cooking with tequila
Our kitchen table today… the tequila was for cooking, but I feel like a margarita is in order!

In April, 2008, I started this blog to chronicle what I thought at the time was the biggest thing I could do: quit my job and travel. At the time, I couldn’t even see past what would happen when I turned in my notice, never mind five years down the road. I was sweating and shaking like an over-bred Pomeranian on a road trip. I was a mess. Drew thought it was hilarious, and suggested I name the site “Almost Fearless” — a recommendation I took, and that spring, I did become almost fearless, because I left GE, I packed up our Boston apartment and shipped myself, my husband and our two dogs over to Madrid, where I began my career as a freelance writer and photographer.

That was the scariest thing I had ever done.

Then life moves on. I traveled to 35 countries, stopping to live in many along the way, I took thousands of photos each year, I wrote several books worth of blog content, I studied Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic, I had a baby… then I had a second baby, I sold my book idea, my husband and I filmed and edited a documentary and then…

Suddenly I looked up, holding my six week old daughter, living in Mexico, my toddler running around with a Hulk mask on and yelling “Agua! Por favor!” (don’t ask) and realizing that — holy crap — not only has it been five years since I started this site and pressed the reset button on my life, but I really have no idea how I got here. Seriously, it was just supposed to be a little travel, some writing, I’d take a few pictures. That’s it! Yet, somehow that one moment, not just saying I wanted to travel, but actually chucking everything to make it happen — the leap that I took — it changed everything. It opened the floodgates.

Five years ago, I didn’t think I wanted to have kids. Amazing what a little jaunt around the world will do — 16 months later I was pregnant. I always wanted to learn other languages — for YEARS I said this — but I finally got down to business and seriously started studying not just one, but three. I learned about food — it blew my mind what I had been missing — and cooking local dishes has become an integral way that I learn about a place. It’s shaped my thoughts on raising kids, especially when you see how different cultures do it, but also when you consider the kind of creative, risk-taking and independent life we have now, how can we not give our kids the same thing? It’s made me want to travel more, but slowly, to never ever go home, to have lots of babies with my husband and to create art and play with the kids, and learn about the world.

If I talked to my pre-almost fearless self, she’d probably say, “Oh god, you’ve become such a hippie.”

Yeah, I know, right?

So five years in, I’m not looking back, I’m looking forward. I created this site as a totally different person, so I felt like it was time to catch up to where I am now. I did some things on the backend to make this easier, I broke a lot of stuff (mostly fixed now, I think) and I’m kind of thrilled at the result. If you’re reading this post from your RSS reader or email, go to the site real quick and check it out.

The big changes

There are four main sections of the site now: Life, Kitchen, Photos, Kids.

Life – This is the main blog as you know it now. I didn’t call it travel because, well I LIVE in Mexico. In six months, I’ll live in Asia. I’m not really a traveler, I’m more of a serial expat. I tried to think of a succinct mashup to describe it, like “flashpacker” but for traveling where you have a fully stocked house yet change travel plans so often that your three year old still talks about places in Thailand like they are right down the street (“Sorry sweetie, we can’t go to Kad Suan Kaew because it’s on the other side of the world…). Expat-flash-slow-packer? Okay, I’ll stop.

Kitchen – It’s my new food blog — I’ll be recreating the dishes that I find in my travels, using local ingredients as much as possible and finding out fascinating things like “What’s the difference between corn and flour tortillas” and then finding out it’s LARD, which apparently is delicious. As in “I don’t know what it is about these tortillas but they just TASTE better.” Yeah, honey that’s the lard.

Photos – I created a separate section for photo essays, which usually are from my travels, but might include anything. Of course there are photos all throughout the site, but I’d like to explore more photography-based story-telling and now I have a space to do that.

Kids: I’ll never really be a parenting blogger, I just don’t get into my kids’ day-to-day like that, but I am finding learning languages with Cole to be really interesting, and I’d like to talk more about raising bilingual/multilingual children. I’m also on the cusp of Cole’s school years (in some countries they start kids at 3, so perhaps I’m behind!) and I’m trying to figure out how to do that. Homeschool? International school? Playful art curriculum like Reggio Emilia? Unschooling? I don’t know where this will lead, but we want an emphasis on languages, art, music and play for those first few years.

Other things

In each section you can sort through my posts by the number of comments or ‘likes’ (new feature: that’s the little heart on each post, click the heart to ‘like’ it, which is like saying ‘worth reading!’ or simply, “yay!”). So you can very easily navigate around the archives of my site, check out what posts caused the most controversy over the years or what people liked the most. There’s also a new search page that lets you search the entire site. Hopefully this makes it easier for you to find older content, because that was some feedback I had received about the site… it was too hard to find things!

I’m also working on translated versions of the site, but that will come in a few weeks after things settle down. I’ll be translating select pieces in Arabic, Spanish and Mandarin, mostly as practice for myself, but also I would like to connect with readers who speak those languages! When a post is translated, there will just be a little link on the bottom to the translated page, if there is one.

So that’s it! The new structure of the site lets me do some cool things, like in the life section, you can filter by country but in the kitchen section, you can filter by cuisine. Little things like that. And big things too. Like it makes me extremely happy. I hope you guys like it!

Happy Five Years!