Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers
Love, Loathing and Our Epic Drive Around the World
At the turn of the millennium, American-born Paige Parker and investment guru Jim Rogers spend three years—1,101 days to be exact—driving over six continents in their “sunburst yellow” coupe and trailer, ultimately setting a Guinness World Record. During the epic journey, Paige’s world view is turned upside down, eventually leading her and her family to their ideal home in Singapore.
On the road trip, she meets women from every walk of life, inspiring monks in China, boy soldiers in Angola and oppressive patriarchy in too many countries, yet she walks away with a profound faith in humankind. She now wants to pass the lessons from the road to her two daughters, to women everywhere and to all intrepid travelers.
“Boy soldiers in Angola”
Sleep was impossible-the fear of the unknown too strong, the heat too stifling, the laughing and singing from the boy soldiers too loud. I’d insisted we leave the windows up, as if bullets couldn’t shoot through the glass. But soon I’d had enough. I lowered the pane, and as the car cooled, the buzzing, malaria-spreading mosquitoes swarmed. Eventually I dozed off with my pillow resting on the car’s centre console, my back arched uncomfortably against the seat, feet dangling out the window.
I woke hourly to a soldier ringing a weak bell. The other soldiers slept on the ground under thatch roofs held high on wooden stilts. At 3am I woke up cold, the temperature down ten degrees. After I closed the window, mosquitoes buzzed around my head. I swatted and clapped, aiming to kill, instead hitting only myself as they sang loudly into my ears. When I couldn’t hold my bladder a moment longer, I squatted directly outside the car, not worrying that I would step in my own urine when I rose later.
Being shot or stepping in pee. Easy choice.
I got out of the car at 5.50, ran my fingers through my slick, oily hair, brushed my teeth and washed my face, a handful of boy soldiers watching my every move. As the official appeared ahead, he looked towards our car, his hands cupped over his eyes to shield the already strong rising sun. I prayed to anyone listening that we would be allowed to leave.
When I turned to see Jim aiming our Polaroid camera at the military leader, I shouted, “Don’t! Not without permission!”
Cameras were a rarity here. In those days, an instant photograph could make instant friends-and even quicker enemies. My shout was too late; the photograph spewed out of the small contraption. Jim approached the officer with his offering.
Slowly, the corners of the officer’s mouth turned upward. “Good shot,” he said, patting Jim’s back.
When he stood more upright, chin protruding, chest expanded, preening for another, Jim obliged and then the official ordered his boy soldiers onto the hill. They paraded ammunition, machine guns, rifles, machetes and rocket launchers-reminding me of children showing off prized toys. The excited boys, maybe 15 of them-blindly committed to a man’s war over diamonds and oil-posed gladly, laughing, throwing legs in the air. I stood at a distance, behind the car, wondering how many would live to see the end of the fighting. How long would it take for this country to be whole again?
Angola today has boomed because of reduced military spending, natural resources and oil reserves. The vast tourist potential Jim and I had witnessed has not been developed, so an adventurous young woman who is keen should travel there to examine, explore and exploit the untold opportunities.
But back then, I’m sure these soldiers couldn’t imagine a life without war. An officer, wearing only one plastic flip-flop, approached from the direction of the bridge and saluted the general. I looked at the gangly group, not all that threatening by the light of day, save for their ammunition.
Jim’s large black Polaroid continued to produce gifts. Many photos later, the general, in a military truck, led us around land mines to his superior’s house, where Jim took more Polaroids.
“You may go to Benguela,” the general spoke, his English far better today than the night before.
“Sir, why did you force us to stay here last night?” I asked.
“Each night we mine the bridge to keep UNITA away. If I had allowed you to pass, then you would be dead, blown to bits and pieces.”
“Full of heart and insight… Paige is the modern-day princess and dragon slayer— full of grit, guts and grace. I stand in awe of Paige’s candour, curiosity and courage; and the majesty of her love, not just for Jim and her children Happy and Bee, but for life.”
— Jaelle Ang, entrepeneur and CEO of The Great Room
“A charming, engaging memoir that’s hard to put down, with pages of insightful gems about womanhood, motherhood and staying true to one’s inner calling.”
— Dolores Au, CEO and co-founder of Mummyfique
“For those who thrive by saying yes, who keep their eyes open to all that life has to offer, this book is a wake-up call… A shoutout to anyone thinking of stepping beyond their comfort zone in search of a life-changing experience.”
— Geoffrey Kent, author of Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer and founder of Abercrombie & Kent
“A fascinating peek into the extraordinary world of Paige Parker (wife, mother, feminist), this memoir is like no other round-the-world journal.”
— Dr Jade Kua, paediatric emergency specialist and president of the Association of Women Doctors (Singapore)
“Proof that just like books, we can never judge the kind of experiences a person has had and how it can come to define them.”
— Tracy Phillips, director of Ppurpose
“A truly inspiring read. I can only hope that my two girls will grow up with the same thirst for adventure and excitement as Paige has, and a similar desire to not only travel the world, but to understand and engage with people from all walks of life.”
— Charmaine Seah-Ong, co-founder of Elementary
“Paige’s brave and soulful stories are much more than a whirlwind traveller’s tale; they are a reminder of the sometimes harsh truth about this world we live in… We can all learn what it means to be human, vulnerable and resilient.”
— Pocket Sun, co-founder and managing partner of SoGal Ventures
“Paige did what all of us secretly want to do: go on an amazing adventure of self-discovery… Yet we should all be so brave, to reach outside our comfort zones, to experience, to dream, to be curious and most importantly, to be open to people and situations.”
— Georgette Tan, president of the Singapore Committee for UN Women
“An engaging tale filled with laughter, tears and the forthright observations we wish our own mothers might have had the temerity to fill us in on, it’s unequivocal evidence that there is plenty more to Mrs Rogers than her glitzy Instagram life.”
— Su-Lyn Tan, co-founder and CEO of The Ate Group
“Intimately written and beautifully crafted… This is a story to inspire not just her daughters but legions of women and men to take that plunge and go forth into the unknown.”
— Su Shan Tan, group head of wealth management and consumer banking at DBS
“Paige’s unparalleled confidence, forthrightness and generosity reach right into the hearts of all who know her. Wisdom so insightful, prose so simply beautiful, her memoir will leave every reader with indelible memories.”
— Lynn Yeow-de Vito, co-founder of Loop PR and Sassy Mama Singapore