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

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… Photography… and courtesy of Monica Fernandez Chantada

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

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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

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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

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26:28 Meeting Moni in Porto, Portugal

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

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28:30 Spain Photos from Other Journeys

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29:37 Eating and Socializing in Spain

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32:15 Toledo –Day trip from Madrid

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

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

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

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48:40 Oregon

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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

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

1:09:001:10:00 Closing Contact Moni: or Cindy: 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 a Top 30 Baby Boomer Travel Blog or Website to Watch in 2020 !
Slumdogs and Soulmates

Slumdogs and Soulmates

I always enjoy hearing my friend Adam play in The Diggy Band–almost as much as I enjoy talking books and movies with him.  Last weekend when he stopped by the table on break, he gushed about Slumdog Millionaire…by saying almost nothing.  The look on his face when he asked if I had seen it… what he didn’t say, couldn’t say because he was so moved told me this must be some movie.  Truthfully, though he’s a discerning critic,  I expected him to like it.   He and his wife, Amy, had gone to India to meet their sponsored child.  Over a span of years and countless plates of The Cuisine of India’s Tiki Marsala, the three of us had discussed the country they so love.  Still,  I’d never seen Adam as awestruck as he was by this recent release.

Based on Vikas Swarup’s debut novel, Q & A, and nominated for Golden Globes for Best Picture, Best Director (Danny Boyle), and Best Screenplay/winner of Best British Independent Film and Best Newcomer (Dev Patel), it is the story of an Indian street kid arrested for cheating on India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Through his interrogation, we learn by flashbacks how he had the answers and why he wants to finish the game show despite his seeming indifference to the money.

I’ve always had a thing for gritty underdogs whether Heathcliff, Scarface, or Aladdin, so slumdogs were barking my name.

Gritty I got.  Some of the first few minutes made me consider waiting for Kim in the lobby.  I can’t stomach graphically violent torture scenes. The intensity/suspense of pending cruelty or bullying usually makes me run.  But the movie was her pick and my treat (her birthday was the next day), so I shut my eyes and hung on. I’m so glad I did.

Like a hearty Biryani, Slumdog is a rich mix of classic fare.  As Dickens’ Oliver Twist and Great Expectations condemned cruel class disparity in Victorian London,  Slumdog reveals  staggering social injustice in modern  Mumbai.  And like Oliver and Pip,  Jamal, the quietly courageous, ever determined, and longsuffering hero is a soulful survivor.   Facing the trash heaped literally and figuratively in his life–at times with a pragmatic “It is what it is” and at others with a fierce romanticism– Jamal is a foil to his brother, Salim.   On many levels Jamal and Salim parallel The Kite Runner’s Amir and Hassan, and East of Eden’s Adam and Charles Trask. And told in flashbacks, Jamal, Latika and Salim’s saga have similarities to the back-stories of Sahid and Mr. Eko of Lost.  We pull for Jamal and Latika who fall in love in childhood as we did for Pip and Estella, Cathy and Heathcliff. The prejudice of the police who are convinced a poor kid would have to cheat to succeed made me as angry as the Educational Testing Service in Stand and Deliver.  And yet in one scene there’s a dance as joyful as that of Olive and Company in Little Miss Sunshine. I can’t imagine a stronger Academy Award contender–not only because of comparisons that place it in the company of greatness, but also because of those twists and truths we don’t see coming as moviegoers and Westerners–the resolution which I won’t spoil–the homage paid to the human condition and faith.

Slumdog is brain and heart food.  Though there’s some comic relief and a storyline built around game show trivia, its issues are in no way trivial. The genius crafting of the plot is much like that of Shakespeare in Love or Life is Beautiful—truly a triumph.  More importantly,  not since Hotel Rawanda have I been so moved to do something about injustice and poverty.  When I was younger I’d ask why God allows such misery.  Now I wonder why we allow it when He has given us the means to alleviate much of it.  Watching Slumdog in the Green Hills theater—one of the most privileged parts of Nashville–I thought of the money I’d spent on the Super-Sized popcorn and Coke I couldn’t finish.  I thought of how for the second Christmas in a row I was secretly disappointed not to find a pair of Uggs  under my tree.  I thought of how much most of us are blessed, and that while the US does a lot for some third world countries, we don’t do nearly enough about worldwide poverty, child abuse, human rights.  I don’t do enough.  The movie was hard to watch because I felt overwhelmed with guilt in going about my daily routines while so many are perishing.   I again wish I could do more than just sponsor a child as I have in Brazil.  I want to meet her more now than ever.  Though my own children are almost grown, I fantasize about adopting a child to give her a better life.

I had coffee this morning with a former student.  After a mission trip in Africa last summer where she saw children dying of malaria, she plans to use her biology major for global responses to epidemics.  Maybe as a teacher I can influence more young people to consider global involvement when choosing a career.  Maybe I can get more involved politically in the belief that we’re here to make a difference…and to believe.

It was good being reminded again that faith can move mountains.  To never give up.  To concentrate on what’s good while going through what’s awful.  That love is redemptive.

Slumdogs and soul mates.  Nothing better than that.