Interview with Linda Ostro – new retiree and aspiring writer and activist
1. Linda, tell me abit about who you are and how you ended up in Barcelona
-I’m an American from the San Francisco Bay Area and have been in Barcelona for just one year. My husband, Bart, and I came for 18 months while he’s on sabbatical from his work as Chief Epidemiologist in charge of air pollution control for the California Environmental Protection Agency. He’s doing research with the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, on the beach in Barceloneta.
2. You have had a fascinating working life, tell me a bit about it, and why you loved your work
-I’ve been in the travel industry since 1969. Upon graduation from university, I fulfilled my dream of traveling the world working as a flight attendant for a charter airline, World Airways. I had many incredible experiences because they had no fixed schedule and often we had very long layovers while we waited for our next charter. I had temporary bases from time to time and was based two winters in the early 1970’s in Surabaya, Indonesia when we had a contract to fly the Muslim pilgrims to Jedda, Saudia Arabia. I used this as a jumping off point to do extensive traveling through Asia and ended up meeting my first husband and getting married in Bali. We left Asia to go to Panarea, a very small island off the coast of Sicily, where we lived for a year and managed a small resort hotel. When we left Panarea we traveled overland through Europe and Asia and I became pregnant in India. We returned to San Francisco, where our son was born and raised, and I went to work in the adventure travel industry. I retired last year as Sales Manager for Mountain Travel Sobek, the company that started the whole adventure travel industry. I took many trips with MTS and trekked in all of the major mountain ranges of the world. If you’re interested, here is a link to MTS:http://www.mtsobek.com/
3. What exercise have you done and how has it helped you?
-As an employee of MTS I was constantly working out to prepare for the treks I was sent on. I went hiking every weekend in California and during the week I did yoga and various work outs at the gym. I suffer from arthritis in my knees, feet and hands, and am now in my 60’s, so exercise is vital to my staying as young and flexible as possible. Living in Barcelona without a car I now walk and use a bike to get everywhere and try to do as much yoga as time allows.
-I grew up in Seattle, surrounded by snow capped mountains and always loved being in nature and the quiet and beauty of places you can only get to by walking. Anyone who is fit can hike and the physical and spiritual rewards are enormous. One trekking story that others might benefit from is an unfortunate experience that happened when I trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It’s a 4 day hike and you’re surrounded by the incredible beauty of the Andes and an array of Incan archaeological sites, so by the time you get to Machu Picchu, though tired, you’ve entered into a state of near bliss. When I got to the hotel upon arrival at Machu Picchu and took off my hiking boots I was shocked to discover that my big toenails were both black and blue! I hadn’t even noticed while hiking, but later realized that I hadn’t trimmed my toenails short enough and that with all of the ups and downs on the trail my toes were constantly banging into the ends of my boots. Sadly I lost the nails on both feet and they have never fully recovered and cause me discomfort to this day.
5)What is the most important trekking tip you would give someone and what was your favourite trek so far?
-It’s very important that you wear boots that fit properly, trim your toenails, wear good padded trekking socks, and keep your feet moisturized. I also strongly recommend using trekking poles. They help you in dangerous areas where there are loose rocks or “exposure” and keep your knees from too much pressure on the downhill.
I would say my favorite trek out of many incredible favorites was when I was sent on a “scouting” trip for a new trek in remote eastern Bhutan accompanied by 2 guides, a porter, a cook, and 2 horse men. We were trekking over an old route that the local royal family used to move from their winter to their summer palace and it had never been trekked by foreigners. It was beautiful camping out in the middle of the remote Himalayas with no one around but my team, some nomads and a variety of exotic birds. But, the best part of all was arriving at the winter palace where I spent the night and fell asleep to the sound of the resident monks blowing their long horns and chanting. I felt like the luckiest person in the world!
6. You have problems with your feet, explain what it is, why you got it, and what has helped?
-I have arthritis in my feet and have some issues from the loss of my toenails. I’ve been to podiatrists and explored all kinds of medical treatments without great success, so I was amazed to find that Nunu’s massage helped my feet more than anything I’ve tried. I think it has to do with the circulation in my feet and keeping them flexible. I’m now getting regular massage as well as regular acupuncture treatments and my feet have not been this happy in years!
7.Having just become retired, what are your exciting future plans?
– As a result of my extensive world travel I have a lot of stories to tell and I love to write so I’m hoping to complete a memoir. But more importantly, because of all of the wonderful people that I’ve met and in the “developing” world I’ve become hyper aware of the importance of education and the development of and encouragement of women and want to work to raise funds and awareness for NGOs that are doing wonderful work in these areas. I’ve taken a couple of steps in this direction while in Barcelona and hope to go to work in earnest on these issues when I return to California in September.