On December 8, 1852, the people of the French city of Lyon lit candles in their windows to celebrate the raising of a statue of the Virgin Mary on the city’s Fourvière Hill. Now, more than 160 years later, this tradition has grown into the annual Festival of Lights, which sees the streets of Lyon lit up by more than 70 artistic light displays from December 5 to December 8. Millions of visitors arrive during the festival to take in these ornate, creative works, as the windows, fountains, and trees of Lyon light up with every color imaginable.
Ecuadorians are famously fun-loving people, who party every bit as hard as they work. This is magnified during the winter holidays, when throngs of visitors from Quito descend on the Bahía-San VicenteCanoa corridor on the northern coast for their family vacation. Over the last few weeks of the calendar year, the broad sidewalks of Bahía’s malecón (boardwalk) fill with vendors.
During the second Chinese Opium War, in the 1850s, a penniless teen named Cheong Fatt Tze fled from China to Southeast Asia. There he would make his fortune as a merchant. He became so wealthy that he earned the moniker of “Rockefeller of the East.” Tze owned many fine houses throughout Southeast Asia, but none was as extravagant as the Blue Mansion, on the tropical island of Penang off the coast of Malaysia. It’s a colossal beacon of 19th-century Chinese extravagance
Off the west coast of Scotland, in the Inner hebrides, lies a small island that looms large in Gaelic history and religion. If you love walking in the footsteps of legends, you’re an avid nature buff, or you’re seeking some peace and tranquility, a visit to the island of Iona is a very special experience. Only one mile wide and about four miles long, Iona sits alone in the cold north Atlantic. Even today you can only reach Iona by ferry from the Isle of Mull…
Every once in a while, an investor with fresh money to invest should pause and ask an important question: “What asset class can I buy that is unquestionably cheap?” The asset class on the bargain-basement table today is emerging markets. Hard to believe, but you can buy most emerging-market stocks today at valuations that are nearly as low as what they reached during the 2008 financial crisis.
For many North Americans, winter is the time to batten down the hatches and brace for an onslaught of wind, snow, and rain. But not so for Bob and Lonni Skrentner. On the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye, this couple has found the perfect winter retreat. Here they can spend their days scuba diving in the Caribbean Sea, socializing, and relaxing by the beach, while friends back home are confined indoors by the cold.
Life here is just easy,” says 66-year-old Ira Stephenson of his new life in the mountain town of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. “I lived in many other places around the world before I came here, and Matagalpa felt like home from the very beginning.” Back in Sacramento, California, Ira worked in drywall construction. But after a severe work injury, several unsuccessful surgeries, and plain bad luck, Ira found himself unemployed, disabled, and with very little money.
You sit in your courtyard at a sturdy hardwood table, enjoying the first cup of coffee of the day. The sounds of the city waking up are muffled by thick stone walls, as the tinkling fountain next to you provides a soothing soundtrack. A small pool to the side is the perfect antidote to hot days. You’re surrounded by heliconia, ginger, and bougainvillea vines. As you head inside through a tall, arched doorway for a second cup, your eyes pass over the intricately patterned tile floors, the vaulted ceilings with heavy timber beams standing out against the bright-white ceiling, and the dark wood doorframes perfectly complementing the yellow walls.
When asked what they like most about their new life in the small mountain town of Cotacachi, Ecuador, Jay and Nancy Keattering reply, “No alarm clock!” The couple escaped their busy corporate jobs in 2014 and can be found still enjoying everything that life in the high Andes offers…a slow pace of life, fresh produce, low-cost healthcare, and great living for under $2,000 a month.
“Every morning I wake up in Quito, it’s with a sense of amazement at how great my life is,” says Rami Amit of his new life in the Ecuadorian capital. “I absolutely love my hometown,” says his wife Daphna of their retirement haven. “Quito offers so many options that it’s impossible to be bored.” This diversity of cultural, entertainment, and dining options enticed the Amits to Quito in the first place.