Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Last spring, I went to Mexico for work. We visited the state of Oaxaca, a word I learned to pronounce when I learnt about the trip. It isn’t a Spanish word but rather an inheritance of the native language of the region. This was a theme I encountered while traveling and conversing with the inhabitants of the coastal town of Puerto Escondido. 

We settled in Puerto Escondido to visit a school as part of a partnership with the university I work for, and traveled around the area visiting turtle and iguana sanctuaries, multiple beach towns and eating local specialties like Oaxacan cheese and the fisherman’s day-catch. 

The best way to reach Puerto Escondido, or “Hidden Port”, is by air. There are roads from the big cities but the trek is long and uncertain, as the locals told us. By air is an hour fly from Mexico City in a 40-passenger plane battling shifting winds. The view from the low-flying plane is wide and mountainous, especially when leaving Mexico City where El Ajusco (12,894 feet), Nevado de Toluca (15,354 feet) and Iztaccíhuatl (17,126 feet) peaks frame the scene. 

We arrived in Puerto Escondido at 6p.m., after leaving Denver at 5a.m., due to a three-hour delay in Mexico City. The landscape changed as we approached our destination. The plane swarmed around the coastline charging toward the ocean and descending as a graceful goose preparing to land in the water, with a gently tilt we turned around to face the airport and the tiny runway. I won’t lie, it was frightening and I mistrusted the entire situation, thankfully the pilot proved me wrong with a smooth landing. 

The sticky hot air blew as we walked from the plane into baggage claim where our host waited for us. “Welcome! How was your flight?” they asked with big, warm smiles as we exchanged hugs and kisses on the cheeks. “Beautiful!” I replied while walking to the van for a 5-minute ride to the hotel. The sunset was a minute away from exploding in orange and gold hues and we rushed from the parking lot of the hotel to the pool where the uninterrupted view allowed the magic of the sun to glow on the palm trees. 

Puerto Escondido is a small enough town to create a feeling of community, but large enough to have multiple traffic lights and crowded streets, and a food market covering four blocks. Nearby towns provide an oasis for tourist, with restaurants on the sand where the chairs sink as you sit and hammocks strung from bamboo poles under kiosks beg to be used. We visited during the low season and enjoyed the solitude of beaches barely sprinkled with tourist. Our host told us, “Next week is Easter and for two weeks you won’t find a place to stand on the beach, let alone lounge and leisure, plus prices double.”

The Market

The next morning, after a walk, barefoot on the blonde sand,  we went to the market with a student from the school working as our guide. The warehouse-like building crowded with piles of mangoes and pineapples brought me back to my younger days in Colombia and the melancholy of sweet, ripe tropical fruit memories. We stopped at a booth selling peppers, fresh and dried, and homemade sauces where my boss decided to try his spice resistance, a brave move if you’d asked me as my spice resistance stays at 0 on the Scoville scale – or the equivalent of a sweet bell pepper. Continue reading Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Cali, Colombia: Visiting My Home City

As an expat living in the states and married to a non-Colombian, I see Cali with the familiarity and critical eye of an estranged daughter.
Cali is growing and changing, the expanding infrastructure, the new public transit system and the desire for progress that fuels the spirit of a city and its people ready to shed their past and proudly wear a new face. It has been an uphill battle with a reputation gained during decades of violence that froze the city, its development and the dream of many, finally thawing out, and a with a younger generation ready to showcase Cali’s potential.

andes mountains cali colombia

Cali’s constant festive atmosphere with its feathery palm trees, fruit stands on every corner, the hot-from-the-oven pandebonos and the backdrop of the Andean mountains embodies the passionate Caleños. You can start with two days in Cali, exploring the various small neighborhoods near the city center where some of the cultural sites have stood for decades like Museo Arqueológico La Merced, Teatro Municipal and Iglesia La Ermita; and where new developments, like the Ermita Boulevard, are opening the door for artists, chefs and business owners to set up shop and repaint the façade of the old Cali.

