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Tales of A Female Nomad

Living at Large in the World

Gelman, Rita Golden

(Book - 2001)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Tales of A Female Nomad
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"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.
Publisher: New York : Three Rivers Press, c2001
ISBN: 0609809547
9780609809549
Branch Call Number: 910.82 G319t 2001b
Characteristics: vii, 311 p. ;,21 cm

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While separated from her husband, the author decides to fulfill her dreams of travelling the globe.


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Apr 01, 2013
  • blueskies100 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I loved the description of the locations and the fantasy of leaving everything to travel. For someone with a masters in anthropology, it is a shame she did not use it to provide more insights.

Jul 22, 2012
  • doroschelch rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

One of the many "coming of age" stories of women who decide, usually after a divorce, to live their own lives at last: in this case through travel that tries to immerse the traveler into the lives of ordinary people in the countries visited.

interesting life, and a good read, but at times I had to push myself to finish sections.

I had great hopes for this book as my partner had read it and liked it very much indeed. However, I was less moved.
I love that a 48 year old woman left a very very comfortable life in LA and turned her life upside down. But I don't think the book does justice to the event.
Instead of the self-reflective book I was expecting, I found her book to be like a series of postcards from a traveler: I ate such & such exotic food at such and such exotic place with exotic dark-skinned people who spoke foreign languages.
From a sociological perspective, her patterns sometimes disturbed me. Why was she so intent to go to "Third World" countries? Why was she constantly wanting to be the white person surrounded by people of color? Is it because she wanted to stand out? Because she wanted to be noticed (and often pampered?)? It certainly wasn't because she wanted to help. Other than casually teaching English to some of the children & adults, in over a decade of traveling, she never made any serious efforts to help the people she visited. Oops, I forgot, she did buy clothes from thrift stores on her trips back to the US and then would hand them out when she returned to her adventures. But she made no efforts to help the people she visited obtain a school or a health clinic, or help them figure out other ways to survive in places where they were often desperately poor. She observed and enjoyed them for months at a time but then blithely went on to the next destination.
Although she has a Masters degree in anthropology, she didn't do field work during her years of traveling. She wasn't studying cultures, she was just dabbling in them. Even while insisting she wasn't doing anthropological work, she would still run for cover under the academic anthropologist credo to "observe but not change". This allowed her, in her mind, the justification to do nothing while watching her landlord beat up her landlady. This allowed her to do nothing when she saw people die of preventable illnesses. This allowed her to accept rampant sexism because she was treated well, even sometimes royally, while the men who treated her that way were dismissive of their own wives and wouldn't even allow them to dine with their husbands. Instead the author glories in her own privileges and becomes nearly orgasmic at being allowed to help cook dinner with the women of the village.
I'm sorry to say I thought the book was mostly superficial. I was very disappointed.

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An older woman's search for her true self through her travel adventures.

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