It's a long journey from Ojai California to a pleasure yacht on the Indian Ocean, and one normally undertaken with a certain degree of expertise under one's belt, using a roadmap for success.
Susan Joyce had neither. What she did have was a shaky marriage, a comfortable (if not naïve) life in Southern California, and the lure of a different world which was accompanied (she discovered later) by a set of falsehoods and dangers that nearly cost her life.
Good Morning Diego Garcia: A Voyage of Discovery documents the process whereby she grasps for something greater than stability and comfort, only to find herself nearly losing everything - a second time.
Not everyone would opt to embark on a sailing trip only to find out too late that it's taking place during monsoon season. Not everyone would jump at the offer to help crew a new boat with a set of strangers when one's own experience as a sailor is limited. And few would survive the storms that batter ship and psyche alike as Joyce comes to discover that the illusions in her world are all too stark and real, and hold the possibility of ending everything she knows.
To call Good Morning Diego Garcia a memoir or a travelogue - or even a sailing yarn - would be to do it a grave disservice. Joyce's ability to take the higher road of adventure and insight and elevate them to new heights in a format that transcends all of the usual approaches to either memoir or travel story makes it a standout in both genres.
One the reasons why this is so is the author's attention to plenty of dialogue between everyone involved, and to presenting different perspectives on hopes, dreams, and events: "I prepared pork chops and coleslaw for dinner, and pondered the life jacket answer for a few moments, imagining what strange creatures might live in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean eagerly waiting to nibble on toes and fingers of a human floating in a life jacket. “An opportunity like this can’t be missed,” Charles said, pouring us wine."
Another reason why Good Morning Diego Garcia shines so strongly is that it's, quite simply, the kind of adventure of a lifetime that so many dreams of and so few achieve (not the marital challenges; but the ideal of sailing exotic seas on a luxury yacht.) It all sounds so alluring, so romantic, and so wonderful.
Hold that thought. Good Morning Diego Garcia explores the other side of it. And it'll bring along a wealth of readers - memoir fans, armchair travelers, sailors of large and small ships, and would-be-adventurers - for a rollicking good ride filled with rolling waters and cultural encounters, history, politics, and people living in limbo in more ways than one.
The edge of adventure has never felt so compelling.