10 Years of Legal Nomads: Favourite Posts from A Decade of Nomadic Living

10 Years of Legal Nomads: Favourite Posts from A Decade of Nomadic Living

My preliminary plan for a 10-year anniversary celebration was a giant get together in my then-home of Oaxaca. When it grew to become obvious that my food-filled bash could be unattainable, I believed I might share the writing and images that introduced me essentially the most pleasure over time.

Today marks one 12 months from the spinal faucet that modified my life. In what was simply the hardest 12 months I’ve had, it feels proper to share this lengthy retrospective on my tapaversary.

I smiled loads and I cried loads as I rounded up the posts under. Compiling these recollections allowed me to launch a bit of the grief that I lugged round with me this 12 months. The course of felt profoundly cathartic. And I really feel lucky, as a result of whereas my recollection over time is sweet, having a written compendium right here of my adventures breathes life into them time and again.

I couldn’t assist however discover that my photographs had been nothing to get enthusiastic about once I set out, with absentminded framing and no enhancing. And that’s okay, as a result of this was a weblog for my mum and my associates. I had no plans to make Legal Nomads the skeleton of a brand new profession. I see journey bloggers begin out in the present day with their blogs all shiny and able to go, and whereas that’s in all probability the most effective enterprise determination general, I’m very glad looking back that it wasn’t what I did. Those first two years with an occasional laptop computer, little social media, and taking notes by hand on lengthy bus and boat rides supplied a stark, arresting distinction to my days in Biglaw.


Over the years, I had many alternatives to run Legal Nomads in a different way. I may have added advertisements. Made a lot shorter posts. Taken extra press journeys. Opened the weblog as much as sponsored hyperlinks or visitor writing. As journey running a blog developed, so too did the methods to earn a living.

The factor is, nearly each time I met a reader on a meals stroll or throughout a meetup, I’d inevitably suppose, “if I met this person at a party, I’d totes want to be their friend.” They had been good, they had been curious, they usually had been caring. My great neighborhood made it simple to maintain doing what I used to be doing.

My speculation was easy: if I believed my readers had been the cat’s pyjamas, then clearly I used to be writing as my true self.

Writing in a real voice was necessary. Presenting a glimmering model of your self that doesn’t really feel actual is a straightforward path to discontent. You can comply with your ardour all you need, however when you’re not expressing it authentically, in a manner that’s indisputably you, the hole will meet up with you. The area between who you might be and who you categorical your self to be exists in various levels. But if it’s too giant, particularly in case your work includes sharing your ideas creatively, the disparity can simply engulf you.

The enterprise philosophy over time has been easy. Write the way you’d wish to learn, study as a lot as you may every day, hear very fastidiously to what readers let you know, and create the merchandise they really feel they want or need of their lives.

(If getting cash alone was the first aim, I might have gone again to working as a lawyer.)

With the occasions that transpired this 12 months I’m very glad I did issues my manner. When shit actually hit the fan in January, it allowed me to look again on this decade of concentrated, generally ill-advised journey and say, “no regrets at all.”*

*okay possibly that bus trip to La Paz.

That ethos additionally led to a book about food, to hand-drawn maps of food, and to detailed gluten free playing cards so celiacs can eat meals safely as they journey, with much less nervousness.

You guys certain like your meals.

Which is handy, since I do too.

But it didn’t begin out that manner.

Early tales under are largely about journey, because the meals half actually got here in later. It wasn’t till I received to China after which Southeast Asia that meals grew to become the factor that led me from place to put, studying as a lot as I may. I’ve written earlier than how associates from regulation faculty discover my meals obsession laughable as a result of then I simply didn’t actually take note of what I used to be consuming.

My title is Jodi, and I’m a former careless eater.

For the final a few years, nonetheless, the quickest technique to happiness was by a bowl of soup.

Hu tieu nam vang in Saigon, 2013

On this journey of 10 years and hundreds upon hundreds of steps, I consumed many bowls of soup.

Through these bowls of soup, and the gracious (and generally much less gracious) people who made them, I discovered a lot in regards to the world and people dwelling in it.

A giant due to Candace Rose Rardon for the attractive brief video under, a hand-drawn reward of my favorite soup, bun rieu.

My submit about it, after all, included within the spherical up under.



Ten Years of Long Term Travel (And the Stories Behind the Posts)

bagan myanmar

Overlooking the temples of Bagan at nightfall, Myanmar 2009. Taken by my buddy Honza.

Why sure, there IS a desk of contents!

Click to leap forward, or scroll right down to go so as:
FAQs for 2018 and What’s Next


A be aware earlier than we dive in! I initially set out on this round-the-world journey with Jess, who was my opposing counsel on an advert deal we negotiated for our employers earlier than we stop. She was an excellent lawyer who additionally wished to journey, and after the closing lunch for the deal we agreed to make the leap collectively. We began Legal Nomads on Blogger, with the wonderful slogan “Two Lawyers, One World”.

