I have two amazing travel books to share with you. My interest in these is due in part to my plan to adopt a more vagabond family lifestyle. If all goes well we could be hitting the road in ten months… please, please, please. But I have also loved travel books since forever. Some of my favorites are Under the Tuscan Sun (way before it was a movie), A Walk in the Woods, and Eat, Pray, Love.
This week though I read two that differ slightly than what I usually read and LOVED them.
The first book is All in the Same Boat. It is about a trial lawyer and a teacher and how they decide to quit their jobs, buy a boat and sail away. They even raise two daughters from infancy on their boat. In addition to it being an awesome story I love how REAL it is. I had a very romantic notion of what it would be to live on a boat and this book really opened my eyes to the reality of what boat living is. The sheer amount of work involved in maintaining a boat is staggering!
Here I was imagining white sand beaches and sipping cocktails while the kids swim. While that may be a reality for cruising families that is certainly not ALL their life is about. The description of what it takes to do some laundry, fix your toilet, make a meal, or go grocery shopping was enough to have me wondering if a life at sea would ever be right for me.
But even still I loved reading about all their adventures and how their two girls grew up on the water. There are even a couple essays in the book written by them.
The second book had me laughing hysterically for most of the evening and it also had me up until 2:00 AM reading it straight through. The book is One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children. It is funny, it is scary, it is touching, and it is one heck of an adventure.
The author used to work with photo journalists to make coffee table books about travel. He met his wife during his travels as she backpacked though Asia. The settled down in California, had kids, and then he got a middle age itch to go traveling again. He and his wife decided to sell everything they owned and use the money to travel the world for one year.
I was beside myself laughing when he related how his toddler wipes his ice cream covered hands on the slacks of a posh woman in Paris. I was laughing equally hard when a shop keeper in Turkey ran into the street after him screaming because he wouldn’t buy a rug.
I was biting my nails when he described how his family was sleeping in tents in Africa when a pride of lions entered their camp and attacked a buffalo a few yards away from their tent. They heard the screaming, slicing, crunching, etc. all night long. I was pretty much anxious all throughout their journey in Africa!
My eyes were watering as he described how his daughter was very nearly lost at sea in Australia and I was mesmerized by his descriptions of Istanbul, Greece, and Sardinia. I was also a little alarmed by talk of crocodiles in Costa Rica since that is the front runner for places we may be looking to move to.
This book also had one of the most beautiful paragraphs I have ever read and I will share part of it here. It shows why taking the risk to travel with your family can be so worth it! He and his family were in a cave up the Mekong River. They were lighting matches to see thousands of carved Buddhas in the cave. They were lighting match after match and remembering all the places they had been…
Then it struck me that life was like that too. You light a match, and you’re just a child. Light another, and you’re married with children of your own. A few more brief, bright flares, and your babies have left home. A few more after that and your pack is used up. That might be why, at the end of our journey, we found ourselves standing in the Buddha caves of Pak Ou. To learn that we only have one pack of matches. To understand that we have to be in the best possible place when we light each one. To know that we must make each brief combustion a bright, shining moment that pierces the darkness and illuminates a thousand gods.
Like the passage above this book was fantastic and really brought home the point for me. I may very well only have this one pack of matches. Where do I want to light them?