Our new book is out, and we’re very excited about it! Kim and I have a deep tie to Kauai and all the Hawaiian islands. We also both have very up-close-and-personal experience with the education system here. This is a place that recruits over a thousand teachers from the mainland US every year to fill teacher job vacancies. That situation gives rise to some big challenges for new teachers, people moving here from the mainland, and for the schools and communities that look to embrace them.
There are a few books out there about moving to Hawaii, but none of them address the specific needs of new teachers coming to The Aloha State. It touches many topics we care a lot about, so we write this book with the idea we might help new teachers, the community, and the kids of Hawaii.
Dobar den! A common greeting in Bulgarian and the sum of what I’ve picked up after a week here. Luckily, some French and Italian phrases are used regularly by Bulgarians so there is a smidge of familiarity. I had forgotten how disorienting it can be to enter a space where you literally can’t speak or read the language-not even one word of it!
Plovdiv has an excited, vibrant feel. We have been staying in the Old Town area and are surrounded by cute coffee shops, abundant street art, nice restaurants, art galleries, Roman ruins, museums, a large Mosque and the longest pedestrian mall in Europe!
The city has been chosen as one of two ‘European Capitals of Culture’ for 2019, a European Union project meaning to, among other things, highlight the richness of the cultures of Europe, revitalize areas, and boost tourism. It appears to be working! There is a lot of fresh energy and capital running through the city.
Today is our last day staying in the heart of Old Town. We are spending a few days in a hotel to take advantage of some nice services and celebrate my birthday! Then we have one more week in an Airbnb apartment we found right outside of the city center. There is supposedly a large market right in the neighborhood, so am hopeful for something interesting.
Feeling grateful and a little tired
I am so grateful for these past months of traveling. Grateful for the support of my friends and family. Grateful for a wonderful companion and boyfriend to travel with. Grateful to be able to fulfill this urge to wander and explore. This has been a great idea!
However, we are on our last month of traveling and feeling a bit travel-worn. Settling into Bulgaria has been more difficult than other places. Even with all the vibrant energy, being a foreigner has started to take it’s toll. The weather is a little cloudier and rainier. Internet problems and dealing with little set backs are somewhat harder. It was difficult to become enamored of Plovdiv, our home for a few weeks, at first. We are a little grumpy and a little ready to come home to our friends and family!
We’ve since found the charm and are getting acquainted and getting some work done. But not before contemplating some changes in direction, including heading for warmer climes and coming home early!
After some serious prioritizing and reflecting on what are goals are at this point, we decided to stay our plotted course. Two more weeks in Bulgaria. A few days in Barcelona (would love more but we have stayed our welcome in the Schengen Zone!) and a week in Morocco.
Have figured some things out along the way
I have decided I am not cut out to travel as a digital nomad indefinitely. Which is good to know! I like the contrast. Leaving home and coming home. Pulling up roots and putting them back down. Three to four months is a nice amount of time to travel. After that home starts to call. Friends and family start to get missed a lot. I crave my own bed. I want to plant a garden.
Home is Wisconsin. Home is also Hawaii. Hawaii hasn’t been home for as long as Wisconsin has, but it has those similar feelings and longings. Friends and family and familiar places which I miss dearly.
We have some things to celebrate! Pete and I have almost finished our book. Hooray! One of our goals was to write a book together while traveling. We are not quite, but almost done. Very soon you will be able to find our ebook, Moving to Hawaii to Teach-Your Study Guide online! Definitely before the start of next school year 😉
One of my personal goals was to explore and develop means of supporting myself while being location independent. I am happy to say I am currently working with my first client to help her develop her online presence to sell her books! It’s a trip and a learning experience.
A few favorites
Major City: Rome
Greek Island: Naxos
French Village: Eguilles
Italian Village: San Gimignano
Coffee: Cappuccino al banco anywhere in Italy
Sandwich: Croquette Monsieur in France
Salad: Naxian salad in Greece. Bulgarians, however, take salad making very seriously
Pubs: London-a great pub on every corner
Views: Santorini. Sigh. Although the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland were also breathtaking
Overall aesthetic: Greek Islands. Love the white and blue architecture
After a few months in the Midwest, Pete and I plan to return to Kauai and find a homey space to live. My goals are to write, tend a garden, foster clients, sell my soap, explore options to keep teaching and of course, hang out at the beach.
