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International Living Magazine
“More places…more often…with more insiders as our guides.” This year, we’ve made a commitment to expand our reach…to cover the world more comprehensively…to open up for you new possibilities. People always talk about how the world is getting smaller. But as an IL reader, yours is about to expand. In an era when so many news organizations are calling their foreign correspondents home (further insulating an already myopic American public), we’re doing just the opposite.
The Israeli city of Tel Aviv begins its three-day Taste of the City festival on May 1. Fine-dining establishments serve free portions and chefs line the streets offering local delicacies like malabi—a creamy pudding flavored with rose water. Saint Lucia Jazz is the most anticipated musical event in the Caribbean calendar and runs from the start of the month until May 12.
Ecuador is justly famous for its markets. In the country’s guild towns you can buy handmade leather goods, high-quality instruments and silver jewelry. Each town has its farmer’s market, too, where you’ll pick up enough fresh produce to last a week for around $10.
On a palm-filled patio five stories up, overlooking the Tonlé sap River, we Americans apparently conjure up a certain cosmopolitan flair. Order an “Americano” at Le moon Terrace Bar and you get a martini-campari cocktail. (creature of habit, I opted for a G&T.)
Mongolia is the world’s most sparsely populated country, largely made up of steppe, mountains and a big piece of the Gobi desert. It’s also the world’s fastest-growing economy, thanks to vast underground riches; gold, copper, coal, tin, uranium and tungsten.
I’m making my way down the cobblestones of Arch Street, on my way to meet friends for a glass of wine at Tabacos y Vinos. As I arrive, the bells of the 17thcentury cathedral ring in the hour. Antigua, in the Department of Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, is one of Latin America’s best-preserved colonial towns.
It feels like the highland town of Boquete is Panama’s fastest-growing relocation destination. There are a lot of “new things” around here…a new market, new theater, new library, and a new hospice are just a few. In fact, there’s little that can’t be found in Boquete these days.
When Jack Stewart graduated from culinary school in Toronto, he didn’t anticipate living his dream life in the colonial city of León, Nicaragua. He left Canada in 2001 and started a restaurant in Costa Rica. “When I was in Costa Rica, tourism was dropping. But the Nicaraguan economy was growing and when residence laws changed making it easier to live here, I made the decision and fell in love with what I found here.”
I was talking to a sassy American woman on the cusp of retirement. She was buying my car and asked why I was selling a fairly new vehicle with such low mileage. When I told her I was going to Italy—with no plans to return—she got a dreamy, faraway look in her eyes… then looked a little sad. She would love to go to Europe, she said, but she couldn’t bear to leave her pets behind.
This past year, I turned 65. Medicare age. Yikes! Instead of celebrating—or whining—I spent several days quietly taking stock, reflecting on where I am in my life, how I have changed, what’s important. My key insight: I’m a lot happier now than I’ve ever been, because I’ve finally seen through the myth of wanting perfection. Life isn’t perfect. Friends aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. Knowing that, I’ve learned to lighten up, go with the flow, and cut the world some slack. What a relief! I’m sharing this with you because every year, every class session, I face a room full of anxious expats who are grimly challenging themselves to become fluent in Spanish… or die trying.
I hate to embarrass myself. But boy have I. Especially when I first arrived in Ecuador 12 years ago. My new Ecuadorian friends were too nice to say anything, but they must have thought I was absolutely loco. The first night I arrived, I asked a bartender for “dos besos, por favor.” Luckily my husband was standing next to me or I may have found myself in a sticky situation since I’d asked for “two kisses” instead of “dos vasos” or “two glasses.”
So there I was, on the back of a motorbike flying down the Vietnamese highway at nearly 80mph. On one side of me, the sun was setting over the distant jungle and vast Mekong river. On the other, farmers were clearing their rice paddies. Coming to Vietnam was one of my best decisions. Ever.
From the Via Costeira (Coastal Way), I descend the dirt path to the beach. Kicking off my sneakers, I jog barefoot south toward the breakwater. The near-white sand is so soft that it squeaks under foot. Though only 8 a.m., the sun is high, announcing yet another beautiful day.
