Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey From NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer

Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey From NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer

3.8 30
by Mireya Mayor
     
 

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A quick examination of her roots, and one may never have guessed that Mireya Mayor would become the woman she is today. Yet, against all odds, this self-professed former "girly girl" daughter of overprotective Cuban immigrants blossomed from NFL cheerleader to Fulbright Scholar to field scientist and ultimately, quintessential adventurer. Now, with more than a

Overview

A quick examination of her roots, and one may never have guessed that Mireya Mayor would become the woman she is today. Yet, against all odds, this self-professed former "girly girl" daughter of overprotective Cuban immigrants blossomed from NFL cheerleader to Fulbright Scholar to field scientist and ultimately, quintessential adventurer. Now, with more than a decade's worth of thrilling exploits under her belt, Mayor recounts her life in a riveting, awe-inspiring new book.
 
In a series of short chapters, she relives each exhilarating event with uncanny charm and self-deprecating humor. Readers have the rare opportunity to follow the renowned primatologist around the globe as she unlocks the mysteries of the natural world and endeavors to save some of the planet's rarest creatures. Says Mayor: "I love the adventure, the exploration, the scientific discovery and the documentation. But really what drives me is the thought that future generations—my own children and their children—can one day learn to appreciate them like I do."
 
Throughout this unforgettable volume, she describes in stunning detail how she survived a plane crash...slept in jungles teeming with poisonous snakes...dove with hungry great white sharks...rappelled down a 14,000-foot sinkhole in search of frogs...draws blood from critically endangered lemurs...was charged by an angry silver-backed gorilla...was chased by elephants...and the list goes. Suffice it to say, Mireya Mayor has seen more in her 30-odd years than most of us will see in a lifetime. Her plucky spirit, brilliance in the face of calamity, and sheer will to succeed make this a classic mission book, and a thoroughly breathtaking read.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mireya is a charming, hilarious, and wonderful storyteller, and though she's been charged and chased by wild animals in exotic locales and survived illnesses that would've killed a lesser person, she is also one of us—keenly and savagely aware of the importance of good hair and lip gloss."—Julie Klam, best-selling author of You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness

"We don't often hear stories of NFL cheerleaders who go on to become a Fulbright Scholar and a Ph.D., but Mireya's story is exactly that and more. Pink Boots is the spirited and colorful story of a little Cuban-American girl who refused to let culture and others' expectations of her hold her back. Her passion for the sciences and her adventurous spirit are deeply inspiring and incredibly invigorating. Mireya is beauty and brains personified—and a badass at that. It is a memoir of survival."—Lisa Ling, journalist and best-selling author of Somewhere Inside

Mayor never gave up her trademark stylishness, even when the going got tough. [Her] gutsy grittiness and wicked sense of humor allowed her to survive danger, disease and sexism. Entertaining reading for the intrepid at heart."—KIRKUS REVIEWS
  
"Written in a breezy style that will be welcome to reality television aficionados, this National Geographic Wild co-host knows her audience and has crafted an appealing memoir that will be particularly welcome to outdoor wannabes."—BOOKLIST
 
"[Pink Boots] fills an important gap; it ought to inspire young people, especially young women, to follow in Mayor’s footsteps. Armchair adventurers and readers interested in nature will enjoy the journey."—LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Pink Boots and a Machete is an empowering autobiography detailing how one humble, tree-climbing, bug-collecting tomboy evolved into one of the most recognizable primatologists and television adventurers on the planet. Mireya Mayor holds nothing back—from growing up in a family displaced by political oppression, to finding fame on the sidelines of professional football fields, to her triumphs and challenges in some of the most remote places on earth. You'll be amazed at Mayor's fertile sense of humor, her brutal honesty, and and her empowering message that anyone can achieve. Can we have it all? Apparently yes, with some perseverance, determination, and attitude, it seems that we really can. If you're female, you'll want to be just like her. If you're a guy ... you'll just want her. Regardless, this is the rare autobiography that carries the true voice of its author, and should not be missed."—HERALD de PARIS 

“Engrossing.” –The Midwest Book Review

Library Journal
Mayor, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, television correspondent, respected primatologist, and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, offers a highly readable first-person account of her worldwide travels. Mayor makes no apologies about her "fashion sense and background in pom-poms," recounting in the chapter "Hello I Hate You" the multiple occasions when her good looks were the source of discriminatory behavior from others in both academic and scientific communities. Mayor amply describes her many exploits: discovering a new species of lemur in Madagascar, studying gorillas in the Congo, and retracing Henry Morton Stanley's search for David Livingstone in Tanzania. VERDICT The prose is uneven throughout, but as a whole this collection fills an important gap; it ought to inspire young people, especially young women, to follow in Mayor's footsteps. Armchair adventurers and readers interested in nature will enjoy the journey. (Photos not seen.)—Faye A. Chadwell, Oregon State Univ. Libs., Corvallis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426207426
Publisher:
National Geographic Society
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
278,149
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Deep in the heart of darkness in the lush rain forest of the Congo, the gorillas were dozing under the rays of morning sun that pierced the dense vegetation, exuding their infectious, albeit misleading, aura of calm. I, on the other hand, was swatting at sweat bees trying to make their way into my ears and up my nose. These bees are attracted to salt in human sweat, and although their sting is almost painless, their constant presence is a total pain in the butt. 

