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Author and host of the long-running PBS show “Travelscope” Joseph Rosendo of Topanga visits the Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala. One of the most colorful native markets in Latin America, vendors come from all over the country. It’s the meeting point for Quiches, Tzutuhiles and Kackchikeles and where they practice a combination of the Catholic and Mayan religions. Courtesy photo
Columns Hit the Road

‘Musings’ a delightful, insightful book about a lifetime of travel

I didn’t know I had a copy of Joseph Rosendo’s “Musings: The Short Happy Pursuit of Pleasure and Other Journeys” — twice.

I discovered the book the first time after excavating my desk. There it was, under stuff and more stuff.

I discovered “Musings” the second time at about 30,000 feet above the Mojave Desert on the way to Denver. I had thrown Rosendo’s soft-cover book into my backpack thinking it was another book.

After finding it a second time, I got the hint and opened the collection of “crisp, entertaining, humorous and inspirational stories tightly written and drawn from (my) travel and life experiences,” as the author describes them.

Rosendo is an Emmy Award-winning director and host of “Travelscope,” a PBS television travel series (since 2007). Earning a living through traveling has taken several decades, and at times, Rosendo has been a jack-of-all-trades.

He had a long-running syndicated radio show out of Los Angeles, for which he had to get his own sponsors or underwriters, has written for various newspapers and magazines, gives seminars in travel writing and even gone door-to-door as a Fuller Brush man.

I found “Musings” to be delightful, insightful and informative — an easy read with big rewards.

“The book is a combination of travel tips, destination pieces and memoir,” said Rosendo during a phone interview from his Topanga home in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Emmy Award-winning Joseph Rosendo, whose show “Travelscope” appears on more than 500 public television stations, visits with the Huli clan of Papua New Guinea. The clan believes they are one people descendant from a male ancestor called Huli. Pigs are used as currency to pay for brides, death indemnities and ritual offerings. Courtesy photo

The chapters were gleaned from 30 years of columns in Travelscope Magazine, in print from 1985 to 2002 and now at travelscope.net.

New introductions have been written for each chapter, and topics include planning, packing and other “nuts-and-bolts” travel issues, childhood travels, his Cuban grandparents and brother, and his personal journey through life.

Rosendo currently is in the thick of editing the 12th season of “Travelscope” for PBS. There are now more than 130 episodes that take viewers to 50 countries (he has visited 95). The show is said to have reached 286 million viewers.

Rosendo’s trademark signoff is a quote from Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”

“Travel is a life-changing experience,” he said. “People … often hear me ranting and raving how travel can bring people together and change the world. It may be a ….’60s view of the experience, but then, I am particularly fond of those good-old hippie days.”

Rosendo’s enthusiasm and peppy step belies his nearly 76 years, probably because he follows his own advice.

“Travel and life both require a sense of humor and adaptability,” he writes in “Musings,” and “you should never, never ever, isolate yourself from the experience and just observe from a place apart.”

In other words, don’t just sightsee. Be a traveler and adventurer, not a tourist. 

“You must commit yourself to what’s happening and relish the good, the bad and the ugly of it.”

A road trip to Ohio as a kid gave Rosendo the travel bug. “I was hooked and from then on, I’m always looking for my next adventure,” he said.

He first visited Europe in the late ’60s, at the age of 23, with a company of UCLA students who performed with USO shows that entertained troops prior to their deployments in Vietnam.

“We spent most of the time in Germany,” he recalled. “I was completely blown away … the history — World War II was still vivid in people’s mind — and their food, their wine, the joie de vivre and their priorities.”

And for those hesitant to travel?

“Some people are afraid of other people who are not like them,” he said, so start your exploring close by. Visit other neighborhoods in your city.

“In L.A., we are blessed. There are 100 different languages spoken here. Get your feet wet by going to festivals. Try the food and drinks. Celebrate with them.”

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