Interview With My Travel Buddy Amanda

Since I do so much traveling with my friend Amanda, and she will be with me for two different parts of my round the world trip, I thought I’d let everyone get to know her a little better. Amanda and I met in the summer of 2000 when we were roommates on our study abroad trip to Salamanca, and she’s one of my closest friends. We’ve traveled to Antarctica and Iguazu Falls together. She was even in my wedding in June.

1- What experience first got you hooked on traveling?

Amanda and I in front of Cape Horn

Growing up, I flew non-rev all the time because my mom is a flight attendant for Delta. The rush of not knowing where I might end up made me want to travel more. I might go to the airport thinking of flying to Madrid, but the flights were full so I’d check other destinations and might end up in Paris instead.

2- How many languages do you speak? I have studied French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Swahili, and German. Swahili is the only one I’m not at least conversational in.

3- Approximately how many countries have you been to? Any favorites?

Somewhere around 100 but it’s debatable as to what counts as a country. Some of my favorites are Greece, Argentina, Turkey, Kashmir, India, and Newfoundland, Canada.

4- You currently live in Alaska but someone is renting your house for the next 2 years. Please tell us about the dream home you’re constructing?

I have 10 acres located on a moraine about and hour and a half to two hours from Anchorage. I am constructing a 20 diameter, 18 foot, 22 pole, lakota-style teepee. I currently have 13 poles cut, stripped and drying. My original plan was to use animal skins but lazy hunting has resulted in a canvas downgrade. I have an amazing circle of friends who have been helping me build the teepee, and I could not do it without them.

5- What activities are you involved with in your free time in Alaska?

I bee keep, which I have loosely dubbed bee church because of the wonderful congregation of people, but if you were to attend you would see much more flannel than Sunday dress. I hunt and took my first moose this year after 16 morning and evening hunts, three overnights and one four-wheel trip overnight with no tent or sleeping bag. In order to be supportive of my Alaska lifestyle, my dad keeps me well supplied with guns, and my newest addition was a fancy 7mm rifle.

I also enjoy kickball on Monday nights, mushroom foraging, and I’m trying to make the perfect concoction of high bush cranberry liquor. I’m also on a moose-salvage team, which means if a moose is hit by a car, the police department calls me or one of the other six members of my team, and if we can get there within an hour with a trailer we can have the meat.

Seasonally I’m involved in a geo-caching beer and wine hike. Several of us will hide beer and wine in several spots throughout the river and mountains and enter the coordinates. The next day we share the coordinates with our friends, and as a group, we traipse through the woods with dogs and pretzel necklaces to find the beer and wine. Living in Alaska has introduced me to such wonderful friends, and I so enjoy the community life I have become a part of.

6- What was your most horrible travel experience?

Mostly just scams commonly encountered in SE Asia. For example a bunch of us once paid extra to get on a 6am bus instead of an 8am bus, only to find out later that there was no 6am bus. As a traveler, you often have to rely on the kindness of strangers, and sometimes it works out wonderfully but sometimes you end up getting ripped off. I also did not enjoy four days of not bathing while on the Trans-Siberian, after which I was told at my place of lodging that they would not be heating up water for a shower for additional two days.

Amanda on Dal Lake in Sringar, Kashmir, India

7- What have you learned from traveling?

It’s sort of a bittersweet thing, but traveling has shown me just how well people in need and disabled people in the States are cared for. It’s so sad to see people without limbs in some poorer countries, knowing their government isn’t or can’t do anything to help them, but it makes me proud and grateful for what we have at home.

8- Other than our current trip through Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, and the trip we have planned in January to Tahiti, Bora Bora and Easter Island, what other adventures do you have in the works for the next year?

I’m hoping to do a farm stay in New Zealand. I would also really like to do a live aboard dive trip in the Galapagos. No firm plans yet though.

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know my world traveler friend a little better. More posts about my round the world trip coming next!