Book Review: Pink Boots and a Machete

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve no doubt hear the name Dr. Mireya Mayor before. She is a host on Nat Geo Wild and was part of the team on Expedition Africa which aired on The History Channel back in 2009. The two-time Emmy Award-nominated television personalty is intelligent, personable, and adventurous, which come across on the screen in numerous ways. But if you only know the good doctor from her appearances on TV, you don’t really know her at all. But her new book, which released last week, tells her amazing and inspiring tale, which took her from a sheltered childhood in Miami to some of the wildest places on the planet.

The book, entitled Pink Boots And A Machete: My Journey From NFL Cheerleader to  National Geographic Explorer, chronicles Mireya’s journey beginning as a youth living in Little Havana who was told that she couldn’t join the Girl Scouts because it was “too dangerous.” A self described tomboy, even as a child, Mayor enjoyed learning about animals, playing with insects, and being outside. But she also had girlie side to her personality that liked to dress up, wear make-up, and chase boys. Her path through life led her to pursue acting and to joining the cheerleading squad of the Miami Dolphins, but it wasn’t until she took an anthropology class late in her college career that she found her true calling. That class inspired her in ways that even she couldn’t imagine, eventually earning her a PhD in Anthropology with a speciality in primates. Along the way, she also became a Fulbright Scholar, a National Science Foundation Fellow, and a National Geographic Explorer. Quite a resume for a girl whose mother wouldn’t allow her to go camping, wouldn’t you say?
In her autobiography, Mireya shares these stories and much more, and she does so in a style that comes across as very matter-of-fact. You get the sense that she is simply sharing her story and not trying to embellish it in any way. In this case, there is no need to embellish, as the story is one that is fun and fantastic all on its own. 
As the cheerleader-turned-adventurer grows in her ambitions and professional accomplishments, her journeys take her to the far corners of the globe. Throughout the book she shares tales of visits to the Congo, where she survives a terrifying plane crash, treks into the Lost World of Roriama in Venezuela, and Madagascar, where she discovered a new type of lemur. Along the way, she shares details on numerous encounters with wildlife, great and small, without ever losing her sense of humor and unwavering zest for life. 
The book is an excellent, inspiring read, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the 301 pages will pass. It moves along at a harrowing pace, and by the end, you’ll still be wanting more. Thankfully, Dr. Mayor still has plenty of adventures ahead of her and we’re likely to be reading about her exploits for years to come. 
Pink Boots is the kind of book that I would recommend to each of my five nieces, who are all nearing an age when they’ll start to consider what they want to do with their lives. Mireya can serve as a great inspiration to young women everywhere, and while they may not end up trekking through jungle and climbing mountains, there is still a great message to be had about pursuing your dreams and letting adventure take you where it will. But this isn’t a story just for the girls. We boys will find plenty to enjoy as well. The message is the same for us too, and Mireya’s story still resonates just as effectively. 
The book is available in stores now, and is a great edition to any library. Excellent stuff. 
Kraig Becker