Off The Beaten Path: A Family’s Global Journey

first_imgWelcome to a new online series we call ‘Off the Beaten Path’, where we showcase the many inspirational folks from across the Blue Ridge who have stepped away from the mainstream path of everyday existence to live a more intentional and adventurous life. From thru-hikers and van-lifers to off-the-grid warriors and tiny house disciples, we’ll be bringing you the true stories behind some of the region’s most interesting and inspiring characters.This time around we’re featuring the incredible global sojourn of a family of four from Asheville, North Carolina. These days Maria Rusafova is back in her Asheville home readjusting to normal life, but for some 450 days she and her husband Kuba Markulis and their two children lived a nomadic, globetrotting lifestyle, staying in hostels and camping while soaking in the cultures of such countries as Laos, Cambodia, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, South Africa, and many, many more.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.27.16 PM“One day I woke up with the idea to take the family around the world,” Maria, who is an architect by trade, writes in a meticulously well-kept blog that chronicles nearly every aspect of the life-changing journey. “It surprised me that (my husband) Kuba cheered me on. The kids—8 & 10—were psyched. Together we told all of our friends about our plan, to prevent us from flaking out, and then spent two years working our bums off and saving while waiting for our US passport application to get approved (originally I am from Bulgaria and Kuba is from Poland).”Read on for Maria’s first-hand account of this epic family odyssey.♦♦♦BRO: What inspired you to leave home and take up a life on the road?Maria Rusfova: Taking up a life on the road was a spontaneous decision. We had happy lives here in Asheville – the kids were going to a great little school, we were content with our architecture business which was picking up pace and we had a wonderful community of friends. Still, I was itching to leave it all for a while and explore the world.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.01 PMI felt like our life was too fast paced and we weren’t spending a lot of quality time as a family, but most of all I was suffering from wanderlust. Selfishly I wanted to run away from chores and everyday responsibilities and live a lifestyle of surprise and adventures. At the time the idea seemed like a dream. Now, two months after coming home, the 21 month trip seems even more like a dream that the four of us shared. I am happy that we decided to keep a blog as we managed to keep a tangible memory, however tiny, of what we saw and experienced in words and photos.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.33.06 PMBRO: Where did your journey begin, and what kinds of places did you discover along the way?MR: We started the trip in Asia getting a taste of Japan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. At first our pace of travel was fast – we were curious and hungry to experience as much as we could. With time we slowed down and started to veer away from the backpacker trail that sneaked through this part of the world.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.32.59 PMWe noticed that we prefer visiting less popular spots and spending more time in one place, lingering and meeting locals instead of other travelers. By the time we reached India we were very comfortable traveling with no idea of what is coming next  and where the road would take us. We truly started living in the moment. This blog post captures our feelings 6 months into our journey.BRO: Where did you stay while on the road? Was there a lot of camping involved or were you mainly in hotels and hostels?MR: Our accommodations varied. We never stayed in hotels, instead we did tons of camping (Africa and South America), couch surfed, crashed at hostels, and guest houses. Whenever we could we stayed with friends we met on the road or supported local home stays which brought us closer to the culture of the place we were visiting. This way of travel was not only more rewarding but also cheaper.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.35.58 PMBRO: Of all your extensive traveling, was there one place that you and your family enjoyed the most?MR: There is no such place. We often hold a sweet spot for a place because of a certain memory or a friend we made or a food we tasted, but I can’t even begin to rate them all.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.32.43 PMBRO: Where did you find the best food on your journey?MR: The food was such a highlight of our trip and such an incredible way to explore a new culture and get immediate connection with the people preparing the meals, but it is impossible to rate our food experiences.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 4.26.40 PMI was surprised how easy it was to find good food anywhere in the world, but if I close my eyes a few meals stand out – the incredible feast prepared by our Sri Lanka friend in Colombo, our very first meal on the road prepared in a tiny Tokyo restaurant by an older lady, the colorful food cooked by Anisha, our hostess in Kerala India, our friend Mashka’s cooking in South Africa, the Banh mi sandwiches we got addicted to in Hoi Ann, Vietnam.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.21.12 PMOf course there was the fresh pad thai on the streets of Thailand and the Bulgarian food in a little restaurant in Istanbul run by a Macedonian man who became our friend and gave us extras of everything. The list is endless and we will need hours to recall all the fantastic meals we have had along the way.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.21.26 PMBefore flying home we spent two weeks in Dominican Republic with my brother’s family and in terms of food these two weeks had the greatest impact on our current lifestyle. Our sister in law is a great cook and she taught us how to bake bread, make simple and healthy meals and best of all bake delicious black bean cupcakes!BRO: How did you get around?MR: We traveled by buses, cars, rickshaws, scooters, bicycles, boats, pick up trucks – anything that moves. We took a few flights only, the rest of the time we traveled by land. We also walked a whole month in Nepal and took short hiking trips in pretty much every country we visited.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.43 PMBRO: What advice would you give other families that want to follow in your footsteps and take up the mobile, travel-based lifestyle?MR: I would advice them to embark on a journey like ours with no preconceived expectations and notions of how things are supposed to be. Enjoy every moment with all the good, bad, or ugly an adventure like this would inevitably bring you and keep an open mind.BRO: What is the most challenging or trying thing that happened along the way?MR: Nothing specific comes to mind. Mainly it was the daily challenge of having to constantly adapt to what was happening around us and to search for balance and home whenever we went. Yet overcoming those same daily challenges gave us an immense feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. We learned to cherish challenges and difficulties as they provided not only entertainment and stories to recall, but also invaluable lessons of patience, compassion and resilience.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.37 PMBRO: You are back at home in Asheville, North Carolina now. Tell is about your life here and where you plan to go next.MR: Everything in our life is back to how it was but a little different. The kids go to new schools, we work for ourselves now and life is slowly getting busier and denser. We are determined though to keep fostering the strong family bond this trip gave us and make time for each other and we would love to be able to travel during the school breaks. We are going back to Dominican Republic for Christmas, Cuba in April and hopefully during the summer we would either hike the AT or visit Spain – the family is divided in two on that decision.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.33.46 PMBRO: Has it been difficult to readjust to a traditional lifestyle? How has the journey changed the way you approach your everyday life in Asheville?MR: It has been surprisingly easy to readjust back to living a traditional life style. We enjoy having our kitchen, our kitty and all of our friends back in addition to our beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Yes, we did go through a culture shock, but we consider ourselves lucky to call Asheville home. In terms of how we approach life differently – we can live with less and we try to leave as much free time so we can all pursue the things that make us happy.After the trip we don’t take for granted what we have and are full of gratitude about all the opportunities for growth we have experienced as a family.last_img read more

