Local Author to Speak at Desert Hot Springs Library Author Series


When I started reading Maggie Down’s memoir, “Brave Than You Think, Around the World on the Trip of My (Mother’s) Lifetime,” I had mixed feelings. How could a newly married woman leave her husband and a dying mother to travel the world? As I couldn’t put the book down, I quickly had my answers.

Her interest in travel was first sparked by her mother, a housewife, who fantasized about traveling to exotic places and shared her desires with her young daughter. Downs doubted she would ever have the courage to visit the destinations her mother dreamed of one day seeing. “You are braver than you think,” her mother always insisted.

This statement would guide her, over the course of a year, to backpack through 17 countries while visiting all the places that her mother, who has early onset Alzheimer’s disease, could not. So why did she leave her mother? As the disease progresses, her mother no longer recognizes her, so Downs takes the memories of the mother she once knew and incorporates them into her experiences as she hikes to Machu Picchu, rafts on the Nile and other unique adventures in Bolivia, India, Egypt and Africa.

Downs is the ultimate adventurer. Shortly after her marriage, she embarked on her journey with her husband, Jason, to Peru. After their grueling but exhilarating trek to Machu Picchu, Jason must resume teaching and Downs continues his journey. With limited funds, she stays in hostels, camps, and shady places while traveling from continent to continent.

The book is by no means your usual travel diary. Instead, it’s a story of human nature and the living things that inhabit our world. Downs captures all the emotions of humor, terror, tenderness, euphoria and love as she takes the reader on a roller coaster of indescribable events.

Maggie Downs

When asked to sum up the reason for writing her memoir, her response is, “I wrote my memoir to inspire others to find a ray of light during dark times, and traveling is a way to really emotional to do so. Stepping out of your comfort zone exposes you to new and beautiful things, introduces you to other ways of thinking, and provides community when you least expect it. I started my backpacking journey as an outsider to the world, but ended up finding my home everywhere.

Although this is Downs’ first novel, she has always told stories through her numerous articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, local publications, interviews, and blogs.

This year, she traveled to Belize in April and Iceland in June, researching another book project. Visit maggiedowns.com to open up a whole new world of Downs travel, images, philosophy and wisdom. She lives in Palm Springs with her husband and young son.

The author will share his book and his adventures at the Friends of the Desert Hot Springs Library author series from 1-2:30 p.m. on October 20. The new DHS Library is located at 14-380 Palm Drive, Desert Hot Springs. The phone number is (760) 329-5926. The program is free, but places are limited on a first-come basis.

Sally Hedberg is the curator of the Friends of the DHS Library author series.


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