New YouTube Series Travel People: Living Authentic Lives, Finding Kindred Spirits, Fulfilling Dreams Episode 1: Spain

Watch Episode One here or skip to sections which interest you marked below.

A lot of us are getting through sheltering at home by meeting online with old friends.  I thank God for technology that bashes through borders during a pandemic. Looking back at how we’ve navigated change in the past can transform how we handle new norms in the present and future. Being grounded for many has been grounding–even if what we know about an invisible enemy seems to shift every hour. In Nashville we’ve been saturated with spring storms and power outages. Worldwide we’re assaulted with staggering statistics of death tolls and unemployment. So I’m wondering…

How are we doing? Reassessing life’s meaning? Seeking a new job or career? A new life? Needing to reinvent ourselves again?

I’d planned to start a podcast this summer but decided to first launch as a YOUTUBE series since we’re home on computers more than commuting to work or traveling. Welcome to this first episode where we’ll travel to Spain and meet my friend, Monica Fernandez Chantada, master of reinvention and growth, who shows us how she and her country are dealing with months of pandemic lockdown, social distancing, and unemployment. Her journey from a Corporate Human Resources position to International Teacher to Camino de Santiago Tour Guide to Life Coach will inspire you as she shares coping tips, travel go-to places, and the beauty of her backyard. She explains how saying “Yes!” changes challenges into adventures and offers to teach you Spanish online.

Moni will walk us through her province of Galicia, Bucket List worthy for its mountains, coast, Celtic ruins, wine, and wonderful people. Through here pilgrims since the 9th century have traveled to the Cathedral in Santiago on the Camino or St. James’ Way–backdrop for the Martin Sheen movie (trailer below). We’ve walked three continents together and I’m still inspired by her journey and spirit. I think you will be, too.

If you’re planning a getaway for when the coast is clear and up for a Camino or stay in Galicia, check out options at Moni’s company, Spanish Steps, and/or stay in her home in Vigo where she’s a Superhost here.

0.00-3.30 “Travel People” Series Intro. “Come Run Away with Me” by Carole Edwards https://www.reverbnation.com/caroleed… Photography https://cindymccain.photoshelter.com/… and courtesy of Monica Fernandez Chantada

4:15 Meet Moni in beautiful Vigo and learn how Spaniards do Lockdown (started March 14)

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.35.21 PM

6:20 Memories of Madrid: Attention chocolate lovers!

7:05 How Moni and I met in Nashville, Tennessee

9:30 Moni’s US Teaching and Traveling; Alaska, Peru, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas

11:00 The Wanderer Returns Home to Vigo

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.35.08 PM

11:30 How to Reinvent a Life (Again) From Journalism to Working in Corporate Human Resources Job to Teaching Spanish is the US to Camino de Santiago Guide “I always say ‘Yes!’ Every challenge, I take it!”–Moni

13:30 Effect of Pandemic on 2020 Camino Tourism

14:00 Moni’s Call to Another Life, Spanish Financial Crisis, Realizing in India what she really wanted

15:30 Moni’s Mom’s Advice

17:20 Pandemic Effects on Finances and Family

20:00 How Emergency State in Spain differs from US Lockdown

22:30 Dealing with Solitary Confinement after divorce

25:43 Beautiful Vigo–My visit with Moni and Ale on St. John’sEve/Summer Solstice

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.37.29 PM

26:28 Meeting Moni in Porto, Portugal

27:28 Cies Islands–one of my favorite travel experiences ever

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.34.06 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.36.44 PM

28:30 Spain Photos from Other Journeys

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.34.45 PM

29:37 Eating and Socializing in Spain

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.37.11 PM

32:15 Toledo –Day trip from Madrid

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.40.54 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.41.45 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.40.16 PM

34:40 Camino options based on distance, routes, fitness, purpose

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.33.39 PM

40:08 Photos of Coastal Camino through Galicia; Pilgrims; Goals

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.43.32 PM

45:40 My journeys with Moni: Morocco and Andalusia, Spain

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.44.26 PM

48:40 Oregon

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.45.11 PM

49:22 Moni’s Other Travels for Growth ; Backpacking at 37 in India

50:20 Travel Deals Now

52:30 Moni’s Call; Nashville, Kenya, Japan, New Zealand. What’s on her Bucket List now Moni: “I’m rich because I have freedom.”

