I could have avoided writing this post, have avoided writing down about the difficult times, continued posting the photos of us looking always happy and continued creating the image of life on the road as all fun and adventure… but that would have been only one side, not the entire side.

I was watching my daughters play with the waves at Praia do Carropateira in Portugal. It was one of those rare moments of clarity. One of those moments when it all falls into place; when you are able to see the world as it is and not as you are. I felt the freedom, the adventure, the beauty. I watched them in all their wild innocence… my daughters and the waves had become one… and I knew that this was our place… not the beach, not Portugal, not even the road…

Am I making any sense?

After 35 days, my family had just began to relax and little by little, let go of all that we had thought that we could simply leave behind.

Thirty-five days ago we had packed up our stuff, prepared our mobile home, and left the four walls that we had called our abode for the past year. It wasn’t the first time. By now, we were experts, or at least we thought we were. We had lots of expectations (we still didn’t know where they would lead us) and although we were travelling light it was impossible to leave the baggage of the past months behind.  It had taken over a year for us to create the tension and stress that had been accumulated… feel once again, unsettled and frustrated with a life with a fixed address… feel, once again, that something was missing… life, at least our life in that moment, was (once again) somewhere else.

How could we possibly be so naive as to expect that all our built up emotions would magically disappear as soon as we started our engine?

The first few weeks on the road were challenging. We tried. We really did. We would wake up each morning with our smiles and expectations (too many… they will sabbotage a fine chance every time), but even though the days would start out real smooth, they quickly became trying, and often our daily dose of bickering took over for most of the afternoon, until… until our fighting over absolutely nothing at all rolled around to a serene enough evening, a pleasant dinner, and a friendly game of Rummy 500 until it was time to turn off the lights. During the night, we would sleep soundly, recharge until the morning, and then wake up ready to do it all over again. The places we would visit would provide us glimpses of excitement, but our depleted emotional energy would take center field.

I cried like a baby on the streets of Barcelona (for no reason at all), the girls were nervous while visiting Pueblos Blancos (nothing had instigated it), we fought viciously in Cordoba and Cadiz and had an argument or two in the camper almost every day, over Nothing. We tried to reset, interrupt the pattern, send the baggage away. We really did! We had good intentions, (too many) expectations, and we felt badly every single time. But, this wasn’t enough. Although we were able to practice part of our belief: that it isn’t important to be right (and, it saved us from total destruction), we weren’t able to master the other part of the equation, that it is more important to be kind. Without both, the practice remained theory. And, the ‘for no reasons at all’, the ‘nothings to blame’ and the ‘nothings at all’ hung over us and volcanically lingered. 

We still couldn’t truly feel the freedom or the gratitude that I continued to write about. We were thousands of miles from home as we exploded and we comunicated, we forgave and let go, we reset and we laughed about it all… that is, until we exploded once again. Even when we were relaxed and having fun, there was a time bomb following us, ready to go BOOM! We were a thousand miles from home and yet, we had not moved a single bit. I prayed. I accepted. I decided not to beat myself up. I FORGAVE. I decided to give us time.

And then, it happened… I noticed it in small insignificant things… easy to remain unnoticed gestures… A please, a thank you, an I am sorry. Smiles that lasted ‘til lunchtime or beyond. As the weeks passed and the roadside view of vineyards transformed into fields and fields of olive trees which then transformed into the brightest color of juicy oranges… more than I ever had seen… our faces began to relax, the muscles loosened and our tones softened… we slowly shook off lots of  that stuff that we unintentionally packed… the pressure of the four walls lessened its hold… the frustration and the never-ending decisions seemed less important than what we were being offered… in our place, right NOW…

the romance of the castles and their stories of arabic princesses and dukes, the image of pottery being molded by the artfulness of ancient hands and words of wisdom and hope being composed by poets long ago… the free roaming cows and calves, pelicans on the water and stalks in their nests… all coming alive right before our very eyes. The boundless skies and endless coastlines… the glow of the morning sun on an awakening town waiting to be rediscovered, and the pink and purple shadows of a day falling asleep over a still energetic ocean.

All these blessings helping us to see things the way they actually are! We still have our fights (daily) for what really is NOTHING, but they no longer consume our days. We can help each other appreciate what we have, where we are…

we are in a camper, together 24 hours a daytotal peace is irrealistic… but we can work on working together as a unit.

When he is feeling tired from too much time behind the wheel, I can be a little bit kinder. When I am feeling closed in, they can lovingly give me 10 minutes of space. When a little sister is anxious,  a big sister can hug her. When my thirteen year old ‘can’t find a thing to wear’, I can generously lend her something ‘new’ without warning her not to ruin it. We can remind each other that when someone needs a helping hand, the hand is there because like in any other family, there will always be another bad night sleep, another bad mood, another bad hair day, another wrong turn, another spilt something… and in our case, more specifically, one too many promised hot showers turned freezing cold. 

But, this is all ok. We can let go of our biggest expectation of all: a trip that is perfect and confrontation free.

From post: MARRIAGE, KIDS and The Sacred Stick (April 23, 2016)

Reading my blog it may appear as if my free family is almost always in turmoil. ‘What freedom?‘, many may think. The past weeks (or years, for that matter) I have spoken about choices, indecision, doubt and frustration… once again… what freedom? We talk too much, but we actually communicate. We fight and we do this real big… but we also make up, and fortunately we do this even bigger! We make decisions and then we doubt, we make mistakes, we say lots of sorrys and then we try to learn and correct. We do some things very right and some things quite wrong. We never, ever REGRET!