Brazilian Federal Highway Police Seizes About 10 Tons of Marijuana

first_imgIn addition to capturing criminal suspects and seizing drugs and other contraband, the Army has also conducted 715 drills to strengthen the Central American nation’s preparedness for natural disasters, according to Gen. Avilés Castillo. During that time, Army Soldiers also dismantled 43 gangs, seized 2,105 illegal firearms and more than 615 vehicles used to transport drugs. “Protecting our people is the continuing emphasis of the Army, which will continue to fight drug trafficking and organized crime to help ensure national security,” he told reporters. The truck’s driver presented paperwork claiming the truck was carrying corn, but officers discovered the vehicle contained bricks of marijuana. The truck’s driver presented paperwork claiming the truck was carrying corn, but officers discovered the vehicle contained bricks of marijuana. Police arrested the truck driver on narcotrafficking charges. The cocaine hydrochloride, which belonged to the FARC’s 48th Pedro Martínez Front, had a street value of about $12 million. The marijuana was being cultivated on a property in the municipality of Waslala in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN). It belonged to five narcotraffickers who opened fire on Soldiers when troops arrived. Troops and police seized the cocaine hydrochloride from a cove in the southwestern Department of Putumayo. The cocaine hydrochloride was destined for drug cartel operatives and members of narcotrafficking groups who would have shipped it abroad, according to the Army’s preliminary investigation. “Protecting our people is the continuing emphasis of the Army, which will continue to fight drug trafficking and organized crime to help ensure national security,” he told reporters. Brazil’s Federal Highway Police (PRF) seized about 10 tons of marijuana off a truck near the city of São Paulo on February 27, making it possibly the largest bust of its kind in the State of São Paulo’s history. The cocaine hydrochloride, which belonged to the FARC’s 48th Pedro Martínez Front, had a street value of about $12 million. Police arrested the truck driver on narcotrafficking charges. During that time, Army Soldiers also dismantled 43 gangs, seized 2,105 illegal firearms and more than 615 vehicles used to transport drugs. By Dialogo March 05, 2015 The Army did not immediately disclose any arrests. Troops with the Jungle Brigade No. 27 will continue to patrol the area and pursue the FARC’s 48th Pedro Martínez Front and its leadership. The Colombian Armed Forces and National Police seize cocaine hydrochloride In one of the Army’s latest counter-narcotics operations, Soldiers destroyed 11,768 marijuana plants between January 28-30. Troops and police seized the cocaine hydrochloride from a cove in the southwestern Department of Putumayo. The cocaine hydrochloride was destined for drug cartel operatives and members of narcotrafficking groups who would have shipped it abroad, according to the Army’s preliminary investigation. The Nicaraguan Army seized 26,761 kilograms of narcotics and captured 725 suspects on drug-trafficking charges nationwide during the past five years, General Julio César Avilés Castillo, the Army’s Commander In Chief, said on February 28. The Army did not immediately disclose any arrests. Troops with the Jungle Brigade No. 27 will continue to patrol the area and pursue the FARC’s 48th Pedro Martínez Front and its leadership. Police officers pulled over the truck, which had entered the country from neighboring Paraguay, to conduct a search in the municipality of Itapecerica da Serra. Officers became suspicious when they noticed the truck’s license plate indicated the vehicle was from the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu. However, the plate was placed over a tag that showed the vehicle had been registered in the Paraguayan town of Ciudad del Este, which borders Brazil. The Colombian National Army’s Jungle Brigade No. 27 of the Sixth Division teamed up with the Colombian Navy, Air Force, and National Police to seize 430 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Army reported on its website on February 26. The Colombian National Army’s Jungle Brigade No. 27 of the Sixth Division teamed up with the Colombian Navy, Air Force, and National Police to seize 430 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Army reported on its website on February 26. The Colombian Armed Forces and National Police seize cocaine hydrochloride Brazil’s Federal Highway Police (PRF) seized about 10 tons of marijuana off a truck near the city of São Paulo on February 27, making it possibly the largest bust of its kind in the State of São Paulo’s history. In addition to capturing criminal suspects and seizing drugs and other contraband, the Army has also conducted 715 drills to strengthen the Central American nation’s preparedness for natural disasters, according to Gen. Avilés Castillo. To put the seizure into perspective, in all of 2014, law enforcement officers seized 12.8 tons of marijuana in the State of São Paulo. To put the seizure into perspective, in all of 2014, law enforcement officers seized 12.8 tons of marijuana in the State of São Paulo. Nicaraguan Army’s counter-narcotics successes since 2000 The Nicaraguan Army seized 26,761 kilograms of narcotics and captured 725 suspects on drug-trafficking charges nationwide during the past five years, General Julio César Avilés Castillo, the Army’s Commander In Chief, said on February 28. Troops returned fire and injured two of the narcotraffickers, Military authorities said. The marijuana was being cultivated on a property in the municipality of Waslala in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN). It belonged to five narcotraffickers who opened fire on Soldiers when troops arrived. Police officers pulled over the truck, which had entered the country from neighboring Paraguay, to conduct a search in the municipality of Itapecerica da Serra. Officers became suspicious when they noticed the truck’s license plate indicated the vehicle was from the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu. However, the plate was placed over a tag that showed the vehicle had been registered in the Paraguayan town of Ciudad del Este, which borders Brazil. In one of the Army’s latest counter-narcotics operations, Soldiers destroyed 11,768 marijuana plants between January 28-30. Nicaraguan Army’s counter-narcotics successes since 2000 Troops returned fire and injured two of the narcotraffickers, Military authorities said. last_img read more

