We’re Still Here: Kahal Shalom Synagogue in Rhodes, Greece

This story has a lot of numbers, a ghastly middle, a moment of love and bravery, and a quiet, sort of happy present and ever after. It’s also superbly self indulgent because essentially you’re looking at photos from my travels. It’s like being trapped in my slideshow about my vacation. I will try not to be boring.

Recently we traveled for vacation to the island of Rhodes, in Greece. (I took a lot of pictures if you’d like to see them on Instagram.) While we were there, we visited Kahal Shalom, the oldest synagogue in Greece, and last existing synagogue in Rhodes.

At one point, there were close to 4000 Jewish people in Rhodes. Now there are less than 50. The synagogue is open as a museum, but former residents and their descendants can use the synagogue for family occasions like weddings and bar or bat mitzvahs, and for services when they visit.

So to get there, you wander around inside a medieval walled section of Rhodes, over by the actual still standing medieval castle. Just as an indication how old stuff is.

Then you turn up Simmiou street:

A picture looking up Simmiou street in the old town of Rhodes

Note the stone cobbles on either side of the dark stone squares – they’ll be important in a minute.

When we reached the synagogue, the doors were the first thing I noticed.

Decadently stained wood with big stars of David on them – in a time where synagogues are obscuring their doors. Our current synagogue worships inside a church and our synagogue board members were asked if we wanted our logo – just the logo! – on a banner the church was commissioning.

The issue was so pressing that the board asked the entire congregation. To put a logo indicating that “Jewish people worship here” was a serious enough issue to ask the entire congregation for our opinions before making a decision. 

So I’m entirely here for big stars on the door.

Kahal Shalom was built in 1577.

Not a typo: 1577, or 5338 in the Hebrew calendar.

It is 440 YEARS OLD. I don’t know of many things in my world that are that old, except maybe some trees. 

So let’s take a tour, shall we? The building, inside and out, is constructed of pale white and light gold stone, like much of the surrounding houses and buildings. There is some carved Hebrew above the door:

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<p>And you can find Sara Ramsey <a href="http://ift.tt/2sYrlWx her website</a>, and, of course, <a href="http://ift.tt/2ugIqiE Instagram</a>, where there are many pictures of her travels.</p>

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<h3>This Episode’s Music</h3>
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<p>This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “Glory of Nelly.”</p>
<p>You can find their two album set with <em>Caravan Palace</em> and <em>Panic </em>on <a href="http://ift.tt/2uhqu7f <a href="http://ift.tt/2sYb2sS;. And you can learn more about Caravan Palace on <a href="http://ift.tt/2uhigfm;, and on their <a href="http://ift.tt/2sYEv5W;
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<p>This podcast is being brought to you by <em>Blue Hollow Falls</em> by Donna Kauffman.</p>
<p>From her free-spirited mother, Sunny Goodwin learned the value of peace, love, and Jerry Garcia. The inheritance from the father she never knew? That’s a little more complicated. USA Today bestselling author Donna Kauffman debuts a new series about a quirky small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Blue Hollow Falls.</p>
<p>Donna Kauffman is a master at creating a sense of place effortlessly ushering the reader into a wonderful town filled with warm characters including a hunky veteran hero and a precocious young girl. When horticulturalist Sunny Goodwin steps into Blue Hollow Falls to deal with her late father’s past, she finds an old greenhouse in desperate need of repair, and a half-sister she didn’t know she had. The longer she stays, Sunny is beginning to realize that Blue Hollow Falls is the perfect place to put down new roots.</p>
<p>Sunny never expected to find herself owning a centuries old silk mill in the shadow of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains . . . or becoming a half-sister to a ten-year-old named Bailey. Once the shock subsides, she plans to cash in and head back home. But the overgrown greenhouse she finds on the property calls out to the gardener in her, and she senses Bailey’s need for nurturing, too….</p>
<p>And someone else is making it hard for Sunny to leave: Sawyer Hartwell, an Iraq War hero who wants to make the old mill a creative hub for the artisans of Blue Hollow Falls . . . and wants Sunny to share his vision, and his life. But sexy as this ex-soldier may be, she’s not sure she’s ready to give love a chance.</p>
<p><em>Blue Hollow Falls</em> by Donna Kauffman is available now wherever books are sold and at Kensingtonbooks.com.</p>


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Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 253 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. With me today is author Sara Ramsey. A little bit ago, I interviewed her while she was in London. She has been traveling the globe while writing and living in different locations, so we talk about her stay in Indonesia and in London, where she was at at the time of this recording. She discusses her own experience and how she researched and planned for a long-term, location-independent, digital life. We talk about experiencing a place intimately and as authentically as possible, and we talk about how travel changes the traveler and also the place where you are. She shares advice and recommendations if you’ve been thinking that this is something you want to try, and of course we talk about what she’s been reading.

This podcast is being brought to you by Blue Hollow Falls by Donna Kauffman. From her free-spirited mother, Sunny Goodwin learned the value of peace, love, and Jerry Garcia. The inheritance from the father she never knew, that’s a little more complicated. USA Today bestselling author Donna Kauffman debuts a new series about a quirky small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Blue Hollow Falls. Donna Kauffman is a master at creating a sense of place effortlessly, ushering the reader into a wonderful town filled with warm characters, including a hunky veteran hero and a precocious young girl. When horticulturist Sunny Goodwin steps into Blue Hollow Falls to deal with her late father’s past, she finds an old greenhouse in desperate need of repair and a half-sister she didn’t know she had. The longer she stays, the more Sunny is beginning to realize that Blue Hollow Falls is the perfect place to put down new roots. Blue Hollow Falls by Donna Kauffman is available now wherever books are sold and at kensingtonbooks.com.

And we also have a sponsor for this episode’s podcast transcript. Each transcript is lovingly handcrafted by garlicknitter – thank you, garlicknitter! [You’re welcome! – gk] – and is available within a day or two after the podcast, so if you’re thinking, I would really like to read or quote some of this, you can go find the transcript; just about every episode has one. The transcript sponsor for this episode is a new, limited time only, 99-cent boxed set called Hero Undercover. Summer is cooler when you stay undercover. Twenty-five USA Today, New York Times, and award-winning, bestselling romance authors offer a sizzling compilation of undercover bad boys from swoon-worthy cowboys and alpha military men to deliciously decadent dominants. This smoking-hot collection features a wide array of stories, including dark fantasies, seductive sci-fi, and erotic BDSM, all with the sweet Happily Ever Afters you crave. Now, I had a look at the blurbs because, hey, twenty-five stories, that’s awesome! Unfortunately, there’re too many for me to read in the intro, and here are some bits of info that I think might tempt you: one story features detectives investigating wine fraud, another features a heroine who has taken a job she’s overqualified for, and still another has a hero assigned to undercover protection aboard a luxury cruise ship. You’ll get hundreds of pages for one unbeatable price. Turn up the AC, lie back, and escape into these brand-new, red-hot, riveting reads. You can find all twenty-five stories in this boxed set for 99 cents for a limited time – until July 3rd, actually – so head over to http://ift.tt/2ptqEFX to find out more, because of course I have links! Don’t wait! Like I said, Hero Undercover is available at 99 cents for a limited time, and thank you to the entirety of the boxed set and all the people involved for sponsoring the transcript!

Now, speaking of the transcript, one of my goals is to have the transcripts compiled for episodes that are deep in the archives – I think episodes number 2 through 72 – and I’ve started that project, ‘cause we’re so close to our Patreon goal! It is so cool! So thank you if you have had a look at our Patreon, and if you have not, I’ll give you the URL! Are you ready? http://ift.tt/2qmOdxb! For a monthly pledge of as little as a dollar, you can help me make sure that each episode has a transcript, and you can help me continue to make the show more and more gooder with each episode.

And as part of the Patreon campaign, I have a compliment this episode, which is super my favorite thing.

To Ann C.: So many smiles begin with you that every day you make the world a more welcoming, joyful place to be just by getting out of bed. So thank you.

And if you would like a personally crafted compliment, deeply heartfelt, from yours truly, go to http://ift.tt/2qmOdxb. And if you have had a look at our Patreon or subscribed or told a friend or left a review or you listen every week, thank you for being part of the podcast. You are awesome!

Now, couple other things I need to tell you about: first thing, we have an iTunes page, and it’s completely rad. iTunes.com/DBSA has the last few episodes plus books that we talked about in the iBooks store, and of course if you would like to learn more about all of the books that we talk about, I also link to them in the podcast entry at http://ift.tt/2sYrnOj;
And now, a special guest with our music information:

Freebird: Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater, and we will have information at the end of the episode about who this is.

Ms. Wendell: Nice job, dude! Do you want to be a podcaster now?

Freebird: No, not particularly.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] Okay, that’s fine. And that was the podcast debut of my older son, known on the Internet as Freebird.

And now, without any further delay or interruption or guest appearances, on with the podcast.


Sara Ramsey: My name’s Sara Ramsey. I’m a romance writer. I’ve written six Regency romances, and my seventh is called Taking the Earl, and it will be out later this month – this is April, by the way.

Ms. Wendell: Yep.

Ms. Ramsey: Before I started writing romance, I worked in the tech industry and actually worked for Google Books for a couple of years, so I have some experience on the publishing side as well.

Ms. Wendell: Well, that’s cool!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. I didn’t say that back in the day, because when I worked there I was keeping it confidential, but now I’m pretty free to say it, so.

Ms. Wendell: And right now, you are where?

Ms. Ramsey: Right now I’m in London, so I’ve been in London for five weeks, and this is my last week coming up, which is a little sad.

Ms. Wendell: And then after London, where are you off to?

Ms. Ramsey: After London I’m going to Venice for a week. There’s a writing conference there organized by Rachael Herron, who writes primarily women’s fiction, but she’s written some romance as well, and she also teaches creative writing, so this is her first stab at a sort of women’s fiction conference where it’s, I think, something like fifteen women gathered in Venice for a week, and she’s going to do creative writing sort of prompts and teaching in the morning, and then we have the afternoon free to wander around and write and hopefully drink some wine.

Ms. Wendell: Well, that sounds just terrible.

Ms. Ramsey: I know. I know. My life gets no sympathy at all.

Ms. Wendell: Yeah. Are you having a bad day?

Ms. Ramsey: [Laughs] So, yeah, I have all the first-world problems.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] Are you having a bad day? In Venice? Yeah.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, no one cares.

Ms. Wendell: So you have been traveling for three months now?

