Kimberley Lovato’s new book explores the ‘Unique Eats’ of San Francisco

Kimberelys book.jpg

A couple of weeks ago, I was wandering with friends in North Beach wondering where to dine. We walked the streets and examined menus, but were at a loss. The place we settled on was good, but I suspected we probably passed a few hidden gems. I wish I’d had a copy of Kimberley Lovato’s new book Unique Eats & Eateries of San Francisco, but it wasn’t released yet. Now that it is, I’ve ordered one to have ready for my next bout of culinary disorientation!

Like in her book Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves (about the food of the Dordogne region of France), Kimberley reminds us that behind every restaurant is a dreamer and behind each recipe a story. For example, did you know Cioppino, San Francisco’s signature dish, was inspired by the left-over catch of Italian fisherman who in the 1800s arrived in the city. They put it in pots and then added to it, spiced it up until it evolved into the well known dish that it is today. The same process of trial and error  led to The Buena Vista’s perfect fog-inspired Irish Coffee. Among the dozens of restaurants she writes up, I was glad to see Swan’s Oyster bar included; I’ll never forget the Crab Lois salad I had there on one bright spring day.

Kimberley Lovato writes in a way that only a enthusiast can: with energy, easy interest, and detailed expertise. Better than a “best of book” she seeks places with story, history, and traditions that represent this–as she puts it–“uncommonly edible city”

Kimberley joined us on our first ever Deep Travel adventure to Morocco and fell in love with the country. She writes

From the second I arrived in the Fez medina for Deep Travel, it was a magic carpet ride. It was twisting and turning streets; food stalls piled high with spices and sticky nougat and oil and bottles of orange blossom water. It was sounds I’d never heard before like the clack of a loom, the tinny clang of metal being forged into bowls, a donkey bray as it hauled its heavy load pack through the tiniest of passageways. It was the coating of sugar on my teeth at each sip of hot mint tea.

She uses the French word dépaysement to sum up Morocco:

It means disoriented, out of your element, a change of scenery.  As someone who loves to get lost, Morocco was heaven, and I was never more pleased for the sensation of dépaysement. It was hard to put into writing the feeling and emotion of being completely out of my element, but Deep Travel managed to help me conjure the words. I’d gladly get lost with them all over again.”


Visit Kimberley Lovato’s website here.

Deep Travel is currently accepting sign-ups for our upcoming trips to Yelapa, Mexico, Granada, Spain and Fez, Morocco. All of our trips feature two hours sessions with award-winning writers like Tim Cahill, Erin Byrne and Larry Habegger, as well as inspiring elder Dot Fisher-Smith. For more information, click HERE.

Four in One.jpg



Yelapa Encounters with Cheryl Harleston


Painted Wood Turtle (photo by Cheryl Harleston)

I love it when I’ve known someone a while and suddenly they pop up with a hidden talent. This happened one evening when long-time Yelapa resident Cheryl Harleston stepped up to the microphone at the Yelapa Oasis restaurant and began to sing. Her soulful voice invoked the spirit of flamenco–a genre of music that I love.

Cheryl has surprised me again, now revealing herself as a talented photographer  of Yelapa’s natural world: the hummingbirds, treehoppers, caterpillars, butterflies, iguanas, frogs and hawks that make Yelapa special. All are portrayed in her new book Yelapa Encounters. My first journey through its pages left me feeling deep peace and wonderment. Each colorful and detailed image is like a meditation: A silkworm nibbles a leaf, two Orange-fronted parakeets touch beaks, a Shovel-headed tree frog seems to almost smile into the camera. Her portrait-style approach treats each creature as an individual–a soul even –and not as part of a mass or swarm.  This approach helps the viewer see even the tiniest insect as the miracle that it is.

One can only imagine the patience involved in getting these perfect shots.  Cheryl writes in her book:

To be able to relate appropriately to any animal, one must be in their same ‘here and now’ state of consciousness. To encounter a wild creature that is aware of our presence, that looks straight back at us in acknowledgement, and still serenely allows to be photographed is, to me, the ultimate challenge, the most genuine relationship, the highest honor.

She did not come by this patience easily. In 2014, Cheryl came down with an illness that required her to surrender her role as the owner of the popular Yelapa Oasis restaurant. She coped with this forced slow-down by taking patient walks around her property to harness the healing energy that Yelapa is famous for.

“It was during those walks that I started photographing the fauna around me, and I truly believe those connections and encounters were instrumental in my recovery.” Cheryl explains.

Cheryl’s photography isn’t just incredible art, but has now become part of a larger project.  She is currently collaborating with the National Commission for Biodiversity in Mexico and its scientists, keeping records of all the fauna in Yelapa.

To purchase her book click HERE

For information about Deep Travel workshops, including our upcoming trips to Yelapa, click HERE.

