Getting to Know You: The Girl Behind the Blog

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As an avid fan and devout seeker of mysteries I’ve embarked upon a series of Q&A sessions with my wife, Kristin Luna. There are some things that therapy an open relationship cannot answer in the daily grind of life and since she puts a lot of information about herself on the Internets (that I never see) I figure this is a comfortable way to test learn more things about the girl. Suggestions for questions for future sessions should be placed in the comments section.

Please to be amused.

SVV (aka @scottyvsquared)


Please state your name and the nature of your existence.

Kristin Leigh Luna, 28 years old, residing in…well, the Milky Way galaxy, since I don’t really have a permanent home at the moment. Chocoholic, Southern by birth (but more so by choice), Internet addict, occasional writer.

Do you believe in leprechauns? What about salt?

Having visited Ireland a time or two, I can confirm that leprechauns are, indeed, real. I cannot, however, figure out what happened to my pot of gold. USPS must have lost it somewhere in transit. That tends to happen often when I try to rely on the postal service to deliver important goods.

Regarding salt, I’m somewhat of a condiments freak—i.e. if it tastes good with balsamic vinegar, it will be doused—so I usually forgo in lieu of more exotic sauces and marinades. My husband, on the other hand, creates a saltpocalypse on pretty much everything he devours.

Travel writers live until 97 years old and still submit pitches to twenty-something editors. Is this part of your life plan?

I plan to retire at 30, live off my husband’s income, and sit at home and eat bon-bons and watch soaps all day long (since I’m pretty sure that’s what people who don’t “get” it think happens when you work from home and claim “freelance writer” as employment).

Do you miss your sexy [sic] husband while traveling? Do you think he wants to quit his life and join you as a porter/photographer?

I haven’t traveled without him in awhile now, as he’s already transitioned into part-time porter. I think sailing as my lounge lizard/cabana boy while I slave away at a desk for four months during Semester at Sea this fall is a good first step for him. I also think he’ll adapt to it quite nicely.

Define the meaning behind your blog name. And don’ t give me, “ Oh, I don’ t know because I made it up on a whim.” We want answers.

Why is “I just really like camels…and chocolate”  not good enough for you? Okay, FINE. Fine.

Some might say that camel is the ultimate symbol of the nomad—a term I’d say defines my existence pretty accurately, though I might prefer “gypsy” instead—and chocolate a symbol for indulgence, which travel could also be categorized as. Though I still want to just say it’s because rarely does a few hours pass when I’m not eating (or at least contemplating eating) some form of chocolate.

Also, every other travel blog in existence has “travel” or “go” or “nomad” or “backpacking” in it, and I wanted to distinguish myself from the masses.

One of my NYC inner circle, Ryan—you may remember him as dashing usher in our wedding last year—likes to call my blog “Dromedaries & Cocoa” or “Goats & Caramel” so I’m thinking of starting a franchise.

How many camels have you ridden in your life?

Two. I have met dozens others, though, including the one who camps out down the street from my parents’ house in Tennessee for a week each December as a prop for the First Baptist Church’s Living Nativity.

It was my first, Norm, in the Sahara—with whom I spent a very meaningful few days—that launched me into the world of cameltopia. (Not to be confused with cameltoe-topia. The difference a letter or two can make.)

In case I’ve never told the “Camel Girl” story, I will do so now:

While vacationing in Morocco with my girl Megan in 2005, my Berber guide snapped a picture of me on a camel in Morocco (conveniently I’d been camping for three days in the Sahara and thus hadn’t showered…much to my mom’s embarrassment down the road), and the picture made its way back to the States and was published in a handful of newspapers and in all future University of Tennessee study abroad material.

Then, a year later, my mom got the Torchbearer–the UT alumni magazine—in the mail, and I had made the cover! Since so many people that we know are alumni there, I started getting called “Camel Girl.”

