Category Archives: Where we roam

A getaway to Mexico

IMG_0884[1]I tend to be an object in motion, so this winter has been trying on me in a myriad of ways. I miss my walks; I miss the sunshine; I miss being outside; and in a grand pregnant lady show of the grass is always greener, I even miss shoveling. So we went to Mexico. To Cancun, specifically, in search of foam parties and night clubs and lime green shots of horrid…no…we didn’t go in search of that at all.

We went in search of down time on the beach, surrounded by the Colorado family.

We went in search of tacos.

We went in search of peace and quiet and a break from the white/gray/brown palate of winter time.

IMG_0880[1]And we found it, all of it. We found early morning beach sunrises, shared by just me and my two favorite boys. We found sunshine and warmth and sand and waves. We found so many giggles – the most joyous giggles of cousins playing from sun up to sun down. We found delicious tacos, mediocre margaritas, and bottomless guacamole. Fresh salsa and green juice. Churros and ice cream. Relaxation. All enjoyed, a giant group of 13, over laughter and chatter with a healthy dose of chaos compliments of the six small folk in the group.

cancun family reunion 072And of course, in true to form fashion, I found myself reflecting on how time flies and life changes and roles shift. How now I’m in the planning group as opposed to the along for the ride kids group. How the kids’ table is full of…kids…rather than grown ups that refuse to move to the adults’ table.  How when you join the adult group, family vacation can be exhausting and involve a lot of work but dear me the smiles on those little faces as the days unfold – they make every ounce of the work worth it. And how even when you’re tired as an adult on family vacation, you’re on vacation and who cares if you’re tired, it’s vacation. And it is full of smiles and laughter and shared time and JOY. So much joy.

cancun family reunion 006So we had a wonderful trip and, as usual, one trip leads to longing for another trip. We know that we’re on hold in terms of planning anything big and grand, but we continue to scheme little getaways that satiate the urge for the time being. I also keep thinking back to the giggles and the joy from one little boy, and goodness me if that’s not enough to make me want to plan more adventures, I don’t know what is.

A close to home weekend adventure

James pizza 2 James pizza

So we took a (Saturday/)Sunday drive, and the only photos I took are the two above. Two blurry, two not so cute. Fortunately the rest of our weekend was neither blurry nor not so cute, so hurrah! Where did we go?

Well, what better time for a getaway than the weekend before Thanksgiving?! Chris had a rugby tournament in Pittsfield, so James and I tagged along. Were it not so cold, perhaps I would have taken pictures, but perhaps not. The pitch, as they call it, was beautiful – in the background sat the Berkshire mountains, in the foreground grown men grunted and clattered and crashed and groaned. James and I spent our time going back and forth between the giant playground and the pile of rugby equipment. James made neat little rows of every rugby ball he could find. And then we go cold and cranky, so we went to find lunch. Finding lunch turned into not finding lunch for longer than a 19 month old was willing to wait, so we had a screaming car ride, just me and the boy. And then we found lunch! And took two pictures. And James sat pleasantly the entire time, ate a TON of pizza, and was just the most delightful little lunch date I have ever had. Such a scene will most likely not be repeated again anytime soon – really, it was impressive. A genius also decided that running an electric train around the perimeter of the restaurant would be a good idea, so James was happily entertained there. I’m telling you, brilliant.

Anyways, back to rugby after pizza, More cold, more rugged men covered in dirt. Fun! Then onward to our stopping point for the night, Northampton, MA. We didn’t have plans to do anything per say, but we rarely have such plans. So we went to a brewery, ordered some Thai takeout, and hunkered down in the hotel for the night.

Sunday morning started earlier than we would have liked with a 5am wakeup call from the little boy. The little boy with a 101.7 fever! We had our hopes that he was just overheated from his pj’s and sleepsack and a warm hotel room, but still – that was hot. So some Tylenol and Lucky Charms later, we went for a swim. He loved it! He jumped off the side to Dad, blew bubbles, squiggled with glee. Sweet little water baby. And then onward we went, to a playground, for a walk, to eat Mexican food, and finally home where we still have the entire afternoon ahead of ourselves because Sundays are really long when you start them at 5.