I received sick fairly shortly (theme right here, I do know), and Jess continued on once I headed again to North America in the summertime of 2008 for a couple of months of restoration. She visited India, elements of Africa, and documented it right here earlier than returning to the States and lawyering as soon as extra.

So for individuals who are newer readers: Jess was my “s” in Legal Nomads, and why the positioning wasn’t The Legal Nomad to start with. 

Salkantay to Macchu Picchu, with Bronchitis:

In which Jodi discovers diclofenac, and the rescue mule.

salkantay to macchu picchu

Embarking on the Salkantay to Macchu Picchi trek, with the problem straight forward

Friends really useful that I skip the extra widespread Inca Trail path to Macchu Picchu and keep away from the crowds by choosing Salkantay or Lares treks as a substitute. The selection was made for me once I realized that there have been no extra permits for the Inca Trail that season, so the subsequent step was discovering a tour operator to take me the harder manner: winding up by Salkantay Pass, then right down to the bushes under.

I opted for a corporation known as United Mice, and ended up with a really small group who had been all in fine condition and prepared to attend for me. Because I had the good thought to climb Salkantay with bronchitis and a busted rib. My lungs wheezing up at altitude, the poor rescue mule caught with me as a passenger on the highest factors, and a really painful ladders-and-ropes climb up Putucusi close to the top of the journey.

Still, she persevered.

macchu picchu


Despite that transient stint on the rescue mule, I made it to the highest of Salkantay, and Macchu Picchu, and Huayna Picchu, and Putucusi. Basically, I used to be a loopy individual.

Bronchitis 0, Jodi 1


Bronchitis? WHAT BRONCHITIS? Posting atop Putucusi, the place I needed to take diclofenac tablets to make it up the ladders as a result of I had BUSTED A RIB resulting from robust coughing.

Mongolia Dazzles the Mind:

Wide open areas and nomadic dwelling.

Mongolia, I wrote, was “like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”

I left on my round-the-world journey primarily in order that I may go to Siberia, and that I did do. Lured by an previous PBS documentary in regards to the trans-Siberian trains, and a cloudy gemstone I discovered as a kid, it was as great and satisfying as I had hoped.

But Mongolia. I hadn’t thought that far forward. Silly me, considering Siberia could be the apex of my adventures – solely to search out the subsequent nation a wholly mind-blowing affair. And after all 9 extra years of journey that I didn’t count on both.

The piece consists of fairly a couple of practiced superstitions that had been relayed alongside the way in which, and on the time I keep in mind feeling the awe of a giant 180. Stepping over sheep and goats to pee within the Gobi, shoveling sheep manure to maintain the yurt heat at night time, and sending photographs from the Blackberry I nonetheless had in hand to my household in Canada going, “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?” From lawyer a couple of months previous to tenting within the Gobi with a household of nomads, attempting to stop a magpie from operating off with sheep intestines? Yep, issues had modified.

I included this submit as a result of nothing since has in comparison with the magic of merely watching the identification I had dissolve, changed by pure marvel. Who I used to be shortly prior didn’t matter, as a result of the whole lot in entrance of me felt so intensely new that it blotted out something acquainted.

All in a Beijing Block:

If solely I knew how lengthy Beijing blocks had been earlier than I arrived.

Joel and I first met after we had been barely out of our teenagers. We spent a summer season stuffing our faces in Montreal, after which stuffed ourselves right into a automobile to drive 29 hours for the second 12 months of Bonnaroo. After the trains spat me out in Beijing at daybreak, he gathered me up for a reunion.

My one-week journey become a month of consuming, consuming tea, and me studying in regards to the metropolis that had grow to be his house. It was fascinating to weigh the variations in how dwelling overseas had modified him. I used to be at the beginning of my travels and the truth that he traveled to Beijing after which stayed was a marvel. Could this be what I selected, too?

Fluent in Mandarin and impish as at all times, seeing Beijing by Joel’s eyes was a real pleasure. My month within the metropolis opened me extra to studying by meals, one thing that grew to become my raison d’être quickly thereafter.

long term travel

“Yawn for the camera, Jodi!” “Ok, Joel!”

beijing feast

99% of our time in Beijing concerned meals and Pu’erh tea. The remaining 10% was journey to the locations the place the meals and tea lived.


Dos and Don’ts of Getting Sick on a Round the World Trip:

This is an early piece in what is kind of a couple of wellness posts on the positioning. I’ve now aggregated them in their very own class, as they’re one thing readers ask for occasionally. (Came for the journey, stayed for the ache, eh?)

I share this submit for 2 causes: the primary is that there’s a component two, which is actually only a listing of mishaps involving illness – lack of toenails, getting tear gassed, falling off a cliff, YOU KNOW THE USUAL. Somehow the 15 issues occurred in solely Three years of round-the-world journey.

