Half a World Away: Searching for a Gap Year Travel Adventure by Alistair McGuinness
|Half a World Away: Searching for a Gap Year Travel Adventure by Alistair McGuinness|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An inspiring, enlightening and thoroughly readable story of the journey of a lifetime. Definitely recommended particularly if you're planning such a trip or thinking of emigrating.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: October 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Alistair McGuinness (Ali to his friends) worked at Vauxhall in Luton and heard that the factory was closing at work - from someone who rang to tell him that they'd heard it on the news. Some of the workers were upset, some were angry but Alistair rang his wife and told Fran that this was their opportunity to travel and see something of the world. There was a history of travel in his family - as well as a tradition of storytelling - and we're going to benefit from both of those.
For too many people redundancy is a tragedy but Alistair and Fran grasped it as a golden opportunity. Time had to be spent planning where they were going - and where the journey was going to end, as the couple had a yen to live in Australia. McGuiness deals well with the trauma of redundancy and of leaving family behind in UK and wondering if you will ever see them again. He's sensitive to other people's feelings but still determined about what he and Fran want to do. It's also an object lesson about how to organise emigration to Australia - even employing someone to ensure that they got it absolutely right didn't prevent problems arising at the very moment when they were least able to deal with them.
The first stop on the travels was Central and then South America. On trips like this there's always a tendency for the countries to bled into one amorphous mass, but McGuinness is excellent at bringing out the individual characters of the countries visited and the personalities of the people they met. Peru particularly made an impression on me, but if I had to pick somewhere that I would love to see it's Lake Titicaca on the Peru/Bolivia border and the largest lake by volume in South America. As with all the places which the couple visit there's a nice balance of personal experience, history and fact and I was regularly tempted to do further research. This was not a quick read!
Africa was the next destination but it was most economical to fly back to the UK and then fly out again. McGuinness captures well the feeling of being a part of something, but not a part when they were back in Luton. I almost sensed relief as the couple left Heathrow again. In Africa I was most taken by their experiences at Victoria Falls, where the surrounding area has its own microclimate. I was also terrified when the couple went white water rafting and had to keep reminding myself that there was a book, so they must have made it. McGuinness kept reminding himself that Fran's mother told him to look after her...
Fran's time volunteering in a Roumanian orphanage came back to bite her and forced her to fly back to the country whilst Alistair went on the Australia - redundancy cheques only go so far and didn't allow for both to go to Rumania. It was with a sense of relief that I saw them both into the country - with permanent visas. I was also sad to have come to the end of an exciting and informative story. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For another story of someone who made a similar exploration of South America we can recommend Life On The Line by Jeremy Bullard.
You can read more about Alistair McGuinness here.
You can read more book reviews or buy Half a World Away: Searching for a Gap Year Travel Adventure by Alistair McGuinness at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Half a World Away: Searching for a Gap Year Travel Adventure by Alistair McGuinness at Amazon.com.
Half a World Away: Searching for a Gap Year Travel Adventure by Alistair McGuinness is in the Top Ten Self-Published Books 2013.
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