My husband Tim and I are living proof that older people can learn plenty of new tricks. And our errors have been almost as much fun as our home runs. In 2011, we sold our comfortable California house, dumped the furniture, put our small treasures, art, and clothes in storage, and kissed our four daughters and seven grandchildren goodbye. At ages 67 and 72, respectively, we became senior nomads. We had taken stock of our lives and realized that we were happier on the road than anywhere else— and that becoming home-free would give us the flexibility we needed to experience life in other cultures.
For many reasons, Cuenca, Ecuador earns top billing as one of the world’s top expat destinations. The cost of living is low—three-course lunches start at $2.50—the weather is great, usually around 65 to 70 F during the day, and it’s never too cold or hot. When we want to travel back to the U.S., it takes us as little as six-and-a-half hours’ flight time to New York (plus you’ll get a major discount on your fare if you are a resident retiree).
As an International Living reader, you know that I’m bullish on the opportunity we have in the Tulúm area of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. I’m here on a 10-day scouting trip— my seventh visit—and I’ve lucked out. Through a local contact, I’ve managed to get a last-minute rental in the high-quality condo closest to the beach at Tulúm.
There’s something strange going on in Brazil. You might call it a “schizophrenic economy.” Brazil is an economy of two halves. From the outside looking in, it’s a former star player plagued by socialist leaders with no understanding of free-market principles. But from the inside looking out, it’s a booming emerging market with record low jobless numbers, a strong currency, and high interest rates to keep the economy from overheating.
A few years ago, I spied some classified advertisements in the late International Herald Tribune and The Economist, promising to provide a “European-Union passport, fully registered and renewable” for only $19,500. A contact telephone number in Ireland was listed. So I rang it.
There’s a slight chill to the breeze here in Castelldefels, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. But the sun is bright and warm. It’s a perfect day to enjoy the long stretch of beach, just 30 minutes south of Barcelona, which is now my backyard. On a typical summer day, my Catalan neighbors would join me for a few hours of sun bathing, but at this time of year children are still at school, parents are busy at work and vacationers are just beginning to arrive.
Before moving to small-town Colombia, I lived in Bogotá, where I indulged in the things I love most—art, history, and food. Every weekend I would set out on foot to discover the city’s restaurants, museums, and galleries. And I found them. If you’re new to Bogotá, it can be hard to find the city’s deepest treasures. After all, it’s a big place, with nearly eight million inhabitants.
Of all the ultra-cool things about the German capital, Berlin, here’s what I think is coolest: You don’t actually have to be cool to partake of the hip scene. Sure, like anywhere, failing to have neon-blue hair or a withering stare may bar you from certain places. But generally, to experience some of the trendiest restaurants, bars, and clubs, you need only know how to find them…literally.
Fancy a few hours battling a half-ton striped marlin Hemingway style? The fish can get so big off the coast of Costa Rica that the skipper straps you into a chair to fight them. The waters of both coasts, the Pacific and Caribbean teem with legendary fish like marlin, dorado, and tarpon that, for decades, have drawn serious sport fishermen (and women) from around the world eager for record-setting catches.
Six months from now, you could be living in paradise… for much less than it costs you to stay home. In the best destinations overseas, your dollar just goes further…first-class healthcare is affordable… you can afford a housekeeper or gardener…and live better than you could back home for a fraction of what you pay now…
There’s no other view in the world like it. In a cliff-top home, there’s nothing between you and the beautiful vista but empty space. You never have to worry about a house going up in front of you or that your neighbor’s new satellite dish will block your line of sight. Badminton in the back yard may be out. But morning coffee and sunset drinks on the terrace are in. If you’re on the seaside, the rumbling waves pounding the rocks below will be your lullaby.
I have a confession. Before I moved to Uruguay I regularly associated with criminals. And their crimes were many and diverse. I lived in Washington State. And the crimes I speak of ranged from collecting rainwater in barrels for the garden (against Washington State law), to advertising a large home for sale as “ideal for a large family,” a HUD violation.
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