I’ve been hounding the lovely Ronit Novak to do the Q&A for a few weeks now, and it sure was worth the wait. Ronit is a woman of many skills, photo editor-teacher-photographer with a truly adventurous spirit. Enjoy her answers below:
Just outside of Piana, Corsica. 2011
What is your dearest/funniest/strangest childhood travel memory?
I was 6 years old we moved from Calgary to Toronto. My dad drove the Ryder truck and my mum drove the van outfitted with a mattress and the family loveseat. It was me and my two big sisters with every Barbie doll and stuffed animal we had, bouncing around back there for 8 days. We slept in roadside motels and ate at Husky station truck stops. I loved it.
What was your most comfortable home away from home?
There is a little cabin I stay at every November in Haliburton, Ontario. It’s just me, a radio with 3 stations, and deer peering at me from the woods right outside. This year it snowed, and the geese were noisy. It’s basically where I go to reset.
Who makes the best travel companion?
A good friend, with good navigational skills.
What do you always pack?
Lately I’ve been trying to keep it down to only 2 cameras—a film and a digi. I also bring Clif bars, and a Moleskine notebook.
Is there anything particular that you collect/photograph/save on your trips?
I’ve always taken tons of photographs but when I got to Cambodia, I realized that what I needed to record the most was the sound. There were shrieking cicadas, fishing boats with motorcycle motors, and each vendor on the street had a different sound depending on what they sold: the bread guy has a mechanized megaphone voice, the noodle guy has bamboo sticks tapping out an infectious jingle. Cambodia is an auditory experience. Alternately, Corsica is an olfactory experience. On our many hikes I felt like I was walking inside a delicious and fresh Greek salad. I brought home wild rosemary and other intensely fragrant wild herbs in a ziplock baggie.
What would you change about the way we travel today?
What lesson can you share that arose from a mistake or misconception?
No nation or culture can be pinned down to one characteristic. There are many dualities and contradictions that co-exist to make each place fluid and interesting. The longer you stay and learn about a spot, the more complex it becomes.
What’s your trick for blending in with the locals?
Hang with them, make friends. Eat what they eat, because if you were born there, you would probably like it too.
If you could teleport to another location right now, where would it be?
To visit my friend, in Nepal.
And realistically, where are you off to next?
To visit my mum, in Florida.
And if you missed it, here’s last week’s Q&A from the Ken Grunberg.