Sing, and Don’t Cry: A Mexican Journal by Australian writer Cate Kennedy is the kind of travel narrative that will interest you deeply, but either make you want to run off to an exotic location as a volunteer, or stay firmly forever at home.
Kennedy finds herself working in a Mexican rural development organization helping out in a “microcredit cooperative” – basically, a bank for local peasants. Her very first experiences there teach her much about the local situation, when someone explains the five reasons this “bank” might give you a small loan – for medical help, education, home improvement, important celebrations, or to join a pilgrimage. The lessons don’t stop coming as Kennedy spends two years in Mexico meeting all kinds of interesting people and learning a whole lot of life lessons while she also tries to teach locals to sew and speak English.
With Kennedy being a well-known fiction writer in her home country, it’s not surprising that the prose of this travel narrative is particularly strong and enticing. Sing, and Don’t Cry‘s close examination of poverty and getting out of your comfort zone might make some readers uncomfortable, but because Kennedy is so honest and open about her experiences, it really does make for a fascinating read.
photo credit: Christian Frausto Bernal