As summer winds to a close I find myself searching for books that I can read in short bursts of attention, beause it is about all the attention I have to offer. With that in mind the next series of book reviews will all be some version of essay, short, story, anecdotes or poetry.
Bluewater Walkabout: Into the Caribbean by Tina Dreffin, is the first of these. Dreffin has two books in her Bluewater Walkabout series: Into the Caribbean and Into Africa. This week I read Into the Caribbean. I expected a travel guide, which I enjoy plenty well on their own, but what I got was something more. This book is a series of adventures from a life well lived. Dreffin interjects a certain level of spirituality into her work, and some of the best pieces, for me, were the short quotes at the beginning of each chapter, setting the stage. There are several photographs throughout and I could absolutely see this re-done as a glossy coffee table book.
Each story focuses either on a sea creature encountered or a locale. The stories are personable, with small family details intermixed and by the time you pass through the third story in the collection you begin to feel like a stowaway on a family's adventure. Dreffin does a very nice job of bringing her family into the work and making this more than a solitary travel log, while make sure that the family is not the story, they are just witnesses to it. This book is not the dry stuff of your typical travel book, detailing every nook and cranny for the planning traveller. This is a Captain's log, it is a love story to all the places this family visits and all the amazing animals and people they encounter. The stories were sometimes featured as articles in newspapers and periodicals and Dreffin has enjoyed some success with her photography as well.
The Caribbean is always one of my favorite destinations, and this book made me start watching Beach House Bargain Hunters and dreaming of escape. I love the idea of an unfettered life, and Dreffin captures that sense of adventure in these stories. I enjoyed it, and suspect the memory of feeding the stingray, or watching the hatchling turtles struggle to the sea, will stick with me for a long time. Dreffin puts enough of her "self" into the work for the reader to feel escorted, but not so much that the reader feels a voyeur. I walked these stories as if they were my life, and for the short hours it took to enjoy them, it was.