Closeness is something that is made to look easy (and funny) in movies. Real life is another thing altogether.  And, like every other evolving family, we will forever be learning as we go.

Love and a squeeze from the (sometimes bumpy) road,


FREE FAMILY GOES OFF THE BEATEN TRACK and finds the heart of a town called MARINALEDA

As we road down the main road where we were greeted by images of Che Guevara and a welcome sign that read, ‘MARINALEDA, EN LUCHA POR LA PAZ (MARINALEDA, FIGHTING FOR PEACE), we instinctively stopped to ask two guys that were speaking casually in front of a house  where we could park our camper. I am not exaggerating when I say that both of them looked at us as we were from the moon… ‘Cualquier lugar libre’ (‘Any free spot’), one of them answered with a semi-toothless smirk. ‘OF COURSE, ANYWHERE!’, we repeated like parrots (from the moon!)… we weren’t in the big city anymore. There were no parking meters, private, parking lots or blue lines anywhere!

We would soon discover that Marinaleda, a once normal, tiny town was transformed into a socialist dream by its population who occupied the land (about 1700 hectars) that belonged to a Duke (Duca de Infantado) in the early 80’s… with strong ideals which emphasized equality above everything else, it was transformed into an utopia where people can live simply and simply live. After only 15 minutes, we were literally picked up on the street by a car passing by. Pepe, the driver, asked me where I was from in a broken, but impressive English. After telling him that we were from Italy and that my husband was a writer he immediately expressed how eager he would be to show us the new, residential section of town (I think he would have been just as eager even if we were travelling salesmen). As he drove past a dozen or so blocks, he spoke about Marinaleda:

The houses in Marinaleda are self built and cost between 15 and 20 euros a month. The materials to build the homes are supplied by the local government. Over 80% of the population works for the towns’ cooperatives which produce mainly extra vergin olive oil and other agricultural produce. Everyone, no matter what their role, earns 47 euro a day; more than enough considering that the taxes and insurance costs are kept intentionally low.

At Marinaleda, the cost of food is extremely economic, and so are all services. The few, privately owned businesses are considered a service for the benefit of the entire town, and therefore not opened or run with the purpose of making a fortune for the owner. There are 2 small supermarkets and a handful of pulperia (small grocery stores), 1 pharmacy, 2 banks, a driving school, a mechanic, a hair salon, a post office, a small, health clinic, and a doctor’s office. There is an elementary, middle and high school, a beautiful park with a playground and an exercise circuit, and a large, public sports complex with pool, gym, tennis courts and a soccer field. There are more than a dozen cafes/bakeries and many restaurant/pubs where you can sit down and be served a capuccino + a crossiant, or a liter of beer for only 1 euro (about a dollar and 25 cents). In this town, you can buy a large loaf of freshly baked bread for 50 cents, and organic, extra-vergin olive oil for a mere 4 euro per liter. There is no hotel, no B&B. No souvenir shop. There are no advertisements on the road. My favorite ‘ad’  is written on a stone wall on the main road: Turn off your TV, turn on your mind’! There is no crime. There is no police. There is zero unemployment. The divorce rate is also close to zero. There are no homeless people, no beggars on the street, no traffic, no lights, no rushing, no stress.

The people who live here have modern cars and modern clothes (although there is no car dealer or clothing store in town). They also have smartphones which they use only when necessary. NO SELFIE ADDICTS HERE! Unlike in almost every other place that we have visited, people are not touching and swiping all day long. Not even the teens. People meet in the park, in the cafès and pubs, on the street, and they actually talk… they also play cards, darts, pool and other games in the many public meeting centers around town… PEOPLE HAVE TIME!

Sounds a little like heaven, doesn’t it?…


Nobody seemed to notice. Nobody seemed to care. They were invisible… except to us. We had just spent 5 days at Marinaleda where justice ruled and were now smack in the center of Seville, a place that I had dreamed of visiting for years, a place people have raved to me about, a place that I have seen in travel magazines -represented by gorgeous photos of flamenco dancers, arabic-inspired squares, tapas bars filled with beautiful people having fun – over and over again… 

And yet, street after street, there they were… some with their entire lives spread out before them and others, with everything neatly packed up in a small cart or wagon. Some were alone, others with a dog or two, others still with an instrument as they strummed out their sorrows in a song. Some had signs, others just hats where you could throw your spare change. ‘Please help me raise some money to buy myself a  villa on the beach and a Ferrari, one sign spiritly read.

I approached Plaza de Spagna in complete awe. It was everything the magazines claimed it to be… simply magnificent. Like all the other tourists, I snapped one photo after another. The color, the dimension, the energy. It was travel magazine picture perfectif you didn’t bother to see themsquare after square, street after street my daughters stopped to smile, look into the eyes of the homeless and the nameless, and drop their coins.

I miss Marinaleda’, Havana said after just a half a day of roaming around the romantic, history-packed city. ‘This place is really beautiful, but there are so many poor people. At Marinaleda there wasn’t even one! Why does the city have to be so sad?’ 