So that was that, a weekend away. A weekend with no work around the house, no chores, no work. Just play. And it was lovely.

Spain: Old Town Marbella

We took a quick afternoon jaunt to Old Town Marbella one afternoon, in search of (what else?) a nice stroll, a quick pint, and a few snacks. It was worth the trip!

IMG_0550Much like the rest of our outings, we didn’t do anything per say, but we did walk for hours, soak in a little sun, enjoy a few snacks, and breathe in pure relaxation.

IMG_0548We also managed to find a craft beer at one tiny little spot hidden amongst the cobblestone streets. I’m certain we couldn’t find it again if we tried!

IMG_0558A bit less hidden was this spot where James enjoyed his afternoon nap. Patatas bravas, mussels, and a pint for Mom and Dad.

IMG_0547And this…beautiful, idyllic Old Town Marbella at its best.

IMG_0540We couldn’t get away without exploring a local playground once Jamesey woke up, so here he is, a little boy full of joy on a BIG slide!

IMG_0564And that was it, our afternoon in Old Town Marbella. Simple, yet delightful, much like the rest of our time in Spain.

Spain: the return to Sevilla and a side trip to Ronda

So we took a day trip while in Spain, an ambitious twelve hour day trip. It was great, and James only hated his car seat for about two hours of it, so all in all, we call it a success. The impetus was a return to Sevilla, my college study abroad home. We made it a loop: two and a half hours up to Sevilla, another couple hours to Ronda, and a quick hour home. Not too shabby, thought the hopeful travelers. And it wasn’t! Again, it was a bit long, but overall, a great adventure.

We begin in Sevilla where our time consisted of a tour of Kara’s old existence. Chris indulged me; James just kept his eyes peeled for playgrounds and/or ice cream vendors. Stop one after a stop for wine and snacks (okay, so stop two) was la Plaza de Pilatos and my old home! We found the casa! James was less thrilled than me, but so it goes. At one point in time that window in the upper right was my room (the one right above me, the living room – the one on the left, the kitchen).  Memories…

IMG_0594Lingering too long was not a choice though, so onward we strolled to the park where I enjoyed many a bocadillo (packed lunch) with my friends. It doesn’t feel that long ago…

IMG_0596Park tour complete, we strolled along the river for a while before heading back to the car and on to our next town: the little cliff-side village of Ronda.


(That picture is still Sevilla!)

Ronda was good for a long walk, some time at the playground, some sand in James’ shoes, a snack, and a quick break from the drive. The town was beautiful and really perched right on the cliff – pretty impressive and a wonderful stop after quite a bit of time in the car.

IMG_0642 IMG_0637 IMG_0621 IMG_0619 IMG_0618There you have it, twelve hours of driving around Spain, wrapped up in a quick little post. The drive down from Ronda offered some nervous hairpin turns, but thankfully the passenger had a safe driver and a beautiful sunset to guide her home.


Spain: Marbella with an 18 month old

From England we flew to Spain, beautiful Spain. We flew Ryan Air direct from Manchester, England, to Malaga, Spain. According to our friends, everyone flies Ryan Air once. Now we get it. It was fine, just not…nice. We almost had to pay thirty bucks to reprint our boarding passes because we couldn’t find the PDF of them, and evidently that’s the rule. Right, we flew Ryan Air our once. It got the job done, and we made it!

Arrival in Malaga was easy, straight forward, we were excited! Following bag retrieval and car pickup, the adventure began. James offered to drive – what a gem that boy is. (We said thanks but no thanks)

IMG_0502Our journey to the condo brought us all sorts of new fun (We don’t need to change money just yet, do we? Nah, let’s just go…oh, you think it’s a toll road? Shit, it’s a toll road!), and we loved every bit of it. We found a gas station for snacks and water, an ATM for Euros, and a map to guide our way – it felt like our own little Amazing Race. James played along nicely by snoring from the back seat (the poor thing was beat).