We were in Santorini and needed to be up in Northern Italy in a week to meet our dear friend Kathy. While being truly stunning, Santorini is like an amazing desert and you can’t really eat dessert for very long so we had some time to make our way.
Doing all the usual research, we decided to take a ferry to Athens and from there fly to Rome. We’d stay in Rome for 5 days then continue our journey north to Stresa to meet Kathy. The first part of this trek was the ferry to Athens. It left Santorini at a shocking 3am. Ugh.
We arranged for a cab to take us down the mountainside to the port at about 2am, an hour early. Lots of people asked us why, or tried to talk us out of it. “Too early,” they’d say. “Why? You’ll just be sitting around?”
On this trip, something we’ve learned – it seems given very deeply into our culture that an “optimal” experience is to spend as little time as possible in line, as close to your desired time to do the thing you’re in line for. A distant second seems to be waiting line for a long period, but getting to choose the time of day you do your thing; it’s great if you can do the thing at 2pm,even if you have to stand in line for 4 hours before. It will suck, but you’ll get to do this thing at exactly the time you want to.
We’ve also learned something even better – if you’re willing to change your preconceptions about time and you’ve got a little leeway here, you can be much happier, get screwed by bad happenstance a lot less, and avoid a lot of crowding. Just be early.
For the Santorini ferry, nothing went wrong and we wound up chilling on the dock for an hour. A rough hour, 2-3am, but a lot could have gone wrong if we’d waited. The way to the dock is a crazy switchback road. We weren’t knowledgeable about taxis in Greece an had to rely on others for help. If we missed this connection, it would have been about an $800 mistake, as it would cascade into many other things that had to be timed right. So, we went early,and things were fine.
In Florence, the line for the amazingly popular and picturesque climb to the top of the Duomo is usually about 3-4 hours long. The Duomo opens at 8am, an as it turns out if you’re there at 7am ( early ) none of the tourists are there yet. You get in line, and wait no-time-at all. Time in line is 1 hour, not 4. In the cool morning, another serious bonus. Without all the hawkers in your business; another bonus.
At the Vatican, the line to see the museum is about a quarter mile long, hours in the hot sun. Unless you go early – there by 730, in by 915.
It doesn’t work all the time, but being early in the day or earlier than others for some connection has never, ever hurt us an has saved us a number of times. The hardest part ( after you reframe your timeline ) is keeping yourself occupied during the wait. Talking, reading, verbal games, Facebook, and a little patience seem to work just fine for this.
Almost a week on this island and I don’t know how I could be more in love with it. Naxos has beautiful beaches and great weather. Interesting stories and ruins which bring to life some of the Greek mythology we’ve grown up with. Great food and architectural aesthetic-the list goes on and on.
It’s hard to pick just one thing, but I think if I had to, the thing I love most about Naxos is that it is largely self sufficient, producing most of the food it consumes and then some. The largest of the Cycladic Islands, Naxos has large valleys and plains with fertile soil for many things.
Potatoes and Other Agricultural Products
The Naxos potato is celebrated throughout Greece. They produce so much here that they export them. I can attest to how delicious they are. Golden colored with a mild, almost sweet flavor, we’ve been eating plenty of them in the form of french fries and have even been cooking them ourselves. On our first trip to the market we bought a big bag of them.
Why are they so delicious? Well, the soil composition and semi-arid conditions are normally attributed to the good flavor. I would add that the celebration of them as something special and desirable contributes to that sweet taste.
Pulses (beans and lentils), olives, figs, grapes and herbs are a few of the other major crops grown on the island. Olive oil, wines and other products are made from these.
Cows, sheep, pigs and goats are all kept on Naxos. Fresh cows milk, yogurt, and cheeses are all produced on island.
The cheeses. Oh my goodness the cheeses are so good. There are about 4-5 varieties which are traditionally attributed to Naxos and are produced and celebrated here. Although if you ask any Naxian cheese maker how many varieties there are the answer is ‘sooooooo many’!
Our first nibble was when we ordered a ‘Naxian salad’ from a restaurant. It was a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and capers with xinomizithra (sour) cheese on top. It was delicious. We now make our own every day or so.
Wine and Kitro
How could a place call itself self-sustaining without producing it’s own booze?!
Naxos has been producing it’s own wine for a long time. According to legend, Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and revelry, was born here. He gifted Naxos with fertile land with which to grow grapes, make wine and be happy.