The extra necessary cause is that the story I inform at first is a part of why I lastly grew up and began taking my celiac prognosis significantly: a drugs girl in Siberia (yep, Siberia once more!) advised me that I’d be useless in 10 years if I didn’t.

Ulan-Ude, Siberia

Ulan-Ude, Siberia

This a part of the story didn’t make it into my submit, which is primarily some recommendations on staying wholesome on the highway, and the way stated Siberian girl stopped my evil cough on the trains. But it actually caught in my thoughts. Especially because the story occurred in 2008, and we’re… nearly at ten years later. In the again of my thoughts, I’ve actually stored an eye fixed on the clock.

To be clear, she was saying that if I didn’t do what I used to be imagined to do with my abdomen, there could be large issues.

And she scared me sufficiently to cease the “properly I don’t really feel sick if I eat x factor that’s completely not what I’m allowed to be consuming,” and truly BELIEVE the literature my physician had given me, belief the research that confirmed enhance abdomen and colon most cancers charges with out a strict adherence to a gluten free food plan for all times, and begin me on the trail that led to what’s now part of my enterprise: gluten free guides and translation playing cards for celiacs.

Lombok to Flores by Boat:

You get what you pay for.

lombok to flores by boat

My chariot for the Lombok to Flores boat journey.

In this case: I didn’t pay a lot and I’m fairly grateful to be alive after this journey! From our boat getting caught in a fishing web simply earlier than daybreak, to sleeping in an over-stuffed low slinging “5-Star Floating Loft” with the captain falling asleep on the wheel just about each day – it’s a marvel I’m.

Following a reasonably ridiculous journey again that involving sitting on the roof of a automobile careening by the mountains with a goat in my lap, this was one of many journeys I wrote about after after which despatched an advance apology to my mum.

lombok to flores by boat

Our boat down under. Beautiful journey, stuffed with misadventures.

El Nido, Paradise Found:

And I by no means wished to go away.

Bacuit Bay, Palawan

The Bacuit Bay, in all its glory, from the lodge that grew to become my house for a number of months.

el nido, philippines


I washed up on the shores of El Nido after a wretched 7-hour banca boat journey from Port Barton, Palawan, and it took little or no time to appreciate I didn’t wish to go away.

My house was The Alternative, a now-closed resort run by a superb girl named Becky. She, and her household, took me in and housed me for months in change for working on the entrance desk and aiding friends if obligatory. The place solely had electrical energy throughout particular hours of the day, I usually awoke bit by ants throughout the night time, and the one moderately priced manner out was by way of an insane bus trip to Puerto Princessa, or an equally loopy cargo ferry trip to Coron.

I beloved each minute of it.

The Philippines: I got here for the tarsiers, and I stayed for the folks (and people sunsets).


A Solar Eclipse in Burma:

Bhamo to Mandalay by authorities ferry, together with an additional day for getting caught in a sandbar. Several occasions.

government ferry bhamo to mandalay

My chariot for the multi-day ferry journey from Bhamo to Mandalay. We spent hours on deck, we ate, we did yoga, we taught everybody easy methods to play Memory, and we watched an eclipse.

I had no laptop computer or telephone with me throughout my weeks in Myanmar, so it was at an web cafe that I spotted the upcoming complete photo voltaic eclipse was exactly the place I used to be heading. SQUEE! Research prompt a authorities ferry that traveled from Bhamo to Mandalay. Newfound journey associates echoed this discovering, and some of us determined to expertise Eclipse O’Clock for ourselves.

I allude within the submit to the trouble of shopping for tickets. At the time, solely crisp new US payments with sure serial numbers exempt had been allowed for use in Myanmar. I particularly went to a financial institution within the states earlier than I left asking for brand spanking new payments solely, with out these serial numbers AND THEY WERE SUPER DUPER FRESH AND NEW. Alas, regardless of their cautious vertical house in my guidebook, the federal government ticket agent rejected them. I stated they had been new, he stated they weren’t. I received fairly annoyed and licked my invoice to show it was new. He took my disobedience as overt revolt and threatened to name the cops.

Thankfully, he known as my lodge proprietor who graciously swapped out payments he had for mine, so the gentleman could possibly be paid.

His payments had been undoubtedly extra worn down than mine, however faces weren’t misplaced within the course of – properly, aside from mine. Because I had a ticket, certain, however I additionally had a popularity in Bhamo for being a really troublesome pint-sized vacationer who licked cash.

Not my best second.

Regardless get on the boat I did, with stated journey associates. The journey included a karaoke-off with the captain broadcast by your entire ferry’s PA system, exploring part of the nation that’s sadly out of attain in the present day resulting from sectarian violence, and watching that attractive photo voltaic eclipse.

I’m certain you may see why I included it on this spherical up! It was an unforgettable journey.

solar eclipse myanmar

Eclipse o’clock on the Irawaddy!

