Magchunk Book Club dissects Tales of a Female Nomad


"I've been living and loving my nomadic existance since the day in 1986 when, at the age of forty eight, on the verge of a divorce, I looked around and thought, There has to be more than one way to do life." ~ Rita Golden Gelman.

This fascinating tale certainly had me outside of my comfort zone and in another world, on pretty much every page. For more than 15 years, Rita Golden Gelman has lived as a nomad with no permanent address and no place to call home. She travels to new countries and continents with sometimes only a few months of prep, arrives knowing no one and not speaking the language, and leaves with tearful goodbyes.  It is an inspiring story.

I'll open up the comment section for rambling, but will include these three discussion points. I'd love to hear your reactions to these. And please, even if you only read a few chapters, or poked around on her website, feel free to join in (maybe let us know how far you got!). And anyone just joining us,  you can buy the book from my left-hand sidebar.

1. Gelman talks a few times of the reactions she gets when back in the States. It's mentioned that often men are uncomfortable with her lifestyle but women are intrigued. What was your reaction to that? I was kind of surprised initially, thinking that men have that innate "Indiana Jones" gene. But the more I reflect, it makes sense that women would react more with interest. Many women, myself included, are intimidated by travelling alone simply because our gender faces certain obstacles when alone in a country. In many cultures it would be seen very abnormal for a woman to be unmarried and travelling alone. And of course there is a safety factor. And so to hear (or read) about a woman who has done so with so much success is kind of a mind warp. I will admit that everytime she climbed into a jeep with some man she'd just met I totally cringed. Isn't that what our mothers have been telling us NOT to do for years and years?

2. Each chapter focuses around one particular country. Which was your favorite? While I was totally intrigued by the Seattle portion (what was it like to just plop down in my dear emerald city?), my favorite was probably New Zealand.  Maybe because it seemed the most approachable and I felt it was something I could do too. I loved the community that she experienced there. It also lacked the uncomfortable period of time when she often had to learn a new language just to get by. 

3. What will you take away from this book and apply to your own life (or maybe nothing! Why not?). I will definitely try to take away some of her guts and sense of adventure. Everyone who knows me in person knows that I'm pretty timid and paranoid cautious. As much as it unnerved me, I really admired her ability to put herself out there, make friends, meet people, not plan ahead (I plan EVERYTHING) and be open to new experiences. While I don't think I'll have a major personality switch, it's something to be aware of when I wonder if I'm living life to the fullest potential.

Hmm, and what do you think our next book should be? Do you want more frequent reminders?