the door is open!

Finca La Hamaca, Pereira Colombia Bed & Breakfast, Coffee Zone Happy Friday, guys! Joe and I are road-tripping to Sedona, Arizona for a friend's wedding and while there, we'll be staying at a place we booked via Airbnb.

Airbnb is all about Mi Casa es Su Casa so I thought that today was perfect for sharing some fun news from the Muñoz family. If you caught this post from our wedding/holiday in Colombia then you might remember that my parents were planning on opening up our family country home, aka finca, as a bed & breakfast for travelers. Well, the day has come and their door is open - they're now official Airbnb hosts!

If Colombia and the coffee region have ever been on your hitlist, do consider staying with my folks. My mom is crazy for hospitality (her breakfasts have gotten rave reviews!) and my dad loves nothing more than to share his beloved Colombia with people. Seriously, he kept a stack of Colombia related books on the coffee table that he would open up to show to everyone who came by our house.

Now he and my mama are back in Colombia and they can share the real thing from Finca La Hamaca ( the 'hammock country house'). All of the info is on their Airbnb page where they also list some recommended sights to see and things to do. In addition to a hearty breakfast, the price per night includes transportation and guided day trips by my dad - a huge plus in the coffee region where things are spread out and most locals don't speak English.

I could talk the finca up for days but I'll stop myself now in case you do find yourself there. I wouldn't want to spoil all of the surprises ;)

Happy Travels!


phu quoc & saigon

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... a few weeks later and we finally have photos from our trip to Vietnam! It was our second time there (remember our early honeymoon?) so we mixed in some beach time with city culture.

Most of the trip was spent at Mango Bay Eco Resort, in Phu Quoc. It was a complete 180 from our experience in Con Dao in that even though they both boast an eco-friendly environments, Mango Bay was bare bones. No A/C, no phone in the room for room service, outdoor toilet, and unfortunately really crappy bed and pillows. However, the setting was gorgeous and it still felt indulgent with it's own grown-up summer camp vibe. We ate, lounged, and ate some more but my favorite part was spending the day out on the water while Joe and other guests snorkeled. I stayed on board due to my recent LASIK surgery so instead of swimming with the fish, I was invited to join the guides in catching them instead. I did pretty well - four total! The water was beautiful and warm and that night I went to sleep still feeling the rocking of the boat. Luckily it was more soothing than it sounds.

After three nights in Phu Quoc we headed to Ho Chi Minh City, or as tried and true locals still call it, Saigon. My first impression was "wow, it looks like a mini Europe but with all Vietnamese people!". The French influence and architecture is still very much present in the old districts as are the wide streets lined with trees - a rare sight in South East Asia. When Joe and I hopped onto motor bikes with our guides for a night tour we were instantly impressed with the ease of getting around. Everyone was so relaxed about riding motorbikes and most of all courteous. I'm sure locals might think differently (or even other tourists visiting SEA for the first time) but now coming from KL where people (mostly male) drive their bikes at crazy speeds and seem to always try to hit you, Saigon felt more like a pleasant bike ride in the park. There were so many more women on the road, even ones dressed up in fancy work clothes. It's just the norm and it's awesome.

The biggest treat was the next day when our guide took us to the building where an American helicopter evacuated people during the fall of Saigon. It was crazy to think of the iconic image and then look up/down and realize that we were standing on top of history. The location isn't advertised to tourists nor is it generally open to the public so if you want in, give Bao a call.

We had to catch our flight home that afternoon so with other cultural spots to see, the day was jam packed but well worth it. It was our first time hiring a guide during holiday and I don't think it will be the last. We did it mainly because we had less than 24 hours in the city and expected that there would be a lot to see. And unlike traveling in Europe where we're more familiar with the history, culture, and where cities tend to be easier to navigate, we've realized that we need a little extra help in this part of the world. Ubud, Bali is next for a long weekend so we'll see how we do there!

Have you ever traveled with a guide? What was your experience?



it snows in morocco

first view point - we eventually made it to those snowy mountains!view from a berber home berber family home tea break with a berber family host berber village near the atlas mountains village atlas mountains berber market parking lot berber market in asni spices at a berber market taking in a great view of the snow covered atlas mountains berber village in the atlas mountains berber village in the atlas mountains berber village in the atlas mountains berber village in the atlas mountains coca cola and mint tea yes, it's a moroccan restaurant roadside lunch - the best! learning about the argan oil process argan nuts breaking down the argan nuts to make oil

Maybe I'm bad at geography but before taking a day trip to the Atlas Mountains I never would have guessed that Morocco, or anywhere in Africa for that matter, received snow. The entire day was a big pleasant surprise, really.

Our awesome guide, Noureddine, picked us up from our riad and off we went leaving the crazy streets of the Medina behind us. An hour or so later we entered the first valley and got our first glimpse into the varying color and texture of the mountains - they literally change every 100 yards. Because of this, each Berber village has its own distinct look since they use whatever soil and materials are on their mountain side to build their homes. Isn't it amazing how entire villages blend into the natural curves of the land?

Mid-route were offered sweet mint tea and light snacks at a Berber home that had one of the most serene views I have ever seen. We then dropped our host off at a market in another village and (thankfully) our guides decided that it would be a good idea to join him. I was thrilled! Never mind that the markets are only male (the men do the shopping in these towns) or that it was a total mud fest due to recent rains - this was the REAL deal. I'm talking makeshift tents, tables, and weighing scales that looked as ancient as the culture. It was awesome.

After the market we drove higher up into the mountains, saw our first winter snow (woo!), and  then stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe. The other car we were with went on to a restaurant in a more commercial area but this was definitely more our style. Of course it helped to have Noureddine with us to ensure that the food was properly cooked and such. We then headed back to Marrakech but not before stopping at an argan oil cosmetics cooperative store. We bought a few things and even learned a bit about how the oil is extracted from the argan nut. Let me tell ya, it is hard work!

I left the cooperative feeling super satisfied and inspired as it was the perfect end to a very real day. I learned that it's one thing look at Berber rugs in the souks of the Medina and it's another to get out of town and see where and how Berbers live. I'm so thankful to our airport driver, Hakim, for suggesting we do it and to our guide/driver Nourredine whose expert knowledge and love of the area made the day such a special experience.