Arrival in Nueva Andalucía, just down the way from Marbella, was smooth as could be – we were in our apartment in no time at all. Followed by a quick trip to the market for our first stock-up of red wine, cheese, and olives (hot dogs and yogurt for the mini person of the group), we headed out for our first explore. Not too long into it did we stumble upon this delightful spot, where we stopped for a quick snack and a drink. Beach vacation, we had arrived (cheers!).

IMG_0503The rest of the days played our wonderfully as nicely as the first. Following a morning jog each day, we spent hours at the beach while the little dude delighted in the waves, the rocks, the sand, all of it.


IMG_0508His parents didn’t seem to mind the beach mornings, either. The pure relaxation was just magical.

IMG_0511Our days in Marbella played out in much the same fashion each day: morning run, beach time, exhaust the kid, walk along the boardwalk until he fell asleep, and then mom and dad got to play (read: drink red wine at lunchtime on the beach!).  Truly, truly wonderful.


IMG_0662Also truly wonderful was the little boy waking up from his snooze, lazily looking around, and then joining us for the last bits of our drinks and maybe – on a good day – a French fry snack.


IMG_0663I yap about it a lot – James is just so fun – but this trip he was incredible. So happy, so relaxed, so willing to follow his parents as they flitted all over the place, soaking up the adventures that they craved so badly. Better yet, he seemed to enjoy it – like truly, truly enjoy it – which makes his travel-loving momma just SO happy. He’s a hearty little boy, that Jamesey. A wandering spirit after his parents’ hearts, perhaps? So many smiles from him on this trip.

Anyways, beach and lunchtime wine drinking aside, we spent a solid amount of time at the playground watching our little baby act so very much NOT like a baby.


IMG_0715Back at the condo, James enjoyed a few odd activities like brushing his teeth using his own private sink. (James, that’s not a sink)

IMG_0693And hiding with Mom in the TV cabinet. (This was fun until Dad got in on the trick and fell through the back of the cabinet. Daaaaaaaad!)

IMG_0684And that’s that, our time in Marbella. We took a few day trips that I’ll talk about later, but for the most part our way was embodied by sunshine, the beach, red wine, olives, and so much joy. We had a blast, our little dynamic threesome did!


England: Day 2 in Yorkshire

Day two, up and at ’em early we were! Our day began with a proper English breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, AND beans. All of that pub-sitting the day before meant we had earned a hearty meal. Right? Right. Sure, whatever.

First stop? The playground! (Don’t mind me being bow-legged, it goes back to horseback riding days…oh wait, right, I’m afraid of horses. So yeah, I have no explanation, just don’t mind it, I’m squatting awkwardly and James is watching me do so.)

IMG_0422Right after this next picture was taken, James fell off the playset. Oops. Becky and I had fun climbing the spider web thingy though (and he was fine)!

IMG_0424Following the tumble, James preferred lower ground and insisted upon driving his dad around in the truck. It reminds me of the Flintstones for some reason!



Onward and upward with the day – next stop, the steam train!


IMG_0435This next series shows idiotic parenting. We start with a cute little picture of the train, James, and me. Aww, what a great adventure we’re having!

IMG_0437Oh shit, it’s a steam train, and it’s leaving. Fuck, it’s steamy. We’re getting covered in steam train shit. Goddammit.

IMG_0438Holy protective momma bear. My baby is getting covered in steam train shit and good lord that whistle is LOUD.

IMG_0439Let’s get out of here and take quaint little pictures of English countryside villages. Yes, heart garlands fit the bill.

IMG_0443This should not surprise anyone that knows us.

IMG_0450We did not buy these. Though if I ever need a place to purchase my reet good proper porkie scratchings, I now know where to go.

IMG_0391Moving right along, a proper English tea at Betty’s!

