Two Romanias

Romania came out from behind the Iron Curtain over 25 years ago, but it’s still a country with one foot in the past as it moves resolutely into the future. It’s all factories and multinational corporations and big box stores and neo-Gothic McMansions built by Roma families next to crumbling grey apartment blocs and roads clogged with flocks of sheep and an inscrutable bureaucracy that would make Kafka’s head spin. We experienced all this and more during our last visit to Romania, where my husband and I were setting up a new factory. Here’s a story about doing business in Romania, the new land of unbridled opportunity.

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A Secret Beach

“We have a map,” the man at check-in to our backpacker bungalow hotel told us, lowering his voice slightly, his tone conspiratorial. “A map to the secret beach. It’s not that easy to get there, but it’s not far.”

Right, I’ve seen that movie. So has everyone else who goes to Thailand. I didn’t believe him until we followed his map to a perfect secret beach, and now I’ve got the pictures to prove it. Continue reading “A Secret Beach”

Thailand Country Guide

Beaches. Island hopping. Kayaking. Snorkeling and Scuba diving. Buddhist temples. Monk chat. Night markets. Street Food. Elephant sanctuaries. Hiking. White-water rafting. Zip-lining through the jungle canopy. ATV tours. Massage. Exploring ancient cities. Whizzing through traffic on a scooter. Finding the perfect beach. The Kingdom of Thailand is the top destination in Southeast Asia, and for good reason.

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Cuba: Prohibida la entrada

The summer after my freshman year of college, I traveled to Cuba as a student in a course focusing on sustainable agricultural systems. Why? Well, for many reasons, really: to practice my Spanish, to learn something (anything) about agriculture, to see a new country. I’ll be honest, though. There was really only one reason I had for choosing Cuba.

At that time, it was forbidden. Continue reading “Cuba: Prohibida la entrada”

Florence, 15 Years Older

Florence is a city by which you measure your life every time you return.

On my first visit, the city made clear the tasks ahead in growing up. Not just becoming an adult, but a citizen of the world, as I so deeply wanted to be. And it sent me on my way with a parting kiss, a small souvenir of what was yet to come. Continue reading “Florence, 15 Years Older”

A Virgin in Florence

I was only 15 the first time I visited Florence, when I traveled there with class of high schoolers (and their parents) on one of those fully supervised, completely American Grand Tours of Europe meant to turn us into cultured young ladies and gentlemen in 10 days flat. Florence, perhaps the grandest city on the Grand Tour, was one of the last stops, and a new beginning for me.

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