Please stop by the Writing for Peace blog today for a look at my guest post, Games of Greece, which features an excerpt from my adventure memoir, They Only Eat Their Husbands. After you read that, please check out Writing for Peace, and organization with a mission that is much as its title suggests: “Through education and creative writing, Writing for Peace seeks to cultivate the empathy that allows minds to open to new cultural views, to value the differences as well as the hopes and dreams that unite all of humanity, to develop a spirit of leadership and peaceful activism.” What a worthy endeavor in a world that grows increasingly complex and paradoxically smaller every day.
Welcome to Day 5 of my 2014 blog book tour! Please join me through October 15 as I celebrate the new Conundrum Press edition of my memoir, They Only Eat Their Husbands: Love, Travel, and the Power of Running Away. Today you can read an excerpt from my book at Everyday Underwear, the humor blog of the hilarious but real, fun-loving but also thought-provoking Cindy Brown.
The memoir excerpt I’m sharing with Cindy is the brief story of my hike up Sicily’s Stromboli Volcano, which is obviously a trip in: The Wrong Direction.
Here’s where you can find the rest of my online tour:
BLOG BOOK TOUR, October 6-15, 2014
Celebrating the New Edition of Cara Lopez Lee’s Memoir,
They Only Eat Their Husbands:
Jim Heskett Blog
6 Questions with Author Cara Lopez Lee
Creating Our Lives as Stories
The Paper Tiger
Long Time No See
The Blood Red Pencil
Here’s a Book In Your Eye
The Wrong Direction
– Pubslush Blog
Women on Wednesday
– Murder is Everywhere
Long Time No See
When I was 36, I spent a month in Spain, and I never regretted that I missed running with the bulls in Pamplona. But today I heard the below interview with travel blogger Jeannie Mark, known as the Nomadic Chick, and began to wonder if I’ve spent my life being too careful. Jeannie plans to run during the next Fiesta de San Fermin. If I were not now fifty with a slight neuropathy (or nerve weakness) in my left foot, her enthusiasm might tempt me to join her.
My favorite moment in her interview, other than Jeannie’s infectious laugh, is when she talks about her philosophical take on the risks, such as getting caught in a pileup. She says: “In some crazy way, maybe I believe that is also how life works, that sometimes you just go along the path and things happen.” This may be at the core of every traveler’s philosophy about the risks we take when we step outside the comfort zone of home and seek new experiences in a wider world.
First, here’s a correction Jeannie also makes on her own blog: in the interview, she says the run is 860 meters, but it’s actually 825 meters. And now, I highly recommend giving her a listen. Her laugh alone may inspire you to actively seek to create more joy in your life:
I’m delighted to introduce a new guest blogger just in time to kick off my new blog. Anastasia Zhivotov is still in high school, but has already developed a delightful and distinctive creative voice that I believe will make you eager to visit her ancestral home in Ukraine. As you’ll also see from her post, I remain committed to a spirit of adventure, although I’m moving away from the Girls Trek Too name. Some days my posts will be shorter, in hopes that I can post more often while also devoting more time to my historical novel, Tortillas from the Chungking Cafe. And guest bloggers will continue to be welcome, in my ongoing quest to support fellow writers and share new voices with readers. In that spirit, please welcome Anastasia:
Coming Home To Someplace I’d Never Been
By Anastasia Zhivotov
After over ten years of shitty Skype calls and poorly translated emails, I was meeting my extended family. First were my great-great-uncle and his son – waiting outside baggage claim with flowers. I was barely learning to use my legs again when a hug, a kiss, and a bouquet of pink flowers came from men I’d only heard and not truly seen. I finally understood the phrase “a camera adds ten pounds” because what on Skype seemed to be a pudgy man and full-figured son were really a short well-fed uncle and a well-dressed cousin with predominant cheekbones.
Home, the place others might call Lviv, Ukraine.
Finally, after flying halfway across America and hopping along Europe, I was home. Home, where the air was thick with moisture and the clouds hung bloated with rain. Home, where women wore heels across cobble roads and men walked with their toes turned out. Home, where age was determined by width, but gender couldn’t be defined by color. Home, where the tongue was foreign but somehow I understood everything. Home, the place others might call Lviv, Ukraine.
I thought deciding to travel alone to two major cities in Eastern Europe was an act of bravery. I quelled mixed feelings about visiting Vienna (Wien). The city of Mozart appealed to me as an opera buff and amateur flutist, even though Austrians speak the language of Hitler – the language of the Gestapo I feared from watching World War II Holocaust movies while growing up. The pull of Prague (Praha) was its architecture, and the fact that Rick Steves advised speaking English because, like me, the Czechs didn’t like German. I was eager to see Prague’s Jewish Quarter, the oldest in Eastern Europe, and I’d arranged a private tour. That was no small feat considering I had to dodge Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, and the High Holy Days when Jewish sites are closed.
I was eager to see Prague’s Jewish Quarter, the oldest in Eastern Europe (This is the Old New Synagogue.)
Then my friend Sara Griffin asked to come. After so much mental preparation to go it solo, could I share a bathroom with another woman for two weeks?
Whenever I write or read about travel, I focus on adventure, learning, beauty, maybe even making a difference. But whenever I talk about travel, whether with global trekkers or homebodies, at some point we end up giggling and gasping over the same subject: bathrooms. So, here’s the straight poop on three of my overseas toilet tales, which didn’t make the final cut of my travel memoir, They Only Eat Their Husbands. Please excuse the potty humor. It comes with the territory.
I wasn’t about to let a little killer diarrhea stop me from seeing the Taj Mahal.
IN THE TRENCHES
For the night, I’ve checked into a large hostel, a dim, dank, dismal place that’s not enticing at all. When I grabbed my backpacking towel and walked down the hall to the showers, I took one look and decided not to perform any ablutions until I arrive in Lijiang tomorrow. The stench from the trench toilet was foul, and the showers were parked right next to it, with suspicious pools of yellowish-brown water on the floor. Unfortunately, my bowels could not wait.
A little knowledge can be dangerous, and when it comes to travel, I’m downright lethal. So I guess the opposite argument can also be made: ignorance is bliss. Why my travel companions don’t take away my navigation tasks is beyond me. Perhaps they don’t realize that I’m also blundering along looking for some recognizable landmark. I think they’re content that I lead.
I didn’t mind running with the locals when trains suddenly changed tracks. But there was one incident that I wasn’t prepared for.
A recent post I read here about how the low points of your travels are where your best stories come from reminded me of a summer I spent in Europe. I wasn’t new to travel, and didn’t mind staring at posted train times or running with the locals when trains suddenly changed tracks. I could figure out which trains would stop at which cities, and which were direct. But there was one incident that I wasn’t prepared for.