Burros, Dives and Chivas: Your Guide to a Quick Weekend in Playa el Rodadero

One of the many benefits of living in Barranquilla, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is its convenient proximity the historic cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta, and their beautiful beaches of Isla Barú and El Rodadero, respectively. While Barranquilla has beaches, they aren't quite as scenic and pretty as those of Barú and Rodadero; … Continue reading Burros, Dives and Chivas: Your Guide to a Quick Weekend in Playa el Rodadero

The Hidden Beaches and Beautiful Views of Mar Caribe

Arriving in Barranquilla a day before one of several interviews in recent weeks provided a nice evening with friends in the Olaya neighborhood before a much-awaited adventure to nearby Santa Marta. A relatively safe barrio, where mango trees shade the wide streets and neighbors greet each other warmly, Parque Olaya is a favorable location to enjoy the evening breezes … Continue reading The Hidden Beaches and Beautiful Views of Mar Caribe

From Abundance to Arguments: How to React in Playa Blanca

While some places in the world are currently experiencing the cold of winter, December on the coast of Colombia continues to have sunny days and balmy nights, perfect for a weekend getaway. With the sheer beauty and natural abundance found on Playa Blanca in Isla Barú, each visit to this white-sand, clear-water beach near Cartagena de Indias brings … Continue reading From Abundance to Arguments: How to React in Playa Blanca

How to Find Non-Existent Change in Historic Santa Cruz de Mompox

In his iconic video for "La Foto de las Dos," Latin Grammy Award winner Carlos Vives sings his passionate, hit song before a vast building in Mompox de Santa Cruz, a 1995 UNESCO Heritage site, while a heart-pulling couple fall in and out of love in this stunning municipio founded in 1537. Hoy los fantasmas de tu amor me llaman, Hoy te … Continue reading How to Find Non-Existent Change in Historic Santa Cruz de Mompox

The Simplest Pleasure in Centro: Renting a Bike in Cartagena

If visiting the UNESCO World Heritage city Cartagena de Indias is in your near future, one simple pleasure — along with the sightseeing excursions, relaxing beach days and savoring the incredible flavors of the Colombian coast —  comes highly recommended from locals and tourists alike: rent a bike! A bicycle, in addition to being a great … Continue reading The Simplest Pleasure in Centro: Renting a Bike in Cartagena

36 Hours in Guadalajara

Saying "adios" to Puerto Vallarta on a Tuesday morning, heading towards Guadalajara by bus, the terrain along the drive was beautiful as the landscape changed from beaches and palm trees to mountains and thick greens. Arriving behind schedule, the bus sank into deep traffic surrounding the capitol of Jalisco, joining work commuters as congestion grew … Continue reading 36 Hours in Guadalajara

Nos Vemos, Puerto Vallarta

"A farewell is necessary before you can meet again." - Richard Bach, American novelist While a visit to Puerto Vallarta is synonymous with sunny beach days and breezy nights, it helps to have some activity, perhaps even physical motivation, from the normal seaside vacation. Discovering Star-Mex Fitness and Aerial Silks was the perfect distraction from … Continue reading Nos Vemos, Puerto Vallarta

All I Wanna is Tijuana

Departing from Sacramento for SAN via LAX on an early Saturday morning, the short American Airlines flight touched down in sunny San Diego, with travel to beautiful Santa Fe Station made easy by the city trolley. Reuniting with my awesome travel partner, we took the trolley to San Ysidro, crossing the border into Tjuana, México … Continue reading All I Wanna is Tijuana

Sactown, Tacos and Time

"There is no secret—or magic, as they like to call it—to their friendship. It's just unconditional love." -Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2001) The mid-way point of summer vacation has revealed that if all roads lead to home, your home is simply your heart, as long as it is filled with love. … Continue reading Sactown, Tacos and Time

All Senses Lead to Summer

Summer Vacation 2016 started early this year, as Janine and Denise from Couchsurfing Atlanta arrived mid-June for a week in Cartagena, Colombia. After greeting them at the airport, and within a few hours of their arrival, Denise and I discovered we worked together at a technology company over 14 years ago, thus concluding that the … Continue reading All Senses Lead to Summer

Culminate the Great(ness)

A recent post regarding Five More Things to Love About Living in Colombia, prompted several readers to ask about living abroad and maintaining a "normal" life away from your family, customs, country, and all that has been familiar for many years. With more happy days than sad, there are several methods which, when practiced regularly, … Continue reading Culminate the Great(ness)

Sabor de La Vida y Salchipapas

Feliz cumpleaños, Barranquilla! On April 7th the city, founded in 1813, celebrated its 203 birthday. While it isn't quite the 480+ years of Cartagena de Indias, La Arenosa (translation: The Sand), as Barranquilla is often called, is a notable, historic city all its own. Travel guide book publisher Lonely Planet gives Barranquilla a so-so review, … Continue reading Sabor de La Vida y Salchipapas

Semana Santa 2016: Rioha-cha-cha

Semana Santa is a magical time in Colombia when many people break from their busy lives to travel, relax at home or attend multiple church services throughout the seven days appropriately called Holy Week. Plans for my third Semana Santa in Colombia had originally been to go south into new territory including Monteria, Cordobá and … Continue reading Semana Santa 2016: Rioha-cha-cha

