Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas is coming

Instead of posting a list of what I’m grateful for, I’m posting what we want for Christmas.

Awful right?

But it’s coming up on Christmas and I’ve learned most people don’t know how to shop for a couple of nomads.

So, here’s a Christmas list for two people who live out of a suitcase.


What is most important for a travel nomad is for items to be light and to dry quickly. Drying quickly is important because only the US uses driers. Jeans are bad. White is a bad idea; it gets dirty too easily.  Don’t get me started on traveling with garments…

You’d think that buying clothes would be a breeze, but the truth is shopping is draining without a girlfriend to do it with. So I always appreciate clothes. Even though I have enough clothes already, if you get tired of seeing me in the same shirts in all my pictures, think of how excited Jacob gets when he sees me in something new.

This site came recommended

For both of us,

A fleece vest might be nice. Those would warm up any outfit and not take up a lot of space.

For Jacob

He’d like a new pair of khakis that will dry quickly and a pair of light shorts that are at least to the knee.

For me,

Snug-fitting and colorful is usually good.

Athletic shorts


This is always a good category because I like to look nice for Jacob.

I’m looking for a good shiny hair product. If you find one you like, I’m open to try it.

Actually, I like to try any beauty product that someone is truly converted to.


This is always a safe category.

Travel sized laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc.


Vitamins, probiotics, etc


Jacob would like a portable squat flex (Al Hiller), and a portable green screen for videos. And 4 to 6 of the bands:


Any book on the Kindle that you think we would like


Little knick knacks, or items to decorate, or plants. We have two suitcases people. That is it.

To be continued…


Here was our Thanksgiving. Jacob dressed the chicken with butter, garlic, and onions, we had mashed potatoes, the first time I’ve ever made those—wow that was like a home comfort food, brussels sprouts with mushroom, parsley, and lemon juice, and Sprite with juice mixed. Sweet and simple and very tasty. Then we ate gelato and strolled around the Colosseum. Then we walked home and saw Scott Nibley standing across the street. Surprise! He’s going to be staying with us for 10 days. Scott is the one we visited in Jerusalem.





Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is it true love?

Within one day of being in Italy Jacob announced that he could spend the rest of his life here.

While I don’t doubt that he loves it, I wonder if it could partially be the change of scene from Ghana, human development: low to…



From raw poverty

to polished sophistication 


From aggressive sales pitches to anonymity

From piles of trash and crowds of people selling their wares

to cobblestone streets and crowds of tourists at the Trevi Fountain


From outdoor fruits and vegetable stalls and maggots in my couscous

to refrigeration and a kitchen and Carrefour




From all sorts of species of animals

to nothing but well-groomed pets on leashes (except for the odd pigeon or two)


From massive traffic jams to high speed metro


From sweaty tropical heat to borderline cold and rainy, but just right if you bundle up weather.


From a dangerous and precariously attached ceiling fan with only one setting and cold showers to a heater, warm blankets, and hot showers


From getting my nails done in a parking lot


to listening to Nessun Dorma in front of the Pantheon



From a hippie bedroom with dirty floors and styrofoam-stuffed pillows to a classy soft-bedded spacious apartment

 P1100413 P1100412


From casual security and open doors to quadruple locks in a pickpocket-heavy city…



From a view of our laundry fluttering in the breeze after opening our bedroom door to a view of ancient Roman ruins…



The distance from Ghana to Rome feels like more than only an 8 hour flight. Remembering Ghana puts a smile on our faces though…

So is Jacob really enamored with Italy or is it just that it feels more like home? Does it even matter? As for me, I’m loving cooking again, eating green olives and feta cheese to my heart’s content, NOT eating pizza and gelato to my heart’s content because then I would put on 10 pounds, but allowing myself the odd bite or two, and breathing in beauty.

I can’t believe I’d forgotten how beautiful Europe is. Rome is wonderful.






Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Goodbye Ghana

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ

Romans 1:16

Ghanaians live this scripture and it’s inspiring. And joyful.

We felt like these people truly knew God.







We took some missionaries out to dinner.

This is the Portuguese Church inside the slave castle. Isn’t it sickening to know that all around them was human suffering embodied waiting to be sold into slavery while the pious white people went to church?
P1100175 P1100195 

Kakum National Forest


Nearly every single white LDS person we’ve met invited us to dinner. We were grateful to get fed American-style meals and see what it’s like to be a senior missionary in the church. Of the four different couples, they had 6, 8, 8, and 9 kids respectively. Wow!




As our time comes to a close in West Africa, I think Jacob summed it up just about right:

“The draw of Africa, for me, isn’t to see any particular sight. It’s to see people living simple lives of faith.”