Then, a year later, my mom called me and said: “You’re Miss May!” Apparently, I had made the university calendar as well. It’s the photo that won’t stop haunting me. (Why did I not borrow a mirror from someone in the desert and at least apply a dab of concealer before it was taken?!) And on top of that, I took this picture of camel shadows (with a terrible Nikon point-and-shoot) that ended up winning a couple contests, including one in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, so the camel just became my jam.

Coincidentally, camel the color, is probably the one hue not found in my colorful (at times considered garish) wardrobe.

How about leopards? Take any rides on those in the desert?

I tried, but he was too shy.

What is your absolute favorite animal and would you wear it as a fur?

(Are you trying to get PETA to launch a vendetta against me? Or, as my Web manager, are you simply hoping “animal porn” will continue to be my top search result for another three years?)

I’m a lover of all animals (except domestic cats), so that’s a tough one. I’d say it’s a tie between a camel and a monkey if we’re talking land animals. If we’re referencing marine life, then the sea turtle is totally my totem. (Although if ever I were to see a whale shark while diving, I could die a happy girl.)

I would wear an animal pattern on my body, but never a fur. And I’m avidly opposed to hunting for sport, despite my Southern upbringing. (To my knowledge, neither of my parents has owned a gun or even touched one with a 10-foot pole. My mom recently told me a story of how my dad found a gun in one of his friend’s glove compartments and had to call another friend to come remove it as he was too afraid to get near it. You actually took me to a shooting range for the first time in Montana—to learn how to defend myself I should note to all anti-gun readers—and while I feel slightly more comfortable around a pistol, I don’t foresee myself ever going out and shooting just for fun.)

Have you ever killed an animal on purpose and how do you feel about spiders now?

I’m still never going to consider spiders among my friends, but due to my husband’s influence—he who is very Pro Spiders’ Rights—instead of squashing them, I now scream for him to come remove the arachnid from the premises. Though when I worked in Arizona, we would catch tarantulas in the desert and race them. I have proof of this via a picture of a tarantula sitting atop my head that I will gladly scan and post once we’re back in San Francisco and I have access to my print archives.

I accidentally killed a kitten once—in 2003—as I was backing out of my parents’ driveway on my way to my substitute teacher gig at the local elementary school, and I felt sick to my stomach for weeks. The only thing worse than killing an animal is killing a baby animal.

Ella the Sasquatch puppy gets to guest blog here often. Does she pay you $125 dollars for that or does she demand a straight link exchange?

I tried to argue that “while there is no pay at this time, exposure on Camels & Chocolate is more than enough monetary compensation”—hey, it works for all those people “hiring” on Craigslist!—but she’s smarter than that. She demands a surplus of salmon treats, apples and bison jerky out of the deal. To her, that’s worth more than gold.

Which destination on your life list tops the charts of desire? Okay, okay. Pick three.

  1. The Galapagos Islands for the wildlife and diving.
  2. Greenland for the scenery.
  3. Palau just because.

That time you were bleeding beneath the monsoon and hanging out with sharks doesn’t give you nightmares?

No. I tend to block out “I almost died!” situations from all memories. I think that ability to “forget” is pretty crucial to my future as a diver.

Do you still think sharks will bite your face off if you close your eyes in the shower?

Sometimes, particularly around Shark Week each summer when I can’t do enough to avoid the “OMG THIS SHARK IS GOING TO BITE OFF YOUR FACE” ads that are ubiquitous. Luckily, I’ve learned exactly when the magazines start running Shark Week ads and have my husband check out all my entertainment magazines for me for offensive (read: nightmare-inducing) paraphernalia. He also scans my copies of Sport Diver and Scuba Diving monthly and tears out all scary photos and trashes them before they reach my psyche. He’s a peach like that.

I know you’re excited about shark week. Would you rather watch 18 foot great whites devour chum or swallow a broken glass smoothie?

Is the broken glass chocolate flavored? See above.