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, that’s right. So, to give a little bit of background, I was living in San Francisco for quite a while before this. I went to college out in California. I grew up in Iowa, went to college in California, never intended to stay there, but kind of got lured in and stayed there for, I don’t know, fifteen years, but ended up deciding at the end of last year that I was going to give up my apartment and travel full time, so back in December I packed everything up and drove my car to Iowa and then, starting in mid January, I went on the road. So.

Ms. Wendell: So you gave up your apartment, packed up your stuff. I assume some of your things are, like, in a storage place or in a garage in Iowa.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. I actually have a storage unit in San Francisco, so my belongings are kind of scattered everywhere, and I’ll have to make a trip back to San Francisco before my next RWA conference so that I have something nicer to wear, ‘cause all my good stuff is in storage.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] And then you started out in Indonesia.

Ms. Ramsey: That’s right.

Ms. Wendell: Is that right? So how did you decide to do this? What made you decide to, to travel and – I’ve heard this referred to a, a lot of ways as being a digital nomad, as a writing nomad, as being location-independent. What made you decide to live everywhere and nowhere at the same time?

Ms. Ramsey: [Laughs] That’s a really good way to put it. It was something I’d been toying with for probably a year. So to give a little more context, I’m thirty-five, and I don’t have kids, and I’m not attached to anyone at the moment, and this was something I’d always sort of thought about, and I’d always, whenever I had opportunities in my previous career to travel, I took them, so back in 2005, I spent six months in India helping to start up a Google office there. So it was something that I’ve always – I think I kind of knew a little of what I was getting into, but I had never pulled the trigger, partially because the idea of going someplace totally alone without knowing anyone was just a little too daunting. Like –

Ms. Wendell: It’s very intimidating!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. [Laughs] It’s very intimidating. I’m just enough of an extrovert that – I’ve traveled alone before, like when I’ve done research trips to England in the past. Like, I can handle two weeks by myself going to a museum and just staring at all the spoons in the museum by myself. Like, that’s no problem?

Ms. Wendell: Yeah! Piece of cake!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Like, actually, I’d rather not have anyone there, ‘cause they don’t want to look at spoons for an hour like I do.

Ms. Wendell: I’m the same way with miniatures. If there’s –

Ms. Ramsey: Oh, yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – an exhibit of miniatures, my husband is like, listen, I’m going upstairs to where, you know, Saturn is eating the heads off his children, and I’m like, yeah, I don’t want to see that. I’m looking at miniatures. Bye! [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I actually had a tour-, like, a security guard at the V & A Museum one time when I was here who I think started to get suspicious, because I’m pretty sure he was in the, like, spoon and cutlery gallery just to take a nap.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: Like, no one ever stood in there. Right, like, people just walked through it to get somewhere else, and then I was there, like, taking notes on, like, everything and taking photos of everything, and he was, like, not sure what I was doing there.

Ms. Wendell: This woman is down to steal. [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much.

Ms. Wendell: So you’re pretty comfortable traveling alone, which I, I can relate to. I was an exchange student to Spain when I was fifteen and then when I was twenty, and once you figure out how to do it, you can do it.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Yeah, I think that, you know, the idea of, like, the airports and figuring out how to get from an airport to a hotel and, like, navigate and all that stuff wasn’t that scary to me, but I think what really, what really helped me to figure out that this is what I wanted to do was – and this is going to sound like a shameless plug for a company, but I actually really like them, and it’s why I went forward with this? – I found a company called Roam, R-O-A-M –

Ms. Wendell: Yes! Yes, I want to ask you about them!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: Tell me all the things.

Ms. Ramsey: Okay, so they’re actually pretty amazing, and I was, you know, frankly a little iffy at first, ‘cause, you know, living in San Francisco, I’ve seen a lot of startups start up and then fail, and I was like, what if I give my money to these people and then they run out of money in a month? [Laughs] Like, it’s not a hotel, exactly, right? But Roam is essentially at the forefront of what you were talking about with digital nomadism with sort of independent location living?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: But what’s cool about them is that they have four locations as of April 2017. They have Miami; Bali, which is the first place I went; London; and Tokyo, and in each of those locations, they’ve sort of taken over, like, a boutique-type hotel. You know, something like twenty-five to thirty-five rooms?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: So you get your own room, ‘cause my nightmare was that I was going to recreate my hostel experiences from when I was twenty, right? [Laughs]

Ms. Wendell: No, no, no, nooo. Nooo.

Ms. Ramsey:  No, no. I’m like – [laughs] – I’m not going to sleep in a sixteen-person, like, bunk bed.

Ms. Wendell: No.

Ms. Ramsey: [Laughs] Yeah. And the frank thing is, I really need to write while I’m doing this, right? This was not a vacation, and the intent wasn’t that I was going to just, you know, gallivant around the world until I ran out of money. I wanted to have a place where I could be productive, and so what Roam has is, in addition to the rooms, which are nice, you have access to coworking space which has, you know, really nice chairs, has great Internet access, like, and also the ability meet other people who are in sort of similar situations. Like, I’ve met a couple of writers, but then also some, you know, I met a couple of film makers, a lot of tech people, people who are sort of also looking for that same balance of, like, time and ability to focus on their work but are also interested in meeting other people, which made – that’s when I was like, okay, I can try this for three months, ‘cause worst-case scenario I’m, like, kind of lonely, but it’s safe and clean and I can work and, like, see how it goes. Yeah, so I spent six weeks at their Bali location and then came to London for six weeks, and that’s been my first three months of this digital nomad life.

Ms. Wendell: So then you’re going to Venice for a week –

Ms. Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Wendell: – and you, are, are you going to book yourself into an additional Roam location in the future?

Ms. Ramsey: I definitely would. Part of the problem is that they don’t have enough locations open yet that I want to go to, so – I would happily go, like, I’m already thinking, when can I go back to Bali? Like, maybe I’ll go –

Ms. Wendell: Yeah!

Ms. Ramsey: back, like – for all the writers out there, Bali is one of the best places I’ve ever been in terms of, like, you know, you can write during the day; but then you can get a massage for, like, seven dollars, right.

Ms. Wendell: Right, yes, the – [laughs] – I have a, I have a strange divergence in the things I wanted to ask you. I want to ask you more about what Roam is like and how it’s set up, but I also am dying to hear all about what Bali was like as well, so which one would you like to talk about first?

Ms. Ramsey: Let’s go, let’s go to Bali.

Ms. Wendell: Yeah, let’s do that!

Ms. Ramsey: That’s pretty exciting. Do you have any specific questions, or you just want me to riff on it?

Ms. Wendell: Well, I, I followed you on Instagram, and every picture was more beautiful than the last one, and I remember thinking, how do you get anything done? Like, I’d just stare. I was in –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – I was in the airport once in Fiji. I’m in the airport in Fiji; I didn’t get anything done ‘cause I was looking out the window.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: In the airport! Like, when you’re in a place that’s such, that is that gorgeous, like, how – [laughs] –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – how do you get anything done? [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: [Laughs] Yeah. I, I will admit that in my six weeks in Bali, I think my productivity was sort of like a U shape? You know, I got there the first couple weeks, and I was like, oh, this is great! I’m going to be really productive. And then I started making friends and going places and – I didn’t bottom out; like, I was still getting things done –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – but then the last two weeks I was like, okay, I need to, like, wrap things up again.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: ‘Cause it’s true! Like, I think Bali’s one of the few places I’ve been where even the walk to the grocery store was, like, the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen. Right, it was –

Ms. Wendell: The Starbucks. The Starbucks!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, and that Starbucks. Yeah, you saw the photo from Starbucks. Like –

Ms. Wendell: Yes!

Ms. Ramsey: – their Starbucks – there’s only one Starbucks. I was embarrassed to go there, ‘cause, like, Indonesia is, like, home of coffee, right?

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: Like, Sumatran coffee is, like, the thing, or Java. But I went to the Starbucks to buy the Starbucks mug, ‘cause I collect them –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – ‘cause I, I’m obsessed, and their Starbucks, the back patio looks out over this temple that has a lotus pond, and it was just perfectly serene, peaceful – [laughs] – the best Starbucks you would ever go to in your life.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: And I was like, okay, this is ridiculous.

Ms. Wendell: You had, like, a tour of cafés.

Ms. Ramsey: Yes, yeah. Which is kind of my thing, right, like, I like to work in coffee shops, so I tend to go out and find coffee shops, and I like coffee. Bali was interesting to me because you could still feel what their culture was, but I had a little bit of a reaction to how the, like, US/Western European hipster dynamic has started to lay over the top of it. Right, so, like, if you see my Instagram, a lot of those cafés now are, like, kind of designed for Instagram. Like, I was talking to a woman who owns one of the frozen yogurt shops in Bali –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – and she grew up in the States, and the whole game in Indonesia now is to, like, design something that people will put on Instagram. Right, so that –

Ms. Wendell: So it’s almost like a, like a built-in form of marketing for that place.

Ms. Ramsey: Exactly, exactly.

Ms. Wendell: Wow.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Which made them very pretty, right. [Laughs] And obviously –

Ms. Wendell: Yeah.

Ms. Ramsey: – great for my Instagram, but there was a moment where I was like, this isn’t really that, like –

Ms. Wendell: It’s like, almost like a permanent imprint of tourism. Tourism isn’t something that’s transient; it’s something that’s built in to the architecture of the places that you go because so much of their income comes from tourism.

Ms. Ramsey: Right. I think that’s a really good way to put it, and I think, I think I sort of reacted to that in San Francisco too, and it’s part of why I left. Like, this is going off on a tangent, but it almost feels like the, sort of the middle to upper middle class, like, traveling-type people, whether they’re from the US or Europe or Japan or Australia or wherever, are almost on this, like, bubble floating over the rest of the world –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – and you can go to any place and, like, never really connect, right.

Ms. Wendell: Oh, right. It’s like if you travel, but you’re going to find a Starbucks, and you’re going to find a McDonald’s, and you’re going to –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – find a Burger King. When I, when I lived abroad, both times, once was for six months, and the second time was for three months, both times I got homesick, both times I had culture shock, and it was immensely comforting for me to go to Burger King.