My Safety Whistle, Worth its Weight in Gold:

One of the most well-liked earlier posts on my web site, and I nonetheless received’t go away house with out one.

Of all of the posts that characterised my preliminary years of journey, this one stays essentially the most notorious. At reader meetups, folks would convey me security whistles. Companies reached out to ask if I wished to make Legal Nomads branded ones, and any time a brand new traveler purchased a bag with a whistle on it, I’d get a photograph in the event that they learn my weblog.

I wished to ensure folks had a security whistle, however so lots of the posts I learn on the subject talked about feminine security in difficult circumstances. I made a decision to share the tales that had been just a little extra zany: how my whistle saved me from aggressive blanket-stealing monkeys, and extra.

I nonetheless at all times have a security whistle on my day bag.


WDS Keynote on Passion, Fear, and Taking Risks in Life

First time public talking.

keynote jodi ettenberg

My first ever discuss, at WDS 2011. (c) Tara Wages

I watched many speeches in my lifetime, however by no means contemplated turning into a public speaker. For good cause: it terrified me. I even received “most easily embarrassed” as my highschool graduating yearbook honour, so this was not a brand new drawback.

This was my first talking gig, due to some skillful maneuvering from Chris Guillebeau (learn: he didn’t ask me to talk, he put my title up as a keynote after which stated folks had been excited so I shouldn’t again out). I’m very grateful he did, as a result of talking has grow to be a giant a part of how I work.

I used to be past terrified to stand up on stage and threw up forward of my discuss. Somehow I managed to appear to be I wasn’t about to collapse in any respect whereas presenting, or so folks say. I labored as a company lawyer, not a litigator so I didn’t have courtroom expertise. It was this discuss – to 500 folks, no much less – that opened my eyes to the transformative energy of my very own storytelling by speech.

To stand up in entrance of a crowd of this dimension, to NOT fall off the stage (for some cause this was my large concern), and to have the viewers appear …I spotted halfway by the circulation of my discuss that this was one different medium I wished to embrace.

If solely I may cease throwing up.

The 12 months following this discuss, I accepted all gigs that got here my manner. After my 12th discuss, I ended throwing up. I nonetheless get terribly jittery, however I’ve conquered chunk of my worry of talking by particular apply instruments, laborious work, and stepping onstage even when it was terrifying.

An Ode to Spices

Where the meals writing — and Jodi Eats meals walks — all started.

Chilies in Jaipur, India

Chilies in Jaipur, India

This is the submit that led to my e-book and to taking readers across the dizzying alleyways of Saigon, feeding them till they had been able to burst. As I discussed above, in my lawyering days I didn’t look after meals the way in which I do now. Time flowed in 6-minute increments, and meals took up a a number of too many. But earlier than beginning in New York I spent a 12 months finding out European regulation in France. In between lessons, I discovered about spices from market distributors and realized that what I believed was “food” was truly simply fairly bland.

One of the toughest issues proper now could be that I’m very restricted it what I can eat. Most meals, together with nearly all spices, fish sauce, and a complete lot extra, give me anaphylactic reactions that have an effect on my therapeutic. I’m at present on essentially the most restricted of diets, and it’s astounding to consider what I used to eat and can’t any longer.

Decoding the Insanity of Driving in Morocco:

Not for the faint of coronary heart.

renting a car driving over the Tizi n'Tichka Atlas Mountains

Rainbows and storms alongside the Col du Tichka (or Tizi n’Tichka) within the Atlas Mountains.

This brief submit was a sillier one, as a result of how else to convey the large recreation of rooster that was my cross over the Atlas mountains and into the Sahara? I already had a couple of weeks of Morocco underneath my belt, and completely like to drive. While I joke on this piece in regards to the lack of guidelines being the rule, fact is the hours of looping over the mountains had been among the most exhilarating ones of my travels.

We drove from Marrakesh as much as the Col du Tichka (Tizi n’Tichka). The highway was constructed atop the echoes of an older caravan path within the 1930s, and it climbs up towards the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas earlier than its decline to Ourzazate and the desert. Trucks push laborious, hurtling their manner up the steep curves. Roadside meat and soups and tagine abound, and the danger of animal encounters is excessive. I say ‘risk’ as a result of what I actually imply is, “that blind curve ahead? I can’t promise there won’t be 100 sheep standing there as soon as you come around the bend. Good luck!”


The Overview Effect, Mindfulness, and Travel:

Changing how the world works, one vista at a time.

While I later dove deep into John Kabat-Zinn and mindfulness’ impact on ache, this 2012 submit was a really macro publicity to how perspective can change your life.

From that submit:

“Astronauts who have seen the Earth from space have often described the ‘overview effect’ as an experience that has transformed their perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it, and enabled them to perceive it as our shared home, without boundaries between nations or species.”