How many sea turtles would you estimate you’ve encountered? It’s okay to count hatchlings that most likely ended up in the food chain (except Chuck, little dude was tough).

Literally, hundreds. I’ve been lucky enough to be present at two hatchings (with you!) in Borneo and Guatemala, and we’ve been on several dives where we’ve seen dozens at a time.

You usually know not only a person’ s last name and family history but also the name of their pets. How much memory is required to be an effective friend and networker? Is that like a ginko biloba trick or something?

My internal memory is approximately 200,000 TB. It helps that I descended from an elephant. No trick, just mad skills.

Do you know that the ginko tree is older than insects? Oh wait, this interview is about you … sorry.

Some wise guy—who once talked me into marrying him—would probably tell a stranger that and then when asked the reason, his excuse would be, simply: “It’s because of science.” Everything is “because of science” as far as he is concerned. I’m a creative type (with a math background), but science is one thing that truly muddles my brain.

How about that wildebeest that our friend Sarah has hanging on her wall? Bet you can’t name the country in which I swooned you with my knowledge of science.

Romania! That one’s easy. Lots of days plowing through snow with our cheap little rental get-up=lots of time for getting to know one another.

Wait, that was you right?

Errr…

Please to name for all perpetuity the countries in which we’ve traveled together up until this point.

Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan….and, this fall: Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Malaysia (again), Vietnam (finally!), China, Japan, Costa Rica and Cuba.

States?

California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, New York, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska …and, later this summer, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. Still, I’m at state number 49 and you’re only at 37 (which has more than doubled since we met, I should add): You’ve gotta hurry to catch up!

When will your mother release the lost Betamax tapes of your dance troupe activities? I, for one, am looking forward to side-ponytails and fluorescent clothing.

Mom, want to take this one? My guess is when she cleans out/organizes her photo and video room, which is to say never.

Would you rather swim with a dugong or make-out with seven puppies?

I do like making out with puppies—particularly if they’ve been eating peppermints—but swimming with a dugong in Mozambique has long been on my life list.

Don’t you get to check-off item number 16? Yay.

YES! I’m on it.

When do I get to edit your ebook and what is it about?

Right! My ebook! Um, I’m hoping to have it done by, say, July 12? (This is so you can all hold me accountable and because I have many faults but not making deadlines is not one of them.)

Due to the fact that I get approximately a bazillion emails (a scientific estimate) each week from friends, friends of friends, college students, complete strangers, blog readers asking “how can I be a travel writer, too?”—and because this post remains my top hit from this site—I condensed my wealth of knowledge into a 20,000-word ebook. (Hey, I never claimed to be concise.)

I’m just getting warmed up. When is the next question session?

When the people ask. People, what do you say? Should I open the gates and let SVV get even more personal, or should it stop right here? Perhaps we’ve been spending a little bit too much time together, holed up in a trailer, in the rain, in the woods, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest…

*****

FYI, I fully intend to turn the tables and interview him in a few weeks, as I know you’ve all been DYING to see a glimpse of The Greased-Back Mullet of ’94, haven’t you? And yes, that IS a legit thing. So aside from any questions you may want him to ask me, feel free to ask questions you want me to ask him as well. He is an International Man of Mystery, after all; I’m ready to crack that wide open.

COMMENTS
  • June 19, 2011

    Well you and SVV had me rolling! I like the series and I say MORE, more MORE! I will try to think of a question and come back to leave it!

    • June 19, 2011
      SVV

      Yes please!

      • June 19, 2011

        I’m back. One of the most important ways I experience travel is through food. Given that you and your hubby are on the road a lot, what are some of your best food experiences? What about your worst? What do you crave from home (either SF or Nashville) when you have been on the road too long?

        • June 19, 2011
          SVV

          +1 for our next installment

  • June 19, 2011

    Nice interview. My question actually is: Do you practice the shoulders back, head up, chin down, flash-the-smile photography pose or does it come naturally?

