GoNOMAD Awards Third $500 Travel Writing Grant
By Jessica Taryn
This quarter’s grant winner
Ryan Van Winkle, a Connecticut writer now living in the UK, is this quarter’s winner. A frequent traveler, Van Winkle has had his work published internationally, including the United States, Glasgow and Australia.
Van Winkle plans to use his $500 award to become one with the German tradition of Wandergesellen. Similar to nomads, the Wandergesellen set out on a journey across Germany and Europe with little or no money. All they carry with them is a journal, tools, hygiene products and a few spare clothes.
Van Winkle describes them, “Wearing floppy felt, black-beaked sorcerer’s hats, shaggy bell bottomed cords, white shirts and suede waistcoats, the two men stuck out in the cold Edinburgh rain like waterfalls in the desert. They looked like runaways from a Grimm’s Fairy Tale with red bandanas tied to sticks slung over their shoulders, and finely carved walking sticks resting in their rough palms…”
The Wandergazzelen engage in over thirty different types of crafts including carpentry, slating, stone cutting, and glass blowing and they earn no money for their work. They can not return home for at least three years and a day, during which they enjoy storytelling, hitchhiking, and eating meals with generous strangers.
The Wandergesellen Tradition
With about 600 currently roaming across the area, Van Winkle is certain that he can concoct quite an article traveling as a Wandergesellen.
We wish Ryan Van Winkle the best of luck and congratulations. We look forward to publishing an article about this fascinating expedition.
Top Nine Finalists
We received so many great submissions this quarter that we had trouble narrowing it down to only five finalists, so we chose nine. While Van Winkle’s proposal clearly stood out from the bunch, the other nine finalists are also very worthy of notice. We wish we had $500 to offer every writer!
Kathryn Brockman proposed an article that she plans on calling, “The Many Spirits of Iceland,” in which she will write about her travels to Reykjavik, Iceland where she plans to learn about the cultural beliefs in “Otherly Beings.” Brockman hopes to visit destinations like ‘The Valley of the Trolls’ and ‘The City of Elves’ to uncover the relationship between Icelanders and the spirits.
She says, “In February 2006, I plan to travel to Iceland to explore the relationship between humans, this shadow community of spirit beings, isolation, loneliness and tourism, whose very existence depends on peace and goodwill among all beings.”
Inspired by the Nordic folktales her mother read to her as a child, Brockman continued her studies and received a diploma in elf studies from the Icelandic Elf School, which she plans to use to help her identify and differentiate the spirits and their relationship to the culture of the people of Iceland.
“Little is known about Icelanders’ deeply rooted cultural beliefs in Otherly Beings that dwell side by side with them, influencing their daily lives and government,” she explains. Brockman also plans on learning about Iceland’s famous seafood, its thermal waters and thrilling nightlife.
Pamela Grossman plans to be the first teacher to travel with a group called Bridges to Community, which is an organization that works with medical students and physicians in Nicaragua to better health care in the country. Trained in ESL/TOEFL teaching, Grossman hopes to offer teacher-training workshops to Nicaraguan English teachers when she travels to Santa Rosa in March. Grossman plans on spending ten days in the municipality of Siuna and when not working, she plans to explore the rainforest and spend time getting to know the people and the village.
“I know that I have every bit as much to learn from the people of Santa Rosa as I do to teach them,” she says.
Maida Pineda will visit New Norcia, Australia’s only monastic town. Famous for its over-a-century-old wood fired oven, which makes delicious breads, its wine, olive oil and honey, monks live a self-reliant life of silence and simplicity in New Norcia. Pineda hopes to live in the monastery guesthouse or the old convent to learn the ways of the Australian monks. She will participate in early morning prayer sessions, visit the local museum and art gallery and join in on daily town tours.
Pineda says, “Perhaps, I may never commit to the strict vows of monks. But spending several days in New Norcia will surely soothe and spark this thirsting soul.”
Jessica Tonry is interested in writing about the lemurs of Madagascar, also known as the “nocturnal spirits.”
There are about 32 species still on the island in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. The animals are nocturnal and are most active when searching for food at night. They have characteristic large eyes which make the people in the area fear the animals.
Tonry says, “Although one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world, Madagascar is also one of the poorest. Natural resources are limited and widespread deforestation plagues the island. Conservation efforts, although robust, are slow to curb the rapid decline and dissemination of the lemurs.”
She plans on “exploring the role of the lemur in Malagasy culture, more specifically their role in common folklore.” She wants to study the creatures, why they are viewed as pests and why their appearance is scary to Madagascar’s inhabitants.
Spencer Stoner plans on starting a guidebook exclusively for kids about the adventurous and educational aspects of travel. The series will star two monkey brothers; Binky and Bongo. The two monkeys will experience all sorts of adventures.
“I hope to be able to expose the young audience to how fascinating, unique, and diverse the world around them is. Every book will incorporate detailed information about the country’s history, customs, culture, language, current issues, major sites, and geography to the underlying plot,” he explains.
Stoner will use digital photography, which through a digital editing process will look like cartoon drawings. Each book will be sold with a stamp and passport so that kids can record all of the countries that they ‘visited’ as part of the series.
Stoner wants to begin his first book by traveling to Brazil and extensively studying the area.
Martha Walden will travel to Hong Kong on a budget. She says, “Few people know that although it is one of the most expensive places in the world, it can be accessible even to travelers on a tight budget. This article details everything from excellent flight deals to inexpensive adventures in Hong Kong, and provides practical tips on how to save money.”
Martha plans on finding cheap places to hike, learning how to use public transportation, eating where the locals eat, visiting free museums and galleries, bargaining at the markets and partying hard with little cost.
Nicole Gluckstern proposed writing about life in Bulgaria, as she feels it is the lost culture. She says, “Nobody I have ever known has claimed a Bulgarian heritage.” However, Gluckstern notes that Bill Bryson speaks of its beautiful women and Lonely Planet boasts a wonderful café culture. She plans to travel to rural Bulgaria to study its culture and traditions.
“I predict that Bulgaria is verging on discovery by the restless travelers’ community, tired now of Prague, and still not entirely welcome in Romania,” she says.
Ellen Liberatori hopes to travel to Wadi Al Hietan, The Valley of Whales, about 124 miles (200 km) from Cairo, where 40 million-year-old whale skeletons lay. A country known for its Great Pyramids, Egypt has far more to offer than those famous structures.
Liberatori says, “It is the number one destination for archaeological pursuits, and some antiquities. We are definitely in the top ten for sand and sun, and although we cannot compare with the shopping capitals of London, Paris, or Rome, the old world bazaars and suuqs (as they are called here) rival these in finding the real treasures and seeing local life at its best…”
Last, but not least, Kristie McLean hopes to travel to Guinea Bissau in West Africa with a non-profit group based in Seattle that does research on potential water and cashew nut projects. She also plans on exploring the unique destination that few people travel, to write about the lives of the women who reside there.
She says, “I intend to write a story about my experiences with the women of Guinea Bissau, their dreams for the future, and small ways that others can support small micro-credit enterprises to better enhance sustainable ways of positive change.”
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