A set of rules for life, by way of a delightful travel narrative.
Jensen (How to Recruit, Select, Induct and Retain the Very Best Teachers, 1987, etc.) and her late husband, World War II veteran Rudy, had diametrically opposite personalities, but their combination makes for excellent stories. Her memoir highlights her husband’s list of travel rules, and over the course of their adventures, he taught her how to apply them to all things in life. The tales can be hilarious or heartbreaking, but all highlight “Rule #11”: “Relax. Some kind stranger will appear.” Throughout, the author highlights Rudy’s adventuresome spirit and absolute optimism as they journeyed to Scotland, Mexico, Egypt, Indonesia, and elsewhere. The stories don’t necessarily teach readers very much about the places they visited but rather tell how to live life to the fullest. “We don’t travel to have comfort...we can have comfort at home,” Jensen writes; traveling, according to Rudy, is for learning about new cultures, and to do that, you must “ride with locals, not tourists.” In Oaxaca, for example, the Jensens were swept up in a crowd headed to celebrate Holy Thursday. They would have missed the opportunity to participate in the ceremony if they’d 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, as when the couple decides between two dangerous modes of transportation in Puerto Escondido. When in Egypt, the Jensens faced a heartbreaking experience, yet it was one that also showed the generosity of the people in the community. Not a lot of time is spent at any given location in each section; instead, the author takes readers to many places, briefly but vividly describing each. In this way, the author shows how Rudy’s Rules applied to a wide variety of scenarios.
A book that will make readers want to pack their bags and catch the first flight to somewhere far away.