She wasn’t aware of what wise thoughts her young mind held. To most, this too would have remained invisible.

How could I explain this unfair reality to a 10 year old when I, after so many years, still couldn’t explain it to myself?

Journal Entry, June 5, 2015, Newark Port Authority, 5:45am

Our flight came in after midnight. Instead of asking my parents to schlep to the airport in the middle of the night, we decided to stay there until the morning. We were headed to Ithaca and would catch a Greyhound the next day. Early morning, Andrea, I, and our daughters were at Newark Port Authority. Even though I was born and bred in NYC, where at one time nothing could have shocked me, after over 20 years abroad I was no longer prepared for what I saw once we passed through the heavy entrance doors. Lines of wooden benches with homeless people still tucked in from the night, abruptly awaken by the sticks of several cops on duty, merely doing their jobs. One by one, they packed up their ‘tents’ and went on their way, forced out of their nighttime abode to a brutally cold wind that howled fiercely from behind the high, glass windows. My family and I moved slowly towards the scene. There were drunks and disabled, old and young, black and white. Some left with dignity, others fought until the very last threat. I saw the eyes of my daughters open wide as they counted as an elderly woman loaded down 16 packets of sugar (her breakfast) before she limped off, carefully fixing her hair and buttoning up her ragged overcoat as she walked out the doors. I just sat there and quietly weeped from within. Kenia wiped a tear from my cheek. Never in all my travels – north, south, east or west – had I remembered seeing such sadness, such hopelessness, such poverty.

Why did I never see all this when I lived here? How could I be so utterly insensitive and blind?

The city is a lonely place, and the type of poverty it produces is like no other poverty in the world. My daughters just finished school in Costa Rica where they were friends with children that lived in wood sheds, that had broken shoes, very few possessions, and some even horrific family conditions, but this was entirely different. This poverty had a different name. This poverty is called Injustice and Indifference and most of all LONELINESS. Rich and poor, co-existing back to back. Men and women, children… trying to survive their poverty as they observe too much richness, and everyone else forced to become completely immune to survive the sight of too much poverty.  

So there we were, the four of us, in Seville, a city that was all that everyone said it would be, all that I had imagined, including the real sidethe poverty, certainly not its best sidethe side that the travel magazines don’t photograph and deliberately leave out.

While other tourists were grabbing their forks and smartphones, we were grabbing for the sense of it all.

I have some change’, said Kenia after our daily max had run out. ‘We can’t give to them all,’ I reluctantly answered. ‘No, but I still have the money that Nonna gave me’, she answered. ‘Look at that man over there, Dad, he only has one leg. Kenia went over and dropped 50 cents in his cup. When she came back she said,I can tell that he felt good about someone acknowleding him, especially when I said Hola and smiled.’

You know, you are completely right’,  Andrea said to her. Every little thing you do makes a difference. Remember Ernesto in the movie ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’? He couldn’t look away either.’ 

How could I not let her continue giving? Sure, our little money wouldn’t make a difference in the world. It couldn’t possibly change the existence of the man with one leg, or the woman with no arms… of the guy with the spirited sign. We weren’t in Marinaleda. Injustice is the global reality. There seems to be no cure.

All day long, as we played tourists, I couldn’t help thinking about my daughters’ words. We walked around the city for hours that day. There was the bright sun and the colorful markets and the flamenco performers. There were talented street artists and one massive piece of history after another… and then, there were the men and women that nobody sawpeople snapped photos on horse driven carriages, they sat outside of Starbucks and sipped their overpriced, gourmet drinks, they held shopping bags from Zara and Oshyo…

and, I observed the indifference, including my own, as I thoughtHow could I justify spending 3 and a half euro for soy cappuccino or almost 6 euro for 3 scoops of ice cream on a cone…10 or 15 euro for a useless souvenir that will collect dust back at home, when there are so many people that have nothing at all? It would be easier to look away, become once again immune, or would it be? Obviously, we won’t be able to change the world, but in the end, either will our indifference.

As my daughters stopped to drop the last pennies of the day, I wondered, How much is a smile worth to a person that is homeless and nameless to the entire world?  And even more, how much is the smile and the ‘Thank you’ received in exchange worth to my daughters?

Before closing my eyes that night, my thoughts went back to Marinaleda, my daughters’ impression of a place with no poverty… I thought of the words of the town’s mayor, a modest man who has been fighting for peace and justice for the past 35 years:

‘The bigger the city, the smaller the heart. The bigger the heart, the smaller our world’, he said looking intensely into my husband’s eyes when he interviewed him one afternoon.  

No one is worth more than anyone else. No one is worth less. This is what I want to teach my daughters because this, whether it makes a difference or not, is the only possible way to cure a broken,  global heart.

Sending these words to reflect on and all our love from a less beaten track,



BARCELONA… the bigger the city, the bigger the price tag! (a thought about travelling today)

We decided to visit Barcellona for our daughters.  Andrea and I had already been there 3 times together… in 1997 for work, in 2001 for a soccer game, in 2003 to visit an Italian friend who was living there at the time. We had really good memories… but 15 years have past since our last visit. It seems like an entirely different era… before the invasion of overpriced entrance fees, smartphones and coffee franchises. Much has changed. WE HAVE CHANGED…


After our first night spent in a rundown, pricey camping area (especially since there was no hot water in the dirty containers called bathrooms, the water hose offered to fill our RV was broken, and the WiFi went more than it came) in a convenient part of town (which means it was only 300 meters from the metro), we began our self guided tour early the next morning at Park Guell, one of my favorite places. I remembered it as a fantasyland with its ‘gingerbread’ looking houses and mosaic tiled benches. One of my favorite photos was taken in front of the multi-colored lizard in the center of the entrance’s main stairway. I was excited to relive this with our girls.

