Monday, January 28, 2019
Book Review: 'DANCING WITH DEATH: An Epic and Inspiring Travel Adventure' by Jean-Philippe Soulé
‘A paddle into the past with an eye to the future’
French author/adventurer Jean-Philippe Soulé leads expeditions around the globe. His personal expeditions to mountains and jungles provide the nidus for this book about travel adventure. Jean-Philippe founded VeloTopo.com, a custom cycling tour company that takes discerning road cyclists on tours of the Pyrenees, Alps, Corsica, Provence, Dordogne and other regions in France, Spain, Andorra, and Italy – tours he personally designs and oversees.
In a most engaging manner Jean-Philippe and his adventure partner Luke Schullenberger share their backgrounds as athletes and dreamers and have produced a travelogue in the form of an extended journal that details the daily highlights of their Central American Sea Kayak Expedition 2000 (aka CASKE2000) from Baja California to Panama. The preparations and training are accompanied by splendid color photographs of the men and their kayaking and the beauty of the water and land they explored.
Jean-Philippe distills the essence of his book as follows: ‘Two men, three years, seven countries, 3000 miles…The Central American Sea Kayak Expedition 2000 (CASKE2000) is an inspiring journey of exploration, endurance, and self-discovery that takes Jean-Philippe Soulé and his traveling partner Luke Shullenberger from Baja California all the way to Panama. During this unfathomably grueling expedition, they will face every manner of threat, from sharks, crocodiles, and bandits to stormy seas, malaria, and their own mortality all in search of a deeper connection to Mother Nature and the indigenous people who revere her most. This is a tale of adventure, sacrifice, and physical endurance that will leave you breathless with excitement, mourning for our heroes’ losses, and cheering their successes. The evocative, gripping narrative coupled with countless, award-worthy photographs makes this a must-read for those who love travel, outdoor adventure, and the exploration of other cultures. But most of all, it's for the dreamers who've been told they can't, and stubbornly refuse to listen.’
In this inviting style of writing the three-year rigorous but enlightening journey unfolds, combining the style once the sole property of writer Richard Halliburton with the skills of thriller novels. The added aspect of this exciting account of a three-year adventure by kayak is the insight into the Mayan culture, science, healing and history. Or as Jean-Philippe states, ‘The CASKE2000 goal is to experience and write about the culture and lifestyle of the native peoples we meet. We know that the lifestyles and skills of indigenous peoples are one of the keys to the preservation of our earth’s precious ecosystems so, as we learn how they live from the land and the sea, we’ll become self-sufficient ourselves.’
Much more than an adventure journal, this is an enlightening book that tempts/stimulates the reader to forge ahead with dreams. First class book! Grady Harp, January 19
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.