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From Santa Maria with Love

Darton, Longman & Todd
RRP $29.95

Reviewed by Wendy Scott, Kenmore Uniting Church.

THE title says it all.

The author is a theologian and journalist who passed through Santa Maria de Fe in Paraguay on holiday.

 The ties to places and people in South America are strong for anyone who does not go in a tour group and meets the locals on their own terms.

After being widowed, then having her children become independent, Margaret leaves her job to live in and help this small impoverished community.

The paperback is a collection of two to three page weekly journal articles for The Tablet, a British Catholic weekly journal.

The style is very readable and familiar; the reader will meet these devout, joyous people living under oppression and in abject poverty.

Ms Hebblethwaite has captured the beauty and spirit of the people of South America.

She has since started an education charity and written an English tour guide to Paraguay.

Having just come back from visiting our Consuegros (our son’s parents-in-law) in Peru, via Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, I concur with Margaret that the South American poor are a people of great faith and joy.

The middle income earners are an absolute delight as well, in a culture devoid of political correctness and workplace health and safety.

This is armchair travelling with a conscience.