I really did that? Highlights of a she-nomad’s life

Every now and then you need a little adventure in your life to make you feel alive, to have a break from the mundane and the monotonous, to break free from the routine.  Life should not be a straight forward stroll stroll down Mediocrity Street, instead it should have some exciting bumps and curves to peek around, and mysterious mazes to get lost in. There is nothing like having something bizarre, scarey, mind-blowing or breath-taking happen to you to pull you into the moment mentally and physically, leaving all your senses tingling.


I have a theory, and my theory is backed-up by a well-respected traveller and adventurer, the Hobbit. I believe nobody wants to listen to stories of how you spent 2 weeks on a tropical island eating coconuts and fresh fish every day. They want to hear the juicy stuff. Bilbo Baggins put it succinctly like this:

“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.”

So I looked back on my travelling career and made a list of just a few of the highlights – there are many more, of course, but these are the ones that jump straight into my mind. Maybe they will inspire you too, to step out of your comfort zone and create yourself some fantastic memories, because memories last forever. These experiences make, shape or break you – and they are the only things that can make you “richer”, wiser and a better person.

Smoked and Buttered in Ethiopia – I decided it could be an interesting experience having an Ethiopian beauty treatment, and how right I was! It involved stripping down naked, being massaged from head to toe with butter, (Including being given a dollop of butter on my hand at the end to grease all my private nooks and crannies!). I was then wrapped in blankets and made to sit over a smouldering fire for 40 minutes, the result of which was soft, buttery/smokey-smelling skin, and apparently…tightened private parts (ahem!). Then I needed a tonne of shampoo to get all the damn butter off. Definitely a laugh!

Getting buttered and smoked in Ethiopia

Getting buttered and smoked in Ethiopia

Ayahuasca ceremony, Peru- met a Shaman in Peru, and believing people cross your path for a reason, I took part in an Ayahuasca ceremony. This involved me drinking a revolting sludge-like concoction made from a very special jungle plant, which had me seeing spirits, hallucinating, experiencing my past and future, and making peace with everyone and everything, whilst the 3 shamans blew smoke into my hair and sang songs in ethereal voices over several hours. Oh and did I mention it also “cleanses” you? Yes, I threw up several times and completely purged myself. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a mind-blowing TEN!


Climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania – it is good to have physical challenges in life and to be fit, it is also good to make your 40th birthday forever unforgettable! In a team of 12 climbers and an even bigger team of 40 guides and porters accompanying us, we were like a moving village each day as we made our way up the mountain. As we moved slowly to acclimatise, the first 3-4 days were quite manageable. However the sleepless night, early, early start, the lack of a single basic necessity -OXYGEN- made the summit quite a challenge, which I will never in my life forget. TICK, done that, ain’t gonna do it again. Amazing though, and glad to have experienced it.

Festival au Desert, Sahara Desert, Timbuktu – OK, so I was making a big deal out of my 40th and decided to have a SECOND adventure! My favourite place on earth is the Sahara desert, my favourite music is West African, so I took myself off to a 3-day music Festival about 70kms outside Timbuktu in the Sahara. Wow. It was HOT, it was sandy, it was uncomfortable…and it was amazing!!! We camped under an amazing starry sky. Indigo-robed Tuaregs  sauntered around on their camels, fantastic music from impromptu music scenes and stages echoed across the creamy dunes, shack-like restaurants sold sandy food, and the atmosphere was buzzed with an intangible energy. Timbuktu was also an honour to visit. It was difficult to get to 150 years ago, and still is today, but that was all part of the adventure.


6 Month Truck Safari across Africa – in my early 20s and in the late 1980s I took a truck safari across Africa from Morocco to Zimbabwe, taking 6 months, with 20 others. We went through incredible highs together: see the amazing, ever-changing landscapes, peoples/tribes, cultures and African animals – and incredible lows: we all got sick with something (malaria, typhoid, Hepatitis A), our truck got stuck for a couple of days in a huge mud hole in the jungle and we had to dig it out. But after 6 months of ups and downs, we were like brothers and sisters (loving and hating each other). There was no internet, noone knew where the hell we were, we washed ourselves and our clothes in streams to get the ingrained dirt out. We had to share and care and look after each other. Life was reduced to the basics. This trip shaped me for the rest of my life. But that’s another story!

I have a firm belief that you should take every opportunity that comes your way (well, as long as it sounds good), as it is a gift from the universe.  There is lots of amazing stuff to do out there – sometimes you just have to put yourself in a very foreign place and go with the flow.

Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere , and  in the middle of nowhere, sometimes you find yourself.




  1. You have experienced so many beautiful adventures and can proudly tick off being a ‘traveled’ girl on your bucket list!

    1. Thanks Lyndice, more adventures and challenges to come! It’s thinking them up that is the hard part!

  2. Faye Gorman · · Reply

    Excellent Julie!

    You continue to inspire with your passion and vision. Your generous spirit and genuine connection with people from other cultures shines through.

    I’ve shared your story for others.

    1. Thanks Faye! I do try to connect as much as possible with people, it makes your experiences so much richer and you learn so much more!

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