In my earbuds this week...Far From Home
Growing up with a physicist father who had a "Tuva or Bust" bumper sticker (a nod to Richard Feynman) on his Volvo, I have always loved stories about going to the planet's furthest reaches. When I was 21 and studying in Germany, I got a UNESCO research stipend to go on a solo bicycle trip through then East-bloc Hungary with $100 and a list of friends of friends who might be able to put me up. I had to talk my way out of a potentially frightening but luckily comical encounter with a jeep full of Hungarian border guards in a forest, with nothing but a cheese sandwich and a Hungarian-German phrasebook. I spent Easter there on a farm going house to house with young men in traditional costumes who poured buckets on water on young single women in traditional costumes and were then thanked with a glass of palinka, homemade apricot brandy, at every house (me along with them – in retrospect, that was the day I lost my fear of Hungarian pronunciation.) On another fellowship three years after the Berlin Wall fell, I worked in a radio station in East Berlin, formerly the East German state station RBI, traveling an hour each way on the train every day through a wasteland of graffitti and bleakness to work with the five East German journalists who still had jobs (many simply lost their work when the GDR collapsed) in a factory building built for hundreds, going out with them on stories about the confusing and chaotic transition to capitalism. When the movie Genghis Blues came out, I picked up the torch for my dad's obsession with Tuva, thrilled to watch blind musician Paul Pena and his ragtag entourage's road trip to Tuva for a throat-singing contest. All of which brings me to what I'm listening to this week, Scott Gurian's adventure travel podcast, Far From Home.
Far From Home documents the recent 11,000 mile road trip he took with his brother from London to Mongolia in a tiny, unreliable car. He describes it as a podcast for armchair adventurists. It's also a podcast to get adventurists out of their armchairs and out into the world. Having just sent my only son off to college, the nest is empty and the road is open. I know I'm ready!