“Here’s what I love about travel: Strangers get a chance to amaze you.”
These words by Tanya Shaffer open the first story, “Looking for Abdelati,” in A Woman’s Passion for Travel: More True Stories from a Woman’s World (Travelers’ Tales). The anthology was published in 1999 by Travelers’ Tales, Inc., but it’s a timeless collection of travel essays, and I frequently pick it up for inspiration, wisdom and companionship.
A compilation of tales by a spectrum of women ranging from well-seasoned travel writers (including Frances Mayes and Jennifer Leo) to women who could easily be your sisters, this collection of stories keeps me laughing, smiling and dreaming every time I read it.That’s probably why I love it so much … these ladies have traipsed around the world, and we’re all invited to join them as they make new friends, explore new places and discover themselves.
In “The Lushes,” Pier Roberts and her friends spend their days reading poetry and drinking wine in central Umbria. An unexpected encounter with—and subsequent death of—a viper requires all the women to think about the distances we’ve all traveled on the journeys of our lives. I, too, can taste the bite of the red wine as the words of Mary Oliver are read aloud to comfort the group.
I walk with Deborah Johansen and her friend Greta around Tamarack Lake on a quiet, December night in “Winter Walk.” It’s an evening when every detail—from the thick air which smells of “rich, dark, loamy mulch” to the dying light of day (“the ochre deepens to umber, the tawny to chestnut, the pale blue-gray to slate”)—is vivid and real.
Every time I journey with Celia Wakefield and her partner Bill in “The Stowaway,” their Volkswagon breaks down in the middle of Mexico and a small band of children storm the car, interested in helping the stranded couple in exchange for securing a pencil for themselves.
As for Shaffer and her discovery that she’s stumbled across the wrong family while searching for an old friend is familiar: I, too, am constantly amazed by the generosity of strangers when traveling in foreign lands.
These women discover love, question their choices, come to appreciate the unknown and find themselves. Edited by Marybeth Bond and Pamela Michael, the tales in A Woman’s Passion for Travel: More True Stories from a Woman’s World (Travelers’ Tales) are by women who, when scattered across the globe, have comprehensively collected stories that will continue to make laugh, smile and dream about packing my bags for many years to come.