What does slow travel mean to you? Have you ever taken your time to get everything out of a destination? We want to introduce you to a traveling couple that does just that! Meet Tamara and Donny of TurtlesTravel.com. The duo began their quest to deliberately explore the world together in 2004. What we love most about their blog is of course their amazing pictures, but more than that is their focus on food. They have an entire section devoted to “meal moments”. It was no surprise that when we asked their biggest fight? You guessed it, it was over food. Donny and Tamara have kindly agreed to take on the Fighting Couple’s dreaded 7 questions. Lets get started:
1) Tell us about India? Looks like you two hit some off the beaten path locations. What and where do you recommend?
India was truly an adventure. Of all the places we’ve visited, India may well be where we experienced the greatest contrasts: wealth and poverty, vibrant colors against drabbest browns, savory, spicy flavors among pungent odors, ecstatic highs and depressing lows. We fell in love with India, though it took some time to get used to as an independent traveler. We spent most of our time in Rajasthan, which is a very well-travelled route. We travelled by bus and by train between cities, buying tickets and deciding where to next as we went. Some of our favorite stops were a little off the beaten path. We were excited for a side trip to Sawai Madhopur, and were lucky enough to see a tiger in Ranthambore National Park while there! I think our favorite spots were Bundi and Bikaner. Both made our list of “Don’t Skip” destinations among all our travels. Bundi charmed us with its laid-back atmosphere and rich history, while we found the desert outpost Bikaner in western Rajasthan to be a great alternative to the over-saturated Jaisalmer. Two last recommendations for northern India: the holy city of Varanasi on the Ganges and Khajuraho, known for its mysterious erotic carvings.
2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be? (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)
He Said: I would love to travel/sail with Jacques Cousteau. It would be awesome to see the ocean and what lies beneath with one of the inventors of early SCUBA diving. Traveling with a sea explorer like Cousteau would be a dream come true.
She Said: Ten years ago or so I did a trip in Venezuela to Angel Falls tracing the route of the photojournalist/explorer Ruth Robertson. In 1949, where four previous expeditions led by men had failed, hers was the first to reach the base of Angel Falls, proving it the highest waterfall on earth (15 times higher than Niagara Falls!). The journey from Uruyén (Kamarata Valley, Canaima National Park) to the falls, passing through spectacular landscapes and visiting indigenous Pemon communities is one I’ll never forget. Robertson had previously covered stories from Alaska and the North Pole to Russian military movements during wartime. She was drawn to uncharted territories and untold stories, and that’s something that really resonates with me. I was fascinated by her story, and would love to have the opportunity to travel with her.
3) You guys have an entire post on snakes! Don’t they freak you guys out?
He said : I definitely have a healthy respect for snakes and would never handle one on my own in the wild. One of my most fond memories of a snake encounter was in Los Llanos in Venezuela. I got to hold a wild anaconda, a very impressive animal. It was at least 10 feet long, but the rancher we were with called it a baby! That just made me wonder where its mama was.
She said: Honestly, snakes don’t freak me out nearly as much as insects do. Snakes are really pretty amazing; from the way they move to the places they can survive. I felt especially educated on the subject after a visit to the Bangkok Snake Farm (part of the Red Cross Institute) in Bangkok. Rather than the unfortunately typical tourist shows, snakes are treated with respect and not abused. A professional handler brings out a number of species and talks about each. The associated facility, Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, specializes in raising venomous species and extracting venom to make antidotes for snake bites used throughout the region.
4) We know you two are huge foodies….If you had to eat one last meal, what/ where would you eat?
He said: Appetizer- scallops wrapped in bacon, Main- medium rare slab of prime rib with a strong horseradish sauce and garlic mash and asparagus, Dessert- bread pudding. Not that I would be able to eat all that in one sitting but if it was my last meal I’d try my hardest!
She said: Ugh, I know this is similar to the question we force people to answer in our Food for Thought interview series, but it’s a TOUGH one. My answer would probably vary from day to day, but at this moment I’m going with Penang style Assam Laksa. The funny thing is, I’ve never been to Penang, so I guess I’d want to have it there at the source. I’ve had some pretty delicious versions in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Assam Laksa is a noodle soup dish, with a bunch of ingredients that may not seem to match: tamarind, mackerel, shrimp paste, lemongrass, chiles. Garnishes of pineapple and mint, and maybe some onions make a sweet, sour, spicy, flavor-packed dish I can’t get enough of.
5) What is the great challenge as a couple and individual living and traveling abroad?
He said: I like to have all the answers, and when traveling I often feel clueless, especially when getting to know a new destination. It can be frustrating learning totally new ways of getting things done. Language can be a challenge, but even when it’s not, the learning curve of how things work in a different culture can be a steep one. When traveling as a couple, your significant other tends to bear the brunt of all your frustrations. Keeping communication lines open and talking through plans, concerns and fears is especially important when on the road together.
She said: Having traveled quite a bit in the past as a single woman, it always seemed easy to meet people. I made new friends every day, both locals and other travelers. As a couple, you really have to force yourselves to be extra social. There’s a sort of “couple bubble” that makes you unapproachable somehow. As a single traveler, I was guilty of it myself. I was much less likely to strike up a conversation or make plans with a couple traveling together than other singles. Other couples are the most likely match. Traveling as a couple has many benefits though, and some of those combat some of the challenges of traveling alone: like loneliness and not having someone to share all of your experiences with.
6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?
He said: I would love to be able to provide clean drinking water to every human on Earth. None of us would last very long without water, but access to clean water in developing countries leads to so much suffering and many deaths. Lack of clean water results in dehydration, malnutrition and disease associated with unhygienic conditions. If everyone had clean drinking water, it would be a great start. People would be healthier, many deaths would be prevented, countries would save money spent combating waterborne disease. It’s hard to imagine all the potential benefits.
She said: I would have to go with hunger. If everyone in the world had access to fresh, nutritious food for each meal, I think it would lead to solving other problems as well. With this most basic need met, a healthy population would be able to focus on other issues like caring better for the environment and getting along better with people of other nations and cultures.
7)You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?
She said: The fight usually begins with a harmless interchange something like this: T: Are you hungry? D: Of course, we haven’t eaten all day. T: What do you want to eat? D: I don’t know. What are you in the mood for? T: Nothing in particular as long as it’s good and not too expensive. Should we try to look something up or just wander? D: This is not going to turn out well, is it?
The problem with starting to look for food when you’re already hungry is that you’re probably too grouchy to ever agree on a place. It’s too late to buy ingredients and cook something, and too late to get online and research. A fight is inevitable. I remember one in particular in China. We were having an especially hard time in a smaller city due to language. We couldn’t find anywhere that even looked like a restaurant. We couldn’t ask for directions. Street food was looking really scary and unsanitary. We were starving. We finally, against all better judgment, went into a KFC out of desperation. I can’t remember ever eating Kentucky Fried Chicken at home, but at least it was familiar. There were no pictures, only numbers, and the items customers were walking away from the counter with were strange combos and bowls of rice or porridge. Donny was ready to settle for anything, but I just couldn’t do it. It seemed like giving up. I told him to order and just make himself feel better, but I wouldn’t eat. That didn’t go over well (it never does) and we ended up walking out. In the middle of more harsh words and near tears, a woman walked by selling steamed buns. SAVED. I almost kissed the lady. After downing several of each variety she had, (who knows what was in them) we were able to communicate more rationally.
He said: I have no idea what she is talking about. I’m never grouchy. Now, what’s for lunch? ;)
1000Fights: Thanks again to Tamara and Donny for sharing a little about their travels and relationship. Being on the road together 24/7 for that many years is no easy feat.