Rudy’s Rules for Travel by Mary Jensen
I read it as an: ARC
Source: a site I review for
Length: 256 pp
Publisher: She Writes Press
Jensen and her late husband, WWII veteran Rudy, have diametrically opposite personalities, but the combination makes for excellent travel stories. Jensen’s travel memoir highlights her husband’s list of rules he developed for travel, and over the course of their marriage and global adventures, he teaches her how to apply those rules to all things in life. The tales span from side-splittingly hilarious to utterly heartbreaking. All showcase the spectrum of the human condition and highlight Rule #11: “Relax – Some kind stranger will appear.” Throughout, readers are introduced to Rudy’s adventuresome spirit and absolute optimism. The book journeys from Scotland to Mexico, Egypt to Indonesia. The stories have the effect of teaching readers not necessarily about the places themselves, but rather how to live life to the fullest. “We don’t travel to have comfort…we can have comfort at home. And we don’t travel to meet Americans. We can meet Americans at home.” Traveling, according to Rudy, is for learning about a new culture and meeting people from that culture. To do that, you must “ride with locals, not tourists.” In Oaxaca, for example, the Jensens, eating at a tiny local taqueria, get swept up in a crowd headed to celebrate Holy Thursday in an unplanned local tradition. They would have missed the opportunity to participate in the ceremony if they had gone to the recommended tourist destinations, and indeed Jensen looked up “to see tourists in the two restaurants above us … straining to see, to understand what has happened on the streets below. I see what they had missed.” Other stories are laugh out loud funny, such as when the Jensens had to decide between one of two death-trap modes of transportation in Puerto Escondido. When in Egypt, the Jensens are faced with one of the most heartbreaking experiences of their travels, yet it also shows the generosity of people in a community when a family’s cow is killed by a car. The cow is the only thing they own and the villagers are trying to collect items from their own limited provisions to help. Not a lot of time is spent at any given location in each section. Instead, readers are taken to many places, each vividly but briefly described. In this way, Jensen is able to provide many examples for how Rudy’s Rules apply to a variety of scenarios.
Bonus points for feminist presses!