180 MAY/JUNE 2019 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
that strikes her fancy, or a friend might suggest a trek to some
latitude where she’s never been. “I really rely on serendipity,”
says Wiss, who lives in Bethesda. “I just say, ‘Yes.’ ”
Wiss’ love of travel began when she spent a few months
abroad during college in the early 1970s and experiencing Europe
on $10 a day became the young backpacker’s philosophy. She
traveled sporadically during the 1980s and ’90s. Fast-forward to
2008, when Wiss took off for Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Arriving in the city most locals still call Saigon, she says, “All you
saw were people who looked different than you. It was a memory
that I will never forget.;I;was the one who looked different.”
Since leaving the Treasury Department in 2017, Wiss has often
been halfway out the door: India, France, Africa. “The world is such
a big place,” she says. “It is an opportunity to see things differ-
ently…and appreciate diversity as well as value commonality.”
Last year she went to Paris for a course in ;ower arranging. “I
love arranging ;owers, not that I have any skill,” Wiss says. “But
it makes me happy.” She gave away her creations as gifts to the
concierge at her hotel and saleswomen at boutiques she visited.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro had been her ambition since
she was 40 and met a 60-year-old woman who had reached its
summit. “I thought,‘What a fabulous goal,’” Wiss says. The
mountain in Tanzania is one of the Seven Summits, the highest
peaks on each of the seven continents. It’s also the easiest to
scale—ropes and technical equipment are not required. She
trained for months nonetheless, hiking parts of the Appalachian
Trail, Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, Catoctin Mountain Park
and the ankle-twisting Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls.
Wiss, who calls herself “a gypsy,” says that on Kilimanjaro,
“I learned that I can really do more than I think I can, and also
to ask for help when I needed help.” ;
Upon her retirement, she embarked on what she refers to
as her “year of irrational exuberance.” It has lasted 2½ years,
but who’s counting?
THE WORLD IS SUCH A BIG
PLACE. IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO
SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY... AND
APPRECIATE DIVERSITY AS WELL
AS VALUE COMMONALITY.
Wiss went to Humayun’s Tomb in India (above). She traveled to Paris for a
course in ;ower arranging (left).