The time period Overview Effect was coined by astronaut Frank White, who truly commented on the submit (!), and refers back to the shift from seeing the Earth and other people in it as people, to really feel a coherence and unity between all of it. The submit pertains to area and time, however journey can remodel views in an analogous, extra refined manner.

I used to be serious about this submit just lately, as a result of this 12 months’s occasions felt to me like an “Overview Effect” of their very own. They’ve shifted the way in which I see the world, and myself in it. And they’ve skewed my notion of time.

Pictures from Myanmar: Myitkyina, Inle Lake, Mandalay, and More:

Temples of Bagan at dawn

Temples of Bagan at daybreak. Not pictured: goats.

Adventures in spontaneous, considerably unlawful journey.

soup vendor in myanmar

Me with my favorite soup woman on the town, and her lovely grandson. I went again there each day that I may. A soup lover was born!

I spent a complete of seven weeks in Myanmar in 2009/early 2010, overstaying my visa illegally and going as far as to photocopy it and white out the dates, to absolutely the glee of the gentleman working on the copy store. When I used to be pulled off buses or flagged on the aspect of the highway to current my passport and visa, I would supply the passport and my faux copy. Thankfully, nobody regarded on the date I used to be stamped in on; they had been too busy confused about what I used to be doing alone in the course of nowhere.

During my go to, the Junta was nonetheless in energy and there have been few vacationers within the nation, particularly in comparison with now. Myitkyina, the place I went to attend the Kachin State Fair, was particularly untouristed; your entire go to was a reverse-fishbowl, with the gaggle of vacationers there posing for photographs throughout a lot of the pageant. One photographer whined about it unceremoniously, “I’m right here to {photograph} them!” Boo hoo, think about how they really feel underneath the gaze of your lens?

Several cities I beloved are fully limits because of the horrifying sectarian violence in Myanmar throughout latest years. In 2009 and early 2010 once I was there, the nation was very totally different. Extremely low cost lodging, no ATMs or SIM playing cards I needed to depend my cash in the back of of the market in Yangon and lug it across the nation in ziploc baggage as a substitute. Without a doubt, the locals I ate with had been among the many nicest folks I’ve ever encountered, kind-hearted and engaging.

Before I left, I used to be warned that it was extraordinarily necessary to not speak about politics, not ask to see anybody’s house, not threat their lives because of the authorities on the time. I treaded fastidiously, and the vacationers I met did too. People had been dressed conservatively, they had been extraordinarily educated about historical past, they usually had been deeply within the (damaging) politics of the area.

I don’t write this with a tone of nostalgia, solely to share the way it was. When I learn folks’s accounts of the nation now, it appears a completely totally different place. I notice that’s the way it works.

But these 7 weeks had been a suspension of something that made sense. With no laptop computer, no cellular phone, and a cussed dedication to overstay my visa, each day was deeply immersive and really felt like I lived every week in 24 hours.

The associates I met touring in Myanmar, too, grew to become associates for all times.


Travel to North India: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly:

This submit about India is without doubt one of the longer ones on the positioning, however as you might suspect based mostly on the size of this one, I refuse to serialize my articles. It goes by the overwhelm of a rustic that appears to deal with the most effective and worst of humanity, essentially the most diverse of meals, the brightest of costume. India felt like an train in superlatives, and I synthesized it the one manner I knew how: by phrases and photos.

The journey was each a present to my mum for her 65th birthday – she at all times wished to see the Taj Mahal – and my first time in India. We spent most of our time in Rajasthan.

Before we left Canada my mum was advised, “if you want to avoid getting sick then just eat at the nicer hotels.” My mum’s reply: “Have you MET my daughter?!”

We ate road meals and restaurant meals. We had lassis and curries and dals for days. I received to see her pleasure as she dug deep into the nation’s historical past, and she or he watched me get so excited over a cardamom lime lassi that I cried.

As bonding journeys go, it wasn’t essentially the most enjoyable. But I wouldn’t change it for something.

Jaipur's palace of winds

Jaipur’s Palace of Winds

Lunch in Udaipur

Lunch in Udaipur

Pleading for Bun Rieu Soup in Cai Rang:

When folks ask me about Vietnam I joke that I got here for the canh chua, and stayed for the bun rieu. This tomato and crab broth is well certainly one of my favorite soups on this planet, and I’ve tracked it down in San Francisco, Ottawa, and additional afield.

In Cai Rang, nonetheless, I needed to beg for it – as a result of the market vendor simply wouldn’t serve it to me. A granny took pity on my soup wants and harangued the seller till he gave me the soup I wished. And then she introduced her associates to beam at me as I completed the bowl.

I like this submit as a result of my days in Cai Rang had been a real pleasure. I stayed at an exquisite homestay with a Quebec gentleman and his Vietnamese spouse, and spent mornings roaming the colorful markets close to the Mekong. In the afternoons, there have been bike rides and hammock studying. As with a lot of my journeys, I prolonged my keep and ended up feeling a part of the household. A real pleasure.


