This week we’re talking with Kris Arndt, a self-proclaimed writer/traveler/teacher/opera singer/artist/sailor/wine advisor/administrator/amateur photographer/mental health worker/absurdist and rider of motor bikes.
She runs The Absurd Traveler’s Guide, and took some time to share her experiences with animal spotting, interesting English lessons and more.
I didn’t grow up in a conventional way but I was trying to make my way in the world conventionally. Worked hard, tried to have a career, being sensible.
At one point I realised that the harder I worked and the more educated I was the less I had. Then I read Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus” which gave me the courage to just go and do what I wanted and hang being sensible. So I had £1000 and a plane ticket to Brazil with no idea of returning and that’s it. No safety net, no savings, just the road, uncertainty and freedom.
GGG: You started traveling in August of last year. What’s one thing you wish you knew now that you didn’t know when you started?
Whatever happens, you’ll cope. Before you chuck yourself off a precipice, as it were, all kinds of horrific scenarios play out in your mind. However, in reality whatever happens you deal with it and it is never as bad as you imagine it might be. Also, how successful you are at coping depends on how well you can relate to other people.
GGG: You’ve been living and traveling in regions with a lot of exotic wildlife! Do you have a memorable creature moment you’d like to share?
Guyana is by far the most biologically diverse and unspoilt country I’ve been to so far. I stayed there on one of the largest and most remote cattle ranches in the world for nearly three months. Every Sunday I would go with the ranch manager out into the bush looking for animals and setting camera traps. Stalking through the gallery forests and wading through streams up to my waist.
Looking for tapir, anaconda, caiman, turtles, agouti, labba, ocelots, puma, jaguar etc. It was truly magical. Then we would retrieve the cameras or while reading animal tracks we’d realise that we had quite recently crossed paths with a wild animal, and in some cases, with a deadly predator. There was also that time we saw a giant anteater in the savannah at sunrise. Really it’s an incredible place.
GGG: Exciting! So, if you had to have dinner with one traveler (or travel writer) from any time period, who would it be and why?
Jack Kerouac. I love his writing. The whole Beat Generation really influences my own work and my life philosophy. I think he was courageous, free and incredibly alive. I’d love to listen to some jazz, hitch a ride, talk intensely for 24 hours straight while swigging whiskey and loving life.
GGG: Sounds like a good plan. You’ve written about your experiences teaching English abroad. What was the weirdest thing you’ve had to translate?
In Brazil (the only place I taught English, and that was a half-hearted attempt), I had a couple of students who were gay military doctors. I made good friends with them and one evening I somehow found myself translating some text on a gay porn website.
GGG: Ha! Definitely not your average translation job. Where are you headed next?
Well, after a random meeting with a Rastafarian in Bequia (St.Vincent and the Grenadines) I received an offer to sail across the Atlantic. That doesn’t happen every day so I’m waiting in Saint Lucia until the end of May when about 7 of us sail to Brighton (UK). It will take a couple of weeks. Then back to the Caribbean with a possible detour via Senegal.
GGG: What a unique opportunity! We’ll finish off with a few fill-in-the-blanks, just for fun.
My favorite foreign breakfast is________________________:
The weirdest interaction I’ve had on an airplane is___________________________:
Well, it’s a long story but it began with a half-drunk nervous flyer swearing under his breath at me and ended with a nun.
Three places I’m looking forward to visiting in 2012 are_____________________________________:
Senegal, Gambia, somewhere in the Caribbean possibly Columbia… These are my vague plans but they could change at the drop of a hat.