Posted on May 12, 2020
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)
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
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
26:28 Meeting Moni in Porto, Portugal
27:28 Cies Islands–one of my favorite travel experiences ever
28:30 Spain Photos from Other Journeys
29:37 Eating and Socializing in Spain
32:15 Toledo –Day trip from Madrid
34:40 Camino options based on distance, routes, fitness, purpose
40:08 Photos of Coastal Camino through Galicia; Pilgrims; Goals
45:40 My journeys with Moni: Morocco and Andalusia, Spain
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
1:06:00 Join Spain’s 8 PM Lockdown Celebration of Solidarity and Spirit
Posted on April 19, 2015
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.
I had a spring fling. I fell in love. With Andalusia.
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.
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.)
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.
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.)