Finely crafted chronicle of a two-year cruise through the Caribbean.
Canadian journalist Vanderhoof and her husband Steve saved their dollars and cents over a five-year period so as to take an extended sailing journey to the Caribbean from their home port of Toronto. In this highly satisfying travelogue, Vanderhoof reports back on the two years they spent sailing from island to island, catching the beat of daily life in Bimini, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Hog Island, Trinidad, some 16 countries in all. Evocative landscape descriptions capture the heavy, scented air under the spreading ginnip tree, a night sky the color of a shark’s skin, the cool, green mornings. The writer also shows an able hand in profiling the human element, from sailing friends to island citizens. But she is best at taking the measure of a place through its stomach. Readers get a full immersion in island food, complete with recipes, starting with the low-country shrimp and grits of the Intracoastal Waterway and moving on to the curries and conch of the islands, coconut water, peas and rice and hot sauce, and the various countries’ spirits: wine, local rum, raw fire. Small-scale distilleries concoct beverages to rival any cognac, and Vanderhoof goes so far as to attend a rum tasting—drink a glass of water between slugs, she advises. Fidel Castro and the Mighty Sparrow make appearances, as do shoeshine boys and cockfighters. Hard travel takes the couple to the most glorious parts of the Caribbean, uncrowded and pristine: “Weed out all but the most committed by first making the beauty spots tricky to enter and then uncomfortable once you arrive.”
Enrapt island portraits that prompt us to see and to yearn: what travel writing is all about.