    • June 19, 2011
      SVV

      The girls in the Luna family have had a camera pointed at their face since birth. Like fem-bots they strike the perfect smile and shape. Every single time.

  • June 19, 2011

    Loved this, didn’t want it to end!!! I seriously have something to say about each question, but I don’t want to leave the world’s longest comment, so I will just say that I want to visit Palau too! Let’s go diving there together!!!

    • June 19, 2011
      SVV

      Only if I get to come along this time. I’m tired of pining away at home, drinking beer and toiling away in the garage. Wait.

  • June 19, 2011

    This Gator enjoyed reading your “interview.” Great story about the camel photo!

    • June 20, 2011
      Kristin

      I had to explain to SVV, an ignorant West Coaster (heh), about the Gator background. You’d think after six years of dating me—and being drilled with SEC information by a Vol (and her War Eagle dad and Commodore mother)—that he would have learned by now 😉

      On a related note: Have you read Swamplandia! yet? (I’m somewhere in the middle…it’s interesting but a bit of a slow read.) It’s all about an alligator farm down in the Everglades.

  • June 19, 2011

    You guys. Seriously. You’re fucking hilarious. I love you guys.

    I love that you guys can spend all your time together and not only not kill each other, but make each other better and more fun for it. Speaks a lot to your relationship.

    • June 19, 2011
      SVV

      Thanks MonsterSteph. It’s amazing what modern pharmacology can accomplish.

  • June 19, 2011

    Super cute, as always!

  • June 19, 2011
    Brandy

    You two are hilarious! And that baby sea turtle is adorable. Also, I’m still super jealous over the whole Semester at Sea thing. I could kick my own ass for not doing something like that when I was in college, since I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be qualified to work for them. And I’m looking forward to seeing you interview SVV! I want to see that mullet. Although I can relate, as 1994 was a really terrible year for me in the hair department. My 11-year-old self read in Glamour that peroxide would give you highlights, and decided to try it out by putting a little bit on my bangs. I have dark brown hair, so of course this resulted in red bangs and brown hair. Not the best look.

    • June 19, 2011
      SVV

      Get your over-qualified significant Other to apply is my advice! Also, you really should take a look at their job offerings. They are quite variable.

  • June 19, 2011

    Hahaha, this absolutely cracked me up. You guys are a funny pair. I can’t wait until my husband is out of law school and making money so that we can also go on all kinds of fun adventures like that together!

    • June 19, 2011
      Kristin

      Or just talk him into studying abroad while in law school! After all, the majority of our international travels together (at least in Europe) took place while we were students. (And then get him to get a teaching job aboard Semester at Sea once he does graduate!)

  • June 19, 2011

    Looking forward to more of these fun Q&A posts. I wonder if that makes me plain-curious-Jane, an internet odd ball or an official stalker of “Camel Girl” and her “International Man of Mystery”? Darn it!

    By the way, I love the Camel Girl picture. 🙂

    • June 19, 2011
      Kristin

      I think it makes you human! It seems that the blogs I enjoy the most are generally the food + health blogs that you would think would be boring because all they do is post blow-by-blows of what they eat and do throughout their day…but oddly enough, I find those the most fascinating!

  • June 20, 2011

    And everyone let out a collective “awwwww”. This was hilarious. A good knee slapper. How about I interview you both over pizza and beers when you return to SF? Deal?

    • June 20, 2011
      Kristin

      Or better yet, FOOD CARTS. Done.

  • June 20, 2011

    I love this — though it reminds me I really need to plan a trip to somewhere new VERY soon … The Semester at Sea sounds amazing, btw. I look forward to reading all about it — and so awesome that you can go together!

  • June 20, 2011

    Love the camel story!

