He agrees to a break and counseling but adds that two weeks is not enough. He sug- gests two months in which we are both free to see other people. His response surprises and frightens me. Eight weeks of independence is very different from a two-week break to clear our heads. But I accept his sug- gestion. When he leaves the room, the tears roll down my cheeks. As in so many of our conversations these days, we are talking different languages, and I realize that once I introduced the idea of a break, I could not control his reaction. But two months is too long for a hotel. I decide to go to Mexico.
My eyes are red, my nose is stuffed, and I feel as though my head is filled with lead weights. I am more frightened than I have ever been. I slip my arms into my backpack and follow the signs out of the termi- nal. In spite of my heavy head, I warm to the musical sound of Spanish all around me. When I step outside, I am greeted by five young men waving brochures. In two days I begin a Spanish language course in Cuernavaca; the school has arranged for me to stay with a family. It is seven-thirty at night when I check into the hotel, which gives me plenty of time to clean up and find a restaurant for dinner.
As I salivate for Mexican food, I realize that I have never, in my forty-seven years, had din- ner alone in a restaurant. When I was young, I had plenty of friends to share meals with. I married at twenty-three, and then I had a husband. I have never eaten out by myself. I use the phone in my room to call for room service.
No hay comida en el hotel. When I think about going out, an advance video runs through my head: I am sitting at a table trying to look content. The restaurant is filled with smiling, chatting people. I am the only one alone. I sit on the bed and think about having to choose a place, get there, eat the meal while pretending to be happy, and then return to the hotel. How do I pick a place? Do I take a cab or walk? Is the neighborhood safe? So I shower, put on my nightshirt, and curl up with the guidebook.
Tomorrow I will go to the market. I plot the route to the central market on buses, and then I turn out the light, hungry and disoriented, as though I am not connected to the body lying in the bed. Who is this person in this strange hotel, alone for the first time in her life?
Why am I here? What have I done? Part of me is scared; but there is another part, deep inside, that is excited at the idea that I am about to enter the unknown. As a child, I loved the unknown. Every summer my parents, my brother, Pepper the dog, and I went on a one-week vacation in the car. My father would drive and my mother would sit next to him, a map on her lap. Within minutes we would be lost. Or watch the cows being milked. Lost meant adventure, and I. I am out on the street at six-thirty in the morning.
The day is sunny, the Spanish language sings its musical sounds all around me, and cars whiz through the city ahead of the morning rush hour. Early mornings have a special energy that I like. I decide to walk the couple of miles to the mar- ket and get something to eat on the way. They are standing on the floor and hanging over my head, hundreds of donkeys and dinosaurs, cats and dragons, boys and girls, hogs and bugs. All the colors of the rainbow are swirling in front of me, swinging to the salsa music that is blasting out of unseen speakers.
I am swinging too. The brassy, percussive rhythm of the Caribbean is contagious. Then mounds of sweet smelling mangos fight for my attention with the pineapples. There are booths of papayas, red, yellow, and green; bananas, big and small, thin and fat; dozens of varieties of peppers and chiles fresh and dried and mounded in. For a while, cilantro dominates the air, until I pass a table full of oregano. Seconds later, I stop next to a table covered with yellow squash blossoms and wonder what they taste like.
Good taste. Though the music is sad, my body is light. My fears of the night before have turned into excitement.
I pass through mountains of green and red and brown and rust-colored pastes, three feet high, the essence of mole sauces, redolent of cloves and garlic, oregano and cinnamon. Nothing is wrapped in plastic or sealed in containers. It is all out there to be smelled and seen and tasted and bought. I am surrounded by the colors, the smells, the sounds of a culture that lives life full out. There are brains and stomachs and kidneys and tongues, feet and tails and intestines. Butchers are slapping and smashing meat on huge wooden blocks, beating red blobs into tenderness. They are scissoring and chop- ping up yellow chickens that have been fed marigolds so their skin and flesh are gold.
