Review by Riley Banks
Title: Here we are and there we go – Teaching and Traveling with Kids in tow
Author: Jill Dobbe
Genre: Non-fiction, travel, memoir
A heartwarming travel memoir filled with temper tantrums, disorienting jetlag, and zany, once-in-a-lifetime family adventures. Who says you can’t travel with kids? Jill and her husband Dan find out they can do just that as they set off with their two very young kids, first to live and work on an island far out in the Pacific, then on to the continent of Africa with a few stops in between. Armed with strollers, diapers, and too much luggage, they travel to over twenty-five countries throughout a ten year span, while working together as international overseas educators. After surviving typhoon Yuri, almost being mauled by lions, and, being nearly shot by a presidential guard, the Dobbes happily endure all of the good times and bad, while living life to the fullest.
Loved this book and was enthralled every step of the way. Jill did however lose half a point for her geography mistake.
I was asked to review this book for my website and knew before I read this that I would love it, simply because my family have shared so many of the same experiences. True, the Dobbes did it a little tougher than we did, acclimating and living among the locals whereas we did live the very privileged life of fully subsidized expatriates. That being said, I found myself laughing at so many of Jill’s experiences or nodding my head sagely, saying ‘Yes, I remember that feeling.’
Landing in a new country knowing not a single soul and having to recreate a social life can be daunting as can dealing with foreign illnesses and inadequate medical facilities. Simple tasks like shopping for a dinner party can become a major headache as you might have to travel to three or four different markets to get all the ingredients.
There were a couple of problems I had with Jill’s book. One, before I even started reading it, I knew it would make my feet itch like crazy, making me long to set off back overseas for another adventure and I was right. Like the Dobbes, we have returned home to see our children through high school but at least once a week I find myself longing to pack my bags and head back off overseas. Expatriate life may have its trials and tribulations but it is seriously addictive. It is a bug one gets and never really recovers from. You may have a temporary reprieve and return ‘home’ for a season but I don’t think we ever stop longing for the adventure.
The second ‘criticism’ I had about Jill’s book is I didn’t want it to stop. You know when you’re enjoying a book when you get to the end and almost swear at the author for stopping there. I wanted to hear more about their travels and their experiences in each new country. The book could have easily been double the size and still not long enough to cover everything they experienced.
Then again, it is almost impossible to cram two decades of adventures overseas into 180 odd pages.
The writing style is quite informal and chatty, which makes reading it very easy. I know I am borrowing this from others who have read the book but it did feel like we were sitting over a cuppa, having a chat about her experiences. I’m usually quite critical about writing style and flow of dialogue, and I’m not sure that Jill’s writing was technically brilliant, but I was enjoying the book so much I can honestly say I really didn’t notice.
Was nice to see we had shared a couple of the same experiences, though have not actually lived in the same countries. In fact, while the Dobbes were dragging their toddlers all over Sydney I was living and working just around the corner from Sydney Harbour. We have also travelled to many of the same locations, which leads me to the one mistake I did pick up in the book.
Jill, Pilanesberg National Park and Sun City in South Africa are northwest of Johannesburg not of Cape Town.
Overall, a great book that will be enjoyed by others who have lived the expat life, those that are contemplating it or simply those that enjoy a good armchair travel book.
DISCLAIMER: This book was sent by the author as a review copy.