  • June 20, 2011

    I’m going to have to trade in my fish memory for an elephant one. 😉

    • June 20, 2011
      Kristin

      Maybe we can meet somewhere in the middle? My elephant memory often freaks people out, I feel–they’ve maybe mentioned something to me in passing a lifetime ago, and I bring it up, say, five years later, and I’m pretty sure they think me a stalker who writes down detailed notes of their life in my non-existent diary 😉

  • June 20, 2011

    This is fun!! I would love to hear more please!!! 🙂

  • June 20, 2011

    This is hilarious! “cameltoe-topia” lmfo! You two are really cute together. Thanks for the laughs and it was great to get to know you better 🙂

  • June 20, 2011

    Best interview questions ever! The whole “let’s feature this or that traveler on our blog and ask the exact same questions every single time!” deal that we see all over the blogosphere gets just a tiny bit old, so I’m liking the way you mixed it up. Of course, you two being married and all gives you a unique edge in asking all the right questions, but still…. 😉

    • June 20, 2011
      Kristin

      Haha, thanks, Christy! We try to keep it fresh and as non-SEO-driven as possible =)

      Also, you two probably know better than anybody that when you’re stuck in a trailer with somebody for that much time at once (particularly when rain prohibits you from going outside), these things are bound to happen.

  • June 21, 2011

    After recently tormenting myself for, oh, say several months over a new domain name I love hearing the secrets behind yours! Fantastic interview.

    • June 21, 2011
      Kristin

      Ha, I literally came up with mine in probably 10 minutes after checking a couple other phrases that were already taken. Of course, four years later, in an age of SEO, I’m wishing I put a little more thought behind it, but who could have predicted the blogosphere would have gone the way it went?!

      • June 21, 2011

        Unfortunately I don’t think mine will do anything for me SEO wise but I was more going for: What will not embarrass me when I say it out loud. Harder said than done.

  • June 21, 2011
    Sid

    The only thing worse than killing an animal is killing a baby animal. True dat.

    I rode a camel once. For 5 minutes in Cape Town. I think the experience would have been more authentic if I’d ridden the camel in a desert.

    • June 21, 2011
      Kristin

      The thought of riding a camel in Cape Town just cracks me up. Yes, maybe next time head up to Namibia and ride one through the sand dunes–will definitely feel a bit more authentic =)

  • June 21, 2011

    How cute! I love this interview! And I agree with you, diving with a whale shark? Gosh — i can die happy too.

    • June 23, 2011
      Kristin

      I think you should put that as #1 on your RTW trip to-do list! I seem to always be in the areas with whale sharks when they’re not around. Boo!

  • June 22, 2011

    More please! I also have to add that while I usually love your photos, the pictures in this post are just out of this world good.

    • June 23, 2011
      Kristin

      Thanks, Emily! I already have my list of questions ready for Scott =)

  • June 23, 2011
    Mary

    Loved this post! Y’all are super cute and funny 🙂 Oh, and by the way – you have two #16’s on your list. AND I may be stealing a few of those!

    • June 23, 2011
      Kristin

      Can’t believe my copy editor/web guy (ahem, SVV!) didn’t catch that! Thanks, Mary =)

  • June 30, 2011
    helen

    do you have an accent? i imagine you do since you’re from the south! but am curious to hear your voice. do you ever post video? maybe one of these q+a’s could be a video interview 🙂

  • May 27, 2013

    very good article thanks a lot.. this is very informative for me.

  • March 5, 2014
    Leah Ziegler

    May I ask what you went to school for? You’re such an inspiration! I’m 23, just moved to Chicago and am trying to “figure it all out.”

  • October 19, 2014
    Kuo Chew

    Hi,
    I am Ng Kuo Chew a student from Singapore Polytechnic. I just want to ask you 2 questions for my project.
    If I were to ever create an travel application, what will be the cost of advertise it in your website or will there be any requirement before you would accept to advertise it. Thank you for your precious time. I am truly sorry if this is a comment that u would totally not want to see it or i have miss out some ‘not to ask’ in the comment section or did anything that piss you off and please ignore it and delete it if it is/did. I would appreciate it a lot if you were to reply and thank you once again.

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