Heads here, feet there. Innards sorted. The butchers are mincing beef and hacking pork, sharpening knives and chopping slabs. Cleaving, slapping, scissoring, beating. The shoppers, thick in the aisles, are carrying string and plastic and cloth bags full of newspaper-wrapped packages of their purchases. I walk among them, enjoying the touch of our bodies. I wriggle through the crowd to peer into waist-high vats of thick white cream and barrels of white ground-corn dough called masa.
I follow my nose to the eating area of the market. Sausages are frying, soups are bubbling, chiles are toasting. I sit at a picnic table and eat and smile, surrounded by Spanish-speaking women. I bite into my quesadilla 8. She asks me where I am from. I answer some simple questions and ask her name. When our conversation runs out of words, I move to another table and try a sopa de flor de calabaza, squash blossom soup with garlic and onion, zucchini, corn kernels, green leaves, and bright yellow squash blos- soms.
The blend of flavors, the texture of the different vegetables, the thickness of the broth are like the Mexican people, filled with spice and spirit. I have never been big on museums or churches or most tourist attractions. As I wander through, I am think- ing that I want to move into the enclosed tableaux, to live with these peo- ple, to celebrate with them, to cook and eat with the families. I want to experience their lives, not look at them through glass.
Many of the exhibits represent cultures that no longer exist; but there are plenty of living, breathing indigenous people in Mexico today. How I wish I could live amongst them. Then it hits me for the first time. I am free to make my own decisions, follow my whims, and take whatever risks I choose. I decide, while looking at a Zapotec family behind glass, that for some part of this Mexi- can journey, I will live in a Zapotec village.
It is not a fear of people; I loved being in the market, surrounded by peo- ple. What I am feeling is a deep psychological fear with its roots in adolescence: a fear of being seen alone. Alone means unpopular. Alone means that you have no friends. Alone means that you are an outsider. In the context of Mexico City, it makes no sense.
But it is there, this vestigial fear, left over from my teenage years. Sitting alone at a table, where every- one can see me, is like shouting my inadequacy to the world.
Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman l Summary & Study Guide
I need to find a dinner companion, anyone, male, female, old, young, a family, a loner, a three-year-old. I decide that it would be easiest, and safest, to look for a dinner mate in one of the better hotels. I study the guidebook and find my way to the most expensive hotel in the city, where I sit in a lounge chair by the pool and try to look as though I belong. A family is sitting at the umbrella table next to my chair. An hour later, they gather up the kids and leave. A few lounges over, there is a man sitting alone. I am thinking that he will probably be joined by a wife full of shopping bags.
What the hell. I can try. I smile at him, nod an opening, and we begin to talk. I mean, what do you do about dinner? He laughs and tells me that he is waiting to hear from a friend who usu-. He suspects that their signals may have gotten mixed up. We make plans to meet. I go back to my hotel, pleased with my ingenuity. I shower and get dressed. Then the phone rings. The friend has called; our dinner appoint- ment is off. Back to zero. It is P. I choose a hotel with three stars and take a taxi there.
The lobby is small. No one is sitting in the stuffed chairs, so I stand near the wall oppo- site the reception counter and observe the activity. Nobody is hanging around this lobby. I stand with a silly smile on my face and watch people on their way out for dinner. The pace is brisk. I find myself watching the young woman who is checking in guests.
She has a warm smile and expressive eyes. And her English is excellent. I wait until there is no one in line. Let me think about that for a few minutes. She continues checking in the guests and I retreat to my post near the wall. A line grows in front of her. It keeps getting longer. A half hour goes by. I am feeling more and more uncomfortable standing there. Just as I decide that she has forgotten about me, she calls me over. John directs the taxi driver to a small restaurant in Zona Rosa, the ele- gant part of the city.
The tequila comes in a shot glass along with a small spicy tomato juice, and we begin our meal, all of us, with ceviche cocktails,. Even before the main courses arrive, they buy me a wilting rose from the old lady who is selling them from table to table. My chicken mole is fabulous. The three of us drink two bottles of wine and laugh and talk a lot. John, who is a few years younger than I, is tall and slim. He has a little twist in his nose and brown hair that flops over his forehead.
