Month: February 2015

chocolate making costa rica, costa rica off the beaten path

The Secret Lives of Costa Rica’s Chocolate Farmers.

An old dug-out wooden canoe waited for me on the banks of Yorkin River. Two cowboy-like young boys, dressed in vests and gum boots, greeted me with wide smiles and is-be-shkena. Dusk was fast approaching, so I had little time to voice my apprehensions. For an hour, we manoeuvred rapids upriver with an old motor and a wooden stick, slowing down to a crawl at narrow bends, tilting almost 60 degrees when sharp rocks rose from the river bed, nothing but dense forests on either side. My pumping adrenalin washed off the nervousness of being somewhere so remote, alone, in a country I had set foot in only two days ago (Read: Costa Rica Wasn’t The Country I Imagined). As night descended and finally on land, I lugged my backpack and followed my new friends into the home of the Bribris – one of the last remaining indigenous communities in Costa Rica. Deep in the rainforest, without electricity or connectivity, far from civilization as we know it. The boys made way for Don Guillermo, the head of the clan, to receive me. I expected him …

Travel Contest: Win a Stay at My Favorite Places in India!

BIG NEWS: I hit 10,000 likes on my Facebook page, and 12,000 followers on Twitter – both in the same week! Right from the days when I was a vulnerable little fish in the big travel blogging ocean (which I still am, but just a little less vulnerable), my community of readers, travellers and dreamers – aka YOU – have been my backbone. It is to you that I turn to in happy days and not-so-happy ones, and for that I thank you! Now it’s time for me to give you a little something back. So I reached out to my favorite eco-luxury lodges in India and partnered with them to offer you a chance to win two unforgettable stays. Ready to hit the road? WHAT YOU COULD WIN 1) 3 days – 2 nights stay with meals for two at LAKSHMAN SAGAR, Rajasthan. Once a 19th century hunting lodge, Lakshman Sagar is perhaps India’s most creative expression of eco-luxury. Live like royalty on Rajathan’s untouched countryside, surrounded by the Aravalis; a bucket list experience. Read about my stay at Lakshman Sagar here. 2) …

concepcion volcano, ometepe

Isla de Ometepe: Where the Streets Have No Name.

I lay in a lounge chair on the breezy deck of a slow ferry, as it traversed the choppy waters of the vast Lake Nicaragua. Every few hours, we stopped at remote islands to drop off essential supplies and a few passengers. We had ourselves photographed by island dwellers who came with their families to enjoy this rare incursion in their lives and catch a glimpse of the outside world! It was hard to resist the charm of the Solentiname islands we passed by, but when we finally arrived in Ometepe ten hours later, I knew it had been worth the journey. The eruption of two volcanoes rising from the expansive Lake Nicaragua created two circular land masses joined by a narrow strip of land – and this island of two mountains was christened as “Ometepe” from the ancient Nahuiti language. For a blissful week, we lived in the shadow of Volcano Concepcion and Volcano Maderas, on an organic farm called Finca Montania Sagrada, run by a group of Europeans. Like many expats in Central America, our hosts had packed up their lives in search of …