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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meeting Jayme in Croatia: A coincidence?

Meeting Jayme Moye in Croatia in 2010,  was an extraordinary coincidence. 

 It was one of those experiences that makes you believe that everything does, indeed, happen for a reason.
  We were two women- both from Mentor and both travel writers - among a group of 10 on a wooden sailing ship setting sail  between Dubrovnik and Split  intending to explore a handful of islands on foot.

 She was the youngest of the bunch and more subdued than many of the others. I later learned that only the month before she had decided to end her 10-year marriage. That's probably why she chose time alone reading to the impromptu charades and other games that broke out on deck during sails between islands.

 The harvest season voyage was framed as one that would give us tastes of the countryside, from Croatian wines and traditional dishes to just harvested produce. We had a wonderful chef aboard who turned out creative food day after day. On that trip I photographed Jayme eating her first raw oyster, just harvested from the briny Adriatic. The face she made was memorable, but showed her embrace of the place.

 I recalled that oyster experience when preparing my story about Jayme  for Monday's News-Herald. During my research for that, I discovered a story she wrote about a trip to Africa when she drank the freshly drawn blood of a cow. That's something tribal people do to keep up strength and nutrition when food is scarce. Other Americans were repelled at the very thought, but not Jayme. She embraced it, in much the same way that she gulped down that oyster.

 I quickly discovered that Jayme was also the most fit among the Romanca's passengers. The ship would drop us off on one side of an island, then set sail to meet us on the island's other side after we'd hiked across it. These islands are largely dry and mountainous, so presented quite a challenge for me. But Jayme, with lungs tempered by high altitude living in Boulder, Colo. would run the trails and reach the other side hours before the rest of us. As I got to know Jayme better, my appreciation for her extraordinary spirit deepened, and the seeds for this story about her were planted.

I wondered: How does a girl from Mentor become one who pursues challenging adventures so foreign from her upbringing?

 Although I'm nearly twice her age, Jayme and I share the same passion to see and learn from the world. Maybe it's because besides Mentor roots, we both also share March as the month of our birthdays. Jayme and I have traveled to many of the same places, although she tends to choose trips to scout areas that might later serve to promote tourism while I travel generally better known tourism paths. I blame my Viking ancestry for my wanderlust, but I'm still not sure what motivates Jayme. Any guesses?

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