They are both wearing suits and ties. John has been in Mexico for six months, traveling in back country, negotiating and doing deals and being propositioned by all the eligible young women in the villages he visits. He mentions only the propositions, not what he did about them. The men are vague about their mission in Mexico. As the mariachi band plays my requests, I have visions of drugs and Mafia and spies.
Then Lionel lets slip something about guns. I ask and the answer is evasive. I leave it alone. I tell them my story, including my apprehension and fear that my mar- riage may be over. I can feel the tears in my eyes as I talk. The streets are empty and our voices are loud. It is half past two; most of Mexico City is sleeping.
John and I deliver Lionel to his room. Then we walk down the corridor and around the corner. Suddenly he stops and puts his hands on my shoulders. Then he puts his arms around me and I cry. The next morning, I am confused as I walk back to my hotel. Who was that woman who just spent the night with a stranger? Two days ago I could never have done it.
In twenty-four years, it has never happened. Is it pos- sible that leaving the country has turned me into someone else? I try to look at myself from another dimension, detached and nonjudg- mental. This person is not wife, mother, daughter, writer, anthropology stu- dent, L. She is, of course, all of these things; but alone, without the attachments, she is a woman in limbo, whose identity has been buried in her roles.
Clearly, my job over the next two months is not only to think about the. I collect my things and check out of the hotel. They are expecting me today at the Spanish school in Cuernavaca. The city bus is crowded. People are pushing. I have switched my back- pack onto my stomach so that I can see it, and I am clutching my shoulder bag around the bottom.
Five minutes into the bus ride, approximately thirty-six hours into my adventure, the bus lurches and a couple of teenagers standing next to me are thrown against my side. I fall to the floor. One of the teenagers helps me up. The line is busy. I try about ten times over the next week, and the line is always busy. Months later, when I return to the States, I call them and they honor my loss. The money is negligible. The worst part is having to call my husband to cancel the credit card, which is in his name.
The call is awkward and I feel like the stereotype of a helpless wife. Pili is twenty-one, slim with long black hair, sparkling eyes, and a bouncy personality. Raul, her husband, is strikingly handsome. His eyes are deep and dark, his shoulders are broad, and his smile is real.
But there is something weighing him down. I can see it when I look into his eyes. I am amazed at how much I remember. It feels great. Here, everything and everyone around you is a classroom. Then, one week into my visit, I wake up with a rash on my chest. I ignore it. The next day the rash is all over my body. And two days later, it turns into something that feels and looks like a stage-three sunburn.
Every inch of my body is bright red. Wherever I touch, it hurts. I also hurt when I wash, sit, and put on clothes. I leave the house that morning clutching the little pamphlet that the school has given me; instead of going to school, I go to the recommended doctor a few blocks from my house.
I say nothing to Pili and Raul. I have just arrived and I have brought disease. When I tell Pili, in my halting Spanish, that they all have to get gamma globulin shots, she is skeptical.
BOOKS FOR DIGITAL NOMADS
She looks at my red arms and chest. Varicela, it turns out, is chicken pox. I know what chicken. She calls another doctor, who agrees to come to the house the next day. I go to bed early and wake up in pain—my back hurts and so does my scalp.
Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
My ears and my eyelids and the bottoms of my feet are the color of tomatoes. My entire body feels as though it has been dipped in boiling water. And, I have a fever. And my Spanish is not good enough to ask all the questions I have. I keep ask- ing myself if it is safe to be treated by doctors trained in Mexico; I have no idea about the quality of the medical schools here. Before the doctor arrives, I sit with a dictionary and prepare a list of possible causes. I am terrified that those village women who propositioned John, have given him, and me, a disease. The doctor examines me in my room.
I hand him the piece of paper. He looks at the rest of the list without com- menting. I will have to consult my colleagues. He gets back from vacation tomorrow. He sends me off the next day to the top dermatologist in Cuernavaca. By the time I get to his office, my skin has changed again. It is not hurting anymore. Now it is peeling, and when I take off my shirt in the office, thousands of tiny flakes of dead skin fall off onto his floor. I am snowing. It is not chicken pox or a virus or venereal disease.
