Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves is my Girlfriend

WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: So those of you who have read my ABOUT section  know that I have a huge crush on travelling. I’m not talking about going-to-London-Paris-and-Rome-and-visiting-museums-travelling or laying-out-on-a-beach-in-Mexico-and-then-at-night-getting-nuts-drunk-and-participating-in-wet-t-shirt-contests-with-other-wasted-face-coeds-with-no-self-esteem-travelling. I’m talking about the kind of travelling that takes you strange and exotic locales where it’s easier to find rabies-ridden monkeys and malaria-carrying mosquitoes than it is to find McDonalds and Starbucks. This type of travel is not for everyone, it’s not for families toting small children, it’s not for control freaks, it’s not for people who consider it requisite that every bathroom stall have toilet paper on the roll. This kind of travel is for us few, us mighty who boast equal parts everyone-thinks-you-are-so-cool-and-are-so-jels-of-your-Facebook-albums-courage and “Do you have a chemical imbalance?” cray-cray . We’re a far flung tribe, but we are without question a tribe. And whenever you find a member of your tribe, you want to throw on a carved wooden mask and dance around the campfire, whooping so loud all the jaguars and pythons deep in the surrounding jungle can hear your “I found a new friend,  I found a new friend, I FOUND A NEW FRIEND!” joy.

Elisabeth Eaves is a member of my World Traveller Tribe, I am a member of hers, and I am so happy to be reviewing her memoir WANDERLUST on the blog today.

Over the last two decades of her life, Elisabeth Eaves has au paired in Spain, studied abroad in Egypt (with a detour into Yemen), backpacked across Australia, New Zealand, and Papau New Guinea, jumped over to Peru for a bit, and then returned to Europe to jet around Paris for a spell. WANDERLUST details her travels across these five continents. I’m supes jealous of Eaves, I’ve only visited four continents, which most people would consider impressive, but when you become a world traveller, you’re all about the more more more, you want to visit all seven continents and then you want there to be another secret, invisible continent that you can visit if you get the right longitude and latitude, like the secret invisible power up box in Super Mario Brothers.

The thing about a travel memoir is you need a slam-bam-balls-to-the-wall-bangarang theme to tie all your travels together, otherwise it’s just like “Blah blah blah local color in Europe” and “Blibbity blib, this is a bizarre custom the natives practice in Southeast Asia.” Eaves has as sexy and fascinating and dangerous a theme as any. She dates her way across all five continents, running to and from former, current, and future lovers all across the globe. What made this book for me was how both microscopic and global this story was. This book is advertised as a tale of globetrotting and romance, but for me the heart of this story is a woman who can run thousands of miles in any and every direction, but try as she might, cannot escape the confines of her own skin, which, as the book details, can be complicated and confusing skin to inhabit.

The travel anecdotes are great fun, the prose is Joan Didion-sharp, and Eaves is an Elizabeth Gilbertian travel heroine with a healthy heaping of Ahab-chasing-the-Dick and “Mistah Kurtz, he dead” Heart of Darkness-dysfunction to give what could be an “Around the World in Fifteen Years” free-spirited romp  some “Ouch, that really hurts!” bite.

If your summer has been just this side of boring and you want to slip inside the shoes of someone who laughs in the face of boring, WANDERLUST is totes your jam.


Fun Thing #1- I did a travel friends interview with Eaves which will be posted on the blog Thursday. Fun travel tips and shenanigans from Eaves AND me.

Fun Thing #2- I will be doing my first-ever GIVEAWAY on the blog courtesy of TLC Book Tours, who sent me WANDERLUST and invited me to be a part of the books interwebs tour. Here’s how to enter. In the comments section, tell me your favorite personal travel story. It can be something that happened to you halfway around the world or two towns over. You went somewhere, something crazy happened to you, you tell me in about a hundred and fifty words or less and I pick my favorite story and send you a free copy of WANDERLUST. Make sure to put your e-mail in the form when you post your comment so I can contact your butt if you’re the winner, winner chicken dinner. We’ll have the giveaway open til Sunday July 17th at midnight, PST.

WHAT KIND OF GIRLFRIEND IS SHE: Um, one who’s like never home? You’re always calling to see what she wants to do for dinner and she’s like “Oh, didn’t I tell you I was going to be in Borneo for three months?” Um, no WANDERLUST, actually you didn’t, but that’s cool, I’ll just go get a salad or whatever with my mom. Then she comes back three months later and you have Isle-of-Lesbos-Sexy-Times and all is well and good until she informs you that she slept her way up and down Indonesia and you’re like, “You mean cheating like… cheating cheating?” But then she tells you all these stories about adventures in Portugal and Uganda and you forget to be mad til the next morning when you wake up, and you look around the house for her so you can yell at her, but by then, she’s on a non-stop flight headed for Nepal.

Her golden blonde hair is always just-spent-the-day-sleeping-on-a-deserted-beach-tousled -sexy. She kills when “Geography” is a topic on the Jeopardy re-runs you guys watch the four days out of the year she’s home. Her backpack is always packed.