Lifelong Friends Pick Up

You're the first one, when things turn out bad You know I'll never be lonely, you're my only one And I love the things, I really love the things that you do Ooh you're my best friend Queen - You're My Best Friend, 1976 Living abroad has it's share of excitement, joys, adventures and plenty … Continue reading Lifelong Friends Pick Up

Insta Karma

Virtual hugs. Cyber crushes. Emojis and emoticons. In this global age, teaching Information Communications Technology may be one of the most enlightening experiences, and definitely one of the most challenging. In my classes at Aspaen Gimnasio Cartagena de Indias, we often discuss topics like the evolution of social media, and when updates to existing applications … Continue reading Insta Karma

Right for Right Now

This week I received an email from my past volunteer organization, WorldTeach, asking for contributions to their alumni page. Having been recently featured on Lillie Marshall's website, TeachingTraveling.com, I replied with fervor, and was selected as the September alumni feature on the Worldeach.org website: an awesome opportunity as well as an honor. While it's only … Continue reading Right for Right Now

The Difference is the Same

“Every individual matters. Every individual makes a difference.” ― Jane Goodall (British athropologist, b. 1934) To some, living as a foreigner in Cartagena de Indias may seem like permanent vacation: living five minutes from the beach, exploring centuries-old churches and historic landmarks, dancing to live music in a plaza lit by candles at dusk. Yes, … Continue reading The Difference is the Same

La Chiva pa' La Gringa

It's probably been mentioned before, but living in a picturesque city selected in 1984 by UNESCO as significant addition to the heritage of the world, has its advantages. For one, you are surrounded by beauty and history which, for most, is a treat in itself. But for another, when your friends visit, you get to … Continue reading La Chiva pa' La Gringa

La Gringa Paisa

One of the (many) great things about Colombia is it's multiple festivos throughout the calendar year. In addition to Navidad (Christmas) and Semana Santa (Holy Week, or Spring Break), there are several long weekends with a Friday or a Monday acting as the "festivo." However, ask any Colombian what the festivo is celebrating, and most … Continue reading La Gringa Paisa

La Gringa Vallenata

Y no la pasamos chatiando todo el tiempo, Me dice tu musica si me encanta Es que la tengo a la gringa en su puesto, Y yo le envío canciones Vallenatas Es que la tengo a la gringa en su puesto, Y yo le envío canciones Vallenatas All the time we are chatting, She tells … Continue reading La Gringa Vallenata

Esperanza en La Fantastica

esperanza /ess-peh-RAHN-zuh/ feminine noun 1. hope (deseo, ganas); expectation (confianza, expectativas); org: Spanish The first three months as English teacher with Aspaen Gimnasio Cartagena de Indias have been exhausting, interesting and overall satisfying. Though the schedule of class hours are average for a profesora, the school is anything but average. Located on a grassy acreage outside of … Continue reading Esperanza en La Fantastica

Legales, Ladrones, y Lavadoras

Returning to the land of golden arepas and Vallenato music during a January festivo weekend meant time to walk around colorful San Diego, in the center of Cartagena de Indias. Although most places were closed up tight, tourists continued to fill the streets, mixing among the locals and non-natives who have relocated to this brilliant city on the … Continue reading Legales, Ladrones, y Lavadoras

Holiday Travel 2014: Us, We, Me and O Not U

December, with its many festive celebrations, gift-giving and end-of-year conclusions, was like a turbulent snowstorm churning out change in its unpredictable winds. Completing a year of service as a WorldTeach volunteer was emotive, celebratory, conclusive and relieving. At an End of Service retreat to close the program, the remaining group of 2014 volunteers discussed transitioning … Continue reading Holiday Travel 2014: Us, We, Me and O Not U

Improvise and Dive

For a volunteer living on a peso-pinching budget, the past two months in Colombia have felt surprisingly rich while making trips to Cartagena de Indias and discovering things to do in Barranquilla. Adversely, the months have also felt like tests of patience and resilience, with frequent on-the-spot lessons in how to improvise. The heat of Barranquilla has … Continue reading Improvise and Dive

Go Go Romantico

The Lonely Planet guide to South America mentions Barranquilla in a few short paragraphs, remarking on its famous Carnaval, and describing the city as “one big traffic jam.”  Living here for the past year, admittedly there are few things to do, but the city has some interesting attractions worth noting, like the Museo Romantico. A trip to the … Continue reading Go Go Romantico

Of Luxury…and Loss

After the pedagogical rush of Bilingual Week in Barranquilla, it seemed appropriate to take a break in Cartagena, a city with the addictive pull of raw beauty and fascinating culture. Leaving late on a Saturday afternoon, the ride via Berlinas in drenching rains was slow, as the windows resembled driving through an automatic car wash. Arriving in … Continue reading Of Luxury…and Loss

Bilingual and Bewildered

While it may seem from this blog that all I do as a volunteer in Colombia is teach and travel, there are some rewarding obligations as an educator, which is the true basis of my year living in this gorgeous country. After a week of diving into clear blue waters of picturesque Isla San Andres, Colombia, came a week of diving … Continue reading Bilingual and Bewildered

Livin' La Vida Ocho

She will wear you out, livin' la vida loca ocho, Come On! Livin' la vida loca ocho, Come on! She's livin' la vida loca ocho. - Ricky Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca" (revised)  In April 2014,  I moved to Barrio Alboraya in La Ocho, a neighborhood in the south of Barranquilla. I found my new home thanks to Airbnb and many … Continue reading Livin' La Vida Ocho