Step Into Paradise!
Welcome to paradise! To me, this picture captures perfectly what life would be like in a tropical paradise – a fantasy escape that most can only dream about…
Could I live here forever? Who knows – BUT I COULD TRY!
Even if you’ve had the chance to spend even a few days in paradise, it’s hard to imagine life there….
For a few amazing travel writers, life in paradise was not only considered, it was attempted – and paradise is – like everything else in life – “in the eye of the beholder.”
As beautiful and idyllic as this looks…you are also entering a world that is completely different – and in many cases, dangerous…I have three incredible travel memoirs that will immerse you in the South Seas life, beginning with Paul Theroux, who decided to see this part of the world in a very unique way:
The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific!
Yes, he “paddled” across the South Pacific in a canoe! Paul Theroux is a legendary travel writer as well as Author of fiction like “The Mosquito Coast” – and quite the prickly traveler as well: Theroux spent 18 months in a one-man collapsible kayak exploring such exotic Pacific islands as New Zealand, Australia, the Soloman and Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Easter Island, and Hawaii. His adventure makes for an amazingly entertaining book.
As one review states:
“Never a kind-hearted chronicler of place, he sets out on this voyage in an especially dour mood, leaving behind a failed marriage and expecting to be diagnosed with cancer at any moment. Soon after he escapes the crowded towns of Australia, however, he starts to lose some of his harsh edge and enjoy his travels, which ultimately heal him. A brilliant storyteller with an eye for the absurd, Theroux takes the reader to little-known places where time seems to have stood still and people lead simple lives totally unrelated to 20th-century America.”
This unique canoe trip is full of comedy, tragedy, politics and a touch of the mundane as well. The Author is a terrific writer, and you really feel you are there on the trip with him – and what a trip it is!
Another reviewer raved:
“Any perceptive reader with a sense of adventure couldn’t help but feel drawn to the islands as Theroux describes them – their idiosyncrasies, history, culture, beauty and repulsiveness in equal measure – which speckle the Pacific Ocean like stars in the night sky.”
Here is one short excerpt from the book:
“There were stars everywhere, above us, and reflected in the sea along with the sparkle of phosphorescence streaming from the bow wave. When I poked an oar in the ocean and stirred it, the sea glittered with twinkling sea-life. … It was as though we were in an old rickety rocket ship.
It was an image that afterwards often came to me when I was traveling in the Pacific, that this ocean was as vast as outer space, and being on this boat was like shooting from one star to another, the archipelagoes like galaxies, and the islands like isolated stars in an empty immensity of watery darkness, and this sailing was like going slowly from star to star, in vitreous night.”
Once you devour this book, try his journey around the Mediterranean, “The Pillars Of Hercules” – or his harrowing trip through Africa, which you read more about here:
There are many ways to get to the South Pacific….for Lucy Irvine, her trip began when she answered this ad in a London newspaper:
Her life was never the same. After spending a year as a “wife” on a desert island north of Australia, she wrote a bestselling book about it!
Irvine’s “Castaway” is a fascinating book, and she’s an incredible writer:
“The sun is spread, hot and arched, above the reef like a woman in abandon, sky shimmering like glistening skin…”
Yet her greatest adventure happened a few years later…
“Only two hours ago I’d been living through some of the worst moments I’d ever experienced, during which an understanding of the precariousness of life had been borne in me with frightening force.”
Lucy Irvine Travels “Faraway!”
First of all, what a beautiful cover for a book. Welcome to Pigeon Island, surrounded by many other, smaller islands like the one on the cover. Lucy Irvine’s bestselling book “Castaway” documented her year on a deserted island, and after all of the acclaim, Irvine returned to a “regular” life, until the Author found herself with a unique opportunity for a sequel!
In 1999, Lucy Irvine took her three children to the farthest corner of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific to live for a year on remote Pigeon Island…look at the center of the map above and notice the tiny mark for Pigeon island next to Reef Islands…
Irvine’s invitation to live in this isolated paradise came from an intrepid 80-year-old Pigeon Island resident, Diana Hepworth, who set sail from England years earlier with her family in their own search for a faraway paradise.
“Faraway” is not only Irvine’s story, it is the story of the Hepworth family and their amazing adventure years earlier…the two stories are intertwined, and both are fascinating…
“Faraway” tells the story of Irvine’s latest adventure – and what it was like to take her three boys with her, settling into a completely different life in the middle of the south seas…
“Faraway” also is the story of the Hepworths – an adventurous young couple who raised a family in a faraway land – and “Faraway” beautifully captures what life on a south seas island is like…because few islands are more isolated than this one…
“Faraway” is an amazing South Seas adventure, and if you want to read all of Irvine’s terrific work, see my story here:
As you can see, I fantasize about living in this tropical oasis, but as you will see from these books, it’s a difficult life as well…here’s a book that gets right to the crux of the matter:
Look at the title of this book! How can you not love it! Yes, there is a history of cannibalism in this part of the world as well!
Great travel writer J. Maarten Troost got to actually live in the South Seas when his wife was there as a official for the US government…and he found an interesting fact about the place:
“The man was eaten for his ‘mana’, that is the invisible power that resides in the head.”
Yes, it was home to cannibals! But that’s what makes the adventure so much fun, right? I mean, there has to be SOME price to pay for living here:
Time For Great Troost Travel!
Troost has written many travel books, all based on his personal experience of living in the South Pacific with his wife…here, for example is a short passage from the beginning of one book – the Author speaking to a french man about what makes the french the french:
“Dreams, he said, while pale and smelling of regurgitated chicken, do sometimes come true and this, he concluded, was how we endure the tragedy, the comedy, of life, and for a moment I was reminded of why I love the French – not even blowing chunks will ruin ‘la grande romance’ of it all.”
I love this Writer! J. Maarten Troost has written four terrific travel books – I will share his other work in a moment, but his most recent took him back to the South Seas:
“Headhunters On My Doorstep” is the story of Troost returning to the islands where he lived when he wrote his “Cannibals” book…
Roost returns to his old island home after several years away to see how his life changed since he lived there. Troost has changed as well – and the book is far more personal than any he has written before, but as always, beautifully written…
Here is an idea of Troost’s writing style, from page 159 of the book:
“Do you have some time?” Celine asked. Oh, I don’t know. I’m on an island in the middle of nowhere, without an ongoing ticket or a way off, amusing myself by going on desultory hikes to the set of ‘Survivor: Marquesas’ in the drenching rain. Yeah, I think I’ve got a couple of minutes to spare…
Yes, one of the areas explored by the Author is the location of the 4th season of the reality show “Survivor”…but Troost isn’t there to play a game – he brings to life a culture that is vibrant, proud, and nearly decimated by their interaction with white people.
As you can see, he’s got a way with words, which is why the book is so much fun to read, and full of fascinating information – about cannibalism, for example.
“The man was eaten for his ‘mana’, that is the invisible power that resides in the head.”
There is so much to love about this book, but it is a cautionary tale as well…as the world’s climate threatens to destroy an entire way of life…
In many ways, this is his most personal – and important – work. Of course, this should leave you breathless to read ALL of Troost’s books, so just click on my link below for my story about them all!
I recommend you read them in order!
So there you have it: three chances to explore the South Pacific from a comfortable “reading chair” – let me know what you think!
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