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 June 11, 2018
Stepping from a tunnel of the Medina into a passageway to a massive door… crossing the threshold into a lush courtyard garden flanked with singing birds… climbing the spiral staircase to three levels of heaven. Exploring Riad Dar Kleta is a magical adventure. Being inspired by the creativity of its owners, Julien and Francoise Gaumont, who treat guests like family, is unforgettable.
My friend, Kate, and I were greeted with mint tea when we arrived, asked to name whatever Moroccan dishes we wished to have for dinner, and told to relax. “You are home,” said Julien.
So many choices… to sprawl on the lush, shaded couches of burnt orange and earth tones overlooking the courtyard, to nap on wine-colored sofas by a cacti garden, to wind up the second spiral staircase to loungers for watching the sky change colors at sunset.
Posted on December 18, 2016
Nine trips to Italy and I’ve just planned the next one. This year I spent New Year’s Eve in Venice, my birthday in Tuscany (below), and Easter in Rome, but I’m asking Santa for an extended holiday in the land I love.
“I was ALWAYS attracted to the road less traveled. The idea of a suburban life in a house with a husband and 2.5 children made me squirm a little. Somehow I think I was always afraid that my brain and spirit would be lulled to sleep and all my creativity would be silenced. Probably not true, but the idea pushed me in another direction.
From a little girl I wanted to be a dancer. In high school I wanted to an actor. In college I wanted to be a writer. All the things I’ve wanted to do—the things that compelled me forward– were always endeavours that didn’t make money unless you were a star and involved a big population that was trying to do the same. I really think an artistic life is like a calling. It comes from inside. You can try to ignore it but it is very insistent. And if you leave yourself open to listening and following its call then you’re always off the beaten path. Some people have to ignore it because of commitments. There’s a great book about women who have had to do this: Tillie Olsen’s Silences. I was always so afraid of being silenced, of not getting my visions made into something out there…and still…I feel like I really haven’t done it yet! SO many stories and ideas still jam my head constantly.”
She said career highlights were interviewing survivors for the Holocaust Museum tour in Houston. There was also the day Israeli and Jordanian producers were in the NY studios together. Paulette smiled and said, “It was fine. I remember thinking, ‘You see. It doesn’t have to be the way it is. Everyone is into creating great stuff for kids.'” She recalls making a video for choreographer Loretta Thomas: “We shot on the streets of NY for 24 hours straight. At 3 AM Martin Scorsese pulled up to his apartment in a limo in Tribeca. We made eye contact and he smiled!”
Christmas is a great time to thank those who call us to taste la dolce vita. The new year is a great time to host others at our table and celebrate the good together. Her book offers more than amazing Italian cuisine. It offers soul food meant to be shared.
*Chef Paulette’s winter cooking classes are sold out. However, you can buy friends gift certificates or contact her for information for the spring classes starting in March here.
Chef Paulette on Channel 4 making her Walnut Chocolate Biscotti