Every now and again I like to deviate from my usual reading of fiction; and as I like to consider myself a bit of a traveller, I do enjoy the odd travel read. Hence why I was attracted to Hit The Road, Jac! by Jacqui Furneaux.
And crikey, what a travel read it is. Hit The Road, Jac! is Furneaux’s memoirs over seven years when following the end of her marriage and with two grown-up daughters, she chose to break away from conventionality, purchase an ‘obsolete’ Enfield motorbike and travel around the world.
With no definite plan Furneaux travelled over 20 countries including Pakistan, Colombia and New Zealand. She chronicles how she broke her leg, was forced to hide from pirates, removed leeches from her boyfriend’s nether regions and was propositioned – yet nothing prevented her from her journey of self discovery. Throughout the book she clearly portrays the friendliness and warmth of the many cultures and people she encountered:
“Meeting people as I grew on my own journey meant I carried a little of them as I went.”
One of the most emotional chapters for me is when Furneaux relates her ‘holiday’ to Syria in 2002. Nowadays having a holiday in Syria is something very hard for us to imagine. Furneaux is very aware of as she sensitively narrates the history and beauty of the country she was lucky enough to experience:
“Now, dismayed for the plight of people killed or still suffering in Syria I feel privileged that I was able to go when I did. Many of the World Heritage sites have been shelled, looted and deliberately damaged. Things I saw and people I met may not be there now due to the brutal civil war.”
Reading this book, I was genuinely alarmed by the dangers and near misses that Furneaux faced. Even more alarming is how she casually narrates these episodes to her readers. If I had some of these experiences, I would be a nervous wreck, yet Furneaux seemed to take it all in her stride. This is something I truly admire her for.
Hit The Road, Jac! is an intimate read in which Furneaux relates how she finds love during her travels. Yet her most poignant and endearing relationship is with her trusty Enfield. By caring, maintaining and travelling alone with the bike, this is how Furneaux finds her true self.
“My bike didn’t judge me. It sort of comforted and looked after me. We were a team. I concluded that yes, for the time being, the bike WAS my identity and was happy with that.”
If you like true adventures, Hit The Road, Jac! is definitely worth a read. For me, it has echoes of the brilliant Full Tilt by renowned travel writer Dervla Murphy. I have not been to some of the countries that Furneaux travelled to, and due to current turmoil in the world, chances are I never will. However from reading Hit The Road, Jac! I do feel that in some sense I have personally experienced them.
Thank you Jacqui Furneaux for that and for sending me a copy of your book to read and review – you are a true inspiration.