On the Art of Living Everywhere and Eating Everything
We lived in Cuba for a month. Our son, Kenny, went with us.
We spend about half our time in Havana, with jaunts to Viñales, Trinidad and Varadero.
Our timing was amazing. Not did we benefit from AirBnB's first entry into Cuba (you couldn't book from within Cuba, but we could book before arrival), we witnessed some incredible history.
We were there when President Obama became the first US president to visit Cuba since the 20s. And we attended the first-ever Rolling Stones concert in Havana. (It was only a few years prior when Cubans were jailed for even owning a Stones album.)
When we arrived, WiFi had existed in Cuba for less than a year. The government built around 65 WiFi hotspots around the country, which required the purchasing of scratch-off cards and the expenditure of $2.29 for every hour of use. (We spend $300 on Internet connectivity in a month.) These hotspots force users to stand on the sidewalk or sit on a curb while connecting.
We also lived in Cuba during a Zika panic. The Cuban government fumigated weekly, and we have four horrible encounters. Fumigation in Cuba is not optional, but enforced by soldiers. They show up, and you have a minute or two to get out. Once we were even inside the house when they fumigated it. We had to blindly sprint through the house to get out.
We had visited Cuba as tourists in 2008. Living as nomads (renting apartments, shopping at local markets, eating at local restaurants, traveling in ancient Chevys built in the 50s and so on) made Cuba an entirely different country. We gained far more empathy for the Cuban people and what they endure every day.
We lived in Greece twice. First in 2008 for four months, where we lived with relatives mostly in Athens, but we also spent lots of time on the islands of Patmos, Santorini, Rhodes, Kos, Mykonos and Crete.
The second time was about three months, where we lived primarily in Sparti, but also spent time all over the Peloponnese and also in Athens and the island of Samos.
Spain is awesome. We lived for months in Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Granada, Cordoba, Tarifa, Cuenca and Seville. Every city in Spain is another world, and it's a super easy country to live in.
We stayed with family while in Jordan (the father of Kevin's wife, Nadia, lives there, and we stayed with him and his family).
We spent most of our time in Amman, the capitol, as well as excursions to Petra and the Dead Sea.
We met some wonderful people and saw some incredible sights. But mostly, we ate a LOT of delicious food.
Guatemala is one of the most beautiful and evocative countries in the Americas. We toured Mayan ruins there, spend some downtime in the picturesque city of Antigua Guatemala and stayed in the most amazing hotel on the stunning lake Lake Atitlán.
Morocco is stunningly beautiful. We spent only a day in Tangier, walking around the city the entire time. We even hired a guide to help us navigate where tourists dare not tread -- through the labyrinthine streets in the oldest part of the city.
Later, we spend many days in Marrakesh. We stayed at a nice hotel just around the corner from Jemaa el-Fnaa, which is the biggest and busiest public square in Africa.
We live in Nairobi Kenya for a few months in 2012 and 2013. The weather in Nairobi is perfect all year around. The city is near the equator so its never cold. And because the altitude is around 5,500 feet, it's never hot, either.
Neighborhoods are important to us -- far more important than comfort. We managed to secure a tiny, damp apartment in Florence under the stairwell of a big building (like Harry Potter). We cooked on a hotplate and slept in a fold-out couch. But the location was immediately off a cobble-stone lane in the old part of the city a few blocks from the Arno river.
We took day trips to Siena (where we witnessed the Palio horse race around the crowded Piazza del Campo), the astonishing town of Volterra, the incredible Cinque Terre and other locations.
We've been to Mexico many times, but just once as nomads (where we worked the entire time). That was our first nomadic excursion, and it took place back in 2006. Our entire family toured all the major Mayan ruins in Chiapas, Mexico, and elsewhere in Central America.
Southern Mexico feels more like Guatemala than it does like the rest of Mexico. Plus it has unique sites, landscapes and cultural aspects that can be found nowhere else in the world.
Everybody's got to visit Turkey. We lived for three months in the country, mostly in the sprawling Istanbul and also in the seaside town of Kusadasi.
Istanbul is as close as you can get to the center of the human world, by which I mean that half the city is in Europe and the other half in Asia. Istanbul is Western, Eastern, Northern and Southern. Austria, Italy, Russia, Israel and Libya are all roughly the same distance from Istanbul.
I've found Turkey very difficult to describe, as it defies categorization. We found a deep and ancient culture of food and living that everyone must experience for themselves.
Honduras was part of our 2006 nomadic tour of Mayan ruins. At the time, it was one of the hardest countries to stay connected in. While we were visiting the Island of Roatán, power went out on the entire island (we were informed that somebody forgot to buy gas for the generators).
Honduras is a beautiful country, and Copán is one of the wildest sites in the Mayan world.