The One That Got Away

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In 2020, Australian author Ken Haley mapped out an enticing menu of travel destinations, comprising the Caribbean island states for main course, with Central America for dessert. Main course soon turned into obstacle course. Cuba was a breeze, but then the world went into Covid lockdown mode and he had to decide whether to push on. As a pioneer wheelchair traveller, Haley knew exactly what to do. He took the brakes off.

After an unplanned detour to Trumpian Florida, he returned to the tropics intent on dividing his time between sun worship, historical exploration and observation of life’s realities for the community of West Indian nations. In a year that wasn’t long on fun, Haley had his share but he also met his quota of hardship and risks – from developing hurricanes to a no-longer-dormant volcano, from robbery to an acute health crisis that had him wondering whether he might have been wiser to buy a one-way ticket in advance.

2020 was the year most of us stayed at home. Ken Haley turned an accident of timing into a rollicking, but dangerous adventure. The result is a triumph: a humorous and penetrating insight into a world grappling with an unforeseen calamity and a rare and empathetic travel book.

‘A moving and funny chronicle of questing and courage in the age of coronavirus.’ — Margaret Simons, author of Cry Me A River and Penny Wong: Passion and Principle

‘Travel books are often entertaining but Ken Haley's book is both entertaining and edifying: not many other writers manage that nowadays. He follows in the footsteps of those great adventurers before him ... Stevenson, Newby, Chatwin and Bryson.’ — Phil Brown, author of The Kowloon Kid and Travels with My Angst.