Gin, Bananas, and a Pachyderm Party

South America is well known for its strong Catholic heritage, but on February 2, one of the continent’s more obscure religions has its special day. The Umbanda religion, practiced in Brazil and neighboring Uruguay, fuses Catholic traditions with the beliefs of native Africans brought over as slaves in the 1800s. One of those beliefs is in Yemanjá, the Queen of the Sea and patron saint of fishermen. And on February 2, locals of Montevideo gather on the beach at Playa Ramírez to celebrate Yemanjá Day. After sundown the festivities begin in earnest. Worshippers in full-white dresses dance and twirl on the sand to a rapid drumbeat, before offerings of flowers and perfume are put in small boats and set sail.

Enjoy a Shot of Coco Loco

Lying on the equator, Manabí province, on Ecuador’s northern Pacific coast, enjoys a year-round growing season, and the locals are adept at using all of nature’s offerings. One clan that has deep roots in the San Vicente community is preserving an age-old family recipe that you have to be drinking age to enjoy. The clan specializes in turning locally sourced ingredients into an unusual—and unusually packaged—Manabían liqueur.

Pick up a Piece of History in Istanbul’s Vintage Market

Lying at the crossroads of East and West, Istanbul lives in the past as much as it races toward the future. And nothing represents Istanbul’s timelessness as vividly as its flea markets and vintage stores, which are scattered around the city. You’ll find it all: antique postcards, authentic Ottoman swords, carpets, and creepy porcelain dolls. Every vintage store here is a small universe in itself. And you never know what you may find.

Big Returns on Video Games, China’s Stock Market and Much More…

The chart shows the price returns on Japan’s TOPIX Stock Price Index for each month of the year (in Japan’s currency, the yen)… Two other trends quickly pop out at you when you look at the chart: How poorly Japanese stocks do in the summer and fall, and how well they do early in the year. The returns from May to November look pretty darn bad. And the returns from January through April look pretty darn good.

An Active, Comfortable Life on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast

Away from the beach, Tamarindo has great food and a fantastic social scene. We gather at sunset every evening. Because we’re near the equator, it’s always between 5:15 and 6:15 p.m. Groups of friends chat and watch their kids play. Dog walkers nod as they walk past. Surfers pop into the water for one last wave. Bottles are raised as the sun disappears over the horizon.

Low Prices and High Yields in Colombia’s “City of Flowers”

South America has many fine cities. Montevideo is known for its European flair and charming architecture. Beef and wine connoisseurs can’t do better than Buenos Aires. And Quito has its breathtaking colonial center. But there’s a new South American city on the rise: Medellín, Colombia. Largely ignored for decades, Medellín is now enticing expat retirees with its tree-filled streets and arts-rich character. A strong dollar makes today an ideal time to explore (and invest).

An Affordable, Sustainable Lifestyle in Thailand

When most people think of retiring to Thailand, they think of relaxing on white, sandy beaches or enjoying the spectacular sunsets from their beachside condos in Phuket, Koh Samui, or one of the many tropical islands that dot the Kingdom’s coastlines. Not so Carl Barrow, who has found his own personal-retirement Shangri-La on a farm in Isaan province.

Enjoying a Low Cost of Living and Warm Climate in Santa Fe

Bill and Mitzi Martain are living the retirement of their dreams. “We have a lovely new home, a beautiful farm, wonderful friends and neighbors, and each other,” Mitzi says. “There’s no way we could have this lifestyle and quality of life in the U.S.” Bill and Mitzi have what they consider an ideal life. They own 10 acres of fertile land in a rural valley, surrounded by hills and mountains. They enjoy sunny, warm weather year-round, with no snow, no ice, no hurricanes or tornadoes.

How to Travel the World on $40 a Day

Sitting at a beer hall at Munich’s Oktoberfest, a German couple told us they had just taken a trip around the world...for less than $100 a day, all in. My husband Mike and I nearly choked on our Hoffbrau. It sounded impossible…yet we couldn’t stop thinking about it. So when it came to planning our honeymoon, with the list of destinations we’d love to visit running off the page, that German couple’s trip kept crossing our mind.