2015 Autumn Plans

Eastern Townships of Quebec

After I fell down the stairs and fractured a rib, I spent the summer in Ottawa with my brother (eating a lot of soup) and then the month of September with my parents, split between the Eastern Townships and Montreal. My body healed more slowly than I thought, but the subsequent cognitive troubles were what worried me. Though it was the rib that hurt me the most, when I fell backwards I also clonked the back of my head against a step and passed out. I came to at the bottom of the short flight of stairs, aware of the pain in my rib and nothing else, unsure of how I got there.

In the weeks that followed, I started stuttering occasionally. More worrisome for a woman who subsists on the energy of words, I had trouble finding them as I spoke. Mid-sentence, I would stop and sigh, confused about what was happening. There was a concern of something awry in my brain after hitting my head, but happily an MRI has shown that my brain is just fine. (“Pristine” was the word the neurologist used. I’ll take it!) Instead, I’ve been told these kinds of symptoms are normal for some people with concussions, and they should dissipate in time. But it’s taken longer than I thought, and I don’t fully feel like myself right now.

Travel to Thailand, then back again

So instead of an excited announcement for restarting my Jodi Eats food tours in Saigon, I have decided to head back to North America after my time in Bangkok. I am a bit worried about the travel to Thailand, with long flights and layovers, but I think that is plenty of a toll on my body right now.

As I’ve written earlier in the summer, I’ve long pushed myself past the bounds of what is reasonable health wise, and I think I ought to listen to my body for once. While I absolutely love Saigon, there is a reason that I joke wryly that if I were to write about my time there I would entitle the book The City I Love is Trying to Kill Me. Every time I visit, I end up with a respiratory infection, and with dengue rates quite high this year, I think the right thing is to go somewhere I can simply rest. The chaos of Saigon isn’t that place, as much as my stomach is telling me that I am absolutely wrong in skipping it this year.

Lunar new year in Saigon
Saigon sure is beautiful. I took this during the Lunar New Year (Tet) fireworks several years ago.

I’ve done a few interviews this summer and a frequent question is “are you done with all this travel yet?” When people ask me if travel is “out of my system”, I reply with a smile that this is the new system. But as I noted in my 7 years of travel post, there are ups and downs to any choices, and if I’m going to be flexible in the life I lead, that has to include the awareness to stay still when my body says enough. I thought the summer would suffice to heal up, but I was wrong.

So about those fall plans…

First, Sunday I’ll be flying to Toronto to help G Adventures celebrate their 25th anniversary. I usually attend their Future of Tourism event, but this year they’re holding a fundraiser for their Planeterra nonprofit arm instead, as well as the promise of a big announcement about the company. They’re livestreaming the evening from their Ignite the Night page, so the announcement will be posted there. I’ve been a brand ambassador for 5 years now, and I’m looking forward to hearing what’s in store for them.

Then on Wednesday I will fly to Bangkok  to do the closing keynote for TBEX Bangkok about the neuroscience of storytelling, and why stories matter. During the Montreal meetup this weekend I joked that I had finally stopped throwing up with nervousness before I got on stage, but that a keynote might just bring me back. I’m looking forward to a full month in Thailand in total, as well as a reunion with some of my favorite foods from the country and the people I met when I stayed in Bangkok in 2010.

smoked pork in thailand
This was a few years ago, but there used to be an amazing woman who made smoked pork at the market and we would all rush there on Sundays to get some before she left. Sadly one day she just never reappeared, and I’ve dreamed about the pork ever since. This photo always makes me laugh because I would carry extra photos for visas with me as I travelled, and when I left to use the washroom mid-meal, I put my photo there to ward off anyone from eating it or throwing it out. Creepy, but effective. Yay for more Thai food soon!

I will head back to Montreal in early November instead of staying in Asia.

As for January, stay tuned! I am thinking Mexico since I have never been outside of Mexico City and (*cough*) Cancun. Plus, I just put the Mexico maps in the store, so it seems like a good time to eat everything on them. A return to Portugal is another option. If I’m feeling better, Asia is as well.

Some thank yous

For now, thank you for all the well wishes this summer, and for those who turned up for reader meetups in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto. I am not often in Canada and a byproduct of sticking close to my hometown has been the ability to meet up with more readers than usual. I enjoyed meeting so many of you, hearing your stories, and answering your questions.

A big thanks to Montreal reader Alain Wong who I met a few years ago and who offered to meet me before the meetup this weekend to take some photos. He shoots weddings and maternity pictures and is a wonderful photographer. I hate hate hate being in front of the camera. My friend Euvie shot my Saigon photos that grace the about page, and what distracted me from the awkwardness of being in front of the camera was trying to stay alive as she had me walk through traffic. Alain wasn’t so lucky and got awkward smiles and a lot of talking while he was trying to take photos. HOWEVER! He also got a cat, which bounded into the frame while we were in an alleyway in Griffintown. I love these two pictures. I was a happy Jodi to see the feline.

jodi ettenberg montreal
(c) Alain Wong, 2015
jodi ettenberg montreal
(c) Alain Wong 2015

Legal Nomads updates

The Links I Loved newsletter coming out tomorrow with some of this info as well as the best of this month’s longform writing from around the web. My word master Marloes and I are working on building destination pages for each of the countries I’ve been to that will serve as resources for them, which is a long but rewarding endeavor. We are also completing the How to Work and Travel from Anywhere page that I’ve promised as a sidekick to my World Travel Resources Page. And finally, we are starting to email people who volunteered for the Gluten Free Cards Translation Project, and the list of crowdsourced translators is long and mighty. (If you want to volunteer your language skills, see here.) I’m looking forward to sharing them all with you, and hope they serve as resources for those with questions or fears about their next steps involving travel.

That’s it for now! Hope to see some of you in Bangkok.


31 thoughts on “2015 Autumn Plans”

  1. I clunked the back of my head 4 yrs ago this Xmas… I was getting out of my car after dropping passengers of between Xmas brunch and dinner. Slipped on ice hiding under recent snowfall. Was all alone. As I was passing out I tried everything in my power to stay conscious…i did not pass out but it sure toke what seemed forever to get my limbs working together… It was the weirdest experience I’ve ever had..i tried so hard not to pass out cause I landed in the middle of the road that was covered in hidden snow covered ice.. I feared getting run over. I toke almost3 yrs to get to some form of normal. I call it the fall that spilled all my words out of my brain… It’s be having a conversation and completely stop talking… Didn’t lose track so much as.. lost ability to even remember were I was or what I was taking about. Drove me completely crazy. Try having an argument with a spouse or try making a point that you fervently believe in…..
    Get used to it… It’ll take a while. I don’t know how athletes that have multiple concussions survive their life…

    1. Yikes Kathy, I’m sorry to hear about your fall and subsequent troubles. They told me it just takes time as well. I am not losing track of conversations, but do find myself occasionally scrambling for words. Re athletes, a recent study of American football players who donated their brains to science found that 87 out 91 people (!!!) died from brain disease. Talk about destructive concussions. Stay well and hope you are at 100% now.

  2. I think you’re absolutely doing the right thing – sometimes we just need to stop and take a break once in a while, especially when it comes to healing (either physically or emotionally). I’m sorry we’ll be missing each other in Thailand – I’m not going until mid-November. I might, however, be in Mexico next year… so it would be amazing to catch you there!

  3. If your body says you need rest, you need rest! I traveled for 5 months between 2013 and 2014. I wasn’t quite done with my trip but then I kept getting a throat infection, and when eventually the doctors at the clinic I was sent to by my insurance told me “take your tonsils out once you go back to Italy” I knew it was time to go and not push my limits once more. Take care Jodi!

  4. It figures it would take not only a cracked rib but also a concussion to slow you down! I’m glad to read that you’re listening to your body and giving yourself a chance to truly recover and heal.

    And if you do head to Mexico, definitely get in touch because Tony & I spent the last six months driving through this country, so we stopped at plenty of places along the way to feast! And we’re now based in Playa del Carmen so, although I don’t know if you plan to visit the Yucatán again, but we’d love to take you around to our favorite food spots. (Personally, after six months of eating our way through Mexico, we both feel that the food in this part of Mexico is honestly some of the best we’ve sampled.) I’m employing the power of positive thinking and already starting a list of the best GF dishes for WHEN (not if!) you come to visit!

    Take care of yourself, and I look forward to following your delicious dispatches through Bangkok and beyond.

  5. So glad to see that it hasn’t affected your wonderful storytelling abilities! Good on you for taking a rest and letting your body heal as it should. We’ve been resting here in California since May, and it’s been a good time to mentally recharge before we head out again next month. Get well soon Jodi, and hope we can meet up with you again very soon! It’s been too long dear friend. :)

  6. Hey, long time reader first time poster. The fall and head bump is hard. As a practicing cognitive hypnotherapist I offer up two suggestions.
    *Play video games: Playing video games can greatly enhance cognitive functions. Check out Jane Mcgonigals new book. She covers a lot about how games help us set goals and achieve them. If you wanna feel young again download some 8 bit games for your phone, you’ll avoid expensive systems and headache inducing flashing lights.
    *Guided meditations:Sometimes after an accident all of our thoughts and energy get pent up and exasperate our problems. Meditation allows us to empty our selves out. This makes it easier to enter into your mental flow.

    I hope these help and best of luck!

    1. Thank you Jesse! I’ve seen Jane’s stuff and listened to her on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, as recommended by another reader. I do meditation regardless but the circulation trouble that’s ongoing after the fall makes it hard to sit. I listen to guided meditations before bed, or do Vipassana body scans instead. Really appreciate your comment!

  7. OMG OMG OMG my lovely Jodi is gonna be in BKK the same time as me? This is the best news ever (one of your many stalkers also attending TBEX).

    Hope you’re ok to do a meet up and will be great to see you again.

  8. I hope you get well soon, Jodi. And I hope all the travel plans don’t make the condition worse.
    Hope to see you at TBEX! (a lot of hopes here)

  9. Ugh that’s frightening! I remember one day waking up and not remembering a thing from the night before. When I rolled out of bed I turned around and saw my entire pillow soaked in blood. Apparently I’d come home and it was raining and I’d slipped in the bathroom and smashed my head on the sink! Somehow I got to bed but the next few days was extremely hazy. I can’t remember feeling that sick in a long long time!

    Can’t imagine adding a broken rib to that feeling! Hope you’re feeling better!!

  10. I am so sorry to hear about your fall and your injury. that must have been such a shock. And I can’t even imagine the worry when you thought you were losing your ability to speak.
    I am so glad to hear that your brain is pristine and that you will recover soon. I am glad you decided to listen to your body. I do it too. Forget to put my health and wellbeing first. It is such an important lesson to learn.
    Sorry to hear about Thailand. but Montreal and Mexico sound awesome and exciting. Looking forward to reading more. x Kat

  11. Get well soon gal. you won’t be happy in one place…so start your travels again! You titled this “Autumn plans”…but you could have very well titled it “Fall Plans” (pun intended)

  12. Hi Jodi, I’m so sorry on what happened to you and your fractured ribs. But I can see that you still had the chance to roam around at different places, right. Don’t you worry Jodi, I know it will heal so fast and praying for your fast recovery. So excited to read more of your blogs and more food posts. Godbless.

  13. Jodi, hope you are fully healed now. I just got some news about a bulging disk in my spine and it is such a shock to realise that you might have to adapt the lifestyle you love in order to heal.

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