[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Matador
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iBooks[/alert]

When the General Motors auto factory in Luton Town, England closed its doors and offered its workers the choice between working in the neighboring factory or accepting a redundancy check, Alistair McGuinness seized his opportunity. With the money from the redundancy check, McGuinness and his wife could afford to travel across South America and Africa and acquire permanent residence in Australia. McGuinness chronicles these adventures in his self-published ebook Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru to Ningaloo, a Search for Life After Redundancy.

It is difficult to leave a small town, especially when it’s the only place ever called home. Throughout his adventures, McGuinness reflects wistfully on the relationships he’s leaving behind. He shares that a friend told him that McGuinness was dead to him because he left and wasn’t planning on ever returning. This demonstrates that even with all of the virtual communication available today, it is still vital to be able to grab a friend and go out on the town together.

Yet, it’s equally important to have the courage to respond when the call to adventure sounds. Across three continents, McGuinness and his wife trek across mountains, see extinct volcanoes, survey deserts, and volunteer in the heart of a jungle infested with insects. They visit a market run by witches, take a steam bath in wooden boxes, ride horses, take a bus with goats as fellow passengers, play football with locals, sleep in hostels, push a car out of the mud and see elephants and lions at Antelope Park, and tour Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned from 1964 to 1982. They survive wild boat rides, storms, steep summits, disgruntled taxi drivers, and a tour of a Potosi mine where miners face dangers on a daily basis (including rock falls, asphyxiation, and poisoning from leached gases). This is only a sampling of their adventures before the successful acquisition of their permanent visas in Australia.

While this was undoubtedly a life-changing learning experience, McGuinness does not focus on any one place or event for too long before swiftly moving onto the next. Readers only catch the slightest glimpses of people and places. However, some chapters do end with well-selected scenic photos. Also, instead of focusing on how this experience has led to personal or spiritual growth, McGuinness keeps the reader at a distance with self-deprecating humor. Overall, Round the Bend is a book for those who love to read travel writing, especially about travel in South America and Africa.

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