Kewarra Beach beauty designed for FNQ lifestyle

first_imgParadise: 27 Kewarra St, Kewarra Beach.A HOME that brings out the best of life in Far North Queensland is on the market for $1.4 million.This Kewarra Beach beauty has it all – a large parcel of land at a whopping 2018sq m, beachfront access and a beautifully designed home with quality finishes.It is simply paradise, according to selling agent Renee Straguszi-Smith of Cairns Property Office. Light and bright. Finishes of 27 Kewarra St are top quality.The owner and occupier is a HIA multi-award-winning Cairns builder, who gave the home a top-to-bottom overhaul, resulting in the stunning masterpiece it is today.“The reason they bought the property is because of the direct beach access,” Ms Straguszi-Smith said. “There is a pathway that takes you directly to the beach. “This family has loved living there. This is the best of what Far North Queensland has to offer in regards to beachside living. Towering melaleuca trees are a highlight of this property. Quality 2pac kitchen with stone benchtops. The perfect entertainer.“Smithfield is 10 minutes away, schools are close by and so are all amenities.”The home is “all about lifestyle”, according to Ms Straguszi-Smith.“It’s definitely for a family that loves getting outdoors, going away with their caravans or out to the reefs or on the inlet if they’ve got boats. “It’s the kind of home where you could come home for a barbecue and have some friends over for a swim.“As you enter the property you are blown away by the stunning melaleuca backdrop, private resort-style living and modern renovation throughout with no expense spared.”The property is also designed for the lover of big boy toys and weekend warriors, with the “ultimate undercover caravan, boat and vehicle accommodation”.The home’s bragging rights include an ultra-modern kitchen overlooking the pristine gardens and entertainment area with custom two-pack cabinets and chef grade integrated appliance, along with spacious stone counter-tops with plenty of bench space. Get clean in style.More from newsCairns home ticks popular internet search terms2 days agoTen auction results from ‘active’ weekend in Cairns2 days agoThe home is freshly painted inside with all new fans, lighting and insulated.All the bedrooms are large, have built-in wardrobes and are all airconditioned.The design brings a seamless indoor and outdoor integration for an open, functional layout with multiple living zones, modern and spacious bathrooms with double vanities and quality fixtures.Step outside and the property is fully fenced with electric gate and side access. The quarter acre flat block is beautifully manicured with low-maintenance landscaping with integrated sprinkler systems.The backyard houses a 6 x 6m shed, with power and water.As for the resort-style pool, it’s a showstopper. It hugs the house with frameless glass fencing.Ms Straguszi-Smith said coronavirus may have slowed the real estate industry but had not put a stop to it, with Cairns Property Office signing 11 contracts in 12 days at the time of print. “They are still buyers out there,” she said.“I love getting good results for the vendor and seeing people walk in for the first time and say ‘Oh my God I want to live here and this to be our forever home’ and to see those emotions.” FOR SALE: $1.4 million INSPECT: Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17. 3-4pm AGENT: Renee Straguszi-Smith, Cairns Property Office, 0408 770 741last_img read more