Ms. Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Wendell: Like, but I realized, I could spend my entire time there only eating at places that were American chains and never –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – eat any place that was not an import like me.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: And, yeah, you can, you can really isolate yourself from experiences by only doing a super-, a sort of superficial examination that doesn’t vary from what you do anywhere else.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Yeah, and I think it’s interesting, too, that, you know, when you think about – I think I had this reaction in Des Moines, too, of all places, ‘cause I was there over the holidays visiting my parents, and I went up to Des Moines and went out for dinner with my aunt and uncle, and we went to this really nice, like, French bistro type place that has only been there in the last decade, and I was just having this weird moment of, you know, this didn’t exist here before, and this feels like something I’d have in San Francisco, and it’s definitely not tied to the place, but it’s good for the economy, but I don’t know what would have been here before anyway. Like, there’s not, like, indigenous Iowa food, other than corn on the cob maybe, but it was just this, like, weird back and forth in my head of, like, how can you actually still have an experience that is really tied to a place –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – if everything is getting replaced by, like, this sort of weird, like, hybrid New American bistro thing.

Ms. Wendell: Yep. The world is so big, and the world is so small.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: Yep. Did you have any, any concerns about being a woman traveling alone? Were there any moments where you were like, oh, yikes?

Ms. Ramsey: That’s a great question. I think in Bali I didn’t. I never had a single moment of feeling like I was in danger, other than it was easiest to get around on the back of a motorbike taxi, and you just hire some random guy to, like, drive you around on a motorcycle? That never felt that great, but it didn’t feel unsafe from being a woman; it was just unsafe because that’s a really stupid way to get around. Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: ‘Cause I know for, for some people who would, who would, who might be listening who would be thinking of doing this, there are a lot of messages, I think, both overt and subtle, that communicate to women, you’re not safe if you leave –

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: – this, this bubble of security. However you’re defining that security bubble, there’re a lot of messages that say, once you step out and do that on your own, you deserve what happens to you –

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: – and it’s not going to be good, and that, and I, I still see that message, like, like, every day in very different –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – in different ways.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: It takes a lot of, I don’t want to say confidence, but there’s a certain self-motivation that comes with overcoming that message and saying, yeah, I’m going to do this, and it’s going to be fine, and I’m going to take care of myself, and I’m going to be okay.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Yeah, I agree with that, and I think, you know, for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t classify myself as an incredibly brave person. Like, this seems like an, a strange and different enough thing for someone to do that it looks brave, but I’m usually –

Ms. Wendell: I’m sure that someone has said that to you, oh, you’re so brave!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Like, everyone says that, and I’m like, well, I kind of assess the risks, right? Like, I would do this here. I don’t know if I would do this in Cape Town, for example. Like, I’ve been to Cape Town before; I really enjoyed it. I was there with friends, and the one day I had on my own, I basically just went to a spa, because I just wasn’t quite sure that I understood the culture enough to navigate, to understand where those lines were that you were talking about.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: Right, that, like, there are certain expectations of behavior, and once you cross them, you could be in trouble, and that change can happen –

Ms. Wendell: Yes.

Ms. Ramsey: – really fast.

Ms. Wendell: And it, it’s, it’s a lot less forgiving, those boundaries are often much more forgiven for young people and students.

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: Like, students are expected to go, you know, screw up, and also –

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: – they’re also expected to travel in a lot of ways, or at least they were when I was younger. I’m a little older than you, I’m forty-one, but, like, being an exchange student and traveling when you were younger, in high school or in college, was pretty normal, and there was, there was a lot of whole, there was a whole lot of –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – Eurail pass buying after graduation –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. [Laughs]

Ms. Wendell: – some years. But with students it’s, it’s, you’re for-, you’re much easily, more easily forgiven if you screw up, I think. When you are older and you present as older, you’re expected to know better.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. I would agree with that. I think what was interesting about Bali as a culture is that they’re so welcoming, and what I’ve heard and what I’ve read and what I observed, I believe this is probably true, that they’re pretty forgiving of Westerners because we’re so recognizable. Like –

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: – anyone who’s not Balinese is pretty recognizable, right, and they just sort of roll their eyes and give you a pass. Now, if you did something really stupid like didn’t respect the rules at a temple and didn’t cover yourself appropriately, like, even I them, then am like, you kind of deserve it if you get, like, run out of there, right, ‘cause –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – there’s a level of respect that you should have for a place, but for the most part, you know, it didn’t seem like – and this was, again, different from India, where if women were walking around wearing short shorts or something like that, you didn’t see guys, like, staring at them the way that I often saw in India. You know, that, like, sort of intense stare that just implies that something could go wrong?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: You didn’t really see that, but I think if a Balinese woman were to present herself in the same way, she would come up against quite a bit of resistance –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – ‘cause I know that the Balinese women who worked at Roam there, none of them had ever really drunk alcohol before. And Bali, just for what it’s worth, Bali’s predominantly Hindu, and the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, but it’s not that they couldn’t. Like, they actually had a cocktail-making class for the staff because they decided to start serving cocktails at the bar in the restaurant, and it was one of the most funny, like, the funniest things I’ve ever seen, ‘cause they’re all, like, taking a written test on cocktail making, which was interesting. But, yeah, back to your point, I think as a Westerner, I felt very safe there –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – in a way that I haven’t in a lot of other places.

Ms. Wendell: So tell me about Roam: how is it set up, and when you book into a facility like that, what is it that you, what is it that you get? Do you have to subscribe to be a member and then book a room, or do you just look for availability and book yourself in?

Ms. Ramsey: You don’t have to subscribe, which is nice. There’s no sort of monthly fee or anything. I think because they’re still a startup, there are things that you can’t do as easily with them that you can – like, it’s not like Travelocity where you can put in dates and then see a room and then book it immediately? You ask for dates, and they also ask you to fill out a little application form.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: I don’t know how many people they’ve denied, but it is nice to know that they’re at least vetting to make sure that, like, what you’re looking for generally fits in with what the ethos of the culture is, right, like that ideally they’re targeting people who are sort of potentially more professional, like – that said, though, it was a total range of ages, especially on Bali. Like, I think the youngest person there was probably twenty, and then there were people in their sixties, right. So, like, it was much more diverse than I was expecting. Like, I think I was expecting a bunch of tech bros –


Ms. Ramsey: – and that was my biggest fear.

Ms. Wendell: Nomadic, nomadic tech bros: wherever they’re going, I will go not there. [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: Exactly, exactly. I was – [laughs] – that’s kind of why I was like, I’m only going to test this for three months, ‘cause if all I meet is tech bros, I’m just going to go home –

Ms. Wendell: Yes.

Ms. Ramsey: – ‘cause I can do that in San Francisco.


Ms. Wendell: Yes. Yes, you can!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Fact, that’s all I’ve seen. But, yeah, so when you book, you select your dates, and they typically go by a week or a month, and you get a slight discount if you book for a month. So, like, Bali, when I was there, it was $500 US a week or $1800 for a month.

Ms. Wendell: And that includes your room, Internet –

Ms. Ramsey: Not just the room. It includes the Internet, and it includes, they clean the room once a week in Bali. I think in some places it’s different. Like, London, they clean it once every two weeks just because, I think, staff is so expensive here.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: You know, so that’s one thing to note, too, is the experience is very different, and I definitely got spoiled in Bali because the cost of labor is so cheap that there were, like, there was a door-, there was a, like, reception desk that was staffed twenty-four hours a day, so if you needed help with something they were there. There was a café that was open most of day, and you could just, like, charge food to your room, whereas here in London – and each place has a community manager who organizes events –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – which is nice if you’re, like, a little more introverted and you don’t meet people quite as easily, but you want to do something. There’s usually a weekly dinner, like, a movie night, things like that. It’s like on the edge of feeling like an adult college dorm experience without going too far over the edge, if that makes sense.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] Yes! It’s combining all the good parts of having a community planned with events around you.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, exactly. But you can drink alcohol and not get written up for it, and –

Ms. Wendell: Nice!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: Can you have, can you have, can you have guests in your room, or are there boundaries about who you can bring to your room with you, should you wish to do such a thing?

Ms. Ramsey: Mm. That’s a scandalous question. No, I –


Ms. Ramsey: You can have guests, and actually, if you’re traveling as, if you’re traveling as a couple or with a friend or something, they charge the same for the room, no matter how many – like if it’s two of you versus one of you, it’s the same for the room, which is nice. So the people I knew who were traveling as a couple, it was more cost effective, obviously. What else do you want to know?

Ms. Wendell: What was the setup like in, in Indonesia? I mean, I remember you, you shared a picture of your room on –

Ms. Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Wendell: – Instagram, and it was a really nice room.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Yeah, the setup in Bali was beautiful. So, my room, I had a king-size bed, it was air-conditioned. It was, like, the only air-conditioning I had anywhere on the island, so I admit that there were days when I came home and I was just like, I have to lie on my bed for an hour and just, like – [laughs] – have air-conditioning, ‘cause I was dying.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: San Francisco’s made me really weak from a temperature fluctuation standpoint. It’s always sixty degrees there.

Ms. Wendell: Yeah, you’re, you’re going to get some serious temperature fluctuations, too.

Ms. Ramsey: I know. Yeah, I’m not used to it at all. And coming from Bali to London was pretty hard.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: Not going to lie. Yeah, so, Bali, my room was beautiful; I had, obviously, my own full bathroom with this crazy bathtub that was carved out of stone, which I was –

Ms. Wendell: What?!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, it was, I’ll have to share a picture of the bathroom; it was insane. But then it felt very tropical outside. So the building is built in a rectangle around a central pool –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – which was really nice, so it just felt very lush, like there were, you know, hanging vines and this pool that they scrupulously maintained. I think there was a guy who just sat there and pulled leaves out of the pool all day. [Laughs] Suppose a little excessive. I think he enjoyed it, though. I think he was just listening to music on his phone and would just sit there and wait for a leaf to fall, so it’s a pretty good life.

Ms. Wendell: Good job!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. And then all the rooms have a communal kitchen as well, so if you want to cook, that’s definitely possible, and they’re really nice. So the one on Bali was sort of open on one side facing the pool, which was great, ‘cause if we had events you could sort of mingle around the counter and then spill out to the pool area. But each person gets space in a fridge and then also space on a shelf so that you can keep groceries there, and it’s fully stocked with, like – and they provide things like cooking oils and flour and sugar and that kind of stuff, so you don’t have to buy a little bit of spice for something.

Ms. Wendell: That’s very cool!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, which was nice. I will say on Bali I didn’t cook very much because the, eating out was pretty cheap, and the food was just amazing. Like, my Instagram, it looks like I was only photographing the best dishes, but every dish I saw was beautiful. Like, it didn’t matter where you were or what you were eating, like, the presentation was amazing.

