Skip to content

Female Nomad and Friends Offers Glimpses of Life Around the World

June 25, 2010

Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World by Rita Golden Gelman
published by Three Rivers Press, June 1, 2010

Like many of my readers, I am a wannabe traveler with an insatiable thirst for books with give me glimpses into other cultures. With three small kids and deep roots in our Virginia home, I live vicariously through other people’s world adventures and fantasize about building acquaintances with people living in different places.

World traveler and author Rita Golden Gelman has written “Connecting is … the central theme of my life.” In 1987, teetering on the brink of divorce, she sold all her belongings and set off to explore the world. Her children were grown, and she was ready to start a radically different life.

I no longer wanted to live in one tiny dot on the giant map of the world. I wanted to explore, to adventure, to connect with the diversity of life on earth. I was ready to live my dream.

For over 15 years, she has traveled the world, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and living everywhere from thatched huts to palaces. She chronicled this part of her life in Tales of a Female Nomad:Living at Large in the World.

After publishing Tales of a Female Nomad, she discovered many other people who were living similar dreams. Her current book, Female Nomad and Friends, is a blend of their stories and recipes from around the world. Contributors include North Americans living in Spanish speaking countries, a woman who visited Iraq at the beginning of the war, a lady who helps build sustainable communities in Ontario, people who have volunteered in orphanages around the world, a woman who advocates for better health care in Africa and other places, and many others. All the contributors are avid lifelong learners who are passionate about contributing to the world.

I am fascinated by the variety of concise, eloquent stories here, stories of learning to communicate with people in various cultures, about food, and about love and passion. They offer glimpses into myriad lives and cultures, and they illuminate the abundance we enjoy in North America, which we often take for granted. It’s a powerful reminder that the baggage we carry through life — our things — are not all that important.

I am also excited about trying some of the recipes, including Swedish Kladdkaka, South American flan, Indian Muttar Paneer, Vietnamese soft spring rolls, and may more. However I’ll pass on trying the Sun Dried Mopane Worms. Though dried worms do last for a long time in the kitchen — just in case anyone needs to know. πŸ˜›

I find it difficult to review this book well, since there are so many essays and there is such diversity among them. Here are a few snippets to give you a taste:

Immediately we are embraced by Amira’s family and ushered into the dining room decked out with a meal lavish enough to feed twice our group … I am honored and embarrassed: during the time of my prewar visit, 16 million of the 26 million Iraqis rely solely on monthly government rations. Even the richest families spend three-quarters of their income on food. In spite of these hardships, the Iraqis I meet are generous, resilient, joyous and eager to feed me. (from “Tower of Babel” by Kelly Hayes-Raitt)

I met many Vietnamese women who had an inner sparkle and strength. But one in particular, the head mother of the orphanage, was raising thirty children with the most wonderful compassion, love and care I’d ever seen. (from “Sharing Laundry” by Clare Beckingham)

Volunteering there (at a Uganda medical clinic) was a challenge for me, unlike any I have ever faced. What agony to look this mother and child in the eyes and tell them we could not help. And to face all the others who were beyond help. There is enough painkiller in the world. There is enough water and food. Why can’t we help? (from “An Awakening” by Kim Bass)

After all the bending in the field, the sun shining through the porch glass provides welcome warmth on my back. The carrots are sweet, fresh, and crunchy and fill the void in my stomach. We accompany our words with much gesticulating and exaggerated facial expressions until Paul gets up from the table outside where he has been practicing his verbs, sticks his head in the door, and asks if he is needed as a translator. (from “Patikami What” (Patikami is Latvian) by Maria Altobelli)

We see six giraffes, four ostriches, and three leaping dik-dik antelope that are only fourteen inches high during the three-hour ride to the boma. The lions and elephants disappeared years ago from this part of Tanzania, but hundreds of weaver birds, and their basket nests, dozens of termite hills (some taller than the car), and thousands of white, yellow, and blue butterflies are still very much there … The landscape has a spectral magnificence, dry and brown and seemingly endless. (from “Masaai Moments” by Rita Golden Gelman)

All royalties from this book will be used to fund scholarships for kids living in slums in India.

Note from the Publicist: We invite you to join the Female Nomad and Friends virtual tour. The full schedule can be seen at You can learn much more about Rita Golden Gelman and her work on her website –

19 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 1:06 am

    Excellent review, especially the first paragraph, where you describe “living vicariously through other people’s word adventures.” I love how great art can be.

    • June 25, 2010 7:36 pm

      Nick — Yes, that’s a big part of the reason I love books and movies. They expand the boundaries of my world tremendously.

  2. June 25, 2010 1:50 am

    Wow, this sounds really awesome! What a cool book – it seems really eye-opening.

  3. June 25, 2010 12:09 pm

    This sounds great! You always find the best books.

  4. June 25, 2010 3:08 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful read! Like you, I love reading books featuring folks that travel — either fiction or non-fiction. It’s a vicarious way to feel like I, too, have gone on an adventure, and many of them are really hopeful and inspirational!

  5. June 25, 2010 3:20 pm

    I love the sound of this book – both books by this author are going on my wishlist immediately. Oh, and when I was in Botswana earlier this year I passed on the Mopane worms too, though they said they were excellent and they could certainly find some for me if I wanted to try them πŸ˜‰

    • June 25, 2010 7:38 pm

      Amy — I love the fact that you’ve been to Botswana — it sounds like a place I’d love. I’m not sure whether I’d be brave enough to try the Mopane worms. There are limits to expanding ones horizons. πŸ˜‰

      • June 25, 2010 7:40 pm

        Yep, I figured there were definitely limits, and they were on the other side of mine. I was lucky enough to get over there on a work trip. I want to go back though!

  6. June 25, 2010 5:33 pm

    Travel, recipes – sign me up! Although, as much as I love to travel, I don’t think I can be a nomad. I love returning to what’s familiar.

    • June 25, 2010 7:40 pm

      Stephanie — I think I’m the same way. I’d love to be a world traveler, but I like the idea of having a comfortable, familiar home base. Of course, who can afford both world travel AND a mortgage? *LOL!* It’s quite a dilemma.

  7. June 25, 2010 8:51 pm

    Sounds like a good read.
    And now I find myself wanting to sleep with sea lions. :o)

    Peace and Laughter!

  8. July 10, 2010 6:21 am

    OMG. I MUST read this book. It sounds perfect for me.


  1. Shares Thoughts and Snippets from Female Nomad and Friends by Rita Golden Gelman « Promo 101 Promotional Services
  2. Stark Raving Bibliophile Shares Thoughts and Snippets from Female Nomad and Friends by Rita Golden Gelman « Promo 101 Promotional Services
  3. Female Nomad and Friends by Rita Golden Gelman – Virtual Tour « Promo 101 Promotional Services

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: