Phil: Bel, thank you for being part of my blog launch. I’m thrilled to be able to ask you a few questions. From Instagram, it always looks to me like you’re living the life so many of us want; waking up to warmth, sunshine and sandy beaches. So, I thought you’d be a perfect guest for the launch of my new travel blog. You grew up in Australia, which I’ve heard is a pretty nice place. How did you catch the travel bug? And what made you decide to live somewhere other than Australia?
Bel: I love Australia and have seen most of it, so decided I wanted to see the rest of the world. I got the travel bug after spending a month in Bali as a 40th birthday present to myself. The trip was spent contemplating and deciding what I wanted my life to be. I speak Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) and after talking with locals and enjoying tours, I realized that I loved being immersed in another culture.
What made me decide to live somewhere else? That’s easy, life, food, culture, festivals, different landscapes, nature and everything another country has that is different from Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud Aussie, but I wanted to see the rest of the world. I wanted to see grand European sprawling oak trees, explore all seven oceans, slide down jungle rock slides while jaguar spotting in Belize, learn Spanish, learn how to cook like a Mexican … the list goes on. I wanted to see and experience so many other cultures.
Phil: Once you decided to be a world traveler after you got out of the Navy, where did you go first?
Bel: Straight to the top norther half of India, then onto Cambodia, which I have dreamed of since I was a little girl. To see those amazing huge trees spreading over ancient ruins as the jungle reclaimed temples was one of the most beautiful spiritual experiences of my life. I adore Cambodia.
Then I went on a month-long trip through Central America which included Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. From there I went back to Belize, intending to stay and settle, but I preferred Guatemala, so I popped next door to Guatemala and lived in Antigua for 2 years.
Phil: How did you become a travel writer?
Bel:I did the Travel Writer’s Program through Great Escape Publishing and that taught me how to write, what editors look for, how to pitch a story, how to build my professional profile etc. Basically it taught me how to become a travel writer. Then a lot of hard work. I write for them now sometimes and it’s such a wonderful feeling. They class me as a success story and all I did was read some pages and put into practice. Easy peasy.
Phil: In your books about Guatemala and Mexico, why 21 reasons? How did you choose that number?
Bel: The number came from David Anicetti, who was the original author of 21 Reasons to Visit Antigua, Guatemala. I was doing ghostwriting at the time and re-wrote a few chapters for him. He liked my writing so much that he sent me the whole book and made me co-author, and a partnership was born. Now, we have four books in the series. I write them and do the photography, and he does the formatting, publishing, marketing side of things. Together we are 21 Reasons book series.
Phil: Where are you currently writing aside from your blog?
Bel: I am a full-time writer, photographer and videographer. I freelance and write for publications world-wide on a broad range of topics. I do a lot of writing for International Living, Great Escape Publishing (about writing and photography) and am a presenter for their photography workshop next month. I’m speaking about how to make $$ with your smartphone photography and also how photography can be a force for good in the world.
Phil: As a seasoned world traveler, do you still have any bucket list places that you haven’t been to yet?
Bel: Geez Phil ask a hard question … I have so many. I want to explore Spain, and do the El Camino (a huge walk across Spain) to see it’s quaint villages and golden churches. I want to swim in the beautiful Greek isles, stay in a Scottish castle, hug the largest trees on Earth in The Grove of the Titans in California where the giant old sequoia’s and redwoods are. I want to be lost in the striations of orange, terracotta and red ochres of the Antelope Canyons delicately curved caves and tunnels. I want to see the lake of lightening in Nicaragua, I want, I want, I want … you get the idea.
My bucket list grows daily and is longer than my street. I can’t wait to see it all. I honestly believe I will spend the rest of my life experiencing the magical cultures and peoples of this world. There is so much beauty to be shared. Languages to learn and amazing food to learn how to cook. It is a thirst that will never be quenched. My wanderlust delights in tormenting me with places to go next.
Phil: Bel, thank you so much for your time and for being a part of the launch of my new travel blog. I would encourage my readers that if you thirst for travel adventures please find Bel all over the internet. You can check out her books on Amazon and follow her colorful life on Instagram.