Ms. Wendell: And it would be a lot of vegetarian, right?

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, so, which is kind of one interesting thing about the culture there, too, is, ‘cause I was talking to one of my taxi drivers, and Bali’s Hinduism split off from India’s quite a while ago, and so they don’t have very many vegetarians, whereas India’s quite vegetarian-friendly?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: So the Balinese, like, eat meat, and they eat beef, but the town I was in, Roam is in a town called Ubud, which is where Elizabeth Gilbert went when she did her Eat, Pray, Love experience?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: And so there’s a lot of Westerners now showing up to have their own Eat, Pray, Love experience, and so – [laughs] – it’s like, whole cottage industries built up around, you know, yoga, the Western yoga tradition really sprang up from there, and there’s a lot of vegetarian restaurants that cater to that crowd, and I was also warned that there also men lingering around waiting for the women who want their Eat, Pray, Love experience, so –


Ms. Ramsey: – just for what it’s worth, you might just want to watch out for that if you do go to Bali.

Ms. Wendell: It, it must be very interesting to see how American culture and Western culture have arrived and taken root in different places. Like, for us in the States, that book was, was, meant a bunch of different things, but the, it, it means something entirely different in Indonesia and in, and in that town. Even though it’s the same book, it’s a totally different thing.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. Yeah, it is interesting. I, I will say, I think the influence is waning some, because it has been out for a while. But it was enough to sort of give that town a foothold is almost what it feels like.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: Right, and now it’s a destination, and people now know it as a yoga hotspot and –

Ms. Wendell: Yep.

Ms. Ramsey: – a lot of healthy eating and all that, so.

Ms. Wendell: Yep. Sort of like the Maya Riviera in Mexico.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: It has a lot of yoga and healthy eating and, and, whereas before it was, oh, that’s – [laughs] – that’s south of Cancun; why would I go there? I’m staying in Cancun with the Senor Frog guy. I like him best.

Ms. Ramsey: [Laughs] Yeah, actually, that’s a great example, ‘cause Bali, I will say if you’re – back to the safety question, I had meant to say this, like, I actually never went to the beach resort areas, which is what Bali was originally famous for.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: And that’s where, are infamous now ‘cause a lot of the Australian, like, stag and hen parties go there. To be fair, like, I didn’t actually go out, like, clubbing by myself, but I don’t think that was a choice I would make anywhere. [Laughs] Like, it’s not really my scene.

Ms. Wendell: No, I, I would never, I mean, even when I was fifteen I didn’t want to.

Ms. Ramsey: No.

Ms. Wendell: I don’t like, I don’t like loud places. It took me a while to figure that out. [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: No. [Laughs] I know, I started to feel like I’m one of those get off of my lawn people, ‘cause I’m like, I don’t like crowds, I don’t like noise, like –

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] Right?

Ms. Ramsey: – drunk people. [Laughs]

Ms. Wendell: Like, I remember, I turned twenty-one, and I was like, wait, wait, wait, okay, explain this to me. I have to put on my nicest clothes that are dry clean only, and then I have to go out and put on makeup, do my hair –

Ms. Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Wendell: and look real good, go out, go to a place that’s loud and smoky where I won’t be able to talk to the people I’m with, and then I will come out, I will be, I will have less money, ‘cause I will have bought a bunch of drinks that I couldn’t drink very quickly –

Ms. Ramsey: [Laughs]

Ms. Wendell: – and then I will come out smelling like smoke, so now I have to get myself dry cleaned, which is expensive –

Ms. Ramsey: Yep.

Ms. Wendell: – and I have to go and, you know, shower thoroughly because I am somewhat gritty and my makeup is now no longer where I put it originally, and –

Ms. Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Wendell: – I can’t hear anything ‘cause my ears are ringing, and my throat hurts because I was screaming to get anyone to hear me, and that was supposed to be fun.

Ms. Ramsey: Yep.

Ms. Wendell: That was not fun; that was like the opposite of fun. [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: No. I think I can count on one hand the times that I had fun in a club.

Ms. Wendell: Right? It’s, it’s –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: Yeah, me too. Me too, and it was very specific experiences. I’m way too introverted for that.


Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, yeah.

Ms. Wendell: So, if, if someone was researching doing this, ‘cause obviously you don’t just sort of – I, I think that there is a, a portrayal of major life changes where somebody just sort of wakes up one day and is like, I’m shoving all my stuff in a unit, and I’m leaving, but you, but in reality you do, you know, research! [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: Research is a thing that happens! So if someone is considering doing this, what advice would you have for someone who is beginning to look into this idea of becoming location independent?

Ms. Ramsey: I think researching is key, and I think thinking through what you want to accomplish while you’re doing this, right, is it a matter of you want to see a bunch of places you’ve dreamed of seeing before? Is it you want to have new experiences, you want to meet new people? For me, so I sort of was thinking about my goals before I ever started thinking about where to go, and for me, part of it was, I was sick of San Francisco, and I think I did have one of those moments, it was, like, September, there was a weekend where I turned thirty-five, and I went on, like, the most awful date, like, two nights before that, and somebody was really late to one of my dinners. It was like a whole cluster of things, and I was like, what am I doing here?

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: But then it took two months for me to figure out what to actually, like, where else I wanted to go, right? And so for me the goals were give myself some time to actually see some of the places that I have always wanted to go, test out this whole location independent lifestyle, which for me, I was traveling quite a bit anyway, and I really like to travel, so I wanted to see if I could make that work, and a big piece of that was can I be productive while I do this? Can I actually write while I’m traveling? And because of that, I kind of veered towards something like Roam because for me to be a productive, I can’t, I know some friends who can, but I can’t go on a trip where, like, I switch hotels every two or three nights –

Ms. Wendell: No!

Ms. Ramsey: – and write for an hour in the morning and then go sight see. Like, that’s just – [laughs] – I wish it was. Not my style.

Ms. Wendell: No, it’s important to know yourself. I’m, I’m like you; I need to have a sort of a home base.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. And so for me that was important. You know, setting some sort of guideline for myself that, like, you know, things like this trip to Venice that’s coming up that’s a conference, that’s one thing, but for the most part, try to spend, like, four to six weeks in a location, ‘cause that alleviates a lot of pressure, right? Like, I’ve been in London, and there are more museums here than I could see in a lifetime probably anyway, but it doesn’t feel like I have to do the, like, forced march through five museums in two days –

Ms. Wendell: No.

Ms. Ramsey: – right, ‘cause I’m here for six weeks.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: So, you know, if I want to go to the British Museum – and a lot of, the great thing is a lot of the museums here are free, so if I want to go to the British Museum, I don’t go once. I, like, write for a couple hours one day, and then I go there for an hour and a half, and then maybe three days later I go back and see another wing, which has been a really nice way to balance the sort of, what I was hoping to get out of the travel piece, which was research and inspiration for current and future books, with the fact that I still have to be productive on the current book. Right, like – [laughs] – I can’t just drop that and go look at spoons for an hour.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: As much as I would like to.

Ms. Wendell: This is a bit of an intrusive question, so I’m not trying to be nosy and rude, but I’m sure one question that people would have is like, well, what about, what about your job? Like, how do you, how do you generate income? Are you also working online while you travel, or is the, are you, are you spacing this among book contracts so that you know when the, when, when your income will come in?

Ms. Ramsey: For me, my income’s always been very sort of up and down, and that’s part of why I also only planned the first three months, right. So I was at a point where I had some money saved up, and also I’m in the weirdly – this is not a luxury by any means, but I was in a place where, like, San Francisco rent is so stupidly expensive that even the cost of, like, traveling off peak, plane tickets, and living at Roam was about the same as my rent.

Ms. Wendell: Yeah. [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: So from a budget standpoint, it wasn’t –

Ms. Wendell: Yup.

Ms. Ramsey: And I recognize that’s different from most people. Right, like – [laughs] – but that’s just the way it is in San Francisco. So from a budgeting standpoint, like, for me it’s sort of the same as it has always been, where if I have a book come out I’ll see an income spike, and then things sort of taper off, and I just have to be careful about the budgeting.

Ms. Wendell: Yep.

Ms. Ramsey: But a piece of this too was, to be totally frank, like, I, you know, left a job in tech, and I definitely don’t make as much money writing as I did in tech, and there’s some underlying, like, freak-out about I’m thirty-five, and I’m no longer kicking into my retirement account. Like –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – what am I doing with my life, and I’m, like, such a failure, which is not true, but you know where the mind goes. Part of this was also looking for inspiration for a different kind of project and potentially looking for contacts to help with that, right, so tossing around ideas around travel blogging or doing more consulting with other startups or other companies. Like, I’m still very much in the early stages, but –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – that was a big piece of it for me was, I’m passionate about a lot of different kinds of business, and maybe I’ll find something interesting on the road. I don’t know if that answer is helpful to anyone else, but for me that was what I was headed for.

Ms. Wendell: Well, I also think that if you, like if you know that the, the place where you’re living is X amount per month and you have a budget of Y for food, you can save up and budget yourself. Like, it’s possible to say, this is the amount that I’m spending this month, and then begin saving in preparation for hitting the road.

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: But I also know that among the people who, among the people I know who are location independent, they are usually freelancers, consultants, or they’re writers and they know, and they know when their checks come in, which sometimes with publishing can be difficult; you don’t necessarily know.

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: Right. Exactly.

Ms. Wendell: So it’s, it’s a balance of, of both budgeting and knowing your income streams.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, and I think one thing to keep in mind too is that there are a couple of, for me there were a couple of tight months where I was still paying rent on an apartment, but I also was prepaying for, like, booking my first six weeks at Roam. Right, where, like, once you get ahead of that it’s totally fine, but that couple months of trade off where it was like, oh, I’m buying, like, three flights and paying for six more weeks of someplace else, that was a little tight. But again, it’s a planning thing, right, and I think that’s the research question. Like, maybe you plan that out or, like, maybe you aim for someplace – you can do it in a couple of different ways, right. You can aim for something that’s really cheap initially just so that you can build a little bit more cushion, or in my case, I actually decided to go Roam first because I was like, if I can’t be productive in a place where, like, everything is literally set up for me to be productive, like there’s a coworking space, I have my own room, if I can’t write while I’m doing that, then this experiment is kind of dead in the water, right.

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: ‘Cause my, my plan for the summer is probably moving more towards Airbnbs in places that I want to be –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – but Airbnb is, there’s a lot of risk there, right. Like, not just the risk of the person being crazy but, like, maybe there’s no desk, or the desk looks good in photos, but you can’t actually write at it. Right, like –

Ms. Wendell: Yeah.

