Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

Front Cover
Crown Publishers, 2001 - Travel - 311 pages
There's more than one way to do life.
In a small cemetery deep in the jungle of Borneo, two men climb into a freshly dug hole and retrieve the bones of a long-dead grandmother. An American guest joins the procession from the cemetery to the elaborately decorated village square for a traditional ceremony that will properly send Grandma off on her journey to the next world. In years past, a man from a neighboring tribe was sacrificed whenever this ceremony was performed. Today, in a new era, the neighboring tribe has been invited to participate in the festivities, and the only victim is a cow.
A few years earlier the American guest, Rita Golden Gelman, a children's book author and the mother of two grown children, was living in a comfortable suburban home, dining in elegant restaurants, and attending glamorous parties. Rita only dreamed of traveling to exotic places and experiencing other cultures. When her marriage failed, she decided to live her dream. She sold all her possessions and, at the age of forty-eight, took off to see the world. Fifteen years later, she's still without a permanent home.
Rita has lived in Mexico and the Galapagos Islands, Bali and New Guinea, Israel, Nicaragua, Thailand, and New Zealand. And she's still moving. Although she's not athletically gifted or independently wealthy, Rita has climbed mountains, paddled up rivers, and subsisted for a year on what many people spend in a few months. In Tales of a Female Nomad, Rita shares how she, an ordinary woman, has created a spectacular life, filled with interesting people, enlightening experiences, and fascinating adventures.
Determined to understand each local culture she visits, Rita stays not inhotels but with the natives on sleeping platforms or in huts, cement block houses, mountain cabins, or small bungalows. She even spent four years at a palace in Bali, complete with a prince. She's observed orangutans in the rain forests of Borneo, served as an unofficial tour guide in the Galapagos, taught herself the Indonesian language, and forged many lasting cross-cultural friendships. And the food -- Rita has learned to cook exotic cuisine of all kinds, from elaborate Thai dishes to Nicaragua's staple, gallo pinto.
In addition to her tales of adventure, Rita shares the nitty-gritty details of how she manages to travel on scant funds and live without modern conveniences. To participate actively in the daily life of the communities she visits, she has learned to trust strangers to help her find places to stay and to teach her the local ways. The payoff is that she gains their trust as well.
Dynamic, vivacious, and a marvelous weaver of tales, Rita celebrates her glorious transformation from an unfulfilled suburbanite to a liberated and incredibly self-assured woman of the world. More than a travel memoir, Tales of a Female Nomad is the story of a woman's rebirth. Rita Golden Gelman's real-life tale proves beyond a doubt that anyone can cast away the burdens of conventional life at any age and continue -- or begin -- to thrive.

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User Review  - catzkc - LibraryThing

It's taken me years to write this review. This book made a considerable impression on me, but one the author probably didn't intend. For years I had dreamed of a life where I could travel all the time ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - voracious - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

Rita Golden Gelman is the author of more than seventy children's books, including Inside Nicaragua, which was one of the ALA's Best Young Adult Books of 1988, and More Spaghetti, I Say!, a staple in every first grade classroom. As a nomad, Rita has no permanent address. Her most recent encampments have been in Mexico and New York City.

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