The Big Interview: Darcy Lazar

I always say I’m so lucky to have some incredible women in my life. It’s rare to meet someone and just ‘click’ but that’s what happened when I met a crazy American in Ecuador, looking at the fish on the reef. Over ten years later, Darcy is still my sounding board, chief advisor and generally amazing person.

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In my original interview, I asked about Darcy and her husband Bruce’s travels. They sold up their life in Arizona and went on the trail, first living in Costa Rica, then assorted other countries in Latin America, Australia and Europe. She rediscovered her Jewish heritage in Eastern Europe. Since then, they’re relocated back to the US and are working in their local community, fostering animals and helping care for the wildlife. They were even featured in their local paper for their efforts. You can read the article here.

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GCH: Any quirks or cultural misunderstandings you’ve experienced on your travels?

DL: Lots! In Costa Rica they have a saying, “Pura vida”, which literally translates to “pure life” but means everything from “Have a nice day” to “You got robbed? Oh well, nothing you can do about it!”. While we were feeding cats in the Buenos Aires botanical gardens we accidentally told our friends in Spanish that we were going over to EAT the cats rather than FEED them. And in Spanish speaking countries don’t ask your buddy to pass the “preservativos” assuming that means preservatives or jam, “preservativo” means “condom” in Spanish!

GCH: Was there anything you learned while living abroad which has stayed with you when you go home?

DL: I learned that you need hardly any things at all to be a whole and happy person. A clean toothbrush, some good spongy earplugs, and enough money in the bank to know you’ll be eating for a month is all anyone truly needs, the rest are extras. If you have your health then you’re very, very rich.

GCH: What made you keep travelling?

DL: The world is huge, and there’s so much to see. Once you’re out there and you’ve got some momentum it only makes sense to keep going and going. Also, it was easier to keep traveling because there wasn’t much to return to – no house, no kids, no pets, no jobs, no attachments.

GCH: We’re constantly asked if we have a favourite country and it’s always so difficult to choose because everywhere we’ve visited has been special. Do you have a favourite country or place?

DL: My answer is usually Krakow and Rome for the history, Galapagos and Queensland for the wildlife, Central America for the coffee, Granada for the food, and Victoria (BC) for the people.

GCH: What was the most important thing you learned to help you integrate where ever you were?
DL: How to say “please” and “thank you” in the local language. Just making the attempt opened many doors, and so did having a friendly smile.

GCH: Strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

BL: Blood sausage in Argentina. Talk about non-vegetarian cuisine!

GCH: Your trip helped you learn more about your roots and reignited an interest in Judaism. Can you tell me more about what you witnessed to encourage this?

DL: I remember going to the big Jewish cemetery in Prague and seeing familiar names on the headstones – Kohens, Siegels, Ruths, Esthers – and a Rabbi was singing a sad old prayer over an ancient grave. He noticed me and said, “These are YOUR people” and I began to cry. I didn’t know why at the time, but I realized later that I’d never felt I had people before, and that he was right, Jewish heritage is my heritage. That was the moment I felt Jewish for the first time in my life.

GCH: Where would you like to visit again? 
DL: I’d love to go back to Eastern Europe now that Bruce and I both know a bit more about our family histories. I’d start in Poland where we’ve already been – Krakow, Wroclaw, Lublin, and then go further and trace routes our ancestors may have taken through Romania, Austria, what was Prussia, etc.

GCH: We all watch nature programmes with bizarre and odd creatures. What’s the strangest animal you’ve ever seen (please don’t say me!)?
DL: Not you! Probably the echidna. They have the neatest snouts, and weird spines all over their little bodies. They move around like they’re the center of the universe, not a care in the world.

GCH: How would you like to be remembered?
DL: As a brutally honest, generous person, an animal lover, and a woman with a very strong bullshit-meter.

GCH: What’s your favourite movie?
DL: “Everything is Illuminated” hands down. It’s sweet, honest, sad, funny, very moving.

GCH: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
DL: Quit my job and sold my house, cars, and belongings, and relocated my pets in order to travel for a year – which turned into six.

GCH: Do you have any superstitions/quirks/unique qualities others would call odd?
DL: You know I do! I have an intense phobia of flying, which I never let stop me (but I have to thank Ativan for helping me get onto each flight). I don’t have kids by choice, which is “odd” for a 42 year old woman (especially if you live in a Latin country).

GCH: What would you consider your greatest achievement?
DL: Surviving depression and making a good life for my husband and I.

GCH: What is the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you?
DL: “You’re selfish!”. It took a long time for me to learn to ask others for help and to take good care of myself, so to then hear that I’m being selfish really stings!

GCH: What was the best kiss of your life?
DL: A giraffe kissed me with its huge green tongue when I was four. Fantastic.

GCH: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
DL: “That’s awesome!” and “That totally sucks” – they both date me! But I can’t help myself.

GCH: What was you most embarrassing moment?
DL: It’s so embarrassing I can’t even tell you the full story, but I will say it involved food poisoning, someone’s patio, and a fresh pair of shorts.

GCH: Which living person do you admire most and why?
DL: It would have to be Judge Judy. She somehow manages to be ladylike while telling someone what an idiot they are, and she only rips on people who really deserve it. She’s one of the few public figures to tell it like it is even if it’s not politically correct. I just love her.
GCH: Tell us a secret.
DL: It’s been over a year since we’ve settled down and we’re bored out of our gourds! Might be time to dust off those backpacks…

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