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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Safari for the Soul is a non-fiction travel memoir written by Jan Boal. The year 2010 had been a turbulent one for Boal. Her 27-year-long marriage had ended, and the death of her stepfather, Morey, had her grieving not only for her loss of a friend, but for the sadness her mother felt at the loss of her long time partner and best friend. Boal knew it was time for a change and wondered what she could do to make 2011 a fitting tribute to life and all it had to offer. That little voice she had long come to realize was a guiding force suggested world travel, and pondering that option in the middle of a dark and dreary Washington state winter seemed a bright and shiny thing. While she was no stranger to travel and had recently been in Hawaii where she learned to surf, a lifelong ambition, and visited with relatives in England, she wanted this trip to be special. She decided that she wanted to help endangered animals, and she wanted to experience cultures from within them instead of indulging in the typical superficial tourist jaunts. She remembered her interactions with the organization Earthwatch, which had sponsored a research trip competition for high school science students and had selected her daughter for one of their trips. She could do field research anywhere in the world with that organization. This would make her solo voyage both more secure and affordable. It would be an adventure, a quest, and, as she went along, each piece for the future would fall easily and smoothly into place.
Jan Boal’s non-fiction travel memoir, Safari for the Soul, is a well-written and frankly fascinating account of one woman’s quest to make a difference. I was inspired by the way she decided how to make her adventure a reality and have bookmarked Earthwatch’s site for my own future quest ideas. There are some incredible opportunities for adventures on that site. Boal’s account of her travels held me enthralled throughout, but I especially enjoyed her accounts of the first leg of her voyage and the time she spent in Brazil tracking the jaguar, interacting with Brazilians like Joe, the cab driver, who shared her love of singing along with the Beatles, and Sevi, one of the 100 or so persons left in his tribe, and her visit to Iguacu Falls. Boal is open and forthcoming about her experiences, and sharing in her adventures as she expands her world is a grand experience indeed. Safari for the Soul is most highly recommended.