How to Make the Most of a Transpacific Repositioning Cruise:

I can’t start to quantify simply how enjoyable this journey from Vancouver to Tokyo was, with a bunch of people that had been uniquely diverse but didn’t take themselves too significantly. What occurs when you take a bunch of entrepreneurs with a childlike enthusiasm for all times, a love of tea, and simply the correct quantity of inexperienced bandanas? Click to search out out.

I included this submit as a result of it stays probably the greatest experiences I’ve had over time, a testomony to Tynan, who organized it, and Nick, who introduced lots of the props and get together video games that made the cruise so enjoyable.

repositioning cruise across the pacific

Heading to shore in Kamchatka province, Russia

repositioning cruise across the pacific

The fab group of “Gang Green,” inflicting havoc and creating pleasure on board the ship.

Japan in 77 Photos:

A short point out for this very lengthy (77 photographs lengthy, to be exact) photoessay from Japan: it’s right here as a result of I received an award for it in 2015. For somebody who began out taking photographs with out considering, not figuring out something about framing or cropping. And for somebody who nonetheless doesn’t use Lightroom or any enhancing (the photographs had been simply straightened and cropped in Google’s now-deprecated Picasa programme), this felt very good certainly!

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple) Kyoto

All smiles at Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto

Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari-taisha

I by no means considered myself as a photographer; the photographs existed to assist the phrases that I wrote. Over the years, I spent an increasing number of time serious about the suitable photographs to accent my items, and studying extra about cameras.

I had an exquisite time in Japan, criss-crossing by practice, climbing Mount Fuji as that 12 months’s birthday mountain, and consuming my physique weight in sashimi. Sadly, I additionally received sick regardless of displaying eating places a brief celiac card, and even at occasions with a information. So my weeks in Japan had been additionally cause that I created my gluten free playing cards – so different celiacs didn’t have the identical ache I did when touring to the nation.

Why I Love Saigon:

A love letter to the town I fell for at first sight.

jodi ettenberg saigon

Me in Saigon, New Year’s Eve 2014. Photo by Jimmy (Bean) Dau.

During my first day in Saigon, I turned to my good buddy James and stated, “I need to live here.”

He was stunned.

I had simply arrived, a lot of our mutual associates discovered the town too chaotic for his or her tastes, and I barely noticed something but.

“I don’t care, James. There’s a soup woman outdoors my door, the chaos is magical, and I simply know! I adore it.”

I wasn’t incorrect.

I ended up spending many winters in Saigon, consuming all the soups. Riding round from district to district, misplaced in alleyways and whirling round within the noise and call-and-answer of distributors on the road.

There wasn’t every week in Mexico the place I didn’t dream no less than as soon as about Saigon. The metropolis marked itself indelibly upon me.

I do know that I solely started to scratch the floor of the town and nation I beloved. But it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to notice that no place captured my coronary heart as shortly, and aggressively, as Saigon. And like a real “love at first sight” relationship, generally they will develop right into a nurturing, wholesome state of affairs. And generally they burn out, scorching and fierce, leaving you dazed.

My time in Saigon got here to an finish when the smog and mosquitos took me down. I wrote a really lengthy submit about all the road meals I ate and how one can too, however I selected my love letter to the town for this 10-year retrospective as a result of it particulars how the town captured my coronary heart.


Fishing for Socks in Lisbon:

I by no means received to put in writing a information to Lisbon, as a result of abruptly I used to be in New Zealand, studying to sail and sitting for 10 days of silent meditation. Sandwiched by driving across the nation for a number of months, these two experiences had been so arresting that I regarded again on my Lisbon notes in confusion.

What was I going to say, now?

lisbon portugal

Beautiful Lisbon

Most of the month in Lisbon was spent writing a speech on meals that I introduced in Estoril. My recollections of the town itself had been magical, although, with lengthy wanders round city and hours of considering on the lookouts that took my breath away.

Lisbon was the one different metropolis that felt like house nearly instantly upon arriving. I used to be in true limerence; nothing appeared incorrect. The buildings, the meals, the wine, and the ocean. The pleasant folks I met. The sophisticated historical past – tsunami, hearth, and earthquake ALL in sooner or later! How may one not fall for Lisbon?

I truly received my Portuguese residency visa accepted and was going to maneuver again there and set up a base when in 2016 I impulsively opted for Oaxaca as a substitute. That determination led me to a complete new set of recollections and associates and meals, however often I’m wondering what would life have been like had I chosen the opposite path?

When I received again from Portugal, I discovered a package deal of SmartWool socks on my mattress at my mother and father’ place. My buddy Tony despatched it to me after studying this submit, noting, “really Jodi, you could have just bought more socks.”

