"As the turquoise glow of Round Reef faded and the island became a ship's outline, anchored, promising to be there if we ever needed to come home, I said a silent goodbye. Beneath the nervousness was a bit of heartache, too. Leaving home is never easy, even when it is what you want most in the world."
After exploring the Eastern Caribbean for several years on their 34-foot Creekmore, Connie McBride, her husband, and their 16-year-old son sailed away from their adopted home of St. Croix, west across the Caribbean to Bocas del Toro, Panama. What they found there will delight the reader as the archipelago comes alive in Eurisko Sails West: A Year in Panama. Howler monkeys, red frogs, and sloths in the jungle are accompanied by a symphony of parrots, oro pendula, toucans, and macaws.
But Panama has more to offer this family than jungle. Coral reefs, deserted beaches, and surf are all within an easy day sail. Local Indians in dugout canoes paddle or sail past, offering fish and lobster. A group of Indian children admire their Christmas tree, and in exchange for an impromptu Spanish lesson, the McBride's share their fish catch with the children's 13 family members. After a few months of exploring Bocas del Toro, the family travels inland. Costa Rica offers not only adventure, cloud forest, and black sand beaches, but also unforeseen complications. The Panamanian mountain town of Boquete becomes their base for climbing the country's highest point: Volcan Baru. And David - Panama's third largest city - is both an escape from the outpost town of Bocas and the family's salvation during an emergency. But it is the people they meet during their stay in Panama that enrich their lives.
Removed from his friends, girlfriend, and island he calls home, their guitar-playing surfer son, struggling to grow up in a country whose language he barely speaks, becomes a favorite playmate of the Indians from the local village. He teaches them to play sports and card games; they teach him how to open a coconut with a machete, the importance of cultural differences, and tolerance.
Far from a cruising guide or a travel log, Eurisko Sails West: A Year in Panama is an experience - a family adventure that allows the reader to explore the beauty and challenges of sailing and living in rural Panama. When a medical emergency prevents them from leaving the country, decisions become more difficult and have shocking consequences. Neighbors who had become friends transform into rescuers, and in the end, we are all reminded of the importance of appreciating life and those we share it with, wherever we may be.
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Yes, all cruising sailing stories, especially those written by women, is time well spent.
Would you listen to another book narrated by Vanessa Johansson?
No. I don't think her emphasis on certain words made any sense...and her tone was constantly one of annoyance at regular boat things....even though the words of the author, to me, do not convey annoyance....as an owner and sailor of old boats, the things that are matter of fact information or interesting tidbits about a boat and its performance, are put out in a tone of disgust or irritation by Vanessa. Boat people should narrate boat books.
Did Eurisko Sails West inspire you to do anything?
It cemented my interest in Panama as a destination.
Any additional comments?
Connie McBride, via the narrator's oral interpretation,to me, comes off as irritable, lazy, begrudging, impatient, whiney, fearful and plagued by a superstition and a bad case of "natural" equals "good" with all of its encompassing hypocrisy. Her husband seems to refuse to learn Spanish and is continually bitching about his back, which he behaves as a helpless baby about, instead of being proactive...There are a variety of things that can cause back pain, from the benign and temporary, to the dangerous and fatal....To wait until one's leg begins to atrophy and it takes six men to get you off your boat, to me, just screams lazy dirty hippy. Connie's continual seeming appreciation of the native peoples conflicts harshly with her impatience of their pace of life, and I cannot believe she was surprised at being offered only 4 dollars an hour in a teaching position. But she is being offered this in Panama, and the narrator at least, makes it sounds as if she were shocked and insulted by such an offer.
The idea that Connie raised three boys aboard an only cooked meals a dozen times a decade totally throws me off....how can this be? Wouldn't you WANT to cook something for your family now and again? And this is coming from me, a sailing woman who is not a great cook by any means, nor do I much enjoy it or the accompanying tidying up. She has a horrible time in Costa Rica, and once returning to Panama, several times suggests that the Costa Rican's physical features are harsh where as the Panamanians are all that is gentle and good.
Her dependence on superstition, prayer, "positive energy" along with her ignorance of basic chemistry and genetics are disappointing. This woman can explain the physics of osmosis, but can't seem to use the Google search engine to research anything other than hotels, shops and transportation. She seems clueless about modern agriculture, basic business practices, and describes local flora and fauna about as in depth as one would to a kindergartner...want to know about "glow worms"? She is a teacher and a homeschooler of highschoolers...you would think the Latin name, the actual biology of the species she encountered, the molecular mechanism for this chemical phenomena happening within the insect, would be of great interest to her...but all of her descriptions of local fruit,corals, animals, local holidays, native habits and crafts, get vague assumptions or I don't knows.
A great read nonetheless,if you love to read about gunkholing adventures, but if I were to ever meet her, I would school HER....and maybe get her to drink a beer or two and snorkel for real.
Okay, deep down, I love her, like a hippy dippy relative who drives you nuts with her lacksidaisy, but emotional ways. You want to shake her, and make her dig deeper into the real world, not into her whims and feelings.
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