It is probably a response to the malaria medicine. Stop taking it. I ask if my illness is contagious. He says no. As I ride home in a taxi, I am trying to decide what to do. I cannot, will not, go back to Los Angeles to my fam- ily doctor. This is my trip, my free- dom, my problem. I feel very alone. I walk in the door and Pili greets me. Doctor number two has called. He and his colleagues are calling my condition Stevens Johnson syndrome, a reaction to medication, probably the malaria prophylaxis, Aralen, although none of the literature discusses this side effect. He too prescribes predni- zone.
I decide to stay. My condition gets worse. The fever brings on hallucinations and my vision becomes blurred. My legs blister so badly that when I stand still, the pressure and pain are intolerable. I have to sit on the shower floor while I bathe and brush my teeth because when I stand still for more than a few seconds the blisters feel as if they are going to explode. Midway through this ordeal, I begin to see the illness as some kind of. Herculean challenge that I must endure in order to become a new woman. I have also convinced myself that I am not in serious danger. Months later, when I see my doctor in L.
He has seen it twice, and both times he hospitalized his patient. The danger is infection; people die from it. After two weeks, I still cannot stand still. I have to sit with my legs up to reduce the pain. Occasionally I go for walks, pushing the baby in the stroller. One day I go to the bank and discover that there is a line. I jog in place like a runner at a traffic light. Every inch of my body is peeling. The more delicate parts of me flake onto the floor. Even my nipples and my ear lobes are peeling. The skin on my fingers peels off, like the skin of a snake, intact.
And my legs are still blistered. I have turned into one of those hideous pictures in a medical book. Then, as I lie in bed one night, burning up and in pain, I get the first spiritual message of my life: in shedding my skin, I am being reborn. I am symbolically peeling away the person I have become and releasing the woman who has been trapped inside all these years.
Soon this new me will. Until now we have never had a conversation in depth. We have talked about food, about school, about his baby, and my illness; but language has always pre- vented our conversation from going beyond the superficial. Tonight is different. We talk with dictionaries on our laps, and we share an extraordinary conversational intimacy. We are not an old American and a young Mexican. Nor are we man and woman in any sexual sense. There is certainly a mother-son component to our discussion; but it is more than that.
We are friends, sharing feelings. We begin when I tell him my revelation about rebirth.
Like most Mex- icans, he is Catholic, but he has never thought much about what he believes. We talk about souls, inner selves, the basic nature of human beings. Raul confides in me his fears for his own marriage. Ever since his son was born, Raul has been noticing other women, want-.
We talk on and on, much of the time with tears in our eyes. Somewhere in the middle of our talk, I realize that I am comfortable speaking Spanish. Slowly, I heal. My fever disappears; my blisters dry up; my skin is renewed. From beginning to end takes less than three weeks. When I am well enough to go back to school, I have no patience for the classroom. I no longer want to study. I am ready to move out into the unknown, to experience life with a new sensibility, to embark on my journey of inner and outer discovery.
On the Sunday morning before I leave, Raul, Pili, the baby, and I pile into the car and drive off for a farewell tour of Cuernavaca. You can buy thin, non- fatty pieces, or the fattier middle part, or you can look around for pieces that have a little meat attached. Raul buys a huge bagful and I reach in for a hunk. Neither can I. I reach into the bag for another piece, feeling exhilarated when I bite through sections of fat. Perhaps it is the setting; rules tend to reduce their grip when you cross borders. But more likely, the joy I feel at this guilt-free moment is a sign that I really have peeled away the old and begun the process of self-discovery.
It sug- gests that I have let go of the old and given myself permission to move on. There are six other backpack-. P ers headed to Oaxaca. A man from Denmark, and three women, one from the U. S and two from Germany, are sharing information about places to stay in Oaxaca. I join them and am immediately included in the conversation. There is also a young couple off to the side by themselves, speaking. They travel cheaply, stay in backpacker places, and are nearly always looking to meet other travelers. During my Central American travels, I meet and hang out with dozens of backpackers, forming quick and easy friendships and sometimes going off together for weeks at a time.