But, as I said, things changed.

The once free to enjoy park now had an entrance fee: 8,50 euros per person. Eight and a half euros to visit a park that was currently 75% under contruction taking a bit of the fantasy out of the ‘land’.  This obviously didn’t prevent the park from being flooded with tourists; many more than I remembered. There was actually a line to take a photo in front of ‘my beloved’ multi-colored lizard… as well as a wait to snap a memory in front of other selected Gaudi branded monuments…

no one other than I seemed to notice… everyone else was immersed in the absolutely insane, selfie mania!

After the park, we went on to Las Ramblas, Barcellona’s best known strip, La Sagrada Familia, Barcellona’s best known church… we visited the Gothic Quarter and the Old Port, we travelled the metro and roamed the main avenues in search of Gaudi’s other buildings which are magnificantly splashed around town (a Starbucks just strategically opened on the opposite corner of own of the most famous ones). We snacked on fried sweets and savory, spinach filled pastry and enjoyed the city’s mild, sunny weather… the girls had fun. We did also… but something didn’t feel right… underneath the fancy buildings, the edible delights, the energy of the tourists and the extremely pleasant weather… hmmm….

Take away the rose colored glasses and all I saw was that everything has actually become about spending money… eating a small order of french fries from Burger King while posing in front of the Sagrada Familia for only 3 and a half euro… 2 euro and 15 cents more than in any other ‘Home of the Whopper’… 

what I saw was that people have become zombie-like, roaming the tourist attractions with their smartphones and credit cards always on hand….

Why don’t people  visit foreign places anymore to learn, to explore, to become more worldly… more cultured? Why has travelling become all about the selfies… being able to instantenously post them on Facebook and Instragram in order show the world that they have been there, seen that… to appear more educated, worldly, cultured? Whether the snapshot is taken at the Placa de Catalunya  or in front of a Desigual storefront doesn’t really matter. They are in Barcelona…  where like any other tourist spot… purchasing their worldliness is made easy… 18 euro per person to walk up the Sagrada Familia, 55 per person for a hop on-hop off bus tour, 15 euro for a bad paella along Las Ramblas, 8 euro for a cup of Nesquik and a couple of churros served at a table facing the beach.  Everything has its price and the farther you have travelled the more you are willing to pay. When you get home you will never wear that bag with Barcelona written all over it, and you definitely won’t know where to put the plastic statue of the Triumphal Arc that you couldn’t resist buying! Even the peddlers with their colorful clothing and fortunes to tell, the musicians with their YouTube Channels, and the street artists with their sales pitches have something irresistable to  sell to you.  All the time, everybody, both tourists and natives are breathing it all in with their heads down and their monitors on… whether you are strolling around the city streets, sipping a caffè con leche in a chic spot or riding the subway. Nobody talks, nobody looks, nobody really absorbs anything. No need to speak Spanish… there is no need to make contact with anyone at all,  whether it is to learn something new or ask for directions. Why should you when Google offers all you need to know in one slight touch of the finger? Things sure have changed…

or is it only ME?

We were in Barcelona… beautiful as ever… but besides for what Gaudi has left behind it could have been any other city in the world it could have been ‘home’ where even there we are accostumed to paying for our entertainment ,  posting our last meal and waiting for someone else’s reaction... this is the consequence when the entire world becomes connected and McDonalds, Starbucks and Pull & Bear become the main attractions.. when the adventure is taken out of the travel, travel is only accessible to those of us who can pay the price, and the ultimate goal is to receive a stamp on your passport and 100 or more Likes on your page.

love and besos,

Next post… we go off the beaten track… Looking foward to telling you about Marinaleda, a  a small, independent town with a population of 3,000 located south of Cordoba in Spain… a town that cares more about social justice than economic growth! A town that will confirm that the smaller the city, the bigger the heart!



In Tom (Tom) He Doesn’t Trust!

So, we were finally on our way towards better weather, leaving France to go prematurely onto Spain. “All I want is sun”, I repeated one too many times, every time knowing that I was breaking all the rules of non attachment and gratitude. Fog, rain or shine my attitude should have been light and cheery… sunny, despite the rain… we were on our journey without a destination… an entire new adventure: him, I, our amazing daughters and our mostly, reliable home on wheels. Travelling in all types of conditions was our expertise…

as the skies turned bluer, the inside of our RV started to warm up from a brilliant sun, and the fluffy, white clouds overhead cushioned our drive, our expressions became lighter, smiles began to grow from the corners of our semi-pouts and excitement about Spain filled every worduntil he turned on the Tom Tom...

