Exploring the villages of Le Luberon, France, and beyond, it’s hard to ignore the overwhelming sense that the French have it all figured out. Here is my evidence: In Bonnieux a visit to the Musée de la Boulangerie (Bread Museum), followed by a flawlessly executed warm baguette snack perched on a wall overlooking the valley floor, was the perfect way to start the day.
It's always a bit of a bummer when a vacation comes to an end, even if you live in Paris. I felt this way recently driving back north after spending one fabulous week with my family in sunny Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.
It's largely thanks to these folks that Guatemala has such a rich and unique culture. And it's this culture that entices many of the expats who have made their homes here. "I love how different it is, and I want it to stay that way, too," says Jean Johnson who lives in the colonial city of Antigua. "It's like traveling into some epic or bygone landscape," says Portland-native John Kin, of traveling around the highlands.
Wherever we live, whatever lifestyle we choose, our lives typically fall into a rhythm. Here in David, Panama, where I live, the weather is a major factor in the rhythm of daily life, and the things we do depend on whether it's summer or winter. Winter in Panama? Yup, that's what we call it, el invierno in Spanish.
My wife, Suzan, and I have lived in Ecuador for a long time now, and sometimes we forget how different life here can be from what we were used to back in the U.S. But every now and then we’re reminded pretty clearly, as we were just last week during a trip to Baños de Agua Santa, or simply Baños as it’s commonly called. Baños is a top tourist destination in Ecuador thanks to its incredibly beautiful setting in the Andes.
My wife, Suzan, and I rarely know too far in advance where we’ll be for the holidays. We haven’t lived in the U.S. for a dozen years now, but around about September or October we start making the decisions about what to do for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year…whose family back in the States we’ll spend which holidays with…and which holidays, if any, we’ll spend by ourselves at home, wherever home happens to be at the time.
It’s impossible to escape the geese in Sarlat-le-Caneda. Images of these plump birds adorn shop windows, and products of all kinds are decorated with the likeness of the animals that have been adopted as the unofficial mascot of the area. Often known simply as Sarlat, this town with a population of about 11,000 is in the center of the Dordogne region of southern France. Sarlat offers big-city convenience and activities packaged in a small-town setting that make it a delightful location to visit...
Head back to the Middle Ages as the splendid city of Ascoli Piceno transforms itself back into the bustling medieval city it once was for La Quintana. It's a high-energy jousting match that rivals the excitement of Siena's more famous Palio. Near the Adriatic coast, about an hour south of Ancona, Ascoli Piceno has been celebrating this festival every August since the 1300s. Locals in resplendent costumes fill the stunning historic center with colorful banners. Events include flag-throwing competitions, accompanied by drums and trumpets.
"Quieres una lata o botella?" the friendly pulperia owner asked as I stepped up to the window and asked for cerveza. When I arrived in Nicaragua 22 months ago the simple question of "Would you like a can or a bottle?" was far beyond my level of Spanish comprehension. Back then I could say, "good morning, good afternoon and good evening". I could count to 10. I knew the two most frequently used words by tourists—cerveza and bano—but I certainly couldn't use them in a sentence.
My French adventure began in the ninth grade—in a classroom with a tall bearded French teacher called Mr. Kavanaugh. Mr. Kavanaugh adored la belle France—often showing us French films or playing the music of Edith Piaf—and his enthusiasm for the country was infectious. I nursed those fanciful high school moments into a dream of visiting and maybe one day, living in France.