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Fortunate Isle: A Memoir of Tenerife
In 1960, with a mere £40 in his pocket, 18-year-old Ronald Mackay hitched from Scotland to Spain then took a tramp steamer to Tenerife, thinking to voyage on to South America. Instead, he discovered the snug village of Buenavista del Norte, where he was welcomed in by the locals as 'El Extranjero'. He lived there for a year, working, making friendships, exploring and growing into manhood.
'Fortunate Isle' is a charming tale of a special time in the author's life, when he is entirely 'open to the universe'. His recall sparkles like the sun on the sea that was so important to his life there. The memoir contains moments of hilarity and of confusion, as a young man initially with no Spanish, struggles to integrate into a tight-knit village full of people with no English. Despite this, his likeable nature and willingness to work hard make him popular and he is taken under the wing of a matriarch who runs the small guest house he had found -- almost too fortunately to be happenstance -- the very day he arrived.
Through the months in Buenavista del Norte, immersed in a life that was at once very different yet strangely similar to the one he had grown up in in rural Scotland, Mackay addresses the challenges that we all must, as we come of age; and with that knowledge prepares himself for life.
Much more than a light-hearted travel memoir, this book charts a philosophical journey along a road that leads to independence, self-sufficiency and maturity. While offering humour and insight, it does not shirk discussion of deeper, more fundamental issues.
Fortunate Isle is suitable for all ages and offers a warm, refreshing and invigorating read. It is illustrated with over fifty photographs, taken in 1960 by the author himself.