I couldn’t pity anyone in Ghana. People lived with too much joy. In some ways Ghana has got it together more than any developed country.

It’s not an easy country to visit, but it’s bittersweet to leave.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Indian core exercises – amazing video.


Never seen anything like this before… amazing.

Do 3 sets of this routine twice per week. j/k

One problem with traveling

As an addendum to my last post, I see one major problem with my passion:

It doesn’t provide a contribution to the world really.

Now if my hobby were crocheting I’d at least be creating something new, or if it were keeping an orderly house I’d be contributing to my family and civilization. Or even if my passion were playing basketball, like it is Jacob’s, it would be something to do on the side. But traveling right now is full time.

When I was a piano teacher, I had only 19 students. But I know that for 19 people, I was their Piano Teacher, and I’ll play an important role in their memories, as well as hopefully provided a useful skill, for the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, I meet new people daily here, but most of them are just shallow acquaintances.

As far as I can see it, I’m providing just three small services by traveling:

One, we’re boosting the local economy by visiting.

Two, we’re serving a bit as ambassadors for America, and a little bit, for Mormons, in that we’re helping build good relations with natives in different countries. Kinda like missionaries.

Three, maybe we can share a global perspective with others in some way.

However, if we’re going to do this long term I’ll have to have more motivation than that.

Either we will stay long enough in each place to (one or more of the following)

-Learn a language

-Educate our children

-Hold a calling at church

-Monetize and capitalize and provide a service from traveling

-Build lasting friendships

Or my passion may have to be relegated to the background when Jacob and I have kids, allowed to happen in spurts. Because just to drift for our entire lives, while I would enjoy that, I don’t know that we would have a sort of permanent impact in the world. Is it possible to really make a difference….as a nomad?

I’m afraid of being a passive observer of life all over the world, rather than an active participant in one small corner.


PS Thanks to Jefferson and Erica, we are officially obsessed with playing Scramble on the iPad. We play tons of matches daily. And while I won at first, Jacob has gradually began dominating the game and it’s making him very pleased with himself.

PPS Today Jacob sat down at the piano and sightread some hymns. What the heck?

I learn something new about him every day.

Today, it was that he can learn how to play the piano just by looking sideways at the music. Literally. He looks at it sideways, and he can see if he should move his hand right or left on the keyboard.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

26 Reasons Why I Travel

I realize that not everyone would do what Jacob and I are doing. Traveling is certainly not everyone’s dream.

But it is mine.

It is such an all-consuming passion of mine, in fact, that I stare dreamily at maps of the globe for hours on end. Nothing is on the maps but the countries and sometimes their capital cities. I kid you not.

In college what kept me up at night was that I would die before I saw all the places I wanted to see.

I read about the food in Ethiopia, the languages spoken in Lithuania, the safety situation in Niger, and my mind’s wheels are always spinning, thinking of the best way to get from point A to point B.

Why am I travel-obsessed?

When I first fell in love with travel, it began as an escape. I was trying to run away from myself, but travel can’t always be an escape, because you have to return and what you were running away from will await you.

Now, for me…

1. Travel is the never-ending journey to discovering myself. It provides an ever-changing, expounding vista in which to base my frame of reference to the world.

2. The more I travel, the more I am confident I am living an authentic life. By authentic life, I mean living life the way that I, personally, was meant to live it. This is because I am aware of the many different ways there are to live and I am able to actively choose my way.

3. Travel is like being able to be  a child again.

P1090750 Every morning you wake up and make new discoveries. You learn how to do things you’ve never done before. The language is a struggle. The cuisine is an adventure. And through it all, there are kind strangers helping you. This vulnerability helps for easy friend-making.

4. Traveling is freedom. I am constrained to no place and no possession. I am open to the wind. I could be speaking a different language, sleeping in a different bed on the opposite side of the world tomorrow at my own whim.

5. To travel is to be reborn. When you travel, you have no history, and in a way, no future. You are forced to live in the present. With no schedule and no concept of time, now becomes the most important time of all.

6. To travel is to learn. I love to read and I love school, but travel, for me, is so much more than either of those. It is to no longer view life through the perspective of another, but to experience the world for yourself. It is the ultimate in an education.

7. To travel is to make history come alive.

8. To travel is to have a global perspective, and not to view life in a certain way only because you were raised in a certain town, in a certain country, in a certain religion, in a certain family, in a certain lifestyle.

9. To travel is to have countless choices be made available to you daily.

10. To travel is to realize the meaninglessness of personal possessions when you live from a suitcase.

11. To travel is an education in minimalism.

12. To travel is to be in constant companionship with your loved one. It is learning how to get along when you’re never apart, when there isn’t so much as a wall between you. It is developing a partnership in all things.