IMG_0456Contrary to my uh-oh-we’re-in-a-fancy-place-with-an-18-month-old expectations, James was a little delight during our afternoon tea (once we fed him the chocolate cake).


IMG_0473Ooooh, look at me, pouring proper English tea!IMG_0467And eating proper English tea cakes!IMG_0466Tea is exhausting.

IMG_0397And there you have it, our England adventure! Tomorrow, onward to Spain!

England: Day 1 in Yorkshire

Following our whirlwind two days in London, we hopped on a train northbound to Yorkshire, the countryside full of sheep and green and rolling hills.

Some of us were really excited about the train:


Okay, okay, all of us were really excited about the train:



The two and a half hour journey sailed on by as the landscape changed right before our eyes. Before we knew it, voila, the land of sheep and holy-moley-Yorkshire-accents!

Reunited with Jo, we began our explore of her homeland. First on tap, a drive through the Yorkshire Dales, a magnificently beautiful National Park that just so happens to house a magnificently quaint little Yorkshire pub that just so happened to be holding a magnificently enticing little beer festival. We decided we simply must stop.




I enjoyed a truly delightful cider – fermented perfectly and entirely unfiltered. Delish! Back on the road, we carried on smartly to a quaint little village where James requested a photo-op. Take a picture of me with the cobblestones, he commanded (and we obliged).


Following our little countryside drive, we headed back to Jo’s for a quick rest before a wander to the village pub. James declared us all to be massive embarrassments and chose to sit by himself. We obliged for about thirty seconds before we rained on his parade (we’re his parents, that’s our job).


Following a pint (okay, or two pints), we were all beat and headed home to bed. Day two of Yorkshire to come!


England: London with an 18 month old

A success, oh what a success.  Our trip was simply wonderful, the whole darn thing from start to finish.

Let’s jump in…

We arrived in England a bit worn and weary, but ready to go. We were in a new land and only one quick train ride stood between us and a reunion with a dear friend. Or maybe not a quick train ride…and not really one train ride either…but regardless. It took us about an hour and a half to get from Heathrow to Hackney, but excitement carried us most of the way. The man with the dog on the final leg was just what James needed when his enthusiasm began to wane.

Just what we needed when our enthusiasm started to wane? Duh, a local Hackney brew, enjoyed on Becky’s back stoop while James played in the yard. The perfect welcome, indeed.




Following a leisurely lunch and some more back stoop sitting, we meandered our way into London.  In typical Kara and Chris fashion, we soon grew thirsty and paused to enjoy our first local cask ale. James, by this point, was in the midst of enjoying his first of many stroller naps (we all win).


Piddling along after our pint, we made our way through Hackney into Shoreditch and onward to Brick Lane, home to Christopher’s dreams: real Bengali food (and real Bengali folk with whom to practice his real Bengali).  Dinner was great, the poor boy was exhausted, and our final pint was shared with another stroller-napping customer.


Stroller-napping soon turned into bedtime for all the weary travelers, and we wrapped up our first day in London with a leisurely stroll home, a quick settling in, and off to bed we went.  Despite the potential for jetlag, we all slept like logs.

Day two welcomed us with the promise of more adventure. On tap was more walking, a bus ride, a wander by the river, a taking-in of some sights, and a reunion with old friends. Suffice to say we were beat by the end, but so very grateful for the adventures we enjoyed.


Salt beef makes great fuel (and English mustard is delicious):





Mongolia Reunion (over pints and chips, duh)!


And when all was said and done, a final London stroller nap. Sweet, sweet boy.




