Gerdette Rooney is an intrepid traveller of the nomadic kind, hence the title of her newly published book, Womadic Wanders. It’s a book that details Gerdette’s many adventures and tales of wanderlust from many different countries. These are not the usual countries that are generally criss-crossed by students during a gap year or by tourists wanting to experience different places and cultures whilst maintaining the standards they are used to back home. Rooney’s stories are from those places that many would not venture to alone. Not even in their wildest dreams. Countries like Iraq, during the time of Saddam Hussein or Libya under the rule of Gaddafi. Rooney is a trained radiographer was able to live and work in these countries. Working amongst the people of each country has allowed for great insight into customs, ideologies and lifestyle choices that we privileged folk in the west might not agree with.
Of the countries she has inhabited Rooney says that Africa is the country that stole her heart. She was there during the time of apartheid, working in an empty hospital in Johannesburg.
“There were separate staff rooms for black and white, separate entries into shops and you couldn’t even share a park bench. I found this out when I actually sat on a bench next to a member of staff who was also a person of colour and was quickly moved on by security. Soon after I moved to another hospital outside Johannesburg, Baragwanath, in Soweto.”
“You have to be quite fearless and trusting of those around you.” Rooney said explaining that she would often hitchhike too and said that her favourite taxis were those in Africa where she would be the only white person squeezed in with a whole family and their chickens.
Rooney’s philosophy on travel is what the book is all about. As she has said it is a chance for readers to know what travel was like back when the world was normal. Some valuable lessons to be learned include; leaving your heart open to trust and to the kindness of strangers, exploring the wilderness of the planet by veering off the beaten track, seeing what this planet is about, and experiencing the world, it’s wonders and it’s peoples from a different perspective.
We could all use a little exuberance right now.
Rooney’s book can be purchased at:
GleeBooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe.
Better Read Than Dead, 265 King Street, Newtown.
Or directly from the author at Gerdette28@gmail.com
By Renee Lou Dallow