It’s All German (and Turkish) to Me

One of my linguistics professors once said to me, “Language is culture.” He didn’t mean that it’s a part of one’s culture but that it both encompasses and permeates the culture. It defines—and is defined by— it. And whenever I travel, discovering the quirky phrases that make a culture tick helps me to get inside the…

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Bienvenido a Havana: Cuba at First Glance

Weary from 14 hours of travel (in the middle seat of three different airplanes from Seattle to Mexico City to Havana), my body longed for a simple bed to sleep in, but my mind was awhirl with anticipation of a trip of a lifetime. Rick, his son Andy, his daughter Jackie, and I were Cuba-bound,…

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St. Kitts: Lessons in History, Emancipation, Culture Shock, and Women’s Lib–Part II

As we finished our mini-bus tour of the island of St. Kitts, our local guide informed us that it was the final day of the Carnival celebration– it started at Christmas, and that there would be a huge parade through the center of town, Basseterre. While confused about the timing (this was January 2nd after…

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12 Hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico Part 2: From Boricua to Mofongo

After Tarzan-ing through Puerto Rico’s tropical forest, we freshened up on the ship and headed back out into the city of San Juan. We opted out of a ship excursion because we craved an authentic feel for the place. But we’d already discovered that the guidebooks we bought were lacking in any real content, context,…

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12 Hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico Part 1: Welcome to the Jungle

Sunscreen: check. Bathing suit: check. Eager-beaver attitude: check. Our first port was calling our name, and I, for one, was ready to hit the beach and take in a year’s supply of Vitamin D in the form of Caribbean afternoon sunshine. As we packed our day bags with our necessary gear, a husky Italian voice…

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How to Find Great Values in Venice

Centuries-old former palaces crackle and peel away in the thick, briny air. Bottom floors of old merchants’ warehouses sit empty and still cling half-heartedly to their romantic patina of a time long past, slowly but beautifully decaying under the Venetian heat, humidity, and rising waters. As I glide down the canal on a slow vaporetto,…

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