Nigeria: the quirks (as I define them)

Ranking up there on my list of most favorite things in the world are quirks. Quirks of all sorts, shapes, kinds. To me, they are the spice of life, and they are most spectacularly magnificent when traveling in foreign lands. Mind you, some folks might categorize what I perceive to be quirks as what the rest of the world perceives to be pains in the rear. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

In the quirks department, Nigeria did not disappoint, so here we go…

  • Somewhere outside of my hotel room door, someone plays Enrique Iglesias’ Hero on repeat everyday. Celine Dion and Bette Midler (seriously?!) come in at times, but Enrique is the one I hear the most. It’s inside the hotel too, not outside. It wouldn’t be so bad except that I’ve been hotel-bound for three days while in-country, and I can’t stand Enrique. I don’t want him to be my hero; I want him to shut up.
  • As a greeting, Nigerians say you are welcome. It’s a reversal of our usual thank you, you’re welcome. Here it goes you are welcome, followed by the white girl saying thank you!


  • There are security guards everywhere. The entrance to the hotel parking lot, the entrance to the hotel, on my floor at the hotel. The entrance to the office building where we work. The entrance to a store, to the clinic, to the bank. Everywhere. It’s a lot of security. Job security? Security job.
  • The shower in my bathroom has a waterfall-type shower head (how lovely), a hand-held shower thing, and jets that shoot directly out at about stomach-level.  The first two are nice, the third…I would not describe as nice.


  • Nigerian cell phones (or at least the one I was loaned) remind you that you’re wasting energy. How lovely!


  • They were a British colony, but they drive on the right side of the road.
  • Our hotel keys expire every day. Finally they coded them so they would not expire until we left. I wonder why the daily expiration?
  • There is a restaurant in the airport. The international airport of the capital city of Nigeria. On the menu? Rice…cheese sandwich…no, no cheese sandwich. (I drank a coke, ate a sleeve of crackers, and inhaled a Snickers…and took the only photo of me in the country of Nigeria. That smile? It’s my travel grin).



Nigeria: thoughts and reflections on a conflicted place

Photos to come shortly…

Nigeria has a rough reputation: dangerous, malaria-y, Ebola-y, unsafe. Before I left home, I was bombarded with all sorts of warnings about travel here. There were shots and pills and so much advice I could hardly keep it straight as to how to just be in Nigeria. It intimidated me. Not to the point that I wasn’t excited about the trip, but to the point where I wondered if this journey was one step too far.

The verdict, upon arriving at the final night of my trip?

Nigeria is a beautiful place, full of kind people, and currently in the midst of a really tough time in its history. The country fights with itself, struggles with how to handle the oil wealth, works against itself. There are disputes, arguments, things far worse.

But my experience?

Nigeria is a beautiful place. Workers clean the streets fastidiously. There is pride in the heritage. Sadness at where the country is now, but pride in the heritage.

There are a lot of guns, a lot of men with big guns. Guns intimidate me, as I suppose they are intended to do. But there are a lot here, too many. It reminds me of Mexico in that sense – there are just too many men riding around, walking around, carrying really big guns.

There are also a lot of women dressed in absolutely beautiful traditional Nigerian dress. Vibrant colors, unique styles, gorgeous head wraps. Nigerians are a striking people – truly beautiful. And their children? Absolutely beautiful, each and every one of them.

The health system could use some work, but they’re getting there. Health systems are complicated things – we’re all aware of that. But they’re trying and the staff means well and they’re doing the best that they can.  Which is all one can really ask for, right? The best that they can.

The divide between the haves and the have-nots is growing. We drove past a house with a roof so large and tall I think my entire house would fit in it. In the ROOF. Not in the house, in the ROOF. There’s a lot of money, but it’s concentrated in the hands of very, very few. It seems to be a growing trend in the world, and I don’t think it will lead us anywhere good.

Despite all of the hardship, they dance. They dance when they receive the marriage license; they dance in the streets of their village; they dance. My two left feet and I could learn a thing or two from them in that regard. Dance.

So I thank you, Nigeria, for a quick but productive visit. For sharing your people, your culture, your land with me. For reminding me that in every single situation there is beauty to be found. For daring me to see that perceptions from afar may be just that: perceptions. To learn the truth, one must see it with one’s own eyes., which is not to say to ignore that problems exist. Rather, to acknowledge those problems and still, somehow, see the beauty in spite of them.

Nigeria, I hope to see you again some day.