April’s Book Selection ‘Tales of a Female Nomad’ by Rita Golden Gelman
This was the first month members of our book club voted on which book we would focus on. For the Month of April, Rita Golden Gelman’s Tales of a Female Nomad won! Again we reached out to the author to see if they would be interested in doing a Q&A and Rita (with the help her daughter Jan) agreed! If you’ve never read the book before check it out in the links below!
Dayna: Hello all and welcome to our live Q&A with Rita Golden Gelman, author of our April book selection. Thanks Rita for joining us.
Our book club has 60+ members from all over the world so some couldn’t join us due to time zone differences but I have a list of questions for you from all of us. First of all, where in the world are you now?
Rita Golden Gelman:I’m in Seattle, Washington.
Dayna: Are you still living nomadically or are you more settled into Seattle now?
Rita Golden Gelman: I’m pretty much settled into the in-law apartment in my daughter’s house. But I was in Rwanda in Feb. for a month.
Dayna: Wow, Rwanda is high on my bucket list! How was it?
Rita Golden Gelman: Amazing. It was my second trip (Jan’s third). We rented a house for a month with Jan, her husband Bill,and my friends from France, Lars and Nirin.
Dayna: That sounds so nice. I’ve been to 3 countries in Southern Africa and absolutely love it.
Of course I have to ask, how was the food there?
Rita Golden Gelman: Rwanda is fantastic. There’s an energy there that is exciting. And after the genocide of1994, women are in major positions there. They are 64% of the legislature!!
Dayna: I know! It’s incredible. Nice to see women in high positions.
Rita Golden Gelman: The food was not exciting. There are decent restaurants….but it was the people who were exciting.
Dayna: I can imagine. One thing that stood out to me in your book is your ability to authentically connect with people in different cultures. How do you achieve this in a way that they are accepting? I’m so inspired by your ability to do this.
Rita Golden Gelman: One of my favorite ways to connect in a new village is to take out my bubbles and find a group of kids. Soon I’m surrounded by kids and then their mothers invite me in.
Dayna: That’s a great strategy! I’m in Mexico right now and I always see kids running around with bubbles! haha
Everyone can feel free to jump in with questions also.
Rita Golden Gelman: Once I’m in, I ask if they have a bed for me. Often they will send a kid to grandma.
Dayna: Do you ever get turned away?
Rita Golden Gelman: Sometimes I will stay a few nights….sometimes, months!
I I don’t usually ask if I think it won’t work.
Dayna: The beautiful benefits of traveling without a set itinerary. I love that.
Rita Golden Gelman: Yes. Until recently, I never made plans in advance. These days, at 81 years, I have to travel with some sort of a plan.
Rae Ann: I admire your ability to connect with people Rita. I could relate to your story as I’ve been through a divorce and trying to get used to my new normal. Thank you for sharing your story!!! You have inspired me.
You talked about many challenges. What is the scariest thing for you while adventuring?
Rita Golden Gelman: I don’t scare very easily. I smile a lot and usually get smiles and invitations back. Occasionally people have been through difficult times and they don’t smile back….
You read about a Mexican experience when some guy was banging on my window in the middle of the night. It’s rare….and I’ve never been attacked.
Dayna: Yes, that was a scary moment to read about
Has writing this book changed the way you travel at all?
Rita Golden Gelman: Sure. These days I have lots of invitations from readers …..and it’s fun to meet them.
Dayna: That’s so lovely!
I loved reading about the connections you made in Bali. Do you still get to visit?
Rita Golden Gelman: No. Tu Aji and most of my contacts there have died!! I’m still in touch with Wayan; he’s a guide these days. Married with two kids!
Dayna: I’m so sorry to hear that. Nice that you keep in touch with Wayan!
Rita Golden Gelman: That’s Wayan Sukerta….in case you go to Bali. He even has a guest house next to his home.
Dayna: I would love to go someday! Traveling Book Club field trip! Haha
Rita Golden Gelman: Don’t wait!
I also suggest you check out www.servas.org
There are 15,000 members of Servas around the world. You join for a fee and stay for free…usually for two days. You get to interact with the families.
Dayna: Yes, I had never heard of Servas before but I love the concept!
A great way to jump into the local culture, for sure.
I loved reading about your trip to Thailand and how much you loved that fish dish. Do you still make it? The one where you have to stir it for a long time.
Rita Golden Gelman: Yes. Ho mok is still a favorite of mine. Try the recipe in my other adult book: Female Nomad and Friends. There are lots great recipes in there.
Dayna: I’ll definitely check it out.
I’ve only traveled solo once. What advice would you give to women who are considering solo travel?
Rita Golden Gelman: I encourage taking risks…..just go and smile a lot. My daughter is sitting next to me and she says you have to pay more attention to where you stay than I do. Depending on the culture.
Dayna: Hi Jan!
Rita Golden Gelman: But the connecting is what I’m all about.
Jan says hi.
Dayna: When you first decided on the nomadic lifestyle, how did you handle any “nay-sayers” in your life who maybe doubted you or your choices?
Rita Golden Gelman: I ignored what people told me I should do…once I was divorced. I was liberated and I loved it!
Dayna: Nice! I love that.
Did you ever miss your old lifestyle in LA?
Rita Golden Gelman: Never!
A year or two ago I had a quote on a Starbucks cup (a friend of Jan worked there and asked if I would write one. It was cup #31: Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy. Without risk, nothing new ever happens; without trust, fear creeps in; without serendipity, there are no surprises.
I really love that message!
Is there a place on your “must visit” list that you haven’t been to yet?
Rae Ann: For those of us just starting out on this journey what are your “suggested starting places”?
Rita Golden Gelman: No “must visits.” Never really were. I take it a trip at a time.
Dayna: There is so much to see
Do you have a favorite travel book?
Also, do you think you might write a second book with your recent travels?
Rita Golden Gelman: Yep. The trick is to really connect. Become a part of the family. Stay for a while…help with the cooking, the farming, the kids, etc. Also, I don’t teach….only if they ask….and they usually only ask for English.
Dayna: I love that. That’s something I struggle to achieve. I’m a full time nomad also and I’m introverted. I struggle to put myself out there even though I really wish to connect! I’m getting better at it in my current location in Mexico. Everyone is so welcoming which helps and of course, I’m always smiling!
Rita Golden Gelman: I doubt if I will write another grown-up book, but I have a new kids’ book coming out from Scholastic in the fall: WINKY, THINKY, STINKY.
Dayna: Congrats on another book! I loved Scholastic book fairs when I was in school.
Any other questions from the group?
Rae Ann: I want to say another thank you (both) for this conversation.
Rita Golden Gelman: My philosophy is: Smile a lot. Talk to strangers. Accept all invitations. Eat everything your’re offered. Cross a lot of borders. Laugh, sing, learn. Go with the flow.
Dayna: Your book and talking to you today has definitely inspired me to be more open so thank you for that.
Rita Golden Gelman: It has been a pleasure talking with all of you. Thanks Dayna. Have fun travelling!
Dayna: Thanks Rita!
One last question from me. I love that you went back to school for anthropology, how does that continue to influence your travel preferences?
Rita Golden Gelman: It’s all about connecting and learning about other ways of life. And an anthropologist doesn’t judge or teach. That has guided me in my travels.
If you’d like to learn more about Rita Golden Gelman you can visit her blog here!
If you’d like to take part in next month’s book selection you can find more details here.
If you’re not a member of our Traveling Book Club you can sign up here!