Especially when one is trying to observe gorillas and share in their Zen-like state. Ironically, the more I waved my hands to get rid of the annoying creatures, the more I sweated and added to my appeal. By the dozens, they clustered on my arms and legs and dive-bombed into my eyes. What satisfaction it gave me to crush them. While digging a bee out of my eye, I heard a noise behind me. Like most primates, gorillas are usually heard before they are seen. Not having a mirror, I was using the lens of my camera to pick sweat bees out of my pupils. Suddenly,reflected behind me was a gorgeous, 400-pound silverback. As if responding to an inaudible command, the gorillas had stopped dozing and now surrounded me. This wasn’t good. The females let out a piercing shriek. There were only three of them, but it sounded like a dozen or more. Frozen, our guide whispered to me to cower and pretend to eat leaves. Why pretend? I ingested several. 

Evidently feeling threatened, the females prodded the silverback to charge. So like a husband, at first he pretended not to hear, but the females began running at us. Our only weapon a ballpoint pen, I quickly ate more leaves. The silverback joined in the charge. Just inches from us they all stopped and began furiously slapping the ground. 

Videos

Meet the Author

Mireya Mayor is currently a host on Nat Geo WILD! channel with her own series “Wild Nights with Mireya Mayor” and can regularly be seen in documentary specials such as “Mystery Gorillas.” In 2009, Mayor also starred in Mark Burnett’s Emmy Nominated reality show “Expedition Africa” on History Channel. A former correspondent for the critically acclaimed series “Ultimate Explorer,” Mayor received the highly prestigious National Geographic Emerging Explorer award in 2007, and is a frequent guest lecturer for the NG Live! Lecture series. Mayor regularly appears on TV on MSNBC, CNN, Inside Edition and NBC’s “Today”.  She has also been featured in People, Marie Claire, Latina, National Geographic Adventure and Elle magazines and in The New York Times and Miami Herald.

