A literary thank you letter to Ana, my Airbnb host during my summer in Lisbon last year, who did so much more for me than provide me with a comfortable stay just steps from Parque Eduardo VII. It turns out, I’d be one of her last guests, and I’m glad I made the cut.

I grew up in your kitchen, though we were acquaintances at best. I fumbled to light your gas stove, rummaged for the appropriate pots and pans to perform my pedestrian alchemy, burned my toast and attempted what you would characterize as a winter stew. It was the middle of summer in Lisbon, but it was one of the few things I could make by memory.

The sound of your espresso machine punctuated the a new day. Your ritual; two shakes of cinnamon and espresso downed in two gulps.

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For the last several years, the thought of an extended weekend trip never crossed my mind. I was hyperfocused on exploring as slowly as possible. Thanks to my new-ish freelance lifestyle, it was possible for me to work and play for two weeks in Colombia, or most recently, to stretch the limits of the Schengen visa to spend a summer in Europe.

While there, I sampled digital nomad life in a loosely structured environment in Barcelona with Unsettled and learned a lot about myself. Like, how it’s simultaneously distracting and rewarding to live and work from a new place with people who are just as interested and curious about people, pursuing passionate endeavors and new experiences as I am. To be completely transparent, this same experience ate away at my productivity, no thanks (but really thanks) to the cool people I met in the program and all of the horchata, vermut, tapas, sunset strolls, beach days and more.


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Arriving in Queenstown, New Zealand

I’ve traveled a lot. I was two when my parents put me on a plane to spend the summer with my grandparents on the East Coast. Throughout my childhood, they continued to send me East every other summer. Other times, we bounced from Kaua’i to the other islands, to California, Canada. There was even a South Western road trip before I went to college. These were the days of Mom’s travel binder stuffed with printed MapQuest guides, printed flight and hotel confirmations. Pre-iPhone.

As an adult, I’ve done the spectrum of short business trips to week long vacations to even longer working and living situations across the country and abroad.

Below are some things that help me travel with confidence and ease because when we travel, that’s what we want. We want the process to be as painless as possible for our wallets and peace of mind. We want to get right into the experience.

These items help me do that*:

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From the depths of my dreams, the insistent chime of my iPhone alarm signaled that it was way too early to function. A quick look at my messages suggested that it would be easy to deviate from my the mission.

“I don’t know if we’ll make it before then. Should we just go another day?” the proposition tempted.

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Costeño, Colombia

The journey is always worth it. Even when your travel companion and you are the last ones to board a packed bus and must squeeze into the remaining available seats. Even when, an hour into the five hour journey you turn to each other and say, “Damn, we should have eaten lunch before we boarded.”

Even when you must then take another vehicle to the little pinpoint on your GPS in the black of night and a torrent of rain only to learn (with rising panic) that your destination is nowhere to be found.

Because things usually fall into place. How?

They fall into place when you realize there are planned rest breaks along the way where, for a few thousand pesos (a few bucks in American dollars) you can share a savory arepa and a bag of sliced, salted mango. When the bus finally arrives two hours later and you tumble into a cab with an incredibly patient driver who does not give up on finding your final destination.

They fall into place when you are swinging in a hammock on an old coconut farm, a dash away from the Caribbean. When the sticky sweet scent of your piña colada mingles with the salt air. Above, rolling clouds do their moody thing, while the sun does its sunset thing.

And there you are, sipping a piña colada on the Colombian coast.

* * *

Saturated Saturday is a photo series highlighting some of my favorite images, with editing courtesy of the photo editing apps I like at the moment. These include: VSCO, Instagram, and A Color Story. Most photos taken with iPhone 6s.


A lot of my experience with food festivals isn’t from the attendee perspective. Looking back, much of it comes from working behind the scenes in capacities that ensure the ticketed folks have a good time. In high school, I played in the jazz band while Taste of Hawaii attendees sampled their way through the best of Pacific Rim cuisine. During my tenure at a creative agency, I churned out avocado smoothies or corralling chefs and foodie personalities at intimate to large scale food events across the country.

But come next week, I am really looking forward to participating in one of the West’s largest food and wine festivals as an attendee. I’ll be puttering around the Grand Tasting on Saturday, 11/18 as part of the culminating activities of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival happening near the waterfront Downtown.

I’m particularly excited about bites and sips from the more than 60 San Diego based and cross-border restaurants, chefs and wineries. It’s been cloudy and chilly these days, which is uncharacteristic of our perpetually sunny corner of the country, so let’s hope for some status quo rays come next week.

The #SDBayFest as you’ll find on social media has been around for more than 10 years, and this year they’ve got some new events for those of us into the foodie scene, like:

  • A screening of the documentary, Fermented
  • Whisky + Wagyu at San Diego’s new steakhouse, Born & Raised
  • Sushi & Sake
    Cult Wines of Napa (which, if you are curious about how to help the community up North affected by the recent wildfires, the regional wine industry has banded together under the CA Wine Strong umbrella. Make a donation or learn about other ways to help at the link)

If you’ll be around America’s Finest City next week, or if you’re local to the area and are looking to indulge for the weekend, join me at the Grand Tasting on Saturday, 11/18. Snag a ticket at the fancy affiliate link the festival organizers provided me*:

Image uploaded from iOS (13)

See you there?


*This means I get a small percentage of ticket sales if you purchase tickets through my link. Special thank you in advance to #SDBayFest for inviting me to the Grand Tasting.
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