Ms. Ramsey: – it’s not set up necessarily.

Ms. Wendell: With, with every Airbnb, there’s also sort of the on-ramp of, okay, where’s the grocery store and –

Ms. Ramsey: Yep, exactly.

Ms. Wendell: – there are services that are not necessarily provided like there would be at a place like Roam, which is sort of halfway between a hotel and a, and, and a self-catering apartment.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, and I also, as a writer, I think watching the community form and dissolve around me was pretty fascinating. [Laughs] Like, it’s really weird to come into something that kind of feels like a summer camp. Right, like, if you remember summer camp and you made, like, the best friends of your life in those two weeks, and then you maybe never saw them again? Or you, like, saw them –

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] Yes!

Ms. Ramsey: – in summer the next year –

Ms. Wendell: Yes.

Ms. Ramsey: – but, like, in those two weeks they were like the best friend you’d ever had, and you didn’t know how you were going to live without them, right?

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: That kind of has happened at Roam. Like, I’ve made some really good friends, but you also, everyone’s coming in and out at different times, so, like –

Ms. Wendell: Right. It’s a very transient –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – community; it shifts.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, and so there’re going-away parties, like, all the time. Right, and you, like, may meet somebody at your own going-away party and be like, oh, that person seemed cool, but I won’t see them again.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: So for me, that’s probably been the single biggest advantage of doing this whole nomadic thing is the number of ideas I’ve had and the inspiration that I’ve gotten just from, like, hearing so many new stories. Like, talking to people from all over the world and, you know, hearing what it’s like to be on the ground, like, in twenty different countries, ‘cause, like, Roam is not just catering to Americans, right, like, Bali, I think my last night there, I was, there were maybe, like, two Americans and three Canadians and a French guy and, like, a Russian couple and, you know, a couple Indonesians and, like, someone from Japan. It was, like, a very, like, mixed group, and I don’t think you get that in a lot of other places. Right, it’s so easy to stay in your own bubble and, like, just keep meeting people who are like you.

Ms. Wendell: Especially if you are concerned about language barrier.

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: Did, was there, was there a language barrier for you in, in Indonesia at all?

Ms. Ramsey: Not much. I mean, there was, obviously. Like, and that would be frustrating sometimes, ‘cause I felt like I was building a good connection with some of the people who worked at the café, ‘cause I was there for six weeks; like, I saw them every day –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – but our conversations just by default kind of had to stay a little simplistic.

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: You know, you’re talking about their kids and, like, what they do, but you’re not getting into, like, how does it feel to be a woman in this society, right? Like – [laughs] – you can’t have those conversations, which was frustrating, but from a purely, like, getting around, being able to, you know, buy groceries or take a taxi, like, that was pretty straightforward.

Ms. Wendell: There was enough English for you that you could get around. It wasn’t like you were completely impeded by your own ability to, to –

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: – to speak a local language, but you weren’t going to have a deep conversation with someone who you just met because the language just wasn’t there.

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: Like, I had a couple – you know, the comment I made earlier about the religion in Bali, like, that taxi driver happened to speak really great English –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – and some of them have, you know, worked abroad or done other things. Like, English is clearly a really valued skill in the tourism industry.

Ms. Wendell: Yes.

Ms. Ramsey: But the people who don’t have those language skills, like, I, you know, I learned a few words of Bahasa Indonesian, but clearly not enough to do anything more than say hello.

Ms. Wendell: Right. But even then, if you’re, if you’re traveling in a different place with a different language, it’s, it’s sort of a common courtesy to know how to say hello, please, thank you, good bye.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: Where’s the bathroom? Like –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – that, that can get you through a day. [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, it can. And I will say, if anyone does this, to get the Google translate app, ‘cause it’s gotten pretty good, and it can at least help with those questions.

Ms. Wendell: So for someone who might be thinking of doing this, what do you think were some of the benefits of doing it, and what were some of the things that you would want to, want to tell somebody to look out for? Whether that’s being aware of your environment or just dealing with, with homesickness and isolation and culture shock. Like, what are some of the things that were great, and what were some of the things that you’re like, okay, but if you do this, please be aware that these things could also happen?

Ms. Ramsey: I think for me the experience has been really positive on the whole, and for what it’s worth, I’m probably going to stay nomadic through the end of the year. In terms of things that are great, I think for me, like I said, being able to meet so many other people from different cultures has been huge, and having a chance to really immerse myself in a place, because I don’t think that, I don’t think I’ll ever, for example, come to London again for six weeks and be able to just live here and enjoy it the way that I have. Maybe I will, but being nomadic and being able to choose where you are has been amazing. Also, for me, like, as long as you’re careful with the budget, I was able to hit it pretty closely, ‘cause I’d done quite a bit of research on, you know, what, what things would cost, and that was all pretty easy and straightforward. I think, and I think I’ve said a lot of the other positives too, like the friends I’ve made, the, you know, Roam was actually really comfortable. I’ve been able to write; I’ve done a lot of research. Like, those were all fantastic, and I feel like I’ve hit my goals. In terms of things to look out for, I think one big thing that just isn’t solved yet is that, I think there’s a desire on a lot of people’s parts to do the sort of digital nomad life, but governments haven’t caught up with it yet.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: [Laughs] Like, governments don’t catch up very quickly, and in some cases they go backwards, but that has been tricky. Right, so, like, I said at the beginning, my stuff is primarily in California, I drove my car to Iowa, I’m still a resident of California, and I intend to keep it that way, but then I had to change some addresses, and now my health insurance is like, are you still a California resident? We need proof within thirty days, and it has to be mailed, it can’t be faxed, like, which is kind of you know, panic inducing, ‘cause I was in the middle of going from Indonesia to the UK, and I was like, I don’t know if I can even mail something in time. And they needed proof of, like, a utility bill and all this stuff that, like, I just didn’t have, and I was able to get it sorted out –

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: – but that’s something to keep in mind, right, is, like, I did talk to my CPA before I went about where to maintain residency and how to keep records –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – and if I keep doing this long term I’d have to give some serious thought to switching my residency either to Iowa where my parents can keep track of my mail or to a trusted friend in California so I can keep my California residency.

Ms. Wendell: Because mail and paper and, and documents and things that you need –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – they still go to an, an individual place, no matter where in the world you are.

Ms. Ramsey: Exactly. And for the most part, I mean, a lot of things can be done online, which is why it’s easy to just sort of gloss over that. You know, it’s like, I don’t get that much mail.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: But governments like to know where you are, right, so, like – [laughs] –

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: – that’s a problem. And then it’s an issue with foreign government, too.

Ms. Wendell: Right, and you have to pay taxes, too.

Ms. Ramsey: Exactly. And that’s something to keep in mind too when you’re traveling is, like, paying pretty close attention to what the visa requirements are and making sure you don’t get caught someplace where they think that you’re working or taking work from somebody local.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: So I haven’t run into an issue yet, but it’s like little things like, when I flew into Bali, I bought a flight out to Singapore for, like, $50 US or something, just so there was proof that I was leaving –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – even though I hadn’t figured out the rest of my trip yet.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: It’s those kind of things where, where, you know, I have a friend here right now who is kind of tired of London and wants to go back to Paris, but she was already in the EU for three months, and she can’t go back.

Ms. Wendell: Right, she has to –

Ms. Ramsey: She has to wait another three months before she can go in again.

Ms. Wendell: Visas are tricky.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. So I think just do your research on that, ‘cause, like, that’d be my biggest piece of advice, probably is, like, research the things that could actually get you in trouble.

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: Right, like – [laughs] – before I left, I honestly, this is one of the first trips where I didn’t read anything about, like, tourist information about Bali, like, I didn’t know the names of all the things I should see. I, like, hadn’t planned an itinerary.

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: What I had researched was, here’s how to get a visa. Like – [laughs] –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – here’s, like, what to say when I get to the airport so I don’t get arrested. Like, don’t take drugs into Bali – not that I would have anyway. [Laughs]

Ms. Wendell: Yes. Good idea.

Ms. Ramsey: Right.

Ms. Wendell: I’ve seen those movies. Bad idea jeans.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. No. Actually, an aside, my suitcase got searched in Bali, and I spent three minutes thinking, like, oh, my God, I’m going to end up in prison like Bridget Jones, and this is going to be horrible. [Laughs] ‘Cause I knew I didn’t have anything, but he, like, pulled everything out and, like, x-rayed the empty suitcase like there was something in the lining, and I was just like, oh, my God. Like –

Ms. Wendell: Ohhh –

Ms. Ramsey: – somebody put something in my bag, and I’m going to die. And it was okay, but, yeah. Back to the point: like, research the things that could actually get you in trouble.

Ms. Wendell: Right!

Ms. Ramsey: Like taxes, visas, that kind of thing. ‘Cause everything else you can kind of solve on the ground, but –

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: – those things, like, governments aren’t very forgiving.

Ms. Wendell: Nooo. So what have been some of the things that you have benefited from personally from taking this experience? Are you, is it easier for you because you are living in one place, but you’re not necessarily at home?

Ms. Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Wendell: That is more freeing or liberating? Do you find that you’re more relaxed as you do this, or is, or do all the things that you felt at home sort of come with you when you travel sometimes?

Ms. Ramsey: I was much more introspective in Bali than I’ve been in London, I think because Bali was, like, totally removed from my life –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – and London, there’s some subconscious, like, everything I see should become a book –

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: – ‘cause I write Regency historicals. You know, I just walk around and I’m like, oh, of course, like, yet another building from the 1800s that I know something about. Like, let me write this down. I think –

Ms. Wendell: ‘Cause what you’re doing, it’s, it’s, it’s like somewhere between relocating and vacation.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Which is nice, and I think that’s, that’s the really positive and really negative thing about it is nothing feels permanent?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: Right, so, like, you can kind of experiment, and you can, you know, make friends with people you wouldn’t normally hang out with or have anything in common with or even, like, you know, take a day to just wander around and not plan to do anything. Back to the question, I think that, obviously, you bring with you who you are, right, and it’s kind of your choice whether you address it or whether you, like, bury it and pretend to be somebody else –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – while you’re gone. I ended up doing quite a bit of introspection in Bali, and I think, it was interesting, I think the Bali Roam community was a little more conducive to that. Not to knock the London community, but it feels like the people in London are here because they, like, there’s actually quite a few people who have a job in London and are in the process of relocating but are maybe staying here for a month while they find something.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: So it feels like a professional community, whereas Roam Bali, part of it was probably it was January, right, so you got the stereotypical people like me who are like, new year, new you. Like – [laughs] –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – go someplace fancy and, like, you know, learn something about yourself, but I ended up, one of the coolest things I did in Bali was, it was called the Bali Silent Retreat, and I think it’s just balisilentretreat.com –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – but I only went for three days, but you can go for as short or long as you want, and it’s, like, totally silent, but you can still read, you can write in your journal, they have some yoga, and they provide, like, three vegetarian buffet meals a day so that you don’t have to ask for anything, and that was a pretty profound experience. Like, I think I needed that break from life to just, like, sit for three days. It was, like, the longest I’d been without Twitter since I’d started Twitter, right.


