Kira Salak, adventuring. Image courtesy of Restless Books.
If you had the pleasure of reading Kira Salak’s stunning book Four Corners along with us last month, you know how riveting her adventure was.
As a young woman, Salak ventured into parts unknown in Papua New Guinea and emerged to write an engaging and inspirational account.
We gathered a few questions for Kira from our meetup groups and Go Girl readers, and her responses are in!
Read on for insight into her adventure, her writing process, and the future of travel.
Coconut palms in Papua New Guinea. Image by Flickr user Taro Taylor.
1. You wrote the book 13 years ago, and we imagine the way you view your experiences has changed. What is your perspective on the trip you took now?
I traveled to PNG in 1995, so almost 20 years ago now.
Recently, I returned there with my husband for our honeymoon. PNG is a different place now — modernized, with less of the traditional ways that I had so enjoyed during my first trip. I’m grateful I had the chance to see PNG before it changed forever.
2. How did your training as an athlete help you get through some of the more physically challenging activities during your trip?
I couldn’t have crossed PNG without being in the best shape possible. Through athletic training, you’re taught to keep going and not stop no matter how tired you are. This was very useful.
3. You did lots of adventuring in some very uncommon areas. How did you deal with things like your period while exploring such remote areas (and while traveling mainly with men)?
Menstruation was never a problem and was handled exactly the same way we handle it back home.
The more I adjusted to local ways of doing things, like eating taro for every meal, the easier it became. “When in Rome, do as the Romans…”
4. Before boarding the truck in Africa, the manager says,
“I believe you are a brave girl…but this is the wrong decision. Now is a very bad time. But I cannot stop you.”
This man lived a life of fear and danger in his country. He gave his advice based on experience, but you made the decision to go on the journey anyway. Can you speak to when you, personally, decide a risk is worth taking and when you adhere to warnings you’re given?
I was 20 years old, and a budding journalist. I wanted to get into the war zone and see what was happening to the people.
Was it risky? Yes. But I believed the risk was justified.
I wanted to try to make the world a better place, report on it, help people.
A farm in PNG. Image by Flickr user michal gonnen.
I realize now that I was naïve. But I really do believe that everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason. And what compelled me at the time was to cross Mozambique during its war.
It was a risky decision, but one that would have profound positive effects on my future life.
5. How did you go about writing the dialogue for this book? Did you feel the need to keep everything accurate to what people said?
I wrote extensively in my journals, usually within hours of something happening. Of course, I wanted all dialogue to be as accurate as possible, and I also understood the ethical responsibility of this.
6. We understand you have a daughter. How has your experience affected how you’ve decided to raise her? Would you encourage her to go on adventures like the one you went on?
The world we are living in is going to be changing fast, and I don’t think travel will become as possible anymore. This is already happening. Half the countries I’ve visited are too violent to go to now.
My daughter’s world is going to be very different, so it’s not possible for me to speculate about what she’ll be able to do.
But for people who have the finances and ability to travel to more “exotic” countries, they should do so before it’s too late.