Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal) publishes new travel book

sailing-between-seasLeita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) has just published her third travel book, Sailing between the Seas: The Panama Canal. Leita, among many other careers, worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal at the age of 55, then went to work for the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti for five years. She retired in Florida in 2002, and wrote a memoir of Senegal, Roller Skating in the Desert.

In 2012 with Peace Corps Writers, she published In the Valley of Atibon which chronicles her experiences as a middle-aged white woman who goes to Haiti filled with good intentions to manage Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and its community development program. What unfolds for her, however, is a hell filled with young revolutionaries and vagabonds who threaten her life, and the very existence of the hospital and the program. Prompted by these experiences she delves into the mysteries of Voudou, and learns firsthand about the undercurrent of terror that drives rural Haitians. Entwined with her story, Kaldi narrates the uplifting story of Dr. Larimer Mellon, and his wife, Gwen Grant Mellon, who founded the  hospital in 1956 and spent their lives serving people in the Valley. Theirs too was an experience fraught with problems that demanded their courage, resourcefulness and dedication to the Haitian people.

Leila shopping in a market

“What do you think?”

In her second travel book, Circling Sicily, Leita and her husband Bob circled the coast of Sicily, from Palermo to the mountain peaks of Taormina, to Catania and smoldering Mount Aetna, to Siracusa and the art colony of Ortygia, to Noto for the annual flower festival, on to Agrigento and its corridor of Greek ruins, to marvelous Marsala, and back to Palermo. Leita writes, “Every day we would find delightful characters, unique food (no spaghetti and meatballs here), awesome sights, and insights into the island’s perennial social and economic challenges.”

What’s next, Leita? Here’s an RPCV you can’t keep at home.

Sailing between the Seas: The Panama Canal
Leita  Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993–96)
March 2016
36 pages
$15.00 (paperback)
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  • The photo shows Leita with a collection of artesian items from the Emberà tribe of the Darién peninsula of Panamá…my site was in the Darién with the Emberà. Did Leita spend time with the tribe? Bob

    • No, Bob, sadly we did not spend time with the Embera. We were on a tour and that was a stop on the schedule. What a fascinating time you must have had in the Darien. I read about it and wrote about the history there and the Embera people, briefly. You might like to read my book. There are photos of the children (too adorable) and the village.

      Thanks for your response.


  • As memories fill with squatters fore & aft, what matters for a any writer is craft, love of some kind, plans & a certain voice. The ‘love’ word will usually get a challenge. The ‘plans’ word may be thought of in terms of intention. The craft word may not be challenged. The phrase “a certain voice”‘ is key and the driver through all the hot distracting spots of the text. Even though I am a poet and a lyric one at that according to others, with provisos, I believe in what are main writing criteria.

    I just have to read this travel book about the trip around Sicily that she and her husband took. (Always wanted to go there and as a bookclerk and a tv watcher of the PBS-type travel outlines I dream of such a trip even now at 79, and as my niece Victoria Mycue the psychologist suggests it is more than money but also considering I am ‘bumping 80”.) It seems L K Davis has that certain voice, and considering the history of her service works with the Roma and The Haitians she has the grip. Ed

    • Thank you, Ed. I do try to keep in mind all the criteria you listed to make my books readable, to “bring readers along with me.” I think you’d enjoy my Circling Sicily. And do go! What the hell, we were 77 when we went and we loved every minute.

      Buon viaggio!

      Leita Kaldi Davis

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