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Postcard from: Viñales, Cuba

The Western town of Viñales is elemental, even more so after having spent several consecutive days roaming the lively streets of Havana; all crumbling concrete and precarious structures.

Moody clouds made good on their threat and rain would eventually drench the valley during our day trip. My Keens squelched through mud and side stepped puddles.

The air was grassy, earthy, pure.

In contrast with the mangy dogs and cats in Havana, we watched chickens strut around on unusually long legs and horses swish their tails as they rode past us in a caravan, led by their human counterparts.

Three piglets scampered across our path as we pulled in and out of the organic farm where we’d have lunch and tour their eco-friendly cultivation practices.

Lunch on the farm was a backyard bounty of vegetable soup, fresh chopped salads, roasted chicken and pork, mounds of sweet potato and taro, and the ever-present beans and rice.

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As if being surrounded by expansive fields and farm animals weren’t enough, the red and white checkered table cloth of our communal table seemed to say,

“You’re definitely in the country now.”

It was a welcome type of social networking that can be hard to come by in urban, technologically connected environments. From a privileged, American perspective, it felt luxurious.

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Waikiki beach from an ocean-front room at The Modern Honolulu

Back in San Diego from: Honolulu

I’m recently back from Honolulu where I did a lot of observing and listening to locals in preparation for an upcoming story. Growing up on Kaua’i, Honolulu meant the land of Ala Moana (shopping mecca), stopping in at Liliha Bakery for Coco Puffs or Bubbie’s for mochi ice cream and whirling through an array of high school gymnasiums and musical performance venues as part of my high school extracurriculars.

Now, viewing the city as an adult and through the lens of a visitor looking to participate in local culture beyond Waikiki, and thanks to this recent writing assignment, I have concluded that Honolulu is one of the most interesting, dynamic and multi-cultural American cities right now.

For example, the food–to locals, food has always been a central component of Hawaii’s social fabric, but these days it seems the shift to strengthen the farmer/chef relationship and a growing demand for local, organic produce is reviving and reshaping palates and providing economic opportunity.

I noticed this type of collaboration across industries, from the entertainment scene to the fashion world. I’m really excited for this piece to publish because I think many will come away from the article with a completely different notion of what Hawaii is about, and how cool Honolulu can really be, if you only took the time to do your research. In researching this article, I certainly did.

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Golden Hour in Waikiki from Azure restaurant at The Royal Hawaiian

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Kalua pork everything please, like these Spring Rolls at Hideout on Kuhio Ave.

REI photoshoot

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Lisbon

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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