This title of the book to the left, and of the podcast interview (“Trading Pom-Poms For Field Boots”) on the National Public Radio (USA) series called “My Big Break”–and even the opening line below—give the false impression that this may be a dilettante story; but not at all. It is about discovering science in a classroom and coming to love it thanks to a deep experience in nature:
Mireya Mayor’s life plays out like an adventure film.
She’s a globe-trotting anthropologist, primatologist, wildlife expert and conservationist. As the first female wildlife correspondent for the Ultimate Explorer series on National Geographic Channel, she’s gone diving with great whites, she’s rappelled down cliffs and she was even charged by an angry silverback gorilla.
But some of her fans might be surprised by what Mayor was up to before she trekked around remote regions of the world.
“While I was in college, I was an NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins,” Mireya Mayor says. “I took this anthropology class really by accident, because I had to take a science requirement. I was on a very different path to becoming a lawyer.”
During the anthropology course, Mayor says she found a new passion. So she headed straight to the field, signing up for a research trip to Guyana in South America.
“I cheered at my last football game and then a week later, was on a plane to Guyana,” she says. “[I] had to give up the pom-poms and trade them for field boots.”
She says she visited one of the country’s more remote regions.
“It was just this beautiful, natural, green abyss of impenetrable forest,” she says. “Monkeys jumping everywhere and macaws flying overhead, and we would park this canoe at night on the side of the riverbank, climb out and basically machete our way in.”
Mayor says it was an adventure of misadventures. She couldn’t use the new tent she bought because there were poisonous snakes on the ground. So she set up a hammock instead. And the Calvin Klein field vest she brought along was dry clean only — not ideal for the rainforest…
Listen to the podcast and read the story here.