1:03:00 Healthcare in Spain

1:05:00 What Moni would tell a 20something daughter or her 20something self

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.53.53 PM

1:06:00 Join Spain’s 8 PM Lockdown Celebration of Solidarity and Spirit

1:09:001:10:00 Closing Contact Moni: mfchantada@yahoo.es or Cindy: cindylmccain1@gmail.com More on Portugal and Spain:

StyleBlueprint Feature on Our Trip to Portugal and Spain

Southern Girl Gone Global Posts on Spain

She Knows Guide to Madrid

 

And for some more Good News, Thank you Feedspot for naming SouthernGirlGoneGlobal.com a Top 30 Baby Boomer Travel Blog or Website to Watch in 2020 !

Spring Fling with Andalusia

There are so many precious moments we take for granted or don’t appreciate until later. Then there are those that while IN the moment, we realize we are happy and THIS time we will never forget. I knew on April 3, 2015 I was in one of those moments.

Since reading Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist–an inspiration for my move abroad– I’ve wanted to see Andalusia–the land of the book’s hero. I always understood why Santiago wanted to see the pyramids. But after seeing the shepherd’s home with Ale and Moni (who live in Vigo, Spain and met me in Tarifa), I marvel that he ever left.

I’ve loved singing in the car with the windows down since I was a kid. We sang with our taxi driver–a warm southerner full of fun and music–who even played one song dedicated to me, a fellow Southerner.  So if you are in Tarifa and need a ride to Bolonia Beach, Taxi 21, at the Tarifa Bus Station or 695 080 841 is the way to go.  The fee is 25 Euro.  Later in the season, a public bus will also be an option, but bet it won’t be as much fun as we had.

IMG_8111

I had a spring fling. I fell in love.  With Andalusia.

IMG_8108

IMG_8141

IMG_8137

Exhausted, I’d returned to Marrakech the day before from a 12-day, 7-city European tour/ Model United Nations conference with teens. Needing a vacation from that “vacation,” in less than 24 hours I’d washed clothes, repacked, and flew Ryan Air to Spain. In an hour, I was in Seville.

I wanted to relax in the sun after the snow in Russia. I needed time alone, then time with friends, Monica, who had suggested the southernmost tip of her country, and her husband, Ale. I needed to write, drink sangria, eat grilled meat, and wear summer clothes without harassment. I needed to be in a country that celebrates Easter. I needed to feel free again.

Though the distance between Southern Spain and Morocco is merely 35 kilometers and the two cultures share Moorish roots, in many ways they are worlds apart. Those wanting to experience both can fly from Marrakesh to Seville, then take the bus or rent a car to Tarifa. (Details found here.) Or from Marrakech, they can take the train or car, then ferry across. Likewise, some travel from Tarifa to Tangier by ferry for day trips or extended stays. And for those wanting to experience a third culture, they can hop a bus or taxi to British territory, Gibraltar, just 45 kilometers down the beach from Tarifa. The bus ride from Seville began at 8 PM—just in time for creamsicle sunsets and Irish green fields and olive groves.

I arrived at the bus station from Seville near midnight and was so happy to see, as promised, Juan Jose there to drive me to the condo I’d booked. He not only showed me how the kitchen appliances worked, but the pantry and fridge which he’d stocked with coffee, bread, butter, milk, and local olive oil. He showed me the lights of Tangier from the balcony. From The Beatles to the Beat Poets, the likes of The Rolling Stones, Tennessee Williams, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg sought the city’s inspiration. But this trip, I needed distance. I was grateful to be on Spanish soil again—not only because I’d been to Barcelona, but because the country is what a friend calls “the Mothership of Hispanic culture “ which I love and feels even more like home. I fell into bed and slept deeply.

