10 Questions to get acquainted with audacious Roxanne Reid
Welcome to a new feature in my blogs. Popupblog as the name suggests, will pop up from time to time.
This is where I indulge myself by writing about anything other than my own travels. Sometimes it will be an interview with one of my heroes or in this case, heroine. Other times I will chat about something close to my heart and my theme, such as people, places and principles that interest me. They will all relate to travel, ecotourism or extreme travellers and adventurers.
Hope you enjoy this new feature and would love some feedback.
Interview with Roxanne Reid - Independent travel writer and book editor
I first found out about Roxanne in 2015 when, by chance, I found a blog about the Platbos indigenous forest. I was intrigued that there was a hidden gem deep in the forest that I’ve driven past for so many years. As I delved deeper into Roxanne’s blogs I was drawn to this kindred spirit. Here was a woman, adventurous, entertaining and inspirational. An experienced traveller in Africa, in fact, an Africa addict, as she calls herself. She also portrays a passion for its animals, people and culture. Since then I’ve followed her travel stories relentlessly.
I’ve decided it’s time to get to know Roxanne better.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself. You’re not only a travel blogger. In fact, you’ve stipulated you’re an Africa Travel Blogger. Why Africa specifically?
I’m an independent writer, author, book editor, proofreader and travel blogger, writing about travel to places like Namibia, Botswana, the Kalahari and the Karoo. I also write about topics like wildlife and health. My editing work has taught me a lot about a variety of subjects, such as photography, conservation, geology, palaeontology and even fiction writing.
I chose to blog exclusively about Africa because I wanted to inspire more people – both Africans and international tourists – to travel in Africa. A great deal is written about Europe and other international destinations but few people know much about Africa beyond the stereotypes. Even people who live here forget how diverse and wonderful our own continent is.
RF: You’re so right. Africa has so much to offer, not just the usual tourist destinations. Even if you’ve scrubbed the African sand from under your toenails, and washed her dust off your skin, she has still left an imprint of her inside you.
2. What was your motivation to start blogging about your trips?
Writing has been part of my DNA since I was a child, and I’ve always written travel diaries. Blogging was also a natural extension of my work as a journalist and writer. For work and pleasure, I get to travel to some superb or quirky destinations and I wanted to share these experiences with others, inspiring them to visit places they didn’t know about or reminding them of places they’ve loved.
RF: I’ve noticed writing is in your genes. Your soft spot for South Africa and Africa is evident in your writing and you take time to explore and experience the areas that you visit. The way you write draws your reader into the experience.
3. Any adventurer or traveller has some wow moments when they travel. Tell me about yours.
There are so many because even the sight of a ruined building or a field of flowers in bloom can be a wow moment. A hot air balloon ride over the Sossusvlei dunes in Namibia at sunrise was definitely spectacular and memorable. Poling up the water channels of the Okavango Delta in a mokoro would make the list too, as well as visiting the Masai Mara and Serengeti – both classic safari destinations that were filled with wow moments every day.
RF: I’m glad you had to answer that question and not me. When one has had so many great experiences like you, it must be difficult to decide which moments stand out for you. Judging by the pictures, the hot air balloon ride must have been jaw dropping.
The only balloon trip I ever experienced, for my 40th birthday, was less than 500 meters. The air was so still that we barely moved. Even so, that bunny hop was spectacular in its own right.
Over the ancient shifting dunes of Namibia is another story. The landscape is outstanding from the balloon. Your blog describes the experience beautifully and I feel like I’m right there with you. Who would think landing a hot air balloon could be quite so tricky. I’d be very disappointed if you didn’t want the ‘sports landing’ – an adventurous woman like you could hardly appreciate a calm, soft bounce back to earth.
I’ve also spent a couple of hours on a mokoro in the Okavango Delta and I agree, that is close to the top of my list. Tanzania and Kenya are still two destinations that I haven’t explored. They are of course on my bucket list.
4. What is your greatest achievement, something you are extremely proud of?
Surviving in the tough world of freelancing for 18 years is an achievement in itself, but I’m probably most proud of the four books I’ve published, including two about travel. A Walk in the Park is about South Africa’s national parks and Travels in the Kalahari is about the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Both are still available as eBooks from Amazon.
RF: From what I’ve seen, freelancing is tough but it looks like you’ve made your mark in that industry. Your books are certainly another great achievement. I must confess, I haven’t read A Walk in the Park, but it sounds fascinating and is on my reading list. Travels in the Kalahari intrigues me too, because we’ve spent some time in a few different spots and loved every minute. I have however read The Essential Guide to Self-editing. I shouldn’t admit to that, should I, because now you can point out a few of my writing mistakes! I picked up quite a few that I’ve made in the past just from reading your book. I’ll certainly make a point of reading your other books too.