Ms. Ramsey: So that was nice, right. Like, just taking a break from social media and, like, I wrote a lot in my journal, I read a book, like – I’m kind of rambling now, but I think you get the point, right, like, it was space from my normal life where I’m, like, still me and still thinking about those issues, but there wasn’t the pressure of, like, I’m going to journal for half an hour, and then I’m going to go see the same friend who, like, causes me to, like, think about all these things in a negative way, right, or like –

Ms. Wendell: Yep.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. And it gave me a chance to, like, examine my relationships and, like, what’s still serving me and where maybe my energy isn’t being that well spent?

Ms. Wendell: Yep.

Ms. Ramsey: In a place where I don’t have to see all those people every day.

Ms. Wendell: Because when you’re traveling, you break all of your habits and make new ones.

Ms. Ramsey: Yep.

Ms. Wendell: And even, even the, the stuff that’s autopilot, like where you get your coffee or where you put your coffee when you go to work and what does your desk look like, it’s all –

Ms. Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Wendell: – gone, and it’s all different, so you have to rebuild –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – all of those habits, which means, of course, that you reconsider them as you do them. Like, do I really want to do this? So where are the places that you want to go next? Have you planned anything into the future, or are you just sort of like, I have a list, and I’m going to figure out how to get there soon?

Ms. Ramsey: I’m starting to stress about that just a little bit, so I’m probably not the –


Ms. Ramsey: I’m not the most lackadaisical traveler in the world. Like, I’m fine not booking a hotel until pretty close to the date, but I like having my flights arranged.

Ms. Wendell: Of course.

Ms. Ramsey: Just ‘cause it also saves money, too, right? I have just enough things in the US, that I have to be in the US for that I think I’ll be in the US, so after, after Venice, I go back to the US because I’m going to Barbara Vey’s weekend in Milwaukee at the end of April –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – and then I’m going to California because I have Hamilton tickets, which is the ultimate first-world problem. I’m like – [laughs] – I have to get back to San Francisco for my Hamilton tickets.

Ms. Wendell: I think that’s an entirely valid reason to travel around the earth.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, thank you.

Ms. Wendell: If Hamilton tickets were somewhere and you needed to go there, you go!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah, ‘cause they were actually, like, I’d bought a season pass to the theater like a year and a half ago, knowing Hamilton was coming, and have slowly been selling all the other season tickets – [laughs] – ‘cause, like, I’m not there.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] 

Ms. Ramsey: It’s kind of sad. Yeah. Anyway, I’m not scalping them; I’m selling them at cost, but – anyway, so, going to San Francisco, and then little things like a reunion in Texas in June, so I have, like, two weeks after that, and then I’m going to Sedona for a writing retreat, and then I have a free month, and then I’m going to Orlando for RWA, and then I have like a week and a half free, and then the massive solar eclipse that’s happening in the US in August?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: I want to be there for that, so it’s like, it’s almost like I have, like, tent poles sticking up that I know I have to be someplace then –

Ms. Wendell: Yep.

Ms. Ramsey: – and I’m starting to try to fill in the gaps. So then it comes down to, like, you know, maybe I want to spend some time in New Orleans, and also testing out cities where I think I might want to live some day?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: So I really have been thinking a lot about Denver, so that month that I have free, I may just, like, sublet something in Denver and see, like, how does it feel to be there? But then towards the end of the year I have, like, September to December free, and I think I’ll do another international leg, so right now it’s either, a bunch of people I was with in Bali are talking about renting a villa there then, so I may go back to Bali, or do the Mediterranean, ‘cause I’ve always wanted to do, like, Spain, Portugal, south of France, down the Italian coast. Again, I get no sympathy, ‘cause I’m like, oh, I don’t have anything planned; I don’t know what I’m doing. But then my options are pretty good, so.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] Yeah! Yeah, they are.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. [Laughs]

Ms. Wendell: That’s brilliant. I always ask this, so –

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah.

Ms. Wendell: – and I should have warned you in advance, but I do always ask every guest, what are you reading that you want to tell people about?

Ms. Ramsey: So I tend to read a lot of nonfiction when I’m at the end of a project ‘cause I just have trouble reading fiction.

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: Right now I’m reading, I picked up this book randomly called The Ancient Paths, and I think it’s by Graham Wood [Robb]?

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: And I’d read another book by him called The Discovery of France, and he’s basically sort of a historian, archaeologist type who bikes around, and he – that’s a terrible biography for him; I’m sure he’s, like – [laughs] – more interesting than that.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs]

Ms. Ramsey: But he – [laughs] – The Ancient Paths, like, the premise behind it is that he was, like, looking at old sort of like Celtic settlements and Celtic civilization, and there’s this, like, belief that the Celts really didn’t have much knowledge or anything going on, other than Stonehenge, but then he started piecing together, you know, like, they clearly had, like, roads and civilization, ‘cause if Julius Caesar was able to say he went from, like, point A to point B in two days and it’s, like, forty miles, there must have been a road there –

Ms. Wendell: Right.

Ms. Ramsey: – like, before he went, right. And so he’s, like, laying out sort of the geometry of where the Celt civilization was –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – and it’s, like, pretty fascinating, ‘cause it seems like there are, like, ancient paths, as the book is called, that were very geometric and, like, had a lot of significance that just have been lost to history. So he’s, like, biking around France looking for that stuff.

Ms. Wendell: That’s cool!

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah! I, so far I’m enjoying it. And the other book I read that I loved and would really recommend was, like, a month ago, but it was called 1177 B.C. I think the subtitle was something like The Year Civilization Ended [The Year Civilization Collapsed], and it was about the collapse of the Late Bronze Age in the Mediterranean, and there are some, like, kind of eerie parallels with now. Right, like, and maybe I was just in that mood, but –

Ms. Wendell: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Ramsey: – you know, how, it was one of the, they were describing it as one of the first, like, really global economies, ‘cause people were trading across, like, all these different kingdoms, and there was a lot of diplomacy, and they were all very interwoven and very complex, and then one of them fell, and they just all fell within the next, like, fifty years. Yeah. So that was pretty interesting if you like – I don’t know how many people like Late Bronze Age history, but I’m a fan. It was really good.

Ms. Wendell: [Laughs] There are many of you. There are, there are many; do not worry.

Ms. Ramsey: Yeah. If anyone’s talking about the Late Bronze Age and Victorian spoons, I’ve got a seat right here.



Ms. Wendell: And that is all for this week’s episode. I hope you enjoyed that interview, and maybe it inspired you to travel a little bit! If you’d like to tell me about where you have lived or worked or where you want to travel, I would love to hear about it, ‘cause I love traveling. You can email me at sbjpodcast@gmail.com. I want to thank Sara Ramsey for hanging out with me during a nice manageable time difference and, and talking so much about what she does. I think it’s really cool.

I will have links in the podcast entry, also known as the show notes, to some of the places that she mentioned, including Roam, the Bali Silent Retreat, plus information about the August solar eclipse, if you weren’t aware of that. You can learn all the things about where you can see it or where you could go to see it.

This podcast is brought to you by Blue Hollow Falls by Donna Kauffman. From her free-spirited mother, Sunny Goodwin learned the value of peace, love, and Jerry Garcia. The inheritance from the father she never knew, that’s a little more complicated. USA Today bestselling author Donna Kauffman is debuting a new series about a quirky small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Blue Hollow Falls. Donna Kauffman is a master at creating a sense of place effortlessly, ushering the reader into a wonderful town filled with warm characters, including a hunky veteran hero and a precocious young girl. When horticulturist Sunny Goodwin steps into Blue Hollow Falls to deal with her late father’s past, she finds an old greenhouse in desperate need of repair, a half-sister she didn’t know she had, and the longer she stays, the more she realizes that Blue Hollow Falls is the perfect place to put down new roots. Blue Hollow Falls by Donna Kauffman is available now wherever books are sold and at kensingtonbooks.com.

We also have a sponsor for this episode’s transcript, so thank you very much to the boxed set Hero Undercover. Summer is cooler when you stay undercover. Twenty-five New York Times, USA Today, and award-winning, bestselling romance authors offer a sizzling compilation of undercover bad boys, from swoon-worthy cowboys and alpha military men to deliciously decadent dominants. This smoking-hot collection features a wide array of stories, including dark fantasies, seductive sci-fi, and erotic BDSM, all with the sweet Happily Ever Afters you crave. There are twenty-five different stories in this boxed set, and as I mentioned during the intro, I had a look because I couldn’t read all of the blurbs for each story. There’s one about an investigation into wine fraud, there’s another with a heroine who has taken a job she’s way overqualified for, and another has a hero working undercover as protection for someone aboard a luxury cruise ship. You can get hundreds of pages for one unbeatable price! Turn up the AC, lie back, and escape into these brand-new, red-hot, riveting reads. All twenty-five stories in this boxed set are 99 cents for a limited time – until July 3rd, actually – so head over to http://ift.tt/2ptqEFX and check out the transcript sponsor area to find links and all of the information! Don’t wait; like I said, Hero Undercover is only available at 99 cents for a limited time.

If you have had a look at our podcast Patreon, I want to say thank you! And if you haven’t, please take a peek! http://ift.tt/2qmOdxb: for as little as a dollar, three dollars, five dollars a month, you make a massive difference in the podcast and in transcribing older episodes, and in generally making this an auditory wonderland. You know, where I rope my poor children in because they haven’t gone to camp yet and they’re on summer break and, you know, I’m talking into a box with a microphone in it, so they’re like, what are, what are you doing? Like, oh, come here! Read this!

