Traveling immerses us in the world, but sometimes in the less eventful moments in between destinations, we just need to escape. “The Layover” is a weekly roundup of books, music, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment brought to you by your favorite world travelers.
This week, we reached out to Marta Przewozna of In Search of Umami. Marta and her partner, JD, have been on the road since February 2015, traveling all over the world, from Poland and Panama to Singapore and Spain. Today, she discusses the entertainment she turns to during travel’s quieter moments.
“Somos Dos” by Bomba Estereo
Music is the best souvenir from any journey. It weighs nothing, but it transmits emotions and memories like nothing else can.
I still remember crowds of salsa dancers in Cali, Colombia. It seemed as though there was not a single person in Colombia who couldn’t dance. It’s like they have rhythm and music in their blood. And they all love Bomba Estereo — it’s their biggest source of pride (yes, even bigger than Shakira). One of the band’s songs, “Somos Dos,” was playing everywhere when my partner and I explored Colombia. We listened to it every day.
Whenever I miss the smell of the ocean, coffee, and the warmest people on earth, I play it and it takes me right back. It puts a smile on my face and brings rhythm to my hips. It’s impossible to sit still while listening to this one.
“Geisha: A Life” by Mineko Iwasaki
I always enjoy picking up books related to my current country or next destination.
“Geisha: A Life” was the perfect choice for Japan. Written by Mineko Iwasaki as a response to “Memoirs of a Geisha,” the book highlights Iwasaki’s life as one of the most famous geishas Japan has ever known. It’s easy to read (not so easy to put down), and also explains so much about complicated Japanese culture and the misrepresentations in the famous novel and film adaptation. It provides a tiny peek into one of the most secret societies on earth.
This book initiated my fascination with both the modern and the traditional side of Japan, and I still remember reading it in Kyoto under the blossoming plum trees, thinking about how glad I was to be there.
“Seven Years in Tibet”
“Seven Years in Tibet” was one of the first travel books I read and one of the first travel movies I watched. It changed my life. I was fascinated by how, even nowadays, there exist places on this planet where foreigners are still scarce and cultures and customs can still be discovered.
Heinrich Harrer spent seven years in Tibet by accident. A mountaineer escaping a British internment camp in India managed to write a mesmerizing story of Tibet as seen by a foreigner in the last years before the country changed forever. He even taught the current Dalai Lama. This book is proof that life writes the best scenes. I always go back to it in order to relive my childhood dream of discovering a completely foreign land.
I couldn’t handle the long waiting times for buses and boats in South America. There was no book or conversation that could calm me down and distract me from looking at the clock. But it was there that I discovered crochet. I’d always wanted to try it, but never took the time to learn. I decided to check out few simple stitches from YouTube and immediately started a “big blanket” project, consisting of all those tiny squares. It worked like a charm — I could wait for buses for hours without any stress. I even met a lot of people that came up to me because they were intrigued by my new found hobby.