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Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey From NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started the book with an image of what cheerleader-turned explorer Mireya would be like and how she would write. Fortunately, it did not take long to disprove my impression. Each chapter was a different story from her life and was written well and intelligently. She is very self-aware and had fun at her own expense. The stories were told out of order, making reading them more interesting than if they were chronological. I was definitely inspired. That being said, I wish that certain transitions/chapter introductions were more detailed so it was clearer when in her life events were happening. Overall really interesting and fun to read.
writingirl_15 More than 1 year ago
Mireya Mayor (pronounces MER-AY-UH) surprised everyone when she declared she wanted to become a primatologist and explorer. As a NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins, not many people believed she could do it. Not only was she girly and everyone knows girly girls cannot tolerate a spec of dirt on them *sarcasm*, but a cheerleader also! Even a person living under a rock knows that cheerleaders have mush for brains *more sarcasm* But boy, did she prove them wrong. Pink Boots and a Machete chronicles Mireya's life starting from her early childhood when she was growing up with her three "mothers" and her menagerie of pets, to her husband, Roland, and two daughters, up to the year 2010, and I have to say she's led a pretty exciting and scary life. At the age 22, she received her first grant to study the white-face saki money- a very rare species. She headed off to Guyana, South America with enthusiasm, excitement and an oversized suitcase full of trendy clothes and a little black dress. Little did she know what it was like journeying in a remote part of the rain forest. She learned pretty fast that fashion and the jungle don't mix well,but she will argue that having a little black dress isn't unnecessary in the wilds. Her book takes the readers on a wild ride of expedition after expedition, scary/exciting adventure after another. When she describes the elements of being an explorer, i.e. leeches, starvation, bugs, wild animals, parasites, weather, ect. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to do what she does. I think it takes a particular brand of crazy for anyone to want to go out into the wilds and suffer sweat bees and leeches- not to mention the bugs that burrow under human skin. Blech. But you have to admire these people and the risks they are willing to take for the sake of knowledge, passion, and science. All in all, a great book! The words flowed and there were some fabulous descriptions of everything she's seen be it scenery, people, or animals. There is definitely a serious message that goes along with this book, and there are some solemn moments, but overall Mireya Mayor doesn't drag the reader down, but lifts them up with humor and her optimism. A great book for anyone who loves reading about extreme adventures- but do not want to go on one- like me!
MrSteveG More than 1 year ago
From the moment you pick up this book you will be drawn into an incredible story of one woman's journey. It is a life full of adventure, exploration, and discovery--both personal and scientific. You will find yourself hard pressed to remember this is an autobiography and not an adventure novel. Mireya Mayor grabs your attention in the opening chapter of the book when she recounts, in vivid detail, the sudden descent of her airplane in the Congo. As the aircraft drops she realizes that she may die in the crash. From that moment the reader is taken on a journey of her amazing life, recounting how she came to arrive at that moment. You will enjoy reading about her life as a little girl growing up in Miami. You will actually find yourself laughing out loud when she recounts the menagerie she collected as a child. You will also marvel at the fact this little girl, who was not allowed to join the Girl Scouts because it was "too dangerous", would later in life come face to face with a charging Silver Back gorilla. She is first and foremost a scientist---but unlike some journals written by or about scientist I have read in the past she does not talk "at" or "down", but rather "to" you the reader. Throughout the book Dr. Mayor shares her travels and discoveries with the reader. Her passion for discovery jumps off the pages, and you can't help but share her joy and wonder as she explores new lands and encounters new cultures. You will also share in her frustration when she recounts being judged for her looks and her time as a cheerleader. You will applaud when she does not let comments, which came from from not only her colleagues, but also the media, affect her drive or determination. Her self-confidence is matched only by her sense of adventure and you will come to admire her. She has a wicked sense of humor and a number of one-liners appear through out the book. Some of which I wrote down for future use! And that sense of humor shines in chapter 12 of the book. I found myself laughing several times as she recounted some---let's say unique--uses for a number of objects women find in their purses every day. This is by far one of the best books I have ever read. Her descriptions of the locations she has visited are so well written that you will feel as if you are actually there standing with her. Pick it up--start reading--and enjoy the journey!
jesalexander More than 1 year ago
Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey from NFL Cheerlearder to National Geographic Explorer is an empowering autobiography detailing how one humble, tree-climbing, bug-collecting tomboy evolved into one of the most recognizable primatologists and television adventurers on the planet. Mireya Mayor holds nothing back - from growing up in a family displaced by political oppression, to finding fame on the sidelines of professional football fields, to her triumphs and challenges in some of the most remote places on earth. You'll be amazed at Mayor's fertile sense of humor, her brutal honesty, and and her empowering message that anyone can achieve. Can we have it all? Apparently yes, with some perseverance, determination, and attitude, it seems that we really can. If you're female, you'll want to be just like her. If you're a guy - you'll just want her. Regardless, this is the rare autobiography that carries the true voice of its author, and should not be missed.
HootFLGA More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I stumbled across it on a blog and decided to check it out. I could not put it down. I would have been happy reading for another 200 pages. Mireya Mayor strikes a fantastic balance between narrating her personal life, storytelling about her adventures, and explaining scientifically why conservation and preserving species is so important. You start rooting for her and for the animals she champions! Although she is a very accomplished explorer and primatologist, her tone makes her seem like a friend that you could go grab a beer with at the end of a rough day. I hope that Mireya continues to write about her adventures. I am now a fan!
CJones26 More than 1 year ago
Pink Boots and a Machete will catch your attention during the first sentence and leave the reader intrigued page after page. Mireya Mayor describes her self discovering journey through life which includes many adventures ranging from an NFL cheerleader to traveling around the world recording new species.  I read this book for my senior English Ethnography project which is someone who interprets a culture and portrays it through a video or some other source. Pink Boots and a Machete was an impeccable non fiction book to provide evidence for the project due to the fact that it defies the average known NFL cheerleader and portrays a self improving journey through a woman's point of view. This book was far from the typical non-fiction book, which can be usually be described as education, but instead Pink Boots and a Machete was like an action packed adventure that I was experiencing with Mayor. I would highly recommend this book because it is empowering and I believe each person can benefit from it in some way. “Crashing on a Congolese flight, waking up in a brothel, fighting off venomous snakes, and averting having my head cut off by a silverback gorilla might read like a Harrison Ford movie script. But these were just a small part of my last expedition” (Mayor 1). Mayor does nothing if not take the reader on an incredible  journey in which anyone can indulge in. “To this day I am a walking contradiction, setting off for remote jungles carrying pink boots, a little black dress(should an unforeseen occasion arise), and a machete” (Mayor 22). Mayor will inspire you follow your dreams, and above all else teach you to never underestimate someone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved going om a journey from the jungles of South America to the jungles of Africa. I loved reading about Mireya Mayor's journey to where she is now. Reading this book really made me realize how much I really what to study endangered species. I wasn't sure if and how to do it, but thanks to this book I know it is possible. I can't wait to start my own adventure! I hope I end up having great expeditions like Mireya!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FABULOUS book from the first word to the last -- could not put it down! Especially when she gets to the jungles -- what a wild ride! Love this book! Don't miss it!
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Awsome book! I would recomend this for people with a great imagination( the autobiagraphy doesn't have pictures) and for people who like adventure and wildlife
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Loved everything about it!
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Shannon Makowski More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, Mayor comes off as a hypocrite. She doesn't like to be seen as a pretty researcher and wants to be taken seriously but in turn, constantly refers to "Dr. Handsome" - a fellow researcher - without using his proper name. And almost every single chapter makes reference to her past experience as an NFL cheerleader. You cheered, we get it. You told us in the first chapter. We get it. Perhaps a ghost writer or co-author would've given this book the flow it needed. The book jumped around & it was easy to start getting into a chapter only to stop mid-way & ask yourself exactly where she was going with her story. The book was disappointing, I admire her for her accomplishments & enjoy her as a tv personality but an author, she is not.