And speaking of the things that we read in the intro, our music is provided by Sassy Outwater. You can find her on Twitter @SassyOutwater. This track is from Caravan Palace. It is called the “Glory of Nelly.” I am still making my way, yes, through the two-album set. You can buy Caravan Palace and Panic in a two-album set from iTunes or Amazon or wherever you buy your fine funky tunes, and you can find Caravan Palace on their website, caravanpalace.com, or on their Facebook page at http://ift.tt/2uhkrQb;

I will have links to all of the books that we discussed plus links to the places that Sara was discussing when she was talking about researching places to stay and of course links to her website; her Instagram, which you should totally check out; and her other social media.

In the meantime, on behalf of Sara Ramsey, myself, and everyone here, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a great weekend.

[fine funky music]

<p>This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.</p>
<h3 id="transcript-sponsor">Transcript Sponsor</h3>
<p>The podcast transcription is being sponsored by a new, limited-time only .99 boxed set, <em>Hero Undercover</em>.</p>
<p>25 New York Times, USA Today, and award-winning best-selling romance authors offer this sizzling compilation of undercover bad boys, from swoon-worthy cowboys and alpha military men to deliciously decadent dominants.  This smoking-hot collection features a wide array of stories including dark fantasies, seductive sci-fi, and erotic BDSM, all with the sweet happily-ever- afters you crave!</p>
<p>I had a look at the blurbs and here are some bits of info to tempt you. One story features detectives investigating wine fraud. Another features a heroine who takes a job she’s overqualified for, and still another has a hero assigned to undercover protection aboard a luxury cruise ship.</p>
<p>You’ll get hundreds of pages for one unbeatable price. Turn up the AC, lie back, and escape into these brand new, red hot riveting reads. You can find all 25 stories in this boxed set for .99 for a limited time – so don’t wait! Go find your own <em>Hero Undercover</em>.</p>
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I was about to go inside when this large marble plaque grabbed my attention – which is saying something because you can see in that picture the inside is pretty incredible.

White stone plaque with the family names of the people taken by the Nazis from Rhodes

This is the list of families from Rhodes who were taken by the Nazis. A poor translation:

In memory of the two thousand martyrs of the Jewish community of Rhodes and the brutal annihilation by the murderous Nazis in the concentration camps of Germany, 1944-1945. May they rest in peace.

At the bottom of the plaque:

In memory of my father Asher, my mother Sarota, my brother Jacques, and my sister Flora with her husband Levy, all deported – Yedid Gharmon 1969

When two thousand people are taken from a community, you can’t list them all on one stone.  The names on this plaque are the family names.

Note the black and white diamond pattern in the bench or sitting area below that sign. More detail on that in a moment.

Would you like to see the inside?

<h3>More Than Life Itself</h3>
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<p>© 2017 Life is Coffee</p>


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Todd Zapoli

Todd Zapoli loves to read and draw comics. He loves coffee too. Put all that together and the result are his coffee themed comics: Inanimate Objects and Life is Coffee.

You can view hundreds of Todd’s Inanimate Objects comics on INeedCoffee.com, archived since 2002.

In 2017, Todd started Life is Coffee, a spin-off of Inanimate Objects here on INeedCoffee and in some newspapers and magazines.

You can follow Life is Coffee on Facebook.

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Latest posts by Todd Zapoli (see all)

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” data-medium-file=”” data-large-file=”” class=”wp-image-62393 size-full” src=”http://ift.tt/2sYe9RJ&#8221; alt=”Looking at the bimah – the entrance is on the other side” width=”500″ height=”667″ srcset=”http://ift.tt/2sYe9RJ 500w, http://ift.tt/2tPo5zB 112w, http://ift.tt/2tlXmY8 225w, http://ift.tt/2tQ0M93 100w, http://ift.tt/2tlBSdL 150w, http://ift.tt/2tP8MqG 250w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px”/>

Looking at the bimah – the entrance is on the other side

This book is available from:
You Were Here by Gian Sardar

May 16, 2017

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The inside is white and light and beautiful. It’s square with a bimah in the middle in the Sephardi style, and a mechitza, or balcony area for women, was added later. The women used to worship in a separate area. From the synagogue website: “Prior to that time the women sat in rooms adjoining the south wall of the synagogue. The women’s prayer rooms (known in Ladino as “la azara”) viewed the sanctuary through windowed openings adorned by latticework.”

We could tell that electricity was added much after the building (obviously) and how consciously the wiring was done.

Looking up from the bimah railing to the windows above the courtyard doorway

The bimah was built of carved wood in a square, with a bannister I could tell had been touched and smoothed by dozens, if not hundreds, of hands. Usually when I visit really old places (and for Americans, “really old” is almost a joke to other parts of the globe. Our “old” is Greece’s “last week,” to some extent) I think about the people who made those places, who used them, who ran their fingertips along the walls that I’m touching now. Did they know what they made would still be here? That in 2017 I’d be thinking of them, anonymous builders who made something so lasting? It’s pretty humbling.

There is a powerful quiet inside, sad and almost expectant, like there’s going to be the noise of a few hundred voices very soon, but no one shows up. Everything about this building says, in part, “We were here, and now we are not.”

When we walked in, Adam put on a kippah. I’d worn a scarf so I could cover my hair, as I wasn’t sure of the customs of the synagogue. Judging by the other women visitors, I didn’t need to bother, but I felt more respectful covering my hair, so I did. And there was a basket of scarves and shawls for women visitors next to the kippot, so I’m glad I did. (Also my scarf was very light while those were heavy fabric, and, well, if someone tells you it’s hot in Greece they are minimizing. It’s hooooot.)

After Adam covered his head, we were greeted by a woman in a blue polo shirt who asked us, “Greek? Spanish? English?” When we replied English, she smiled and handed us a page all about the museum written in English. Then we wandered around. There was another older gentleman there, also wearing a kippah and a nametag, and I asked if I could take pictures.

“No flash please!”

Later I would learn that was one of a handful of phrases he knew in English.

So check out the floor. It’s very smooth and incredible ornate….

I’ve been in New Zealand for the last week. The official reason for the trip was to present a couple of talks at the biodynamic and organic wine conference in Blenheim, but while I was here I thought it would be fun to take a few days’ holiday, exploring the Nelson-Tasman region at the top of South Island. I don’t often take holiday – some might rightly say that my job resembles a holiday quite closely – bit this was a lovely break. I had the benefit of some local knowledge, which helped: I was travelling with a winemaker friend from Blenheim.

Urban, Nelson

<p>We began in Nelson, which even in the middle of winter has a lot of charm. We were just there for one evening, but we did it well. Drinks at <a href="http://ift.tt/2sXXvBG; target="_blank">Urban</a>: a nice space with a great selection of wines and beers. Dinner at <a href="http://ift.tt/2uhurZU; target="_blank">Hopgood’s</a>: fine dining, really well executed, with a good but not great wine list (the food deserves a wider and slightly more eclectic selection). Then after dinner drink at <a href="http://ift.tt/2sYscql; target="_blank">Cod & Lobster</a>. The cocktail list here is quite stunning, with a whole page of negronis, of which we tried two. They were lovely.</p>

Cod & Lobster Negroni Menu

<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18008" src="http://ift.tt/2sXVc1n; alt="IMG_8163" width="500" height="375"></p>
<p>The next day we headed over to Golden Bay. Follow the road and climb a few hills and you hit some wonderful coastline here.</p>

The view from Little Greenie

<p>We stayed at <a href="http://ift.tt/2sYc0W3; target="_blank">Little Greenie</a>, which is one of the properties that forms Golden Bay Hideaway, on Wainui Bay. This is a small eco-friendly house with a composting toilet and a clever heating/insulating system that uses very little power. There is also an outdoor bathtub, which is perfect for drinking Champagne in (the various properties are very private, so you aren’t overlooked, which is an advantage if you plan to take a bath outdoors). There are no internets here, so it really is like a holiday.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18010" src="http://ift.tt/2uhGjep; alt="IMG_8191-001" width="500" height="375"></p>
<p>Some highlights. First of all, Wainui Falls. There’s a really stunning walk from the car park, through some verdant green scenery and rushing streams. Cross a slightly wobbly suspension bridge, and then a couple of minutes later you are at the falls. Powerful, beautiful, energising.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18011" src="http://ift.tt/2sYc5sZ; alt="IMG_8263" width="375" height="500"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18012" src="http://ift.tt/2uhpP63; alt="IMG_8271" width="375" height="500"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18013" src="http://ift.tt/2sYsehX; alt="IMG_8274" width="375" height="500"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18014" src="http://ift.tt/2uhTITw; alt="IMG_8286" width="500" height="375"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18015" src="http://ift.tt/2sYe93V; alt="IMG_8293" width="500" height="375"></p>
<p>Then the remoteness of Wharariki beach. We had it to ourselves. So moody and atmospheric.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18016" src="http://ift.tt/2uhE2Qk; alt="OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA" width="500" height="333"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18017" src="http://ift.tt/2sYy0jK; alt="OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA" width="500" height="333"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18018" src="http://ift.tt/2ugVbcS; alt="OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA" width="500" height="333"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18019" src="http://ift.tt/2sYea8f; alt="OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA" width="500" height="333"></p>
<p>A must see: Te Waikoropupu springs, known colloquially simply as the Pupu springs. It’s hard to describe this place and impossible to capture it in pictures. It’s an incredibly pure spring system pumping out large volumes of astonishingly clear water, and it’s beautiful. It’s also quite spiritual, in an indefinable and hard to explain way. There just seems to be a lot of energy here, and even though I’m a scientist, and supposedly rational, I felt something.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18021" src="http://ift.tt/2uhar9A; alt="IMG_8201" width="375" height="500"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18022" src="http://ift.tt/2sYtKRa; alt="IMG_8212" width="500" height="375"></p>
<p>And there’s also the famous Mussel Inn, which is an old, atmospheric brewpub, famous for nailing mobile phones to a tree, as well as some excellent beer and epic nachos.</p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18023" src="http://ift.tt/2uhqMuT; alt="IMG_8241" width="375" height="500"></p>
<p><img class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-18024" src="http://ift.tt/2sYs7To; alt="IMG_8243" width="375" height="500"></p>
<p>After a couple of nights, we moved on, to Kaiteriteri. In the middle of summer this would be heaving, but in late June it was quiet and really pretty. We stayed at a spa resort and ended the day in an outdoor hot tub looking at the stars. I think everyone was watching the rugby, which is a religion in New Zealand.</p>
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<p>Back to Blenheim for the conference, I felt rested and energized, full of great experiences. I need to take more holidays.</p>
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” data-medium-file=”” data-large-file=”” class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-62395″ src=”http://ift.tt/2uhwexN&#8221; alt=”Stone floor inside synaoguge” width=”500″ height=”889″ srcset=”http://ift.tt/2uhwexN 500w, http://ift.tt/2tlziVa 84w, http://ift.tt/2tPuivF 169w, http://ift.tt/2tli0aW 100w, http://ift.tt/2tPgYqU 150w, http://ift.tt/2tlz8wU 250w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px”/>

Remember the street leading to the synagogue, and all the cobbles?

