When Terry Leary decided to settle down, she called up her sister and organized a trip to the colonial city Granada, Nicaragua—a trip that changed their lives forever. "I was drawn to Granada by the people, culture, and lifestyle," says Terry. "Granada is brightly colored, vibrant, and alive and there is still the promise of more to come to this lovely city."
Bird-watching, hiking, swimming in natural pools under rocky waterfalls, exploring coffee and cacao farms... "Matagalpa is a nature lover's paradise," says Texas-native Rick Lester. "It's for people who love to see green year-round and appreciate a temperate climate like San Diego."
Sometimes I cannot believe I didn't even have a passport five years ago. It wasn't that I didn't travel, I started traveling with my parents as a child and have continued to travel throughout the United States. But other than a couple of trips into Canada—before passports were required—I had never left the country. Wow has that changed!
I arrive at Honolulu airport and, on my way to the luggage carousel, I spot a gentleman in a chauffeur's suit holding a sign with my name on it. He greets me in traditional island aloha style and places a lei of fragrant tuberose and orchids over my head. He tells me he's there to take me to my hotel, and leads me out through the VIP route to a big black limo, where he holds the door open for me.
Have you ever dreamed about staying in one of those exotic over-water bungalows? In the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, my expansive, luxurious hut was on stilts over a crystal aqua lagoon looking across to the volcano on the mainland. Want to snorkel? Just put on your mask and step down into water outside your door. If you'd like a bit more adrenaline in your adventure, head out to the reef to feed the sharks. Then follow it up with some up close and personal time with large stingrays.
I always loved photography. But it wasn't until I got the secrets of turning photos into cash that I started making real money from my photographs. With this valuable knowledge under my belt, I began to search for press trips that I might be invited to join (at no cost to me). That's how I scored a visit to Borneo—a place I had always desperately wanted to visit.
When Cynthia Connell visited Cuenca on vacation three years ago, she had no idea that it would become her next home. At the time, she was exhausted from the stress of the American way of life and was ready for a change. While there, she saw an opportunity to live a less stressful life in a perfect-weather mountain city and just over a year later she returned to live there full time.
Tom and Becky Arbuckle first came to Ecuador on vacation in August 2013. "We fell in love with the Ecuadorian culture and people," Tom said. "We were in Salinas for a month, and decided we would have to come back and explore more of Ecuador, try to find a place where we could live the rest of our lives." They traveled up and down the coast checking places out and talking with the residents. They visited the capital, Quito, and even the cloud forests in the northwestern parts of the country before finally deciding on Playas.
"I like quiet, I like privacy, and I have that here," says Tracy Copeman of her home in Ecuador. Tracy and her partner Peter McGoldrick own a home on the grounds of an old hacienda a couple hours north of the capital Quito, near Lago San Pablo. They're a long way from their home of Montreal, Canada, but the couple are loving their new life in the Andes. "The temperature is perfect here in the mountains," Tracy says. "And I have great mountain views. From here I can see Mount Cusin, Imbabura, and if I'm sitting in my chair I can see Cotacachi."
Someone asked me recently what I liked most about living in Cuenca, Ecuador. My wife Cynthia and I have been here for over six years and, honestly, coming up with an answer wasn't easy because there are a lot of things we like about our hometown. After giving the question some thought, I think the best part of our life in Cuenca can be summed up in one word: freedom.