Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Stephanie Block

Kristin Pedroja won us over immediately when she bitched, “Does anyone else find it ridiculous that within two months of the invention of Viagra nearly 90% of American insurance companies covered it, and women are still paying for birth control?”

And this was after teaching us how to look for cheaper versions of our birth control pills in Europe!

And when she finally urged Americans to vote from Slovenia, we just knew we needed to get to know this Diva way better.

Once upon a time, there was a local lady like you and me living in her country of origin and working at a job and telling jokes in her native tongue. One day, she got laid off.

Naturally, She Then…

“…took a few weeks to chill in Italy solo, and decided to move to Europe. Moved to Prague in autumn 2001; taught English and wrote for the Prague Post and had a blast.

“Moved to Lisbon in autumn 2002; taught English and wrote for the English newspapers based in the Algarve. Spent summers 2003 and 2004 in Lugano, Switzerland teaching middle school ESL at an international school. Moved to Ljubljana in August 2004, where I still live. I’m currently writing English exams for NATO and the Council of Europe for the Slovene government; also freelancing for LjubljanaLife magazine.”

Travel Thoughts from the Timid… NOT!

“I love traveling alone; it’s so empowering. You really can open yourself to embracing everything about a culture. My favourite memory is probably being in Siena for Il Palio, a horse race that takes place twice a year, and loving the little town so much that I couldn’t leave. Asisi, in Umbria, is also magical; it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to any spiritual heaven.

“I go to London alone every couple of months and hook up with friends who have ended up living there. Living abroad is often a lonely experience, so independence is a necessity; this oftentimes means traveling solo, whether it be across continents or just a couple of hours on a train. I’ve grown to cherish my experiences on my own, and am so happy that I am a strict journal writer. I’m perfectly content with myself, my journal, and my iPod.

“Finding friends who are also good travelers is rare and golden. I have strained friendships trying to travel with them. Travel is about experience for me, which means letting things fall as they may. Following my nose, my heart, my eyes to something that looks fabulous just to check it out. Over-planning ruins things for me.”

Favorite Solo Moment

“I was in Ireland once, at a pub in Killarney, where a woman plopped beside me and began chatting about her recent hysterectomy. Apparently I reminded her of her daughter. She and her husband ended up cooking me breakfast the next day and giving me a fantastic tour of the area.

“In all, the most magical moments for me are when they are least expected. For example, this morning on my way to work I saw the Julien Alps (southernmost part of the range) for the first time in ages – it’s been so cloudy lately, and the mountains were covered in snow and looked radiant reaching above the hills just beyond my office. Mini-triumphs like taking my parents to dinner in Evora, Portugal and actually being able to translate for them. Living somewhere different makes the little irritations in life just that much more bearable.

“Life is like a story; the plot twists can take you to some amazing places and allow you to glimpse things you never thought possible.

Unflinching International Diva, a Short Bio

This Wichita, Kansas girl is Dorothy’s antithesis- marching through a series of lands and never wanting to go home, whatever that is.

“I love sports and do whatever I can to watch Kansas basketball (especially in March) and the England Premiership – I’m an Arsenal fan and am watching Chelsea closely this year because the coach is Portuguese. It’s nearly snowboarding season in Slovenia, so that will be a hobby again soon.

“I’m 31 and very much a Libra. My favourite astrology website is the
empowering and fantabulous Rob Bresney’s Free Will Astrology. I read him every week and love his go-girl philosophies.

“I’m not married, I’m childless, and, to quote Cameron Diaz (I love this), ‘If I wanted to be married with kids I would be.’ I’ve dated boys (and a couple of men) from nine countries and find English guys the most fun to flirt with, Irish the most fun to drink with, Spanish the most fun to dance with, Italians the most fun on a date. Since I moved abroad, I’ve had my heart broken once and have broken one heart.

“It’s difficult to date when you live abroad, because the ex-pat community is so tight and usually very small, and you know everyone’s stories immediately. I’ve had a few long-distance flirtations, a few intense romances (for everything is that much more intense whilst living abroad) and lots of dates; I wouldn’t change a thing about these.”

Hobbies Include Pilates, Cooking, and… Winning Karaoke Contests?

“I love to karaoke. No, I’m serious. I’ve won two competitions, one with Britney Spears’ “Stronger” and one with Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Best karaoke moment: with my Scottish flatmate in Elvas, Portugal’s castle (honestly, called Elvas Castello) where my flatmate and I ran through the entire English (and a few Portuguese) song catalogue. Apparently they still talk about us in that tiny town. The bar shut down two weeks afterward, also. Erm. It’s a great way to act like a complete fool and have a laugh.”

Discovering the Meaning of Life at Age Eight

“I wrote in my journal at the age of 8 that when I was older, I always wanted to live somewhere that amazes me each day. I’m lucky to have done just that.

“We leave parts of us everywhere, as everywhere we are touches us, too; Prague and Lisbon will always feel like home, Seattle and San Francisco, and London, to an extent, because I have so many fantastic friends there. This sense of ‘home’ as a place doesn’t really resonate with me; I feel at home with people or in certain situations. Home can be my parent’s sofa or walking up to the castle here in Ljubljana. I would like to have a place to call home, someday, but when or where that will be I’m uncertain of.”

Next Stop…

“Top places on my list right now: Goa in India; Angola to visit former students and see the sunlight and shadows, which I have heard are magnificent; Hong Kong, because I’ve always wanted to go.”

Advice From One Diva to Another

“Learn to embrace fear and twist it around to glow a path toward where you want to be.

Learn to love yourself – your body, your soul, your mind, your creativity.

There’s a huge world out there just waiting for you to be in it.

Learn from everything, every experience, every minute detail of every day.

Always smile and you’ll look fabulous.

Take care of yourself, your appearance, your mind, your soul.

Share.

Give a street artist money.

To Americans: Do not assume people would like to trade passports. When
abroad, don’t expect things to happen like they do at home. Don’t bitch about it. Stay clear of talking politics, because nobody understands what it’s like to be an American who isn’t American, and the assumptions run deep, especially now. Travel with a clear head and no expectations, and you will always be pleasantly surprised.

If you feel scared, you probably look scared. Be smart and nothing will happen to you.

Sing. I sing all the time, people think I’m nuts and I could care less.

Treat people with respect.

Friends are waiting to be made.”

So now that you know Kristin and have a friend on the Forum, keep your eye out for the next time she invites us all to meet up with her over New Years in Amsterdam.

Remember, we keep a proud eye on our JetSet Forum, and the next Visionary Diva could be you!

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