The floor inside was entirely made of big black and white pebbles.

Close up of black and white stones in the floor

Can you believe that?

Close up of smooth stones making up ornate floor of swirls and chevron pattern

It looks like a mix of pearls and mussel shells (which wouldn’t be in a synagogue but ok) and each one is perfectly level. I was wearing flats, but I have the magical ability to  sprain my ankle even while I’m sleeping. Here, I didn’t turn my ankle at all. Not once. How do you do that? Who built the floor? How do you floor like that?!

This carving was in the wall of the bimah where the lectern was which would probably hold the Torah if it were being read.

LoL by:

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” data-medium-file=”” data-large-file=”” class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-62399″ src=”http://ift.tt/2sYc1cz&#8221; alt=”Plaque on the wall of the bimah below the torah lectern” width=”500″ height=”889″ srcset=”http://ift.tt/2sYc1cz 500w, http://ift.tt/2tlw9Vh 84w, http://ift.tt/2tPUo1x 169w, http://ift.tt/2tlHyol 100w, http://ift.tt/2tPA54r 150w, http://ift.tt/2tli22y 250w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px”/>

Another bad translation (by me):

This pulpit is offered by Regine and Semah Franco in memory of the members of their family. Moishe and Mazaltou Franco, Jacov and Rosa Franco, and their children, Rachel and Aaron, Issac and Sol Franco and their children, Marie Lea and Rabina, dead in deportation in the year 1944.

There were plaques in Hebrew embedded deep into the walls, some with cracks and others very smooth.

LoL by:

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” data-medium-file=”” data-large-file=”” class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-62400″ src=”http://ift.tt/2ugVcgW&#8221; alt=”Adam trying to read plaque on the wall in hebrew” width=”500″ height=”889″ srcset=”http://ift.tt/2ugVcgW 500w, http://ift.tt/2tlERTB 84w, http://ift.tt/2tPHaBY 169w, http://ift.tt/2tlORfP 100w, http://ift.tt/2tPTmCD 150w, http://ift.tt/2tlzkwg 250w” sizes=”(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px”/>

This is Adam trying to read one. He could tell it was scripture but couldn’t figure it out.

Here is a close up: 

Close up of stone plaque in the wall with carved scriptural hebrew

Being inside made me feel a little dizzy, and painfully young. It’s a building of stones and pebbles in the floor, a bimah and worn walls and wood banisters and paintings on the wall. The hands that built them and used them are all gone, first by passage of a few hundred years, and then all at once by monstrous genocide.

There were several small rooms off each side of the synagogue, and a courtyard beyond the Bimah. I was in one room when I overheard someone speaking Spanish, specifically with an accent I could understand very well.

It was the older gentleman who had said “No flash, please!” He was speaking to two visitors in very rapid Spanish. Then he switched to Hebrew and greeted two visitors from Israel. When he was done, I introduced myself. His name is Samy Modiano. I asked him if I could ask him questions in Spanish. 

“Sure! I speak Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, and Italian. No English, well, a little.”

“No flash please?”


He invited me to sit down, and the woman who had greeted us came over to sit next to me. She apologized that she didn’t speak much English, but she did speak Spanish, Greek, and Hebrew, so she would answer any questions I had.

“Ask me anything.”

I asked if this was his synagogue, and he replied, yes. Since he was small, he’d attended this synagogue. He was born in Rhodes. He was born in Rhodes when it was Italian. His mother and father were born in parts of Rhodes that were either Italian or Turkish, which he said with a gesture was a rather large divide.

“From when I was small, I attended here. My father and mother, my entire family.”

“Did you have your bar mitzvah here?”

“No. I was preparing, preparing, studying, studying, all the time, but the Nazis came. I did not have my bar mitzvah.”

He then said something in Greek to the lady beside me, who went to fetch a book from the gift shop.

“This is my book. It’s in Italian, so you can’t read it, though you’re good with Spanish you might make some of it work.”

He turned to the pictures in the middle. “This is my mother. She was born in the Turkish side. This is my father, when he was young. “

Then he turned the page.

“This is my father, a handsome man. My mother. My sister. All dead. Killed by the Nazis. They came, and took us, separated us, and my sister and mother died in Berkinau. I was in Auschwitz.”

Then I noticed his arm. He had a number tattooed on his left forearm.

I have never met in person a Holocaust survivor. I’ve seen videos, and read plenty.

But I’ve never met a survivor in person. Today, there are so few left.

He turned the page. “My beautiful sister. We had so few pictures.”

Then his phone rang, and he had to leave.

So we started the tour of the museum.

If you’re ever in Rhodes, go. Go to this museum. It’s incredible.

The museum starts in the courtyard, then each small stone room holds different artifacts from the Jewish community of Rhodes: religious items and pictures are in different wood cases.

There is one account from one of the few survivors from Rhodes. When they were deported, the Nazis demanded all Jewish men of Rhodes go to the docks to be counted. Then they were arrested. Two days later, the women and children remaining were told that if they didn’t present themselves, the men would be killed.

The Nazis rang the air raid sirens to send everyone else to the bomb shelters, so no one would see them arresting all the Jewish residents and forcing them onto boats. They sailed, then rode trains, squashed into cattle cars, train cars, trucks, and arrived in Birkenau.

The story of the cruelties faced by this one person are probably accounts you probably have heard before. Brutality, whipping, punishment, starvation, sickness and death. The women in the camps would unwind threads from their blankets, and, using slivers of wood, knit socks to keep warm. They were sharing rations and starving, then made to work cleaning other camps hiking hours there and back in the winter.

Two thousand Jewish people from Rhodes were deported by the Nazis. In the end, less than 150 survived. Today there are less than 50 Jewish people in Rhodes, and the descendants of the community are all over the world. One descendant, Aron Hasson, founded the Rhodes Jewish Museum in 1997, and established the Rhodes Historical Foundation. 

Outside the museum entrance are the plates with the full names of every Jewish resident of Rhodes taken by the Nazis. 

La situación de los hábitos e índices de lectura en el país presenta un panorama poco claro. Todos los estudios que se pueden mencionar a través de fuentes hablan de un bajo promedio de parte del paraguayo hacia este hábito, que generalmente está vinculado a un mejor desarrollo profesional y personal.

Lea más:

El proyecto implica una actualización en la legislación para el fomento de la lectura y para los editores en cuanto al agregado de las plataformas digitales, que están actualmente en un territorio neutral en cuanto al pago de impuestos. Además, se plantea la creación de un consejo nacional de la lectura y el libro, que de aprobarse, estaría compuesto por representantes de diferentes sectores entre los que prevalece el Ministerio de Educación como ente rector.

Ferreiro argumentó en el documento de petición que la “lectura es una herramienta básica para el desarrollo de la personalidad y también como instrumento para la socialización; es decir, como un elemento esencial para la capacitación y la convivencia democrática. El hábito lector transforma la información en conocimiento”.

El senador de Avanza País además dice que Paraguay tiene índices “alarmantes” e “insuficientes” de lectura”. Esto es cierto: recientemente, la Cámara del Libro Asunción Paraguay (CLAP), cifró en 0,25 los libros leídos por los paraguayos cada año. Es decir, el promedio es de un cuarto de libro leído por cada habitante del país de acuerdo a los cálculos que efectuaron. Un estudio de la Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos de 2013 cifró en 3,1 los libros que se leen cada año en Paraguay, siendo la media latinoamericana de 3,6 per cápita. Estos índices — dice Ferreiro — “son insuficientes y sumados a los índices de baja escolaridad, abandono de la escuela, y la baja productividad escolar” dan como resultado egresados de instituciones de enseñanza que carecen del nivel de lectura necesario para insertarse satisfactoriamente en el mundo de hoy.

Entre los puntos clave del proyecto está la promoción de la lectura a través de diferentes formas, el incentivo a la producción de textos, a la lectura en las escuelas y casas y a la exoneración de impuestos para la importación y la movilidad de las empresas editoras de libros, una cuestión que solo rige en parte con la Ley de Libros vigente que, como se dijo, data de 1991. Uno de los problemas es también la regularización de la propiedad intelectual en cuanto a libros y la aplicación del código internacional ISBN para los textos paraguayos.

El proyecto nuevo también redefine los conceptos de autor, distribuidor, editorial, librería, libro paraguayo, revistas, etc., para de esta manera sentar las reglas de aplicación de la nueva ley.


El último Plan de Lectura del Ministerio de Educación fue solo hasta 2015. Este nuevo proyecto propone su implementación a través de una “dotación presupuestal regular y suficiente”.

“El Gobierno Nacional fomentará la edición y producción de libros, en todos los soportes, y su traducción a otras lenguas, a través de estímulos fiscales, compras públicas, fondos asignados por concurso. Las importaciones de materias primas e insumos para la impresión o edición de libros, como asila importación de libros, periódicos y revistas estarán exentos de impuestos y derechos de aduana. Las editoriales estarán exentas del impuesto a la renta. El Gobierno Nacional reglamentará las condiciones, porcentajes y la duración de esta exención. La venta de libros estará exenta del impuesto a las ventas o Impuesto al Valor Agregado (IVA)”, reza otra parte del documento.

El consejo nacional de lectura 

La creación de un consejo nacional de lectura también está prevista dentro de esta nueva ley. Este órgano controlará la aplicación de la Política Nacional de Fomento de la Lectura y el Libro. El Consejo estará adscrito al Ministerio de Educación y Ciencias y tendrá las siguientes funciones. Se prevé que esté compuesto por el MEC, la Dirección Nacional de la Propiedad Intelectual, el Instituto Nacional de Tecnología y Normalización (INTN), representantes de los editores, de los libreros, de los distribuidores y de las oenegés. Todo estará controlado por el Ministerio de Educación.

Pasaron más de 9 meses desde la presentación del proyecto y recién está en comisiones del Senado. El camino será largo, pero la nueva ley es una necesidad para el fomento de la lectura en el país.