Seeking Retreat in Asturias, Spain

by Elyn Aviva

I needed a break. Big time. I’d been doing too much for too long. Traveling. Writing. Doing. Coming up with projects, ideas. More doing. And doing some more. I loved it all, and I loved my husband, Gary, but I needed a break. Alone. And somewhere preferably in Spain, where we live. 

I started scanning last-minute Internet offers. My idea was a comfortable little cabin in the woods; someone bringing me wholesome food; and occasionally taking short, shady strolls through verdant vegetation.

Suddenly a vision floated before my eyes. My Camino de Santiago pilgrim friend Judy Colaneri and her husband, Juan Carlos, own Fuentes de Lucia, a “boutique” hotel/retreat center in the mountains of northwestern Spain. They had been asking me to visit for years. I checked the website. It wasn’t an isolated cabin in the woods, but it looked like a charming place, located in a beautiful Asturian Natural Park.

A “dynamic yoga retreat” was scheduled for the week I wanted to be there. I wasn’t sure I was interested in “dynamic” or  “yoga”—it’s been too many years since I sat on the floor or managed to mold into an asana—but the retreat part sounded good. 

I emailed Judy and received an immediate reply. In fact, she wrote, she had already put my name on the door of Room #7. That’s auspicious, I thought. After all, according to the Bible, the Creatrix rested on the seventh day. And that’s just what I wanted to do.

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Medellin, Colombia: Dance Capitol of My Heart

story and photos by Paul Ross

“I would do anything for love, but I won’t
             dance, don’t ask me.”

                                -Meatloaf & Fred Astaire

I’m an American baby boomer who doesn’t dance. It was an awkward social activity for a lot of guys in my generation and the excuse for not doing so was that I was always playing in bands –for other people’s dancing. The story is plausible because it’s partly true.  But, somehow, there I was, salsa’ing mi cola off at midnight in Medellin, Colombia.

Salsa dancers, Medellin, Colombia.

         HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

Flashback ––

         Arriving in the capital city, Bogota, in search of stories with my wife and travel partner Judie, Chef Sofia Samper whisked us like compliant egg whites off to a large local market. There she shopped for select delicacies to be incorporated into a custom lunch at her cooking school/restaurant. Music thumped in the background throughout the marketplace.

         During the subsequent lesson in Colombian cuisine at trendy Casa 95, Chef Sofia danced around her kitchen to an infectious Latin beat. And I began tapping my toe.

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PHOTO ESSAY: Myanmar by Longtail, Trishaw and Tuk-Tuk

story and photos by Paul Ross        

Getting to Myanmar (Burma) is a trip, but getting around while in-country can be an adventure.  

During 18 days of travel, we rode in human-pedaled trishaws, rickety horse-drawn carriages, vintage trains, and boats of every imaginable size, shape and color. Squeezed into crowded truck-busses, we joined indigenous commuters, and used the smattering of Burmese phrases we picked up along the way to interact and become part of their day. In turn, they became part of our memories. 

Much more than transportation, these conveyances provided an intimate glimpse of everyday life, a profound sense of place, and an authentic connection to this rapidly changing country.

Traveling with Eldertreks, an adventure travel company for travelers 50 and older, my wife, Judie, and I were able to step outside the tourist bubble and travel with the locals.  

Here's the visual proof. 


An old converted bicycle, with its five-inch seat not constructed with wide-beamed Americans in mind,  and a bumpy dirt road make for a colorful experience, especially if you add in the black and blue marks on your backside. The peddler/driver's friend rode along, balancing on the bike's peg, as either a human GPS or a spare "engine."  Far from "the days of Raj" luxury (the Brits colonized Myanmar as well as India), the trishaw is a practical taxi in a bustling, developing country and ––like all taxis everywhere–– it's best to negotiate the fare in advance of the trip. You want to help the local economy but--

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