The cover art of your book is from one of the sixteen travel essays included in the collection called “My Lucky Safari.” When and where was this photo taken and, uh, what’s going on here?
September 2009 in the desolate Selous region of Tanzania. I had absolutely no idea I was flying off to the second-most remote place on Earth next to Siberia so, hence, the dress. And, it was all because of this guy. Early one morning I asked Kumbi if I could give his spear a toss and then suddenly our entire party was chucking spikes into the riverbed. You have to aim high, I learned.
So, the title of your book, what does that mean exactly?
The line’s from the same African essay where I reflect, “Maybe life is like a walking safari. If you venture out expecting lions and leopards all the time, you’ll almost always never find them. Maybe the best things are the ones you never knew you wanted to see. The ones that, scary as they may seem, were just the things you needed to unleash reality.”
So, what you’re saying is that, these essays are not all tied-up-with-a-bow happy-endings?
Not even close. But I think that’s why readers will relate. The surprise factor in many of my adventures has mostly to do with unexpected encounters. For me, the people I meet along the way are truly the best mementos. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. Without the “inexplicable human connections” I have made over the twenty-something years these essays span, none of my tales would be remotely as entertaining or half as interesting.
What’s the craziest story readers can expect?
Well, the Tanzanian piece is pretty crazy, especially because of the sheer danger and isolated insanity thing. But, drunkenly accepting an invitation to a total stranger’s wedding reception in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was also pretty crazy. (Luckily, the Irish are incredibly forgiving.)
So, there’s drinking?
Some of my funniest moments come from alcohol-induced blunders. Try stumbling through the streets of Florence at 3 a.m. disgustingly wasted and wearing 5” stilettos. Not a pretty picture, but makes for a hellish good time most girls can appreciate.
Who should read this book?
It’s for anyone who likes a good laugh, an unforgettable true story, a touching exchange, or a cultural awakening seen through curious eyes. And, if I can inspire others to travel, that would be incredibly rewarding for me.
Some of the essays were even published in actual books, right?
I have been so fortunate in having three of the included works featured in the esteemed Travelers’ Tales anthologies over the past few years (“Shopping for Dirndls,” “Cautionary Advice for Closet Cougars: Do Not Shop Drunk with Twentysomething Girls” and “The Black Bitch.”) I’m extremely proud to wrangle up all my favorite pieces together into one handy eBook. I am beholden to Thought Catalog for asking me to publish my creative nonfiction essays especially for its discerning readers. Thank you.