P1090541 13. To travel is to connect oneself to the rest of humanity as you live like others live, where they live.


14. To travel is to be entertained. When you are bored of traveling, then you are bored of the world. To travel is to make even the daily grind, like grocery shopping, an exciting pastime.

15. To travel is to develop compassion and gratitude when you see people from all walks of life.P1090525

16. To travel is to laugh at the unexpected, like when you order banku with tilapia and this is what is served.


17. To travel is a lesson in learning to become more open. Open to serendipity, open to surroundings, open to change, open to letting others into your life.

18. To travel is to grow. When life is a permanent journey and the only constant is change, stagnation is not possible. Time is not wasted. Every day has meaning.

19. To travel is to reinforce your faith in the essential goodness of human nature all over the world.

20. To travel is to learn to separate the culture of my religion from the doctrine as I see how it is practiced in other countries.


21. To travel is to gain confidence. This is inevitable when you realize that you could land at any spot in the world on your feet, ready to navigate, to find a place to stay, to get money, to make friends.

22. To travel is to learn patience, to realize that efficiency is not the ultimate goal of life. That there is time enough to live.

23. To travel is to be irresponsible at times, to throw caution to the wind, to accept there is danger even in being at home, so why not live?

24. To travel is to change your personal history. It’s to see your past through different lenses as you realize the benefits and limitations of the culture you were born in.

25. To travel is to see beauty in unexpected places.


26. To travel is to learn to love and to tolerate the wonderful differences of others.

I can’t imagine ever tiring of travel. Traveling is breathing.

It is my passion.

Now here’s where I hope to get feedback…from anyone and everyone reading this…

If you had unlimited money and unlimited time, as did your family, what would you do? Where would you live? How would you spend your time? What would a typical day be like? What would your standard of living be? What would be different than the way life is right now?

Many of you would not become nomads like Jacob and I. So what would you do? What is your passion?

Being able to describe your dream may be the first step to making it a reality.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Have you ever wondered…

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stay in a hippie village overlooking the sea in a community of Rastafarians?

You have?

Well, I’ll tell you.

It’s called Rising Phoenix Magic Beach Resort and it’s run by a man who renamed himself Phoenix. A short, balding man with knowing blue eyes and a bit of a lisp, who cocks his head when he speaks and who speaks irrhythmically.


When you wake up in the morning, it’s to the sound of waves. Tie-dyed curtains flutter in the breeze.


You feel sticky, because it’s hot. There’s a faint drumming. Always drumming. Ghanaians love music. It’s always happy-sounding music.


You open the door to a view of the Gulf of Guinea, with fishing boats as far as the eye can see. You walk past the signs talking about not littering



and peace and love.P1090686 


You order breakfast from the vegetarian restaurant.


Maybe you, like Jacob, prefer plantains (sweet fried bananas) with nuts, called keleweli, served with fresh pineapple juice mixed with ginger (heavy on the ginger). Or maybe, like me, you’ll think the drink tastes like soap.

When breakfast arrives, you go out and sit in a private booth to look out at the sea. It may seem private, but it’s not really, because soon people will come up to talk to you. Most of them will be Rasta.

This means they will have dreadlocks and will be smoking pot. They’ll also probably be dressed in red, green, and black and wear knit caps. They’ll talk about “One Love” and they won’t drink alcohol or eat meat, but they will swear marijuana is good for your health. They’ll sit around all day and play on the drum and smoke. It doesn’t smell bad, actually.

Some evenings, the Rastas gather to sell their wares. Maybe someone will approach you like someone approached me, telling you that not everyone can be a Rasta, you have to be called.

“And you have been called,” he says. “Get dreadlocks, read our holy book, and become one of us.”


I notice a white girl with dreadlocks at that point and I don’t think they look very good.

I ask one of them, “Could I become Rasta without having to smoke marijuana?”

His eyes grow big.

“Why do you have to put down marijuana? Would you tell me not to eat an orange? This is natural. Just try it, once. Then you will be able to see Jah (God). These days, governments are trying to tell people it’s bad for the health. It’s not true. It will heal your womb. It will heal your mind. It will heal everything. It will help you to see Jah.”

Late at night, there will be reggae parties. People will gather round, drinking Guiness and doing the reggae dance. The bass will thud in your head until 4 am when the party finally stops. You’ll go to sleep to the sound of the fan above your head, and the waves from the Gulf of Guinea.

And that’s what it’s like to live in a hippie village overlooking the sea in a community of Rastafarians.

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