eXternal! Thanks! Now let’s see if I can make an animated GIF to show the moves… I’m not in the Hennings class though 🙂


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