Summer Travel: Where are you headed?

Summer Travel: Where are you headed?

Published on Jul 5th 2024

We had the privilege of sitting with Dr. Elizabeth Lindsay, National Geographic Explorer. As an advocate for social, environmental, and cultural justice, she travels to the world's most remote regions to protect and preserve indigenous knowledge. Read the full interview below.

BT: You love our robes and have sent many as gifts! Which one is your favorite and why?
EL: I love the microfiber plush-lined robe because it’s silky and soft. It reminds me of a big hug, so I give it to all my friends as gifts.

BT: You’re an award-winning filmmaker. What is the most rewarding part of making a film?
EL: We live in a world that is bloated yet starved for wisdom. Modernity seeks the joy, meaningfulness, kindness, peace, and authentic wealth that many native communities live daily. One of the most rewarding parts of making a film is that it acknowledges and amplifies the voices and wisdom of these indigenous societies.

BT: What was the most challenging expedition you ever undertook as a National Geographic Explorer?
EL: The most challenging and dangerous expedition I’ve ever led was to a remote Micronesian island called Satawal. It was once home to the greatest celestial navigators in the world, who sailed on humble canoes thousands of miles without using maps or instruments. My mentor of 10 years was considered the greatest wayfinder among them.

BT: Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve met, and what did you learn from them?
EL: Palu, Celestial navigators of Micronesia, taught me how they sailed by the signs of nature, including the sun, moon, stars, waves, birds, and cloud formations.
Moken Tribe, Sea nomads in the Andaman Sea, showed me how to heighten my awareness and live intimately with nature.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, taught me greater compassion and joy.
The Queros Elders of Peru taught me about their wisdom and a deep and abiding love for their environment, especially their mountains.
From my Polynesian Elders, I learned the true meaning of Aloha, unconditional love, which no one can commodify.

BT: What’s the most fascinating culture /tradition that you’ve encountered and why?
EL: While leading an expedition to a tiny Micronesian island of Satawal, I spent much of my time among the women. Except for a small make-up mirror that I’ve packed in my luggage, I realized that I haven’t seen any mirrors on the island. No mirrors!

I watched 90-year-old women, with breasts to their waists, flirt wildly with my crew, flirting with unrestrained, innocent sensuality. There, they are ageless and beautiful. Un-self-conscious of their missing teeth and the size of their waistlines. Kindness is the way they define beauty. As such, these women only know themselves as luscious and gorgeous.

This experience was one of the most fascinating and powerful, especially for this female anthropologist!

BT: Life today is different in many ways, but how is it the same? What are some things we still do that mirror the instincts of our ancestors?
EL: We once gathered around a fire to share our stories and, in the process, learn more about ourselves and the world around us. Today, for better or worse, social media has become the “fire” around which many people gather. What matters is that every voice matters. Never have we had the opportunity to use our voices to positively touch the lives of many.

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