The first thing I do when I decide on a vacation destination is buy a guidebook. The second thing is to look for some good narratives about the place. That’s where you get all the sweet little local-based details guidebook writers don’t have time or budget to discover. This one-two punch usually puts me on the ground with a good idea of what I’ll be getting myself into.
And so it was with Bali.
Of course if you’re headed there, you’re pretty much required to read Eat, Pray, Love. And of course knowing this was pretty much the requirement meant that I pretty much had zero interest in reading it. But as my trip got closer and my petty resentment luke-warmed, I broke down and bought the book.
Cut to me curled in bed for an entire weekend unable to put said book down.
Damn you, Elizabeth Gilbert!
Damn your stories of Italy that launched me back to that college summer I spent in Urbino arguing politics in garbled Italian while gaining fifteen gelato-based pounds. Damn your recounting of the ability to sit still and meditate in India while mosquitoes feast upon your flesh in a way I’ll never be able to. And damn you for meeting such colorful Balinese characters that I had to try and track them down myself while spending free weekends in Ubud.
Your ability to turn crisis into enlightenment has inspired millions, including me (and Oprah). Not a small feat.
It has also turned me into a bit of a local hero in my hometown of Strongsville, Ohio. I am now known to my mother’s friends as that girl who met Ketut. Before I was just that impetuous roustabout routinely breaking my mother’s heart by running off to terrifying places around the globe. (Oooooh, Cambodia … Egypt … Spain!)
So for the two or three Travel Betties out there who haven’t yet read Elizabeth’s book, if you’re headed to Italy, India, or Indonesia or if you’re just headed to the beach this summer and looking for something exotic to read, it’s a pretty good guess that Eat, Pray, Love will inspire you too.
Originally published on TravelBetty