I get a call from WANDERLUST. She’s in Iceland and she’s invited me along!

I pack my sweater and my scarf. Yay, I’m going to Iceland!

She calls me back and says actually she’s going to Belize.

I pack my polo shirt and my high-waisted shorts, yay, I’m going to Belize!

She calls me back and says actually she’s having sex with lots of foreign dudes and may or may not have that drug resistant strain of gonorrhea they just found in Japan and we should probs break things off.

I am angry and push my suitcase off of the bed.

14 Comments on “Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves is my Girlfriend”

  1. Alex says:

    Now this sounds right up my alley! As the title on an obscure book once said “There’s no toilet paper in the road less traveled”. And talking about travel memoires, have you read anything by William Dalrymple (“From the Holy Mountain” is my favorite)?

    My ultimate travel recommendations: The Trans-Siberian (but done East-West to avoid all other backpackers).

  2. Claire says:

    “I’m talking about the kind of travelling that takes you strange and exotic locales where it’s easier to find rabies-ridden monkeys and malaria-carrying mosquitoes than it is to find McDonalds and Starbucks.”

    You go, girl. I am SO about that kind of travelling. All-inclusive resorts and pre-made destinations are fucking stupid. I want to read this book. Especially because I’m trying to plan a big trip to India and could use the motivation from someone who’s all been-there-done-that.

    One of the funniest little moments I can recall from travelling would have to be the time my host mother in Panama called me a gringo (to my face) because I had never seen a Panamanian tortilla before. I ordered them at a restaurant planning to dip them in salsa and was very confused when the waiter brought back what looked (to me) like a big hash brown. And mama was like, “Oh, that’s right. All you’ve ever seen is those crappy Mexican tortillas that come in bags.” And I was like, “Yeah, which is sad, because this Panamanian version is fucking delicious.”

    Your blog rocks.

  3. I love that you found another member of your tribe! Sounds like this was the PERFECT book for you.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  4. Wow, that last photo is scary! I would not want to see that face if I was in trouble:) I think you’re right about travel books — there has to be a hook to really make them stand out. One I liked a lot was The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman.

  5. Anika says:

    Great review!! And the pictures put me in grave danger of spitting coffee out all over my computer with laughter.

    One of my favorite travel stories occurred when I wasn’t roughing it (which I love), but rather traveling around Asia with an Australian tour of ‘Cats’ (you know, like you do). Our first location was Tainan, Taiwan, and I was wandering around one day when I stumbled upon a little table set up in an alley selling gorgeous jade jewelry. I found myself drawn to a green jade circle pendant with some intricate carving on it and a distinct line down the center. The woman whose stand it was was so lovely, but didn’t speak a lot of English (and my Chinese was non-existent), so with a few words and some miming she managed to explain that this was a wedding piece; when you get married you (or a jeweler, it is stone, after all) break it in half and each spouse wears half. She pointed out that on one side was a dragon, which she explained represented the man. And on the other side was a strange bird, which she couldn’t find the word for. She thought for a while, then called over her friend from a nearby food stall. They discussed animatedly, but couldn’t think of the word either. Then the woman from the food stall took out her phone and called someone, and in a few minutes a teenage girl came around the corner (her daughter, who worked nearby). The three of them talked, then finally the daughter turned to me and said straightforwardly “The man is the dragon. The woman is the chicken.”
    I thanked them for all their gracious work explaining, and bought that (and a few other) necklaces. But I inwardly thought that was rather unfair of Taiwanese culture – man gets to be a strong, powerful, fire-proof mythical creature, and woman gets to lay eggs, cluck, and be delicious roasted? When I got back to the theater and explained this to my show people, including our bilingual local presenter, she laughed and explained that woman wasn’t the chicken – woman was the phoenix. And although that makes much more sense and is a beautiful image, I still like to think of that necklace as my chicken necklace.

  6. Ti says:

    No need to enter me in the contest. I have way too much to read and I am one of those uptight, child toting, travelers who needs TP in every stall.

    But a funny travel story? Just to entertain?? Sure!!! I once got high on a flight from Chicago to LA by taking Benadryl and Dramamine (together!) because A) I was motion sick from the turbulence, and B) I had a sinus infection and C) I was scared to death to fly. What made it funny was I got other people high because they too, were scared and so I offered them my drugs. This included a very tall UCLA basketball player with his knees crammed up to his chin in coach. It was fun from there on out. We ooohed and ahhhed over all the drops and bumps.

  7. Kit, you are so bad for my finances — every book you review I want to buy! I have had lots of great travel experiences but my most interesting stories are definitely the ones in which everything went horribly wrong. My best story is probably a toss up between: (1) being forbidden to leave Cuba on my regularly scheduled flight because the “quota of people who could leave the country on that day had already been filled” and then, finally being allowed to leave 3 days later on an old Russian Aeroflot plane with smoke coming out of the floor; and (2) arriving in Bangkok on a supposedly self-empowring solo trip only to be stuck in my hotel for a week because a military coup erupted the next day.

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