Now, let me fill you in about my husband, Andrea, for those of you who don’t know or have never read a single word about him (see my post ‘Surving Andrea’ for more detail: Andrea is a free spirit. Tell him to go left and he will surely go right. Tell him it is impossible and he is most likely to do it (even if he gets banged up along the way), Tell him anything and he’ll do the opposite (almost) every time. Some may call his character ‘stubborn’, but believe me, his need to be completely free is totally spontaneous and natural. A rarity these days. “Think with your own mind” is his moto. Couple up a free spirit who has always used a paper map and his fantastic sense of direction – his natural instinct – with a Tom Tom and you are bound to hit trouble. Take away his right to roll down his window and ask for directions … actually interact with a real, live person, and the situation could become desperate.

So, there we were on our way to Barcellona… sun, smiles, excitement… Kenia had accurately typed in the destination… and the electronic device was accurately doing its thing when… he started fighting with the Tom Tom, or rather the normally soothing, female voice that guides you on your way (except our soothing voice, referred to as ‘she’, was interrupted by the strilling, totally unnecessary voice of Andrea’s sister, Claudia (my brother-in-law lent us their Tom Tom). Believe me, just her voice alone could make a person go insane!

The argument went exactly like this:

I am sure it is that way, he started saying. I don’t trust it (after only 5 minutes). I don’t know where she is sending me, as he opens his 30 year old book of road maps (see the reflection in the photo) for the 3rd time in 20 minutes. Where is she sending me? I don’t know! Kenia, (who was in the back listening to her ipod) where is she sending me? (poor Kenia, is the official Tom Tom assistant)

Maybe, the roads changed from when they pubblished the book, I tried to say to calm him down, but he didn’t listen as he continued rambling on…. There used to be people. Now, there is nobody. Nobody is walking. There is nobody to ask. I HATE EUROPE!!! (wow, I thought!)… look at this… it is ridiculous (while Claudia continued to strill out her directions telling him to turn right).

He tells me to roll down my window. I obey. The red headed girl in the car next to us is distracted by loud, pop music and her texting.  She finally looks up as I continued to fiercely wave for her attention. She ‘rolls down’ her window and confirms that the Tom Tom is sending us in the right direction.

But, Andrea, wanted so badly for the female voice to be mistaken… and so he continued like this:

Maybe I have to make a right. I will make a right somewhere. You are right, he finally says to me, I don’t listen.

The voice continues: ‘300 meters – exit – keep left’.  Andrea goes right.

I totally stress myself, he says. I should have gone with the highway, arrived at 5pm, and enjoyed dinner. Instead, we are still here. We will never get to Barcellona this way!

But, then again, yesterday he complained about the highway…

I don’t feel its right, he continues. … I just don’t feel it… ya know.

He takes out his 30 year old book of maps (again!)  and says,

SEE, IT IS WRONG, completely WRONG! it is sending us to Lodeve… the opposite direction from Barcellona (was he right?, I started to think). I wanted to go right. I listened to the stupid Tom Tom… Vaffanculo!!!(I don’t think there is need for translation.)

Appropriately, Taylor Swift’s BAD BLOOD was seeking its way in from behind the blue curtain separating the cabin from the back of the camper to confirm Andrea’s feelings about his relationship with Tom:

Cause baby, now we’ve got bad blood
You know it used to be mad love
So take a look what you’ve done
’Cause baby, now we’ve got bad blood, hey!
Now we’ve got problems
And I don’t think we can solve ’em
You made a really deep cut
And baby, now we’ve got bad blood, hey!

Did you think we’d be fine?
Still got scars in my back from your knives
So don’t think it’s in the past
These kind of wounds they last and they last
Now, did you think it all through?
All these things will catch up to you
And time can heal, but this won’t
So if you come in my way
Just don’t!

Andrea continued to curse the Tom Tom for another 100 km until he finally shut it off… turned on his free spirit, opened up his 30 year old book of maps, rolled down his window, looked a few people directly in the eyes, and followed his fantastic sense of direction and natural instinct…  and got us safely to Barcellona, with a relieved smile and  before the strike of 9.

It is all about the experience… this is the journey… this is the destination… ITS ALL GOOD!

Until next time with love and gratitude from the road…


The Journey Is the Destination

The journey is the destination… The journey is the destination… The journey is the destination…

These are the five words that got me through the day, the first day and on the second and on the third. It all started after our grand departure from home. The camper and us all packed up and ready to go. Lots of expectations, lots of road ahead… didn’t get us very far.

We got a late start on Wednesday because I had a 12 noon appointment with my publisher. We decided to ride only 3 hours and stop overnight to visit our friends, Lorenzo and Jessica and their 4 kids (2 his, 2 hers… a mini Brady Bunch). No rush. The journey is the destination, of course.

So we enjoyed the healthy, vegan dinner they prepared for us, casual conversation about their book projects and ours, kids, schooling, vaccinations… and travel. After dinner the kids played in another room leaving us to enjoy the soft melody playing from the laptop and the wood-oven stove warming us all.  A nice, relaxed start. No rush. The journey is the destination, right?

