Female Indiana Jones – Mireya Mayor, Ph.D

The other day we did a little write up on nature watching and how much our kids enjoyed learning about the animals living in our backyard and surrounding areas. As I was writing I remembered an article that I had read a couple of months ago about a woman, who used to be an NFL cheerleader, that was a full blown explorer. I did some hunting around and found the story and have pasted some excerpts below. You can read the whole thing at this link on cnn [Mireya Mayor].

High above the jungle of Guyana, an explorer sat perched on a narrow ledge on the side of a mountain so ancient and mysterious that it’s known as “the lost world.”

One wrong move could mean a catastrophic fall, but the visitor was intent on staying for a bit. So a fragile tent went up, hanging by a single pin attached to the cliff wall of Mount Roraima.

Already jittery, the explorer couldn’t sleep. Then a spider the size of a dinner plate showed up.

Welcome to a day in the life of Mireya Mayor, Ph.D.

In her treks around the world, she has discovered the world’s smallest primate in Madagascar, swum with unusually aggressive sharks in Mexico and chased after giraffes in Namibia.

Mayor, 37, recounts her transformation from a sheltered Cuban-American “girlie-girl” growing up in Miami to a worldly animal expert in her new book, “Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey From NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer.”

Her exploits have earned her the nickname “the female Indiana Jones,” but the fashion-loving Mayor always packs an accessory Harrison Ford’s character never would: a black dress — “should an unforeseen occasion arise,” she writes.

Mayor, who has two young daughters and is expecting twin girls in July, recently talked about her adventures with CNN.com. The following is an edited version of that interview.

CNN: What draws you to these remote, difficult, dangerous parts of the world?

Mireya Mayor: The animals. A lot of the places you just described, which are the remote oftentimes dangerous places, is where you find the most biodiversity, the rarest of animals that are on the verge of extinction and that we know very little about precisely because of their location.

So that’s what draws me to it, not so much the danger. I’m not an adrenaline junkie.

CNN: You have all these different nicknames: the female Indiana Jones, the real-life Lara Croft, the female Steve Irwin. How do you feel about that?

Mayor: I don’t have a problem with it.

I think that it’s pretty clear by the names you just put out there that there aren’t a lot of women who do what I do.

The interview is interesting and quite a bit longer than I posted and Dr. Mayor comes across as a pretty cool gal. One of the reasons I liked this story is much as I did was because we always try to make sure that our daughters know they can do whatever they want. To steal a term from a terrific book “Strong Fathers Strong Daughters” we let them know that they can be a princess or they can be a pioneer… or they can do both like Mayor here.

For the boys, this is a great story because it is about an adventurer and they get to read about tarantulas crawling on peoples heads and cool stuff like that!

I hope you enjoy it.

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