My mistake in Mexico City was looking for companionship in the better hotels. Hotels are the domains of tourists on short-term vacations. They see the sights, eat in the best restaurants, and sun by the pool. In backpacker places, people are more relaxed, more frugal, and friendlier. They travel as much to meet other travelers as they do to see the world.
Many of them are traveling without companions. The typical backpacker is unmarried, educated, but not yet on the. Among the backpackers, there are always a lot of young Euro- peans who work for a year or two at home, save their money, then travel until it runs out. There are Americans as well; but the Americans are usually on a tighter schedule, and I find them less friendly, at least to me. I also discover on the backpack trail that the age barriers we live with in the United States are not shared by the rest of the world.
I am forty- seven; they are mostly under thirty. I love the energy of the young, and they accept me without hesitation. The variations in age add spice and depth to the conversations. From time to time I meet other women my age who are backpacking, but I rarely meet men over forty who are traveling alone.
Older men, it seems, are not as courageous as women; all those years of being responsi- ble have diminished their capacity for adventure. With his jeans, long hair, and soft features, he looks about sixteen. She thinks Miguel should go into music, at least until they have children three years from now. When we get to Oaxaca, my busmates and I check into a hostel. I serve as a translator for Miguel and Ana so they too can be a part of the group.
Already it has opened a door to people and a story I would never have known. We are all put into the same dorm room. As soon as our beds are chosen and our things are stored, we wander the streets together. By the time we go to dinner, we are old friends.
Friendship happens quickly on the road. The Ger- man women are college professors on a four-month trip. No one is over thirty. The seven of us wander together, split up for a while, and meet again for dinner. Then we all go to a bar to hear Miguel play and sing. As I listen to the music, I look at myself, sitting there confident and comfortable with five interesting people, all of whom know my name. I have come far in the few weeks since I stepped off the plane, afraid of being alone. I am going to leave the group and try to find a Zapotec village where I can settle in long enough to connect with the people and get a feel of their way of life.
I know nothing about the communities in this area. Instead, I know only that Oaxaca is surrounded by Zapotec villages, and that I have spent the last four years studying anthro-. I just want to slip into another way of life, not as a tourist, not as an academic, but, as much as possible, as a part of the community.
I look at a map and blindly choose a village about forty miles north of Oaxaca. There is a road that goes to the village, but no one can tell me when or where to get a bus, so I start out walking. I have never hitchhiked before, but this seems like a good time to start. The sun is blistering hot; the road is hilly; and the fields on both sides, as far as I can see, are brown and withered. Not a single car has passed. Finally, after about forty-five minutes, a car approaches. Relief, I think. Feels a lot like beg- ging. The car whizzes by me.
Then two more pass. Then two trucks. Now I feel even more self-conscious. But I have dreamed for years of living in another culture where I am the only outsider. I want to know what I will do and how I will go about connecting with the people. I have read dozens of ethnographies over the last four years, vicariously living in the shoes of the anthropologists, sharing their experiences. Now I want to do it on my own. So I keep sticking out my arm, thumb up. Two more cars go by. The driver waits. Finally he motions me into the front seat. We talk in Spanish amid rumbles and rattles and a muffler with a hole Where am I from, where am I going, and why?
He tells me that I have to talk to the alcalde, the mayor. After about an hour, we rattle into a village, the center of which has two stores in what used to be living rooms. The driver stops the truck in front of a group of men and talks to them. It is twelve noon. Five men, beer bottles in hand, greet me.
I am very sorry. The head of our village is in Mexico City. He will be back the day after tomorrow. Please come back then. I tell them that I would like to stay in the village for a month and that I will return in three days. The men shrug at each other. One speaks. But no one has suggested I can stay, even for one night. I buy a cold Coke. None of the men walks with me as I walk up the gravelly paths and down.