The next morning we woke up to lots of fog which turned into grey skies which turned into rain. A good day for driving, we all thought. However, lots of expectations and lots of road ahead didn’t get us very far. The water pump of our camper wasn’t workng. Before heading towards foreign land we would need to get it fixed, One call led to the next and another and another and another… 11am became 1:30pm which became 3pm. The journey is the destination playing in my head like a mantra saving me from disappointment and preserving my sense of joy and gratitude on Day 2 despite my bloated body, my clogged up, aching head and stuffed up nose (artificial air can do this to the healthiest of bodies even after just a half a day. Anyone who travels knows this!). By 5:30pm we were at the mechanic, my girls and I drinking hot chocolate from a vending machine in a tiny, artificially heated, waiting room while Andrea looked at campers. Kenia and I flipped through fashion magazines, while Havi colored, chatted away and finished up her second sugary fix. By the time, Giuseppe was finished replacing the pump, we were all tired, in need of comfort food and 250 euros lighter than the day before.

The journey is the destination – I am still convinced of this…  sometimes it takes you to exciting, far away places… and other times it leaves you standing still… bloated, clogged, aching, stuffed and with less cash in your wallet than you expected!

Before closing my notebook that night, I went to bed with another favorite ‘mantra’ running through my head – only 3 words –

‘It’s all good!

That night, I closed my eyes thinking that tomorrow is another beautiful day!

with love and gratitude!



PS: As the saying goes, ‘when it rains it pours’!

Day number 4 and it was still raining, outside… and inside the bathroom of our camper! We had already been stuck inside… all 4 of us… for 3 days. France gave us a 2 hour break to visit Avignon under clouded skies and pushing against strong winds. The benches at the riverside were inaccessible from heavy rains and the floods, but it could have been worse… we could have been in Paris!

As the headlines indicated:

French floods: Seine river reaches peak in flood-hit Paris

The forecast for the next days wasn’t much better. So, we decided to chase after the sunshine and more mild climates…  moving prematurely on to Spain…. Barcellona…

Adieu dreary skies, overpriced coffee and expensive highways!


MY FREE FAMILY… HITS THE ROAD ONCE AGAIN… (reading time: 3 minutes)


I am tired. No, I am exhausted. Physically I feel like a superhero.  I eat healthy. I workout regularly. I haven’t been sick in years.  I feel better than when I was in my 20’s… but, mentally, my dear friends, I feel like something that has been dragged down an empty highway at full speed… for an entire year!

Just weeks ago I was happy to leave 2017 behind… a year filled with tons of emotions, but most of all, decisions and, even more… indecisions. As in sync as I feel with my other half, it has been some time that I have had the sensation that we were sinking…me and him, grasping at each other, arm in arm… and pulling our two daughters right down with us… caught in a place, a normal apartment in a nice, residential area to be exact…a place that seems right on the outside (ask just about anybody that isn’t us), but on the inside feels entirely wrong… we got comfortable (a routine of lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays, track on Tuesdays and Thursdays, friends every other Wednesday, and on weekends when we are not away for work… errands at the same time, running at the same time, sex at the same time (and, of course when we can fit it into our schedule!)), and now we are numbly floating somewhere in the middle of where we are and where we know we ought to be… too depleted by the status quo to swim ourselves to shore.

There are days that pass me by. I watch them pass as an observer, not really understanding what is happening… completely out of control of mind and body.

So, I jumped into 2018 with vigor and enthusiasm and gratitude… or, at least I thought I did….

But, after only three weeks… I am still floating and it has become too strenuous of a task to bear.

We are tired. No, we are exhausted. Andrea, I… and our two daughters. And this is why, the other morning I looked at Andrea, and Andrea looked at me, perfectly in sync, and said, ‘ENOUGH!’.

It is time to HIT THE ROAD once again… freedom is a lifetime chore like a healthy body, a sane mind, and a satisfying marriage. Get too dependent on your routine, forget who you are, ignore your real needs, and you are bound to sink… which could likely reveal itself through various symptoms such as:  not being able to get out of bed in the morning, not being able to sleep at night, eating your way through boredom and melancholy, and/or an overall loss of your smile, spirit and zest for life.

In our case, all of the above.

This, however, is when I knew that it was really time:

The other morning, after sleeping for over 12 hours, I couldn’t get out of bed. I changed my shirt so that it didn’t appear as if I was still in my PJs at 2 in the afternoon (as if anyone was actually noticing). The sun was shining outside. It was my perfect type of day… except on that day… on that day… I just felt like staying inside ALONE… crying between one almond butter and jelly sandwich and the next, stuck between one messy regret and the last. I tried to convince myself that it was just a lazy day, but I knew… I was smack inside a moment of my own life… a moment that I could no longer tidy up by vacuuming, dusting, or putting it into the perfect words... I knew, it was a symptom of a my total state of confusion, anxiousness and fear. A long cry from our days in Central and South America when we were far from problem-free, yet, the emotions we experienced -both good and bad- always left us feeling perfectly ALIVE. 

People see the job, the house, the after school activities and all the technological toys as stability. But, we, like most of the people that we see around us, are living in a constant state of apnea. The apartment walls and the routine is quickly closing in on us. 

The definition of stability is the strength to stand or endure.

Endure what? Our lives?

It is also defined as a situation in which something or someone is not likely to move or change.

Who wants that? I want to evolve BABY!

So I ask: When does too much stability turn into the loss of your smile, spirit and zest for your LIFE?

The need to change is not running away… it is running forward… evolving… becoming a better you… creating a better life… (remember the lifetime chore?)

You can’t possibliy do this if you can’t come up for a breathe of fresh air. Apnea has to be temporary. Otherwise, we die.

