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Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in…
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Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World (2001)

by Rita Golden Gelman

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The year is 1986 and Rita Gelman and her husband are on the cusp of divorce, just as her last child leaves for college. Rita takes a trip to Mexico to find herself, and essentially, never comes back. Rita's passion for living in other cultures is awakened and she begins traveling from country to country, living minimally, and relying on new social connections she makes along the way. In most countries, Rita stays just long enough to develop friends and connections. Once the native people have finally embraced her as "family" Rita moves on to the next adventure. Rita's goals seem to be writing and publishing just enough that she can maintain her nomadic lifestyle and becoming accepted by the native people in each culture despite the odds, including her own lack of preparation.

This was an interesting book about different countries, their cultures, and social rules, however, something about Ms. Gelman's approach to her lifestyle rubbed me the wrong way. While I understood the basic anthropological principal about not altering the culture you are observing, I felt she tended to use this idea to her benefit to justify her avoidance to contribute or make positive changes in the cultures she visited. It was particularly hard reading about the children who were starving with distended bellies and her rationalization that she could give them money to feed the children but it wouldn't help the family in the long run. Her desire to live minimalistically and with people who allowed her to stay with them with only minimal (if any) compensation seemed opportunistic and at worst, parasitic.

While I enjoyed learning about the people, I was not as big a fan of the author's traveling methods. I also felt sorry for her kids, who basically lost their mother to the world, just when they were starting to branch out as young adults. ( )
  voracious | Sep 11, 2017 |
I really loved this travel memoir of a woman of a certain age who decided to spend the rest of her life travelling and carrying with her only what she could fit into her luggage. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
Ms. Gelman's travel stories are more than travel stories. They describe the lifestyle of a person with a true zest for life and living. I found the stories to be interesting, particularly the manner in which the author crossed over from visitor to resident in each location. I have no yearning to wander, but I share the love of people and admire the trusting nature which allowed her to pursue her dreams. I did find myself wondering about the trusting souls who did not fare as well as she did in their journeys into the unknown. Very good book. ( )
  hemlokgang | Jul 28, 2017 |
Rita Golden Gelman, on the cusp of a divorce from her husband in 1986, decides to pursue her unfulfilled dreams of world travel. She ventures off, alone, with the goal of traveling and immersing herself fully into the cultures & languages of several different locations throughout the world, including remote and not-so-remote locations in Mexico, Guatemala, Israel, the Galapagos Islands, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Thailand.

This was a fairly enjoyable travel memoir. Unlike many other travel memoirs, in most of her travel locations, the author really did make an effort to become part of the community & culture of the area. She did enjoy the luxury of coming from a previous well-to-do lifestyle, or at least one comfortable enough to allow her to travel for many years (including back & forth to the U.S. in order to visit family) without an ongoing income (though she was earning somewhat regularly on royalties from previously-published children's books). Her very outgoing, and occasionally pushy, personality, as well as frequent bouts of "good luck" also worked to her benefit in order to allow her some experiences that a typical traveler probably wouldn't have.

I started this one out on audio, read by the author, but I found her voice somewhat annoying for some reason. I enjoyed the book more after switching to the actual written format, which I would recommend. ( )
  indygo88 | Jul 27, 2017 |
Loved Rita's tales of travel. I felt as if I were traveling with her…..so enjoyable! ( )
  luvztoread | Apr 11, 2015 |
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For Jan, Mitch, and Melissa,m with love. And in loving memory of my parents, Frances and Albert Golden.
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I am a modern-day nomad.
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Book description
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 LA 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 onthe Galapagos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutns 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 all of us 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. (978-0-609-80954-9)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0609809547, Paperback)

When Rita Golden Gelman traveled to Mexico during a two-month separation from her husband, she hoped to satisfy an old craving for adventure and, in the process, rejuvenate herself and her marriage. Little did she know it was the beginning of a new life, not just as a divorcée, but as a nomad of the world. Since 1986, Gelman has had no permanent address and no possessions except those she can carry. She travels without a plan, guided by instinct, serendipitous opportunities, and a remarkable ability to connect with people. At first her family and friends accused her of running away, but Gelman knew she had embarked on a journey of self-discovery and a way of life that is inspiring and enviable.

We know Gelman is not your typical middle-aged housewife from LA when, on that first trip to Mexico, she randomly picks a Zapotec village and decides to live there for a month, knowing nothing about the culture or the language. When she arrives, the villagers run away from her, terrified. By the time she leaves, there are hugs and tears. From there she travels to Guatemala and Nicaragua, Israel and the Galapagos Islands. But the heart of the book--and her 15-year journey--is Indonesia, where she lives for eight years. It is Bali that forever changes how she looks at the world, facilitated by her friendship with an aging prince. Tu Aji not only invites her to live with his family but decides that the education of Rita will be his final duty in life. Wherever she goes, Gelman has an uncanny ability to slip into other ways of life and become part of a community. And she is a person for whom doors open widely--her seatmate on the plane to Bali scrawls the prince's name on a piece of paper, she talks her way into a sojourn at Camp Leakey in Borneo where orangutans are studied, and an entire village in a remote part of Irian Jaya prays for the clouds to clear so her plane can land--and they do! Gelmen's secret is her passion for people. That being the case, the book is short on descriptions of place, but long on the rarer inside view of the peoples and customs of those places. This in itself is treat enough, but Gelman's animated and intimate story comes with a kicker--it's never too late to fulfill those dreams. --Lesley Reed

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"I move throughout the world without a plan, guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities." From the Preface 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.… (more)

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