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
From Library Journal
Fifteen years ago, the middle-aged Gelman (author of over 70 children's books, including More Spaghetti, I Say!) left behind an upscale California lifestyle and fading marriage to begin an odyssey that continues to this day. Using a well-paced and fluid writing style, Gelman describes how she observed orangutans in the rain forests of Borneo, canoed in Indonesia, ate psychedelic mushrooms in Mexico, and skirted landmines in Nicaragua. Wherever she travels, it is the people and their customs that intrigue her most, from the restrictive but culturally rich celebrations of a Hasidic family in Israel to the more relaxed but equally ritualized daily life of her new friends in Bali. Her enthusiasm for the people she meets and her ability to overcome the challenges faced by a woman traveling alone make for an engrossing and inspirational read. For all travel collections. Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adams
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.