Santa Luzia – Portugal

Santa Luzia – Portugal

Santa Luzia is located in the Eastern Algarve in Portugal It is a tiny fishing town, nowadays knows as “Octopus Capital” which is a local specialty. The town is really small and so charming. We explored it by foot admiring the many little homes covered in pastel patterned tiles and locals going about their business. I love small towns like this. There’s a sense of calmness that you don’t get in bigger...
Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Leonard Knight spent 28 years building, Salvation Mountain, a self-funded tribute to god using adobe clay, hay and donated paint. He lived on-site in the back of a truck, building or patching his mountain daily. Salvation Mountain is proof positive that love and faith – some may even say, madness – compels people to do wonderful and inspiring things. Visiting Salvation Mountain was as moving as seeing Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia or Michelangelo’s Sistene Chapel ceiling – even more so knowing that it was built in our lifetime by one man with no institutional funding. It’s truly an inspiration. This was Luna’s favorite stop on our Palm Springs trip. She happily calls it the “Rainbow Mountain”. The mountain’s vibrant rainbow of colors creates a striking contrast against the desolation of the surrounding desert. Nearby is Slab City, an off-the-grid community of desert residents and part-time RV snowbirds. I first learned of Slab City and Salvation Mountain from Sean Penn’s 2007 film, Into The Wild. In act two of the the film, Christopher McCandless, the disenfranchised protagonist travels to Slab City and finds a like-minded community who, like himself, have rejected mainstream culture. There’s a scene in the film where the real Leonard Knight impassionately explains his message of love to the films characters. Leonard’s message of love, transcending religion, reaches out to everyone. I was moved by the scene. Years later, I had forgotten about the mountain until seeing beautiful images from adventure-seeking desert travelers on Instagram. We felt compelled to make a pilgrimage to experience it ourselves. Climbing the rainbow-covered slopes was a magical adventure. Luna, free of...
Salton City – Salton Sea

Salton City – Salton Sea

Salton City, once a booming lakeside resort town in the Salton Sea, is now sparsely populated and desolate. The only remaining evidence of the beach boom is a road glamorously named “Yacht Club Drive”. The drive is two large lanes running east and west divided by a once landscaped median. The Salton City developers obviously planned for lots of traffic but now the road leads literally to nowhere. At the end of Yacht Club Drive there’s nothing. The Yacht Club, seemingly burned down in a fire, is a modern ruin of concrete foundation and topless burnt palm trees. Strikingly, however, the harsh washed out white beach set against the stark blue sea creates a moody, eerily beautiful scene. Obituaries of the Salton Sea and its environs have been written many times, but the people on its shore in Salton City never have taken them seriously. With the fanaticism of revivalists, many are convinced they live in Southern California`s last frontier, waiting to be discovered-again. – Bill Graves, Chicago...
Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

On our way to Trinidad, we made a brief stop at Sancti Spiritus city – one of the best preserved cities in the Caribbean. We walked around and peeked into shops, peoples homes, a hospital and just watched people hang out in the town’s main square. It felt very different from Trinidad. Since it’s a city, you see more cars on the road, kids in school uniforms, people working and other daily routines. Glad we had a chance to visit even if it was...
Trinidad, Cuba

Trinidad, Cuba

Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco – Trinidad is a cute little colourful town just 3 hours away from where we were staying in Cayo Santa Maria. Towards the end of our trip, we hopped on a bus to Trinidad – a preserved Spanish colonial town where you see colonial style mansions, donkeys pulling carriages, beautiful pastel coloured buildings as you stroll through cobblestone streets. The whole town is like an outdoor museum. Trinidad is also known for it’s handmade lace & embroidery. It’s common in Cuba for people to set up shop in their home. We bought a couple of beautiful table cloths from an elderly couples home and a pretty little white embroidered dress for Luna. They were so sweet and kept on giving us beaded necklaces as a present. We went into a cigar shop and watched a woman hand make cigars and bought a couple from her. We also browsed around an outdoor market and bought a straw hat, a doll for Luna and few other nicknacks. As we were browsing, one of the shop owners approached Peter and asked him if they could trade shoes as he really liked Peter’s pink shoes. I was also approached by a woman asking if she could have my hat in exchange for items in her shop. Life is slow paced and locals would pull out their rocking chair and gather outside to chat and people watch. Kids would be out playing and donkeys minding their own business. The cobblestone streets are like an extension to their living room as people are just out lounging or playing...

Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

We are back from spending 8 amazing days in Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba. The beach is pure paradise. Turquoise waters and white powdery sand in a long stretch of beach spanning approximately 13 km long. We would spend all day at the beach and taking naps underneath a shaded palapa. It was heaven. Every moment of it was so perfect. Swimming in the ocean was like being in a pool as the water was so clear and so calm. You could walk quite far as the water stayed shallow which made it perfect for Luna to swim and play in the ocean. It is definitely one of the best beaches we have been to. What I love about traveling is the quality time we get to spend together as a family. For the 8 days we were in Cayo Santa Maria, we had no internet, tv, radio or newspaper. It was really nice & refreshing to be away from it all. Aside from swimming, eating and afternoon siestas, we kept ourselves entertained with origami, playing bingo and drawing together. It was simple and so...