Once again, it was time to ask myself… ourselves… what next?

Happiness is not something that happens to us. You need to make your own.

After we both said, ‘ENOUGH’, we felt better, relieved, proud of ourselves and united. But, then what? I remembered the rules. So did Andrea. He coached them hundreds of times. I wrote them down in a zillion different ways. So, we decided. But, as he coached and I wrote, there is never any real decision without action! What should we do? Where should we go? Do we have the courage to move our daughters out of their comfort zone… lessons, track, friends, family?

Whatever and whereever it would be, we both knew that it had to be NOW! Wait and both the moment and the momentum will already be gone. No turning back, no doubt, no excuses, no fear.

So, here we are… DECIDED… somewhere in the middle of where we have decided to no longer be and where we are heading… too determined to make 2018 the year that we once again swim off to some other shore.

Another adventure. Another jump outside of our comfort zone… our family, moving forward and… on the road once again…


Now or never. First stop:  France.  Departure: TODAY!

Hope you will join us for the ride… not as a passive observer, but as a travelling companion (each in his own, unique way) directed for an incredible place called…

LIFE without Borders!

So thrilled to be able to share this with you!

Much more to come… so, if you haven’t already done so… click FOLLOW to automatically receive our future posts.

love and hugs to all,

Another Suicide Story: A Story for the Holidays (please share)

It is the holidays and I am inviting everyone to slow down, reach out, spread the love. This is my holiday story for you: (reading time: less than 5 minutes)


I saw her name on the death announcement while I was running past the cemetary. No photo… only her name written in CAPITAL LETTERS. It wasn’t the first time that I had seen the poster hanging on the stone wall. I had already received the shock several days before while walking by, that time reading her name by chance.

That morning, I didn’t feel like running. I was tired and sad and unmotivated. It was the need to see it again that pushed me to tie up my laces and hit the pavement… her name on the wall, the CAPITAL LETTERS… and, the words ‘49 years old‘ printed just below… to confirm that it was actually true. She was truly gone.

Eva and I did not hang out together. I don’t think you could even consider us friends. We met in the beginning of 1998. I had just moved to Italy 5 months earlier when I walked into the clothing store she managed. We immediately hit it off. She was tall and thin, an eye catcher. I wasn’t surprised when she told me that she used to be a model. She was a unique kind of beauty, striking. She was 29, two years older than I was… I was her opposite, short, average weight, pretty enough, unintimidating. I remember the first time she told me: Ma quanto sei bella! (Look, what a beauty you are!). I was thinking: Are you kidding?… Look at you!

Eva was from Rome. I was from New York. I spoke Italian with a heavy american accent. Everything that came out of her mouth was layed on thick. I was normal, sweet, shy. She was elegant and exaggerated in every way. We liked each other, and so she offered me a job and I accepted.

We never went out together. She was a club-going girl. I preferred to go home and watch a movie, or cuddle up with Andrea and a book. We never met for coffee before or after work. The exchange of the private tidbits of our lives was reserved to store hours only. She saw the beauty in me and I saw it in her. Strip her of her painted on leather pants, her long legs, super kissable mouth, the way she moved and her need to be noticed, she was sensitive, good-hearted and innocentbut like many of us, she was in constant need of love and acceptance.

I worked with Eva for a year and a half. After that, we would bump into each other once in a while. “We should go for coffee sometime”, one of us would always say.. already knowing that that sometime would never come around. And, everytime she would see me, the first thing she would say is “Ma quanto sei bella!” in her own super-sized way.

Through the years, I probably saw her only about a dozen or so times, however I feel as if I had a glimpse of a few of the most fundamental moments of her life. I feel like I knew her without ever really knowing her. I was able to read her soul. Does this sound crazy?

I was in New York visiting my family when she called me to ask if I could return home right away. She had had a car accident coming home from a club late one night and needed someone to take care of the store while she recovered. A few days later I was back in Fano. When I went to see her at her studio appartment in the main square of town, there she was bruised, cut and casted from ankle to knee… yet, elegant as ever. She never told me what happened… offer me any details about the accident. She just continued to smile, surrounded by visitors and the flowers they offered. Could anyone else see the pain?

Eva was the center of attention, eyes were always on her… women, and men, of course. They appreciated her exterior beauty. She enjoyed the attention, or rather, she depended on it… there was a void… this is what I could see.

I remember when she met her ex-husband. The day after, she entered the store already in love. She described their casual encounter at the garbage bin outside her appartment in every detail… what he was wearing, what she was wearing, what he said, what she said, the way they looked at each other. She made throwing out the garbage in the dark sound more romantic than my love story with Andrea on that Caribbean beach. She was glowing. He was younger, simpler… simply adorable. He was her prince on a white horse that would save her from her lonely destiny of club hopping and heartbreak.

I remember meeting her in the center one evening when she was 7 and a half months pregnant… she was as beautiful as the sun, strolling arm in arm with her prince charming. She was the pure light that she carried inside. She seemed at peace. She seemed happy…

A few years passed. Her daughter grew. Eva and her husband grew apart. They divorced.  A normal story, no?