Four in One



In conversation with Travelers’ Tales editor Larry Habegger

“In teaching writing, I like to emphasize getting beneath the surface of things and probing those areas that make you who you are…” –Larry Habegger.

Larry at BP -Andrea Johnson-1                                                                        photo by Andrea Johnson

We are over-the-moon to have Larry Habbegger teaching at our Deep Travel Morocco workshop from March 22-29th, 2018. I grew up reading his Travelers’ Tales anthologies and dreamed about being published in one, but never imagined I would actually get to travel with him!  When I first met Larry, I was amazed at how accessible he was and how much he cared about writers. As the Executive Editor of Travelers’ Tales, he has made a career of coaching writers from their first tentative drafts of a story all the way to publication. Larry’s Morocco writing workshop will be invaluable to anyone who is in the travel writing business or who aspires to be.

1) You’ve ushered quite a few new writers into publication. What tips do you have for aspiring travel writers/bloggers?

The first tip, and an obvious one, is to write. Write as often as you can. Write every day. Write about experiences you’ve had or about what’s around you right now. The world offers an abundance of ideas to explore if you simply pay attention. And your own experiences provide a rich trove of material to play with. Dig into it and see what you can find.

It’s also important to write about topics that you care about. It’s easier to write about things that have meaning for you than subjects that don’t light you up. It’s also easier to create a meaningful experience for your reader when you write about ideas or places that are important to you. A good rule of thumb is that if it has meaning for you, it’ll have meaning for the reader.

Always be curious, and always look for connections. What does the behavior of that child in Mexico say about the child you were where you grew up? What connections can you draw between the two? Be prepared to connect the dots in your past experience with the details of your current experiences, especially in different cultures and places. You can learn a lot about yourself and others if you do so, and communicate something universal to your readers.

Be persistent. Keep going. Don’t give up. And initially, write for yourself. Don’t worry about an audience, write the kinds of stories that speak to you. That’s how you get your best stuff, and you can always adapt this writing for a particular publication or audience later.

2) You’ll be teaching our Morocco writing workshop next March.  What intrigues you about Morocco?

This arid country bounded by the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea feels like the stuff of legend. It’s a culture of storytellers and traders, artists and merchants. Its old cities are mazes of shops where you’re just about guaranteed to get lost, and getting lost is one of the best ways to learn about a culture and people because you have to ask for help. And exploring these warrens allows you to see how people live, how they meet their material needs, how they treat visitors. I’m looking forward to these tight teeming cities and the wide open landscapes, the people, and, of course, the food.
3) Describe your workshop sessions and your ideas about teaching writing.

The workshop sessions may vary based on group size, makeup, and interest. But each day I plan to send us out into the world with an assignment, whether it be taking notes on everything we see and hear and smell, finding someone to interview, drawing a word portrait of a person or place, describing the weather and how it affects the locals or visitors, or some other aspect of our direct experience in Morocco. We’ll then share and discuss these writings in our group sessions and assess how we can apply these techniques to writing of all kinds.

In teaching writing, I like to emphasize getting beneath the surface of things and probing those areas that make you who you are, places within ourselves we don’t often think about. Writing helps us discover and uncover these places, helps us understand ourselves better, and aids us in extending what we learn to find universal meaning not just for us for but others. I simply try to be a facilitator in this process, helping others find a voice they didn’t know they had, or knew they had but didn’t know how to access. We write, we discover, we learn, we share. And in the end, we all teach each other.

4) What are the benefits of traveling in a group with other writers?

Writing is a solitary endeavor, and usually you’re alone with yourself and the characters in your mind. Traveling with other writers can give you not just the company of others to get you out of your head, but also likeminded people with whom you can share the joys and frustrations of the creative process. You can be alone when you want, and with a friend or several friends when you want company. And in a group, you have to concern yourself less with the minutia of travel than you would otherwise. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone else handle the practical arrangements so you can concentrate on the experience. Plus, writers are fun!

5) Sometimes when I travel, I have a hard time recognizing when we are in a story (or when a story is happening to me).  The other day Ira Glass was quoted saying, “Good stories happen to those who tell them.” Thoughts?

Ira knows a good story when he hears one. If you get in the habit of telling stories, or writing stories, you begin to train yourself to see the details of a story as you’re living it. This helps you see small pressure points in a seemingly mundane experience that can be emphasized to create drama or tension, which every story needs to hold a reader’s (or a listener’s) interest. It also helps you remember details that become important to the story, details that if you weren’t in the habit of telling stories you might not register. So the act of telling or writing stories helps you recognize the stories in the experience you’re having. I know this might sound circular, but I think it holds true. Just be careful not to spend so much time looking for details of a story in your experience that you miss out on the experience! But get in the habit of telling your stories. It’ll help you learn to shape them better.

UPCOMING TRIPS: Click HERE for more information about these adventures, or visit

Four in One.jpg



Music inspired by Donkey Day in Morocco


We gain a lot from the places we travel: hospitality, new vistas, beauty, insight and inspiration for our art. Deep Travel likes to return the goodness, so we support projects in all of our destinations. One of our favorites is the donkeys of Morocco.

You may question why we would spend resources on donkeys, but in Morocco these four-legged are the main source of transport, delivering building supplies, groceries, and propane around the car-free medinas. So in a very direct way, healthy donkeys equal a healthy economy.

A couple of years ago, we started participating in “Donkey Day.” Started by Rose Button (who owns the comfy Dar Zerhoune in Moulay Idriss), Donkey Day is a veterinary clinic held once a month in the town of Moulay Idriss. Vet techs from Fez come in for the morning and treat all the wounds and ailments of the local donkeys free of charge.

One of our Deep Travelers, Marsha Dalton, was so inspired by Donkey Day that she ended up writing a song about it. The lyrics are super clever! Enjoy it here!

IMG_1463.JPGMarsha didn’t feel well one day while we were walking through the Fez medina. A nice man offered her a ride in the cart. You’d never know from the look on her face in this photo that she wasn’t feeling well!

UPCOMING TRIPS: Click HERE for more information about these adventures, or visit

DT Mexico 2018A PC Front Dot postcard.jpg

DT Spain 2018_PC5  DTM_2018_PC Front


“I feel most alive when surrounded by the unfamiliar,” Liz Shemaria, Deep Travel Morocco.

Liz-9                                                                                               photo by Ian Tuttle

Liz was a dynamic addition to our Deep Travel Morocco trip with Tim Cahill last year. We love this photo of her by Ian Tuttle, our photographer-friend who set out to take 100 portraits.

Liz began as a daily news editor and earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, focused on international reporting and new media. She has been published in the BBC, AFAR magazine, GeoEx and other publications. She’s definitely a pro, but still found a lot of value in Tim Cahill’s instruction:

“During Tim Cahill’s workshop in Morocco I was reminded of the essential tasks every writer should consider as they prepare for great writing — mainly taking “copious notes” and being keenly aware of how all of your senses are experiencing the new world you are discovering. I use what I’ve learned from Tim for almost every story I write. He’s inspiring and so much fun to spend a few days with.”

Liz has trekked in Nepal, interviewed artists in Burma, and explored monasteries in India. She loves being in new places and in a few months is moving to Florence, Italy. She’s open to whatever unfolds there. “I feel most alive when I am surrounded by the unfamiliar,” she writes.


You can see her work here.





Meet award-winning photographer Tania Amochaev (a fellow Deep Traveler!)

Tania.jpegA pilgrim heading for the baths in Rajasthan, India.  Photo by Tania Amochaev.

When the above photo was screened at the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference in Corte Madera this year, I heard the audience catch its breath. We were stunned! Tania is becoming a regular winner at this renowned conference, both for her writing AND her photos. We have been lucky enough to have her along on two of our Deep Travel trips to Morocco. She adds a creative, open, energetic and steadfast energy to the group, so we always love it when she comes along (We are hoping she will join us on our Deep Travel Granada trip this year!). She is also always happy to show people how to use their iPhone cameras more skillfully.

Tania’s life of travel started when her family became refugees from Yugoslavia before she was a year old. The United States was Tania‘s third country, and English her third language, as she was raised bilingual in Russian and Serbo-Croatian. Since moving on from a career as a technology executive, she has climbed Mount Whitney and Mount Kenya, circumnavigated Annapurna, trekked through Bhutan, Kashmir and Morocco, and sailed along the Nile, the Ganges and a remote river in Burma. She landed in Nairobi the day of the terrorist attack in 2013 and proceeded on a walk across that country from near Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean. Today, Tania draws on this broad ranging background in her writing, adding a unique perspective to observations of the world around her.

This photo of a pilgrim in Rajasthan represents a shift for Tania. She used to spend most of her time capturing intimate nature scenes–flowers, trees and rocks. She also liked taking photos of abandoned houses. After her husband died two years ago, she unconsciously began taking photos of people. This shift became conscious when she was listening to photographer Freeman Patterson talk about the way his pictures reveal his emotional state before he is even aware of it.

“As he was speaking, I understood what had happened to me,” Tania explains.

To see more of her work, visit her website here.

tania bio pic.JPG








Deep Travel, Deep Friendships


“The distance of your love is the distance of your life.” Anna read aloud from a Joseph Campbell book. She looked up and out through the window of Erin’s Sausalito house. “What do you think he means by that?” Morning fog was lifting off the bay. I smiled and thought not about the quote, but at how I much loved having friends like these: that carried poems around in their back pockets, scribbled down notes on the fly, loved travel, and openly riffed on abstract ideas like this one.

