Writer Wednesdays – Meet Jamie Baywood
Jamie Baywood’s debut book Getting Rooted in New Zealand is the journey of her flight from California to the ends of the earth and a classic story of discovering oneself. Jamie caught the wanderlust bug in 2006 when she got her passport and has traveled the world and found adventure, herself and love!
Writer Wednesdays would like to introduce Jamie Baywood.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from California. In my mid-twenties, I had bad dating experiences in California and a dream to live abroad. I read in a tour book that New Zealand’s population had 100,000 fewer men than women. I wanted to have some me time and an adventure. New Zealand seemed like a good place to do so.
How many countries have you visited?
I was born in Savannah, Georgia, but raised in Petaluma, California, an hour north of San Francisco. I spent a lot my childhood and young adulthood visiting various tourist destinations through California including San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake, Mammoth Lake, Mono Lake, Monterey Bay, Muir Woods, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Disneyland, Eureka, Bodega Bay, Santa Cruz, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara. I lived in San Diego for three years while studying at San Diego State University. I also visited Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida.
My first trip off the continental US was to Hawaii in 2001. In 2006, I got my passport and since then I’ve been to:
- Costa Rica – 2006
- El Salvador
- Peru – 2006
- England – 2007 (Contiki tour)
- Belgium – 2007 (Contiki tour)
- Austria– 2007 (Contiki tour)
- Germany – 2007 (Contiki tour)
- Switzerland– 2007 (Contiki tour)
- Italy– 2007 (Contiki tour)
- France– 2007 (Contiki tour)
- Samoa – 2010
- America Samoa – 2010
- New Zealand – 2010-2011
- Australia – 2011
- Scotland – 2011
- Tenerife – 2013
- Wales – 2013
- Holland – 2013
For a month I lived in the village of Faagulu on the island Tutuila also known as American Samoa in April 2010 and went back to visit again in November 2010 for nine days. I was able to see most of the island during my time in American Samoa. I hiked, snorkelled and drank pina coladas at Tisa’s Barefoot Bar. I witnessed the appearance of the Turtle and the Shark legend in the village of Vaitogi, when children of the village sang the legendary song to make the turtle and shark appear. I also hiked around the small neighbouring island Aunu’u.
I also spent five days in Samoa previously known as Western Samoa. I split my time between Savaii and the island of Upolu. I enjoyed snorkelling, went bike riding, hiking, swam with turtles and witnessed traditional Samoan songs and dances.
If you could describe your method of travel in one word, what would it be?
I married a Scottish man that I meet in New Zealand in January 2012. We had a perfect day with sunshine, candles and white orchids in the Mugdock Castle and a rainbow over Loch Lomond, bunny rabbits hopping by us, then a full moon reflecting on Loch Lomond at night.
What is your dream destination?
I want to go so many places. The thought of living in once place for ever seems foreign now and makes me feel claustrophobic. It would be fun to be a tourist again rather than dissembling and reassembling my life and taking all my belongings with me when I move internationally. I’d love to be able to tour around Europe.
I really miss the warm, friendly nature of the people in the South Pacific. I would love to see more Pacific Islands, and travel throughout Micronesia and Melanesia.
I’ve been to Costa Rica and Peru on short holidays; I would love to see more of South America and Central America. I absolutely want to go to Yucatán peninsula in Mexico and see the Mayan ruins. I’d love to go to the Caribbean.
As strange as it may sound, although I’m American I haven’t been to many States. I’d love to go to Alaska, New York, see the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, Miami, Austin, Chicago, Portland and Seattle. I hear Canada is amazing.
It looks like I need to sell more books to buy plane tickets!
How has travel changed you?
I am a flawed human being and not attempting to hide it. Although I hope that I have learned from my mistakes, I wouldn’t change anything. My travel experiences have turned me into a writer and I am extremely grateful for that.
I really feel travel is the best teacher. I didn’t know a soul in New Zealand before I went there. Within two weeks of my plane landing in New Zealand, I found a place to live and a job. I don’t know anywhere else in the world you can do that. I’ve been living abroad since 2010. It’s made me resilient, self-reliant, fearless and adaptable. I’ve really learned to trust my instincts and believe in myself.
As a writer do you feel you see the world and approach travel differently than if you didn’t write?
Publishing my book Getting Rooted in New Zealand was my way of transforming poison into medicine. I hope that it can help people that have had bad dating experiences or bad work experiences – make them laugh and not give up hope.
While living in New Zealand, I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane.
I was very lucky in New Zealand to meet a lot of talented people. I had the opportunity to write and perform for Thomas Sainsbury the most prolific playwright in New Zealand. I performed a monologue about my jobs in the Basement Theatre in Auckland. The funny thing about that experience was Tom kept me separated from the other performers until it was time to perform. I was under the impression that all the performers were foreigners giving their experiences in New Zealand. All of the other performers were professional actors telling stories that weren’t their own. At first I was mortified, but the audience seemed to enjoy my “performance,” laughing their way through my monologue. After the shows we would go out and mingle with the audience. People would ask me how long I had been acting. I would tell them, “I wasn’t acting; I have to go to work tomorrow and sit next to the girl wearing her dead dog’s collar.” No one believed I was telling the truth.
Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. To write my book Getting Rooted In New Zealand, I relied upon my personal journals, e-mails, and memories. In February 2013, I organised my stories into a cohesive narrative. It went through several rounds of editing and then I published in April 2013. I constantly make myself notes. Last summer in Wales, I was scribble stories on the backs of maps and Google directions as a passenger in the car. I also send myself text messages or emails riding in trains or buses. It might not look like I’m writing a book if one was to observe me, but I am constantly watching, listening and thinking about writing.
Do you have any new books on the horizon?
I plan to divide my books by the countries I’ve lived in. I’ve lived in five countries; America, American Samoa, New Zealand, Scotland, England and now back in Scotland. I’d like to write book will be about attempting to settle in Scotland. I’d also like to write a prequel to Getting Rooted in New Zealand about my crazy dating experience in California that motivated me to flee the country.
Do you have any upcoming trips? If so, to where?
My friend Liam and character in Getting Rooted in New Zealand is coming to visit me in Scotland. I’m going to show him around Scotland, starting with a two night stay near Loch Ness.
What is your must have travel accessory?
My Scottish husband.
What is your favourite travel book?
May I Ask You Something? by Cyan Corwine.
What is your favourite travel quote?
“If you travel for eleven but stop with only one day remaining, how can you admire the moon over the capital?” by Nichiren Daishonin
Getting Rooted in New Zealand is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon
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