Tales of a Female Nomad is the story of Rita Golden Gelman, an ordinary woman who is living an extraordinary existence. At the age of forty-eight, on the verge of a divorce, Rita left an elegant life in L.A. to follow her dream of connecting with people in cultures all over the world. In 1986 she sold her possessions and became a nomad, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutans in the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with women on fires all over the world. Rita’s example encourages us all to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy, the exuberance, and the hidden spirit that so many of us bury when we become adults. (from Goodreads)
This was the very first book I bought when I moved to Albuquerque! And I’m pretty sure it’s the one that started me dreaming about traveling the world. I haven’t reread it since I bought it, eight years ago, and reading it now is a very different experience than it was back then. It’s almost like an precersor to Eat, Pray, Love, only less on the praying and loving and more on the eating and spending time with people who live where you’re visiting. RGG is big on meeting women of various cultures, getting into their kitchens and watching/helping them cook. It’s a nice change from the more recent travel memoirs which seem more about doing things/seeing buildings than necessarily meeting people.
I really liked that she focused on women’s stories; it seems like most modern travelers focus either on themselves or on the accomplishments of men (including architecture/history/whatever). You don’t really read a lot about people going into the “women’s sphere” of a different culture and seeing what it’s like. Shame!
That said, you can tell it’s an “old” memoir because a) she brings a laptop and stuff with her (sometimes) but they’re frickin’ HUGE and b) at the end she talks about her website like it’s a foreign concept, which I suppose it was to many people back in 1999/2000 (when this book was first published). Not that it’s a bad thing, being somewhat outdated, but it makes for a somewhat strange reading experience sometimes.
Read: July 18-19, 2012 (reread)
Her blog/website, btw, is kinda ugly, but she keeps it regularly updated and it’s fun to read. Check it out if you’d like!