Five years! Five years ago, Patrick and I quit our jobs to travel around the world.
Last year was the year of staying still . But, this year, we've found our traveling feet again, learning --- albeit slowly --- how to travel with a baby/toddler.
Highlights from our trip to Costa Rica
Costa Rica : Our first international trip with Amara was to Costa Rica. The people in that country embrace pura vida and were so welcoming and accommodating of us, as we learned how (not) to travel with a baby . We didn't pack enough clothes for her so we were constantly doing laundry. We didn't realize that the time change would affect her so significantly so that by 7:00 p.m., she couldn't stay awake another moment longer. We didn't count on how heavy a 14 pound baby can get on a four hour hike.
Despite the hiccups, we learned how to see the world through her eyes . We spent leisurely afternoons, playing with plastic water bottles and meandering through butterfly gardens and jungles in Costa Rica. We gorged on maduros and panela cheese. We drank coconut water in the shade. We pointed out sloths and monkeys to our baby.
We traveled and loved it. Yes, our baby was a traveler and we were going to love traveling with her.
Highlights from India
Then, we headed to India for a month.
Chennai is not picturesque, charming
, or particularly interesting. Rather, its main attraction is the love that envelops us as soon as we enter that city. I have over 150 relatives in Chennai, who, despite not seeing us for years or years, welcome us every time with open arms, gifts, and (what I appreciate the most) platters of food.
And, this time around, we brought Amara with us, who quickly endeared herself to everyone. She was pampered in Chennai and so were we. There were always ten other hands who wanted to hold, feed, rock, and carry her. Amara woke us up at 5:00 in the morning when the sun rose and the temple bells started clanging, and we handed her over to my uncle, aunt, and grandmother, and she happily played with them until we arose. My cousins bought toys and beautiful silk pavadais for her. My great-aunt made her fresh homemade yogurt each day. And, when we walked from temple to temple, someone was always ready to pray for her.
We left Chennai for a week and a half to explore other parts of Tamil Nadu. We swam in the mostly empty pool at our (very reasonably priced) resort in Puducherry and walked the deserted beaches. We drove to Tanjore and Kumbakonam to visit the stunning Chola Temples , which surprised me with their gorgeous carvings, rivaling those we saw in Angkor Wat.
And, did I mention that we ate? Oh, yes, we ate so much that we all gained several pounds by our return. Highlights included the banana flower curries prepared by my aunt, the stunning assortment of food at the Chennai fresh market, and the thin, crisp dosas filled with masala in Puducherry.
Highlights from our United States travels
United States : For much of the remainder of the year, we've traveled within the United States. We spent a week in San Francisco, enjoying plump pierogis at the Picnic at the Presidio , eating homemade ricotta from Cowgirl Creamery's shop in the Ferry Building, and eating our favorite dim sum at the always wonderful Yank Sing. Back in the Southeast, we explored Atlanta with our toddler . And, we gorged on peach doughnut sliders, the "perfect" brisket (according to Patrick), maple and smoked sea salt sipping chocolate, and sweet moonshine at our favorite foodie event of last year, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival .
It's been a great year and we're kicking off the new one with two weeks in Brazil. Thanks for joining us as we roam the world. Happy travels to everyone reading and happy holidays!