Pasco’s Passion

Book shares travel stories and love of Mexican people

Sequim Gazette staff

If Traveler’s Journal is part of your weekly reading routine, then avid world traveler Judith Pasco’s new book may be the right travel companion for you.


She’s crafted “somewhere for my soul to go: a place, a cause, a legacy” as part travel journal, part traveler’s tips about adventures to Mexico and elsewhere south of the border.


She hosts a book reading and signing at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Olympic Cellars, 255401 Highway 101, Port Angeles, to commemorate the release.


Using journals dating back to her first journey to Guatemala in 1990, Pasco wrote the book on a dare from a friend with no intention of ever pursuing such an expansive task.


“It’s a lot more work than I ever imagined,” she joked.


As a Spanish teacher for 20 years, 15 of those in Sequim, Pasco traveled to exotic locations in the summers, and now, retired since 2007, she is even more of an avid traveler.


Her book “somewhere for my soul to go” is broken up into four parts and shares some early memories, warnings for travelers — including tips for traveling after 60 — acclimating to a new culture and how her travels helped shape the Mujeres de Maíz Opportunity Foundation.


On one particular four-month trip to Chiapas, the southernmost state in Mexico, Pasco said, “Everything that could go wrong, did.”


“I came home with my tail between my legs,” she said.


Over that time, she encountered poor living conditions, horrific weather, illness and a general culture shock of how women are treated in the state.


“I didn’t want to have bad taste in my mouth, so I wanted to go back,” she said.


And she has, a few times each year. Pasco and five friends developed Mujeres de Maíz Opportunity Foundation, a registered nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, in January 2006 to help young women continue education in a seamstress cooperative centered in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. During her time there, Pasco learned of the poverty in Chiapas (the poorest state in Mexico), violence, racism toward indigenous people and sexism toward women.


In San Cristobal, Pasco said, conditions can be poor, so part of the education process is life education, such as basic hygiene, since most girls don’t receive educational resources beyond fifth grade.


“It’s hard for some to confront the Western mindset of health,” she said.


As part of the learning experience, Pasco learned the indigenous women speak three different languages, Tsotsil, Taeltal and Tolojobal, with Spanish as their second language.


So far, the foundation’s projects include literacy training, secondary school, vocational courses, and/or college or university. The grass roots organization runs with a budget of $30,00 each year and an all-volunteer staff. Any profits from the book go to the foundation. It is available at Pacific Mist Books and Port Books and News, and more readings are to come.


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