Wine making is a family tradition here where most families have their own vineyards. There are also plenty of bottled varieties. So far we’ve been sticking with the organic ouzo we came across but will certainly try a wine or two before we leave.
Kitro is something special. It’s a syrupy liqueur with a slight citrus flavor. It’s made from the leaves of the kitron or citron tree and has been produced here for over two centuries.
Beekeeping is alive and well on Naxos. There are about 4,000 hives on the island and many different labels can be found in the markets. The bees mostly feed on thyme and heather and also on sage and oregano as these are the typical plants they will come across. Delicious in some creamy Naxos yogurt.
I want the place I live in to be more like this. To produce and celebrate it’s own sustenance. To share this harvest with the rest of the world, in an interdependent kind of way which does not diminish or exploit the hard work of the people here, but cherishes and protects it.
This kind of lifestyle does not appear to be creating lots of super rich people. But it is creating people who live a meaningful and fulfilling life. A healthy and happy life.
The aim of this study is to explore the drivers and effects of becoming a digital nomad focusing on: contingency structure, lifestyle preference and social and psychological attitude. Firstly, a literature was composed in order to gain knowledge and insight on the aforementioned topic. Furthermore, three initial research questions were formulated to guide the research: 1. How digital nomadism differentiates from other forms of long-term travel? 2.What are the push/pull factors of becoming location independent? 3. What are the effects of becoming a digital nomad?
We just moved into our new place here on Naxos, our home for the next month. As I sit in this little beach bar doing a couple hours of work, I thought I’d SQUIRREL! take a few moments to inventory and see how this place compares to my home back on Kauai.
How Naxos and Kauai are similar
much sun, much water
warm and welcoming to visitors
lots of casual beach culture
mountains, all over the place
It’s Five ‘o’clock somewhere. All. The. Time. Mai Tais, anyone?
great local food – poke, organic rum, and poi on Kauai; tzatziki, uzo, and honey-yogurt on Naxos
public wifi is very common; widespread access to the laptop lifestyle if you look
amazing, profound local culture with roots going back a long way
traffic rules are pretty chill
most evertywhere feels very safe
both have an off-season, where it’s still beautiful but ( even ) more affordable and ( even ) less crowded
kinda diverse visitor base
there’s always a chance you’ll see someone famous
great things about Naxos
most places open late, including car rentals and street grocers
most everything is very inexpensive
soooooo manybeach bars/cafes, right on the beach
no American points of stress – guns, politics, religion – are nonexistent here
quads are street-legal
freakishly clear water
very self-sustaining; serious food production and export happening here
way cheap inter-island transport
ruins. Who doesn’t like ancient culture?
freebie after dinner
more arid – less humidity, less allergies, and less rain
traffic rules are more like guidelines
many mom & pop hotel/stay options, as well as independent food options
stray animal kindness – cats are fed leftovers, given special dishes outside people’s homes, and mingle freely in the outdoor spaces. Dogs are treated well, but are much less common
 no centipedes or roaches!
also, if it’s your thing…
european beer – lots of variety, and inexpensive
less conservative – more bare skin on the beach
smoking in bars, cafes, and restaurants
more dudes in Speedos
great things about Kauai
it’s tropical – lush – wet and green all the time
there’s English everywhere, all the time
for Americans, it’s easy to get to, relatively speaking
there’s surfing, in many varieties
everything is kept up – very little graffiti or crumbling infrastructure, no abandoned structures ( except for CoCo Palms, of course! )
more choices for American beer ( and other products )
spirit of aloha prevelent
no smoking in bars, cafes, or restaurants
it’s all in dollars – not cheap, but you already have them in your wallet ( if you’re American, that is )
shipping things to the mainland US is a sure thing, and not a roll of the dice
everything closes down early – a pretty sleepy place
you can flush the toilet paper. You don’t know how great this is until you can’t do it.
a very organized rescue and response infrastructure, just in case
traffic – the streets, signs, traffic laws and enforcement you’re used to
because it’s in the US – language, military, border restrictions, symbols – although different, Kauai is probably tucked more snugly inside American visitors’ comfort zones
easier to stay connected to American sportzing via sports bars
intentional culture – very little littering, premium on organic goods and processes
Is there a winner to this throwdown?
Kauai is home, so I won’t be moving there too soon. But so far there doesn’t seem to be a clear “winner” for me.