It doesn’t matter where they came from or what they did back home—teacher, entrepreneur, dentist, secretary, taxi driver, journalist—the happiest expats we meet overseas have one thing in common: They brought their sense of adventure with them.
Begin your holiday season in earnest in Mexico City with a huge Christmas Market running throughout December. In amongst the stalls, piñatas and ice rinks you’ll find the world’s tallest Christmas tree. In Europe, Christmas markets large and small brim with handicrafts, mulled wine and seasonal fare, but Germany is king of them all.
Seaside docks are scattered all along the coastline in Belize. They’re great places to watch the sun rise, fish from, or lounge on as you enjoy the mild sea breezes. From some of them you can also catch boats to Belize’s white-sand islands (known as cayes), or to snorkeling and diving spots along the world’s second-longest barrier reef, just offshore.
In Tuscany, it can seem nigh on impossible to find a worthy sightseeing destination where you’re not elbow-to-elbow with fellow travelers. That’s part of what makes Certaldo such a treat. The masses often whizz by this stunning hilltop town in Chianti in their rush to visit nearby Siena or San Gimignano.
Over four continents, dozens and dozens of countries, and hundreds of scouting trips, I’ve learned one thing: A last-minute change of plan or a chance meeting, often leads me to the best opportunities. When you put yourself out there, the pot of gold you find often isn’t the one you set out for…but it’s still gold…
I’ve heard about the sunsets here. At first, rays of gold and fuchsia shoot down from the sky. White deck chairs, cabanas, and boardwalk bars are thrust into a rose-tinted world. At the last minute, the setting sun changes from tangerine to blood orange…then a lurid flicker of red disappears out on the horizon.
The land was narrow in front. There was a river, a real river, but no bridge. Then we started to notice the gorgeous trees. We put a ladder over the river and climbed over. As we walked deeper in, the views started opening up. I could see volcanoes in the distance. I knew this was the land I had seen in my mind.”
Just shy of 10 years ago, my wife Laurie and I fell in love with the Vilcabamba Valley, a lush gem tucked away in the Andes of Southern Ecuador. The near-perfect weather, the healthy lifestyle, the low cost of living, and the natural beauty of the valley all contributed to our decision to settle there. And those things have lived up to our expectations.
Every time you turn around, another travel piece appears about Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. Mainstream travel writers, it seems, are just now discovering what we’ve known for years…that the city is a worthy destination that blends new and old in alluring ways. It doesn’t hurt that Quito is one of the world’s most affordable cities, where you can still take a taxi anywhere in town for $1 to $5 and find a menú del día…usually a four-course meal of soup, salad, meat/rice/vegetables, dessert, and beverage…for $1.50 to $2.50.
Suzan Haskins is a long-time resident of Ecuador…so she knows this place inside-out. Below, she gives her tips on where to stay, shares her real estate contacts and gives details of what lies in the valleys beyond the capital.