IMG_8184

IMG_6388

IMG_6373

Refreshed, I wrote again while drinking coffee before green grass, sand, and sea. Though I didn’t see whales common to the area April-October, I felt another force of nature creating waves. Here winds created from air pressure where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic range from 45-80 kilometers per hour, making this coast a kite-surfer’s paradise. (The next night I’d be blown so hard walking back to the condo from the Old Town that a new earring I bought that first afternoon would be swept from my ear and lost.)

IMG_6458

This is the land of Don Quixote.  It was too windy to ride one of the gorgeous Andalusian horses on the beach as I’d hoped, so I wandered into the Old Town, named from the Moorish invader, Tarif Ibn Malik, in the first century.   Castillo de Guzman was a walled fortress where long after African rule, the Spanish and British together defended the tower from Napoleon.

My first lunch was at Bar El Frances suggested by Juan Jose as well as Restaurante el Caseron.

IMG_6339

Cafe Babel became my wifi/sangria spot, and the next day where I had a Texas-sized plate of local beef.  (Everyone in Morocco thinks my accent is Texan, so it seemed fitting.)

IMG_8144

IMG_8139

IMG_6359

Guitarists playing, people laughing, beautiful boutiques with breezy beachwear calling.  By the time I left, the saleswomen at Butterfly Tarifa and Natural Chic Tarifa knew my name.  And I knew a new name, too.  I love MELÉ BEACH resort wear.

IMG_6352

IMG_6350 IMG_6349

IMG_6348 IMG_6347 IMG_6346 IMG_6351

IMG_6367

http://www.belledusud.com/
Brought this blushing Barcelona baby home http://www.belledusud.com

IMG_8115 IMG_8114 IMG_8146

https://www.facebook.com/cafe10tarifa/timeline
Cafe 10 Tarifa https://www.facebook.com/cafe10tarifa/timeline

IMG_6357 IMG_6355 IMG_6362 IMG_6364 IMG_6387

IMG_8176 IMG_8174 IMG_8172

Confiteria la Tarifena

IMG_8170

Cafe de la Lux

IMG_8167

That Diane Lane moment in Under the Tuscan Sun when you want to just go for it.

IMG_8166 IMG_8165

Moni and Ale arrived on my second night in Tarifa.  We caught up on the balcony over good wine, then headed to the Old Town for the Easter procession and fresh catch.

IMG_8199 IMG_8197 IMG_8190

amovetomorocco.com likes matsuwines
Happened upon these guys–El Pícaro, El Recio and El Viejo– whose faces tell the age of the wine. Enjoy @matsuwines

Seville
After arriving in Seville I noticed many men dressed like this.

During Holy Week, Semana Santa, crowds–Catholic, Protestant (like me), or neither– come to see the processions of decorated floats carrying images Mary and Jesus.  In Tarifa the processions begin on two different streets but converge in the city square.  In churches floats of Mary and Jesus are cared for by members of cofradías.  We saw the Holy Thursday procession with Mary where black-robed “Nazarenos,” or the penitent ones, are in front of the float with a band behind.  Monica said Antonio Banderas carries a float annually in Malaga (another coastal city 160 kilometers east of Tarifa.)

IMG_6389 IMG_6396 IMG_6397

On our last day we headed to Bolonia Beach where we explored Roman ruins and ate on the sea. The next day we boarded different busses and hugged goodbye…till June.

IMG_6401

IMG_8226

IMG_6410
On Bolonia Beach, west of Tarifa, is the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia. Here Emperor Claudius controlled trade routes in the first century AD.

IMG_6447 IMG_6445 IMG_6444 IMG_6437 IMG_6435

IMG_8239 IMG_8242

IMG_6428 IMG_6422 IMG_6414 IMG_6413 IMG_6412 IMG_6408 IMG_6406 IMG_6402

IMG_8246

IMG_6378