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November 02 , 2008

Peanut Buttered Roast Squid: A Boomer Travels Solo


Susan Merrill Thomas, like her name suggests, is the classic boomer. She had two children, a boy and a girl, a husband, aging parents, a teaching job, a dog, a red brick and taupe suburban home, and a gray minivan. When it all turned upside down, she retired and set out to see the world in an unorthodox way.

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Exposed is written for the expressed purpose to get you out of your comfort level and expose the place where you’re most vulnerable. Intended to speak truth into that dark space hidden from view.

Peanut Buttered Roast Squid: A Boomer Travels Solo is a memoir and travel book that begins with a series of losses that set the author on an uncharted path from suburban Michigan to exotic locations around the world. While her story illustrates the redemptive power of change, it is primarily a primer and guidebook for solo travelers who want to explore affordable and exciting locations.

From her initial dive off the deep end with a month-long trip to Japan and Korea, to her determination to escape Michigan winters in Central America, Thomas learns from mistakes, does her pre-voyage research, and shares it all in an inspiring series of informal travel tales. After 30 years of teaching English, she struggles through a Prague-based training program for teaching English as a second language while observing the lasting effects of communist rule. In day trips and long-weekend travels through central Europe, she goes off the most touristic path and remembers the Cold War fears that were part of a mid-century American childhood. In Guatemala and Nicaragua she guides us through friendly ex-pat communities and the layers of Spanish and indigenous cultures. While she wonders at her limited knowledge of the countries’ political struggles recorded in murals, her place in the world gently shifts.

For the tourist who wants a local experience as reflected in a region’s food, street life, folk and fine art, history, and idiosyncrasies, Peanut Buttered Roast Squid provides a quirky and appreciative view of the world. This is not from the perspective of the back-packers who shared the road in Phnom Penh and Copan Ruinas, Bangkok and Krakow, but from an active, older traveler who needs a clean, safe bed and a good meal, preferably with wine or beer.

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