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Reviewed by Poppy Johnson
Round the Bend is a marvel of anecdotes and stories by author Alistair McGuinness who traveled the world with his wife Fran “at their age.” He met his wife in school, moved to Australia to live, traveled from Ecuador to Bolivia, crossed Africa and chronicled his adventures along the way. Alistair and Fran trekked the earth, stopping in Fiji and various South African cities and exploring their surroundings. The book has 22 chapters to highlight their trips, with famous quotes, black and white maps of the regions they visited and interesting stories. It is a type of memoir, and the author shares his stories with a wide smile and a genuine sense of humor.
I enjoyed reading about his time in Bolivia, where they were greeted by the natives and where they had to navigate the language barriers and manage with no electricity or modern comforts. There were many stories of native children, and one in particular stood out. He was able to sit with a group of children in Bolivia and his wife was handed a guinea pig that she cuddled on her lap. There were many of these small pigs around, and Fran soon had a few in her lap as she tried to talk to the island children. Later, there was a squeal and a dull thud in the kitchen followed by silence. The guinea pigs (known as cuy) become a high protein meal for the people of Bolivia. They were also used for medicinal purposes according to native beliefs to cure diseases.
This travel diary is written with the idea that someone who will never visit these regions can enjoy the stories and understand what it was like to travel the world. These stories are the perfect escape for the armchair traveler and there are links at the back of the book to follow the author’s newest adventures to date. The book is relatively short to read, and I would suggest reading the chapters in order so that you can follow the author’s adventures in the correct sequence. It is possible to learn about new lands by reading this book; it also gives do’s and don’ts for travelers of every age visiting remote areas of the world.
After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Matador. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.