When I did run into her on the square or at the beach she would hug me and never fail to say: ‘Ma quanto sei bella’. I would return the compliment and after a few minutes of small talk we were both on our way. Our encounters always left me with a sorrowful feeling inside. She was as stunning and vibrant as ever, a perfect picture on the outside…. and yet….

After the first day that I had read her name on the outside wall of the cemetary, I asked around. Eva did not live in Fano anymore. She moved about 40 minutes up the coast. Her daughter, now 15, lived with her father. I hoped that it was cancer. I prayed that is was a car accident...but I kind of already knew…

As usually happens in relatively small towns, a friend told a friend who told her hairdresser who was a client of a physical therapist who is my friend: Eva jumped out of a window. I don’t know if she left any words behind. Nobody bothered to ask about the details.

The news hit me deep. It seeped within me like poison for days, weeks later.  It made me feel angry and sad… angry at all the people that didn’t try hard enough to get to know her (myself included), sad that I never reached out to all the emptiness that I bumped into throughout the years (I am not only speaking about Eva).

At this point, you may be asking yourselves why I am writing all this down. Why am I telling you a story that we hear on a daily basis, on the news, from a friend of a friend of a friend, especially right before Christmas! I am writing this because I need to. I need to because days, weeks, months later I still ache inside… not because Eva was a friend, or someone I knew, someone that had an important impact on the world… a mother that left a beautiful, teenage girl behind the day she decided to end it all. No…

I mourn because Eva is me and you, Eva is my husband and my daughters, my best friend and all the people that I have never met. Eva is a symbol of what this society creates… lonliness, fear, anxiety, and emptiness. Lives that are always missing something and not knowing why. A society that teaches us through marketing and music videos, reality shows and social networks to be attracted to people that live as impostures… that are unhappy and incapable of showing off their true colors… people that are in need of constant love and acceptance just like US.

We believe that the person who decides to take his own life is of a completely different breed. He comes from a bad family, she used drugs, he was mentally ill, insane, problematic, a dark soul who never felt like he belonged to this world. However, this is an erroneous belief (because ultimately, it is the loneliness that kills us)… we use these beliefs to defend ourselves from the horrific thought that one day this person could be someone we love, someone we look up to and respect… it could even be ‘ME’.

The line is extremely fine.

Suicide is no longer a phenonemon; it has become a syndrome just like ADHD, hikikomori*, bullism, rape, 10 year old girls who post nude photos of themselves on WhatsApp, moms killing kids, kids killing moms, violence, blood, war, bombs, terrorism. We hear it day after day. It is on our news. It has invaded our homes. A friend tells a friend who tells a friend. We become immune. It slowly becomes normal.

But, these things aren’t normal, not in a healthy world, a sane world. We keep going on… filling our bodies and minds with prescription drugs to temporarily fix what is broken, filling our world with objects that we don’t need or want… that could never make us feel fulfilled inside... looking down into our smartphones, posting our best sides, ignoring reality… until we can no longer see… or feel anything that is real. Until, we can no longer recognize our true colors… colors that don’t depend on external beauty, fame or wealth.

Last week I wrote about how love can empower us… and it does. However, the lack of love can do just the opposite. It can create killers from zen buddhists, bullies from innocent children, liars from faithful husbands, a felon of oneself from loving mothers. ADHD, rape, bullism, 10 year old girls who lose their innocence… all symptoms of a sindrome called modern society, a society that is so socially connected, that we are growing more and more lonely, fearful, anxious, empty…. missing…

And, when the pain becomes too great to bear. When no one bothers to really know us… when we no longer know our sons or daughters, our partners, ourselves… we jump… and there is no turning back.

One incident, two hundred, three thousand, four million…. it is accepted. Just another normal story, no?

The holiday season has once again arrived. People don’t seem as kind to me as I remember. It isn’t their fault. We live in terror of everything. Some things are difficult to avoid, but we don’t have to be alone, not any of us, if we would just slow down, reach out… share the love.

I would like to end this post with a positive thought: we don’t need to fill our homes with lots of material things this year. Instead, we could color the world that surrounds us with a true gift of LOVE. We could all spread the kindness. It doesn’t have to be just words. We can call someone who might be lonely, write a letter to a friend who is going through a difficult time, be nicer to our parents, invite a stranger to dinner or just offer anyone a hug.

Over 40 years ago, Stevie Wonder sang ‘LOVE’S IN NEED OF LOVE TODAY’. These aren’t just words. Anyone can make a difference. Anyone can stop a moment longer and let the person standing in front of them know that they aren’t alone. Let them know that someone (you) really sees them and really cares.

If I would have through the years maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference (maybe I couldn’t have saved her from herself) but, then agan, maybe it could have.

Today, I am shouting out that I am here… for you and you and you and you and you, and I am doing it in memory of HER.

This post is dedicated to Eva and her daughter, the pure light that she left behind. I am also dedicating it to another felon of oneself, a friend that took his life only two days before Eva did. May they find peace wherever they are.

This song is for them:

If you like this post, please share it, but most of all share the LOVE!

Happy Holidays and a Happy and kind-hearted New Year to all!

The name of the woman in this story has been changed for privacy purposes. I want to thank the person who gave me permission to publish this article.

*Hikikomori is a term used in Japan to describe people who act as recluses and rarely leave their houses, preferring to spend their days and nights usually on the internet.

An adventure towards a lighter and freer lifestyle