More . . . As Promised
Yesterday, in my post about the likely outcomes of last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I mentioned Tofino, BC in Canada as one of the places I would choose to live should we end up with an orange U.S. president. Thankfully, Trump did not acquit himself very well in the debate, so the likelihood of his getting himself elected is somewhat diminished. Even so, Tofino seems to me to be an altogether lovely place in which to live. I think this because of this charming little book—a travel guide that succeeded in making me want to travel . . . to Tofino . . . and to stay there . . . indefinitely.
I live on the Indian River Lagoon estuary on Florida’s Treasure Coast. This place was paradise when I arrived, and continues to be so in many ways in spite of misguided development and the toxic excesses of big sugar and big agriculture. We can no longer go in the water without health risks. Our once lively fisheries are poisoned by bacterial infestations and green algae blooms. The people who are supposed to prevent this kind of thing from happening are either profiting by it directly or pointing fingers at other alleged culprits. Sometimes they are doing both. As concerned citizens, we do what we can, but the forces arrayed against nature are firmly entrenched, lawyered up, and greedy as hell. The longer it takes to get some relief, the more permanent will the damage be.
The Better Path
Tofino is a paradise as well, although quite different from the tropical one where I live. It is temperate, rainy, heavily forested, and way less developed. The people who live there, led and inspired by the First Nation communities of the Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht, and the Hesquiaht, seem truly committed to maintaining a pristine and wild environment. They have their own challenges, to be sure, but they’re managing better than we poor Floridians.
Tofino itself is a small community on a spit of land—the westernmost terminus of the TransCana Highway. It has good beaches and good surf. It is a tourist destination in the summer months. There are a lot of things to do there—more than 251 of them. It’s primary appeal is to the nature lover. Miles of trails and secluded destinations with breathtaking views, wildlife, marine life, creative life all come together in a small space. By the time I was halfway through this book, I didn’t just want to visit Tofino, I wanted to pack up my stuff and move there.
The book is organized into useful sections. There is a short description and history, the titular 251 things to do, some useful contacts for officialdom at the end. In the middle is a series of personal accounts by a slew of Tofino’s permanent residents.
This was, by far, my favorite part of the book. It was relentlessly charming. It made me feel kinship and interest in a wide variety of individuals as they described what brought them to Tofino, what the love about it, what they do and why, what their ideal day looks like, and how, at the base of it all, the locale itself nurtures their soul. These were all people I wanted to spend time with and get to know better. Perhaps one day I will.
But If You Can’t Go There, this Book Will Almost Do
I don’t normally read travel guides. I don’t normally read non-fiction. I didn’t have high hopes for this book, but I made a commitment, and now, boy, am I’m glad I did. I feel like I’m a better person for having read it. I feel like I’ve been uplifted a bit by exposure to people who have rooted themselves in their environment and flourished according to their reverence for it.
I’d love to be able to travel again. I would go to Tofino, book in hand, to visit with the folks I met on its pages. We would drink coffee in their bistros, eat world class food in their restaurants, and talk of the magic of place and culture and and the wonders of nature. I’ll probably never be able to do this, but, even so, it’s enough that I read this book and know in my heart that such a beautiful place exists, and so far away from the terrible orange visage of the man who would be our president.
If you enjoyed this review, please consider sharing it with your friends by clicking one of the social media buttons below. If you are motivated to travel to Tofino, tell them I’ll be coming just as soon as I’m able.