Stay and Explore

san antonio neighborhood cali colombia

Continue reading Cali, Colombia: Visiting My Home City

A Weekend in Los Angeles

The scent of the orange, mandarin and lemon trees’ blossoms from the backyard of our friend’s house in Los Angeles filled the air with the sweetness of a long-awaited California beach vacation.

fresh of the tree oranges

The morning sun and the eight pound dogs running around the house woke us up as the bed covers insisted we stayed in a little longer after a night of blackberry and bubbles’ slushy cocktails at a nearby bar with an outdoor game room and an adjacent art gallery filled with millennials taking selfies and playing video games on a giant screen. My head empty with sleep and only the ocean waiting with a dose of sun and adventure could break my inertia.

The Hike
We drove to Malibu looking for the Solstice Canyon National park, right off the Pacific 1 Highway. Continue reading A Weekend in Los Angeles

Vegan Quinoa Salad, For A Family Gathering in the Berkshires

When a four-year-old girl tells you “Your mushrooms are stinky,” you worry about the welcome your dish will have at the family gathering.

Earlier this summer we visited with relatives in Massachusetts for the yearly family reunion in the green and lush Berkshires. The area is crowded with lakes, ponds, creeks, twisty roads walled by towering trees, and a lot of history I’m just discovering. A different kind of summer, a contrast to the dry, bug-free Colorado.Big Pond MA Continue reading Vegan Quinoa Salad, For A Family Gathering in the Berkshires

Orange and Rosemary Chicken, A Recipe from Provence

We had two oranges sitting on the dashboard of the car soaking up the almost 90 degree Provençal weather. The sunflower and lavender fields were all dead, “Oh yes, too late for that!” our AirB&B hostess told us over a glass of chilled rosé on her back patio.provence backyardWe had left Chamonix-Mont Blanc the day before to continue our “Tour de France” near Lyon on the town of Vienne. Continue reading Orange and Rosemary Chicken, A Recipe from Provence

A Day in St. Remy, France

My French teacher and dear friend France {how appropriate} told me about St. Remy when I was planning our trip to Provence this past summer. “It’s a beautiful town full of artists and craft shops” she said, and it was every bit as charming as she painted it.wooddoorstremyfrance

Continue reading A Day in St. Remy, France

Two Summer Days in Chamonix – Part 1

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon to short’s weather, brilliant sun and towering mountains. Chamonix isn’t the small, charming village we had imagined, instead is a small, vibrant city full of restaurants, bars, shops and crazy people jumping off of cliffs with their paraglider.

Chamonix Mont Blanc Continue reading Two Summer Days in Chamonix – Part 1

Two Summer Days in Chamonix – Part 2

After a breathtaking morning (Part 1 of Two Summer Days in Chamonix) at L’Aiguille du Midi and the Panoramic gondola, it was time to start the descend to Chamonix.

The Hike
There were many hiking trails with different levels of difficulty and length to choose from {one could be there for a year and not do them all,} but since we had a limited amount of time and a wimpy girl on board we chose a moderate hike from the Plan de L’Aiguille to Montenvers Mer de Glace train station. {Note: This hike done on the opposite direction will be a killer! Mostly uphill.}a hike French alps Continue reading Two Summer Days in Chamonix – Part 2

Floating with Hemingway

The day had arrived for our first balloon ride. My husband wasn’t showing any concerns, I was having second thoughts.

The alarm woke us up at 4:45 a.m. We rolled out of bed and brushed our teeth with our eyes half closed. The pick up time was 5:30 a.m. for a 45-minute ride up to the launching place.

Wind or fog is never a good sign and the coastal breeze had pushed the fog in and dumped it on the mountains as it moved to the low Napa Valley hidden behind them.

“We tested her and I’m not convinced,” said Daniel, the balloon pilot, as we got off the van. Continue reading Floating with Hemingway

My Rosé Story – five of my favorite rosé wines

On one of my first dates with the boy, back in 2001, I lost myself in a pink wine and vomited my dinner in the kitchen sink.

Back then, the young Colombian girl I was, hadn’t had much wine in her life. The drinks of choice around me growing up were shots of aguardiente, rum, tequila or whiskey; and wimpy cocktails for girls like me.

My boy worked at a restaurant in the town of Winter Park {Colorado} and I stopped by at the end of the night. “Would you like a glass of wine?” he asked. I knew he was a great host, but that did’t mean I cared for his offer. “No, thank you, wine is too sour and bitter for me.”

Matt, the bartender, offered a suggestion “to get your girl started on wine,” he said, “how about a glass of white zinfandel?”

Continue reading My Rosé Story – five of my favorite rosé wines