It is a village built on hills. There are women in the village, but none of them greets me when I pass by, smiling and nodding. In fact, they run. Every once in a while I catch someone looking out a window or peering from behind a tree. There are children playing. As soon as they see me, they take off, like a flock of birds. It is clear that I am not welcome. I feel like a disease that must be kept at a distance. I walk around the village for about ten minutes.
Then I go back to Oaxaca. Turns out there is a bus that goes back and forth to Oaxaca. I find out. No one in the village bothered to tell me. When I arrive three days later, the same men are standing in the same place. This time it is ten in the morning. They are all, once again, holding beer bottles. The head of the village welcomes me. His wife will take good care of me, he says. The small house where I will be liv- ing is very safe, he tells me as we walk. Jantien will teach you how the impact of a story increases when it is shared and how that can influence your mission and business.
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Get a perspective injection from two individuals who have a proven strategic business development track record. For more information about your registration and data, the mailing and the evaluation and cancellation options, please refer to the data protection policy. Sebastian Kuehn: Lifestyle experiments that will leave you questioning your reality Sebastian lives in the land well any land where palm trees meet good WiFi, earning his living as an online entrepreneur at Wireless Life and as the co-founder of the German online community Citizen Circle.
Anja Winter: From 0 to , Youtube subscribers — My journey as a teacher nomad Anja has taken her passion for language, people and video-based learning to build a Youtube channel with more than k subscribers. Sebastian Grote: Run your business from anywhere, anytime Sebastian started his own business at 18 years old and by the time he was 21 he had over 35 employees. Sean Casey: The role of location independence in the identities and relationships of digital nomads Sean is a full stack web developer, serial entrepreneur, and cultural anthropologist and he has been on the road since Natasha Athanasiadou: The rise of the conscious consumer Natasha is an impressive woman, working tirelessly to improve the footprint the fashion industry and fast moving consumer goods have on our planet and humankind.
Martin Georgiev: How to make influential friends and connect with successful people Martin is what you might call a dynamic guy, qualified as an Aerospace Engineer, his hobbies include breakdancing and kickboxing! Dorota Stanczyk: Deep dive into conscious creativity Dorota specialises in unleashing your most creative self through the practice of Conscious Creativity, a methodology for accessing our imagination and stimulating deeper thinking on a daily basis.
Curtin: Zero to hero in days Mr. Jamie Keddie: The importance of story We are creatures of narrative. Jantien Klein Ikink: Stories make all pain bearable In her inspiring talk Jantien will introduce you to the idea — Stories make all pain bearable. Vlad Glebov: The nomad lifestyle could change the world Vlad is a serial entrepreneur and nomad on a mission. Santiago Sosa: Design your ideal lifestyle Entrepreneur , author and founder of a location independent marketing agency, Santiago and his wife have spent the past 5 years living the digital nomad dream.
Stella Romana Airoldi: Making an impact in the world — creating a social business Stella is one of those people who seem to have been everywhere. Marina Mernke: From pain to power Marina is the founder of Frag Marie , a successful podcast, blog and an online coaching program for single women. Johannes Voelkner: Lessons learned from starting Nomad Cruise Many small discoveries lead to a very big idea!
Manuel Tschurtschenthaler: Learn to love learning — how to unleash your full potential A serial entrepreneur since age 12, Manuel knows the startup scene intimately through vast startup and marketing consultancy experience, working across Europe and founding his own tourism business. Yella Cremer: Reconnect with your sexuality Since her youth, Yella has traveled the world collecting wisdom and knowledge about love, sexuality and relationships with a focus on the psychology of sex.
Matthias Zeitler: Building a digital nomad hub in a rural mountain resort — turning nomads into residents Matthias is a location independent entrepreneur. Dirk Gostomski: How to develop a robust and compelling financial planning to convince investors and achieve business objectives Dirk has extensive experience in the development and review of financial models and is the founder and CEO of Financial Modelling Videos , which develops flexible, easy-to-use and robust Excel-based financial modelling tools and video tutorials for both established and start-up companies.