image-Laureen Diephof
Coastsider Laureen Diephof surprises the snake charmer in a Moroccan market by making friends with the snake. Photo courtesy Laureen Diephof

At age 74, Laureen Diephof took off around the world by herself with no phone and a few belongings. It sounds daunting, but Diephof was ready for it. 

“Since I was a little kid, I kept thinking I wanted to see the world,” Diephof said. “I had that in the back of my brain, and I just decided I better go do it, so I did.”

Last month, Diephof published “Walking Over the Earth: A Memoir” which documented her circumnavigation in 2012. She took copious notes throughout her travels, then assembled them into a detailed publication.

Diephof will be on hand for a book signing at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Half Moon Bay Library. She’s a Half Moon Bay resident and is the coordinator of the Coastside Life Story Writers group. She also works on the weekends for the Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce Visitors’ Center. 

To get a taste of her travels, visit her blog: Diephof, now 82, is not a novice writer. She spent 10 years as an accomplished journalist in Monterey, writing news for the Greenfield News, King City Rustler, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. She also published work in the Aptos Voice, Watsonville Pajaronian, Going Dutch magazine and Pacifica Tribune.

Diephof notes the benefits of traveling solo. She was free to move at her own pace. And while she was traveling by herself, she was never without company. 

“I saw people everywhere I went. So I was alone, but not really alone,” she said. “There were a lot of fascinating people. The thing I learned through travel is there are more good people in the world than not.”

It’s that connection with people that made the trip so special for Diephof. She made connections everywhere. She met local fishermen in a small town in Iceland, got scorched in the Sahara Desert and celebrated her birthday on an island in Scotland. 

She stayed in hostels, hotels and couch-surfed her way around the world. Even after all that traveling, she was still looking for more opportunities. When she returned from her journey, she joined AmeriCorps and worked as the volunteer coordinator for the Arts Council for Monterey County. She used the earned stipend for a trip to Cambodia, where she resided with Buddhist monks and nuns, teaching English to children. 

“So many people keep asking me what my favorite place was, and I don’t really have one,” Diephof recalled. “There are good memories everywhere.”

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