Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
Travels and Tribulations by Tyrel Nelson is a heartwarming travel book/memoir chronicling the author's Habitat for Humanity journey to various Central & South American countries like Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. It is an eye-opening journey filled with insights, twists, turns, and experiences galore!
The book also chronicles the author's life experiences with his parents, both of whom have passed. These personal stories about his late mother and father are some of the highlights of the entire book. They're actually very touching and heartbreaking.
Tyrel's mother, in particular, really gripped our hearts. She reminds us of our mothers. She's a diabetic and Filipino. Due to her diabetes, she is thin as a rail and tiny. The author does a good job at portraying her diminutive size and frailty. There's a moment when she just touches him on the arm, and she's so small and weak by that point that he barely detects it. There's another touching story about the time when his mother nursed a stray baby squirrel to full health until it bit her and it had to be released into the wild. Little by little, you get the idea that Tyrel's mother instilled a strong sense of compassion in him, the same compassion he shows people on his Habitat for Humanity journey.
The author makes no surprise of the fact that his parents have passed away as it's mentioned pretty early on in the book. We're comfortable mentioning that one of the most powerful moments of the book is when she's too sick to speak yet murmurs three things, and we can imply what they are.
The author's father (“Pop”) is also an inspiring figure. He taught the author that “the best way to change the world is through people, not projects.” In other words, his father encouraged him to get out, make friends, and build relationships with people, something which he does on his travels.
There are several other things we loved about this book. For instance, there's a terrific contrast in cultures. One of the best moments is when one of the Mexican women, Tanya, asks Tyrel what Americans think about death. Tyrel replies that Americans are afraid of it. Tanya replies by saying that in Mexican culture, “We have fun in life and death” and see it as part of the life cycle.
The other thing we loved about this book are the captioned photographs that show what the author described, saw, and experienced on their journey.
They clearly learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and did a lot of exciting things.
Check this out on Amazon if you love reading travel books!