GoNOMAD Awards Second $500 Grant

GoNOMAD.com Awards Second $500 Travel Writing Grant

By Michael Di Natale

Kelly Westhoff

Always on the lookout for new and exciting travel stories and writers, GoNOMAD began awarding a quarterly grant of $500 to writers in May of 2005. Awarded every three months, one-page synopsizes are submit by writers and are reviewed by GoNOMAD’s editorial staff. After much thoughtful discussion and debate the staff selects a winner from a short list of finalists.

Kelly Westhoff, a contributing editor at Minnesota Women's Press, has been selected as this quarter’s receipt of the GoNOMAD Travel Grant. Westhoff submitted a plan to use the $500 grant to extend her impending trip to Uruguay and write an article on the secluded costal village of Cabo Polonia in Uruguay.

Cabo Polonia is place without modern convenience. Westhoff writes, “Trains, buses and cars are not allowed; dune buggies and horse-drawn carts are. There is no electricity. There is no running water. There is no cell phone service.” Luckily for Westhoff and us, Cabo Polonia presents beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean courtesy of its expansive beaches as well as the nuances of a quiet fishing village.

Cabo Polonia also benefits from its close proximity to a one-of-a kind Uruguayan forest. Westhoff tells us, “Ombu trees are a rare sight: they usually grow alone in sparsely populated, isolated areas. But hundreds of ombu trees stand together in a grove not far from Cabo Polonia in what is one of the only ombu forests in the world.”

Travelers looking for an alternative to Uruguay’s most famous destination, Punta del Este, might take notice of Westhoff’s alternative destination. Instead of a crowded tourist Mecca, travelers will be able to catch a glimpse of the quiet laidback Uruguayan lifestyle.

Westhoff is an experienced travel writer, having been published on GoNOMAD and other travel magazines. We thank her for her submission and wish her the best of luck on her trip; we can’t wait to see the results.

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Top Five Finalists

This quarter we were faced with many difficult decisions before we could select a winner. While we couldn’t award everyone our $500 prize, these five finalists had wonderful story ideas and should be recognized for their great potential. Their synopses will be automatically reentered in subsequent award selections.

Although she called her idea “slightly cheesy and borderline desperate,” Vivien Savath had the right idea with her proposed exploration into her family’s Laotian heritage.

She writes, “I want nothing more to wander by general stores, such as the one my mother’s family used to own, peddling everything from textiles to fresh-laid eggs or take a ride down the same Mekong River on which my father used to race stick-boats with his cousins.”

Robert Isenberg a budding playwright and feature writer wanted to drive to the Arctic rim with his proposed piece, “The End of the World.” He writes, “I propose to drive as far as the roads are laid – starting in a centrally located city, like Churchill, on the Hudson Bay – and driving a rental car as far as I can, observing the topographical and cultural changes as a traveler ventures north.”

Artic exploration seemed to be a theme with this quarter’s contest as Tom Koppel wanted to head north for his story “Journey to the Ice.” Koppel an award-winning freelancer for more than 20 years had a powerful idea in traveling aboard a small Russian ship on a naturalist expedition through the famed Northwest Passage.

He writes, “Zodiac cruises and landings will give a good view of ice conditions and wildlife (e.g. walrus and polar bears), and I will have the chance to meet and speak with local Inuit both at Pond Inlet and at two villages on the Greenland coast.”

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Carl Weaver was interested in writing a story about his personal experiences at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. In his proposal, he writes, “I have been invited to spend some time in a monastery [in Thailand] with a friend who is a Buddhist monk. My plan is to take ordination and stay in the temple for one or two weeks. The articles I would write from this experience would describe the ordination process and the acclimation to such a different culture.”

The last finalist, Clifford Terry, wanted to delve into history by retracing the daily routines of the ancient Pandyan Kingdom a trade empire that was situated in southern India around the year 6 BCE. He writes, “The story I propose would be a first person journey to Tamil Nadu in southern India to explore the life and culture during the Sangam period. Most of the journey will feature the city of Madurai but may also include some of the neighboring districts that also played an important part in its history.”


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