The piece is about socks, however after all probably not about socks. It nonetheless makes me smile in the present day.

Revisiting Mrs. Pa, the Best Smoothie Cart in Chiang Mai:

I first met Mrs. Pa in 2011, and have despatched everybody I do know to her cart ever since. When this mess occurred final 12 months, readers and associates handed messages forwards and backwards, till reached out herself to demand that I get higher.

I wrote about her initially in 2011 however this 2015 submit allowed an uncommon alternative to return and ask if the piece had an impact her work, and to share extra about her infectious enthusiasm for all times.

I miss Mrs. Pa’s wonderful strango smoothies with a pinch of lime, however I miss Mrs. Pa greater than all of her fruit mixed.

mrs. pa smoothies chiang mai

My cheerful reunion with Mrs. Pa, in Chiang Mai

On Facing Fear And Learning to Sail in New Zealand:

On Facing Fear and Learning How to Sail in New Zealand

So fairly. So scary.

After nearly drowning as a child within the native pool, crusing felt like a terrifying overreach of sanity. It’s one factor to take a bigger ship throughout the ocean, or a gradual shifting ferry. But a sailboat, and one you run with one different individual after solely 2 days of crusing faculty? Nope.

This piece was laborious to put in writing, however even more durable to expertise. Panic assaults, sleepless nights, and sobbing whereas adjusting the sail all determine prominently, however the thrilling half is that I might get on a sailboat once more in the present day. Learning to sail did assist me overcome my fears, and I hope to get again on a sailboat sooner or later.


Spiders and Silence: My 10 Day Vipassana Course:

Between the crusing and this arachnoid-filled Vipassana course, my time in New Zealand was not a soothing one. The Vipassana course, spiders apart, taught me an important talent that I used repeatedly as a lifeline when the cerebrospinal leak started.

For me, the fascination lies within the neuroscience of how meditation impacts the mind, in addition to the discourses and studying that occurs from Goenka himself. The identification side – the choice to vary the way in which you govern your self, achieved by the self-discipline of constant meditation – will not be the purpose of Vipassana. But I used to be doing the course for private causes, and a really private submit is what emerged.

Before this previous 12 months, the Vipassana was the toughest factor I’ve ever willingly carried out. And I’m infinitely grateful that I did it, as a result of it set me up for six months of complete incapacitation. Moreover, as somebody who had by no means meditated persistently previous to doing this course, I went into it with out an current apply to fall again on.

During the months of bedrest following the lumbar puncture, folks requested if I used to be bored. I actually wasn’t. I spent quite a lot of my time meditating, and particularly after the 4th patch in January – generally upwards of 5-6 hours a day.

I couldn’t management something about my bodily physique, and so with the assistance of these round me, I turned to my thoughts. Vipassana, guided meditations, and studying in regards to the mind stored me sane at a time the place nothing made any sense. This 10-day course was important to my skill to course of and keep equanimous throughout this terrifying time.

The Most Embarrassing Stories From my Travels:

This piece happened as a result of I used to be stung on the butt – twice – by an offended yellow jacket wasp. When associates stated, “Jodi why does this at all times occur to you?!” I spotted that I by no means wrote about among the mortifying experiences from my wandering.

You’re welcome.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, scene of one of many extra cringeworthy incidents on my travels.

Really although, when you can’t poke enjoyable at your self, what’s the purpose?

How to Eat Street Food with out Getting Sick:

This query was the one which guided me towards my e-book, and stays one of many extra frequent emails I obtain. So I made a decision to place a submit collectively and share my ideas as somebody who most well-liked road meals to eating places, and had a few years of consuming to show it. It’s one of many extra widespread posts on the positioning as a result of it’s a query we frequently fear about after we’re advised within the West that road meals is harmful.

This 12 months we misplaced two meals greats, Anthony Bourdain and Jonathan Gold. Both wrote exquisitely about meals, tradition, and journey. And each noticed consuming — usually road meals consuming — as a gateway to experiencing all of humanity in a single little vignette. Yes, road meals may be within the incorrect circumstances. But in the suitable circumstances, it’s merely scrumptious and it’s probably the most genuine cultural explorations you may take pleasure in in a brand new place.

best bun rieu saigon

My favorite bun rieu vendor in Saigon, establishing for the day.


The Cow Head Taco Philosopher of Oaxaca:

Not having the ability to return to Oaxaca has been a tough tablet to swallow about this large life change. Yes, the town is attractive. Yes, the encompassing sights are too. But what I miss are the folks, a lot of whom are within the meals world. Many have stayed in contact, fortunately, and one who makes me smile additional huge is Israel, he of the cow head tacos extraordinaire.

tacos de cabeza Oaxaca

Israel and his wonderful cow head tacos.

I’ve taken my mother and father to eat at his stall, and readers aplenty. My largest criticism is that he stored attempting to comp me my tacos, after which my mother and father’ tacos. So I took to leaving him pesos underneath his bag and texting him a be aware later: there’s no such factor as free tacos.