5. I’m sure with your string of achievements you’ve met some interesting or famous people in your career. Who made your knees buckle and made you think you’d never have the opportunity to meet them?
To be honest, it’s not famous people who have left the deepest impression, but safari guides with their encyclopaedic knowledge and enthusiasm, and the ordinary people I meet along the way who give me a better insight into a destination and allow me to share their lives for an hour or two. Every person I’ve met who is passionate about his or her small patch of Earth has taught me something new and thrilling.
RF: Interesting that you don’t pin-point someone specifically. Not even one African explorer? That confirms you are passionate about all the people of South Africa and Africa.
6. What do you do when it’s time to relax and take a break? A little birdy told me you’re not a sun worshipper, yet our African sun is quite a magnet for most people.
I’m definitely not a sun babe, so you’re unlikely to find me on a beach – unless I’m walking on it in the very early morning before it gets hot, or at sunset to enjoy the special quality of the light. Leisure for me is travelling, discovering somewhere new, or winkling out unusual stories. Walks in forests and visits to wineries also make the cut. When I’m feeling lazy, I’m an avid reader, especially fiction, biography and social history.
RF: To be a writer, one has to be a reader. That’s a good way to relax as well as take in information. Those quiet times, whether it be reading or walking are the best times to reflect and enjoy the moment.
7. You have so many job titles. As a freelance writer, photojournalist, blogger, editor, proofreader and travel writer, which one do you select as your favourite and why?
It’s impossible to select a favourite, because each has its special inspiration (and challenges). In fact, it’s the diverse mix itself that keeps me from becoming bored. I might be editing and restructuring a book manuscript one week, proofreading or writing about grammar the next, then immersing myself in a travel writing project the week after that.
RF: It’s great to have a variety of different writing projects. No matter what you do and how much you enjoy it, there are always challenges. It’s a great achievement and gives fulfilment though, to overcome those challenges.
8. You must have had some challenging or frightening experiences while traveling. Tell us one that stands out for you.
I’ve had to deal with a few equipment failures – including dropping a camera just before embarking on a houseboat/photo safari experience in Botswana, breaking down miles from anywhere in Kunene, Namibia, and getting stuck in thick sand at Sossusvlei. Such mishaps are fairly stressful for both me and my travel-buddy husband, but we’ve never had an experience that has been truly frightening. I like to think that’s because of good planning, but it’s probably more to do with luck or attitude.
RF: It’s quite annoying when you damage or lose a vital part of your equipment. Even if you have a few backup gadgets, it’s not quite the right one or the same thing, especially in a remote area.
Breakdowns and getting stuck are definitely stressful at the time – we’ve had the odd one or two. What is great though, is to be able to laugh about it afterwards and of course tell the tale. I’m a great one for lists and planning, but on occasion I love to wing it too.
9. Is there a blog that you’ve written that stands out for you? Has it achieved what you wanted it to? (provide a link for that)
Such a hard question because there are so many, but perhaps my favourite blog post of the past year is about soaring in a hot air balloon over Sossusvlei – simply because it stands out as one of my favourite African travel memories ever. It was expensive and we thought long and hard before forking out the money, but have no regrets.
RF: Hot air balloon rides are expensive but even if one only manages it only once in a lifetime, it most certainly is worth it. Your photos are just breath-taking and there can't be any reservations about those. Not like the time at Dikbaardskolk when you threatened divorce.
10. You have achieved so much thus far. What would you still want to achieve? Do you set goals for yourself?
I still want to write a few more books, I’d love to explore other destinations in Africa like Morocco, Madagascar, Uganda and Rwanda, and given how much work I plough into my blog, I’d love to start making some serious money from it – money that could fund more travels, of course.
RF: I second that! Don’t we all want more money for travels? I can recommend Madagascar. It certainly is worth a visit. Do make a point of going there. The rest I can’t vouch for but they intrigue me as well.
Thanks, Roxanne, it’s been fun getting to know you better. I’m sure you will make a success of what you set out to do as you have done before. I wish you luck with all your future goals and thank you for allowing me to interview you. I for one love your adventures and will continue to follow them. I’m sure there will be many more. I wish you every success in your future ventures and adventures.
Follow Roxanne’s travels on her weekly African travel blog.
To whet your appetite, here are a few of Roxanne's photos.
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