If you like spending time in the garden… love to eat healthy, organic food… and enjoy traveling, there’s a way to combine these passions—and do it all for free. WWOOF—an acronym for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms—offers you a way to travel the world for next to nothing. (Normally, you pay only to get there.) At the organization’s website, Wwoof.org, you can search the database of organic farms around the world to see who’s looking for someone to help out. You can volunteer at an organic farm next to the Podacarpus National Park in Vilcabamba, Ecuador or on an apple orchard and organic bakery in Mendoza, Argentina.
I ﬁrst visited Nicaragua nearly a decade ago and fell in love with its rough-around-the-edges beauty and the genuine warmth of its people. In 2007, my husband and I lived for a while on this hilltop overlooking San Juan del Sur. We spent lazy days exploring hidden beaches and lively evenings with friends at the thatch-roofed seafood restaurants that line the beach. Now we had returned to reacquaint ourselves…
Imagine California’s Pacific Coast from Malibu to Santa Barbara before the Pacific Coast Highway was built. Imagine some stretches of the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica…those areas where the mountains come right down to the sea, with rocky cliffs and wide deserted beaches…and you’ll have some sense of what this stretch of Ecuador’s coastline looks like.
In early 2001 we were on our first visit to Panama, our first research visit of any kind, in fact, on our journey to relocation outside the U.S. Our guide that day was Sam Taliaferro. A former Coloradoan married to a Panamanian, he had picked the little mountain town of Boquete in Panama’s Chiriquí province in which to build his version of paradise. And what a pick it was…
More and more of us like the idea of living “off the grid,” or, at very least, living lighter on the land. That used to mean lots of hard work and isolation. But today, with the world at our fingertips, it’s easy to find a plot of oh-so-affordable fertile land to grow your own vegetables, raise some chickens, maybe milk some goats…and check your email 11 times a day if you feel like it.
Think Costa Rica and think beach. With both Pacific and Caribbean coasts, this little country wins bragging rights to 1,100 miles of some of the most beautiful sun-drenched shorelines in the Western Hemisphere.
We sped north and over the eastern ridge of the mountain range that shelters Quito and as we descended to the valley below, the netherworld fog that enveloped the busy city melted away. Gorgeous green foliage and multi-colored flowers of every shade and hue lined the road.
Costa Rica. Just the name conjures up blissful memories of sun-drenched beaches, dark jungle nights, adrenaline-fueled adventure and hopeless romance. I’ve visited there many times over the years, but the first time…well…
Sandra Dayton pours me a shot of Xtabentun, a sticky liqueur made of honey and anis. It tastes just like Good ‘n Plenty candies, I think. Sandra says it is “good for gas” and “you’ll need it because we’re going to be working on your stomach.” What have I gotten myself into now, I wonder? Sandra settles in to tell me her story.
Someone’s in the kitchen with David. Luckily, it’s me…and a dozen or so other food lovers. We’ve come to study the art of Yucatecan cooking with David Sterling and none other than the grand dame of Mexican cuisine herself, Diana Kennedy.