Of course, he was simply being affectionate. But when he realized I might persistently trick him into paying, he began giving me bottles of mezcal as a substitute. Our forwards and backwards continued, a present-off over time. I introduced him a fleece Canada hat for chilly Oaxaca mornings throughout the cooler autumn months. He introduced me mezcal and alebrijes. The finest sort of stalemate.

His jovial stomach snigger and enthusiastic hugs are extraordinary. But it’s his angle – certainly one of letting go of anger, embracing change and connection, and appreciating household – that serves an enduring lesson for anybody. His outlook on life and beneficiant spirit was the genesis for my submit.


My spinal faucet submit was just about it for this 12 months, so as a substitute…

Some FAQs From Emails with Readers

Many of you will have written asking questions, and I’ve compiled 6 of the commonest ones under, as a part of this 10 12 months retrospective.

1) Are you going to promote Legal Nomads?

No, I’ve no plans to promote the positioning. (And to the man who pitched one thing else, then discovered of my current state of affairs, and then requested if I used to be going to promote “since you can’t travel anyhow” – undoubtedly not, and if that’s the case by no means to you.)

2) Are you going to cease writing on Legal Nomads?

No, I’m going to maintain writing and have been quietly updating posts with present info. Some, like my Montreal information, had been up to date to replicate the spirit of the town I now name house. Others, like my transient historical past of chili peppers, had been up to date to incorporate the query I most frequently get by way of e mail: why do our mouths burn after we eat chilies?! And I’ve been updating a number of of my celiac guides as properly, with Malaysia and Thailand nearly full.

I do have drafts of some extra private posts I sit up for sharing, in addition to different “Brief history of” sequence posts, because the microhistory fascination is countless for me.

And I’ve nonetheless received a couple of Thrillable Hours posts to place up, and several other extra within the works.

3) What about your writing course?

*For background, awhile in the past I quietly put up a be aware a few course I deliberate to supply, known as “How to Tell Stories in a Digital World” and requested folks to contact me in the event that they had been .

The writing course! Yes, I hope to supply it as quickly as I’m ready. It shall be live-taught, so if I can’t journey I’m excited to journey by time with readers as a substitute. I’m not certain when it is going to be prepared as I’m nonetheless engaged on the workbook; my plan was to finalize it late final summer season and we all know how that went.

I’ve stored an e mail folder of individuals and shall be in contact when I’m prepared to start out.

The plan stays to supply lessons of 10 folks at a time to maintain issues centered and never too thinly unfold.

4) Can you write in regards to the specifics (therapies, books, meditations) of what’s labored for you as you get better?

Yes, I’m pleased to take action. I’ve needed to change a lot of what I eat, merchandise I take advantage of, and the way I transfer my physique that I do hope to place collectively a submit that offers the specifics as a result of I want I had that information once I was beginning on this highway! Like my submit about ache, I’m certain it’ll embody numerous sources.

5) Are you now in Montreal indefinitely?

Yes, although I’m staying with household as I’m nonetheless unable to stay independently. I additionally plan to drive again right down to Florida this winter. Winter and a therapeutic dura are a harmful proposition, particularly for a klutz like me.

My buddy Mike must get his automobile down that manner, and conveniently I slot in it. So the plan is to return and proceed the therapeutic course of. And the walks with birds.

6) How do you keep so optimistic regardless of what’s occurred?

Every 12 months that I do an annual evaluation, I speak about gratitude and appreciation. And that’s as a result of I’ve it in spades. Despite this difficult time and the overwhelming not-knowing of this subsequent stage, I’ve a decade of concentrated recollections, an enormous community of caring, good readers, and oldsters and associates who’ve prioritized my therapeutic.

There had been many, many weeks once I was not even remotely optimistic. Things had been very bleak, and understandably so. I keep in mind waking up at my mum’s place at 4am with a begin, realizing the depth of how sophisticated this was. Feeling the deep lack of what gave me unimaginable pleasure over the last decade.

My angle now could be much less about positivity and extra about selecting to give attention to what I’m grateful for, what I nonetheless do have in my life. As I stated in a latest podcast interview, there’s no therapeutic in being bitter.

At current, I don’t know whether or not I’ll be capable to journey once more safely. It could require quite a lot of lodging that I’m unsure make the expertise worthwhile. I don’t know as a result of it’s too early to know, too quickly to actually perceive what my baseline is.

So within the absence of not-knowing, I give attention to in the present day. Not by denying the validity of any grief or the anger, as a result of that simply makes them take maintain within the physique. But by feeling these feelings, after which setting them apart compassionately, saying to myself – “not today.”

Today, I give attention to what I’ve, and what I can do.

And that’s the most effective I can do for me as I work to get better.



Sara Lassiter

Add comment