While threes work well in literature, they’re often awkward in friendship—allegiances shift, one feels left out, there’s tension. But three is a charm in our case. We share space easily together–all assuming the same early-to-bed-early-to-rise ethos, delighting in coffee, and each evening lining up our monogram mugs on the counter: ACE.

Each of us offers the other a little something different: Anna and Erin share an appreciation for beauty and well-arranged cheese plates. Erin and I process emotional tumult together. With Anna I share a sense of place and a quiet understanding. With both of them I can be my uncomposed self– drop off mid-sentence, go on free associative rambles, or not make sense any sense at all. But the primary hallmark of our triad is creativity: Ideas not only spark among us, but actually catch fire. In fact, our Deep Travel workshops were born from this.

A few summers ago when a forest fire filled our small southern Oregon valley with smoke, Anna and I hopped in the car and escaped to a house Erin was renting in Mendocino. It was a long, winding drive and when we arrived at the big strange house surrounded by mist, I questioned the journey. But then Anna made lavender martinis and soon enough, we were spirited into a familiar rhythm: talking about writing, books, travel, and love.

It was in the kitchen of that Mendocino house that the conversation turned to the idea of planning a workshop in Morocco. I knew the country well and could design a rich itinerary; Erin could teach writing; Anna could promote it with her artistic skills. That next spring, we were navigating the twisty byways of Fez with twelve inspired writers—all new friends who also liked books, ideas and writing.

Creativity continues to be a hallmark of our friendships. Shared meals, reading events, literary anthologies, and artistic collaborations are never in short supply. One day Erin coined us the “Literary Avengers.” It sounded cool and stuck. “Wait, what are we avenging?” Anna asked one day. Perhaps the childhood angst of being book geeks, clumsy in gym class, introverts. At last in adulthood, we had finally found our element.

The other day our three part harmony was in full swing when we were hiking Tennessee Valley, cresting the hills, and navigating bright patches of fireweed and pink sweet peas on our way to the Pelican Pub. Our conversation looped and wove, interrupted only by Erin occasionally gasping “Look!” whenever she hopefully mistook the white froth of wave hitting a rock for a rare whale-sighting.

Five miles later we plopped down at a table at The Pelican with tired legs and ordered drinks. Our conversation bubbled on like champagne as we rifled through a Ploughman’s Lunch of picked onions, boiled eggs and Stilton. Anna read a poem about putting sunlight on the to-do list, and Erin read aloud from Lorca. As sometimes happens, our synergy drew other people in and soon enough a table of cyclists were wedging themselves into our conversation.

Later, on the lawn outside the pub waiting for a Lyft ride, it seemed perfectly normal for Erin to be dramatically reading Lorca passages about duende while Anna blithely stretched her long limbs on the grass. “It burns the blood like powered glass,” Erin intoned.

I wondered what we would dream up next and thought of our hike. The day started foggy and cold. The ocean wasn’t very visible. But when we stared out from the hills into that blank sheet of white, Erin saw only potential. “You can just look out there and imagine anything you want,” she giggled.

Vignettes & Postcards from Morocco


We love it when our Deep Travel friends get their work out into the world though publishing. Nothing pays a more lasting tribute to our adventures than our photos, words, and sketches gathered together in one place. This anthology, edited by Erin Byrne, features several Morocco-inspired pieces from artists who have joined us on our journeys. The book is a Foreword Independent Book of the Year winner!

Here is an overview:

As the chergui (desert wind) whips reality into fantasy and the perpetually full tea glass caresses its minty bouquet, from Casablanca to Tangier, from the crush of Marrakech to the ethereal solitude of the Sahara, from a rose festival in the countryside to a betrothal fair high in the Atlas Mountains, in alleyways and on rooftops, in the souks and on plains scattered with ruins, we invite readers to join us as we rotate in a dervish-dance with Morocco.

Thirty-three stories and poems – written by Suzanna Clarke (A House in Fez), Jeff Greenwald, Michael Chabon, Phil Cousineau, Paul Bowles and others-vibrate inside this book, tales of quests and mysteries, of traditions and memory and wisdom that seek the ancient and celebrate the exotic in Morocco. Photos by Omar Chennafi, Siddharth Gupta, sketches by Anna Elkins.

View the trailer here.

Order the book here.

La Vía Poética

Anna Elkins’ essay about her pilgrimage to Pablo Neruda’s homeland is on the new online travel magazine called Hidden Compass! Hidden Compass is run by a fun and writerly cadre of global adventurers. We are looking forward to following this beautiful publication. Tiny excerpt of Anna’s essay below. Head to Hidden Compass for the rest!

                                                        La Vía Poética



He celebrated lemons, socks, artichokes, bees, broken things. He could look at a tuna in the market and see the truth of the sea in it. He filled his odes with clocks and memory, thread and temptation, wine and dreams. He let the visible introduce the Invisible …

Click here to read the rest of the story on Hidden Compass…