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Meet the locals

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Finland

When I was a child, my dad’s friend gave me a book called “Where Santa Claus lives”. I spent hours flipping through the pages, looking at pictures of Santa Claus and his elves. Visiting such a village, where I could meet Santa Claus and his helpers, sounded like a dream to me.

Needless to say that when I heard about the Santa Claus Village in Northern Finland, I knew that I had to go there. A village where it’s Christmas all year long? That sounds like a dream!

We visited in February, when the temperatures dropped to -20ºC and the ground was covered in a meter or more of snow. After taking an overnight train to Rovaniemi, we dropped off our luggage at our guesthouse and took the next bus to the Santa Claus Village.…

Lithuania

Have you ever heard of the Republic of Uzupis? No? Welcome to the club! We didn’t know this tiny republic existed until we travelled to Vilnius. Uzupis declared its independence in 1998 and even though it is not officially recognised as a country by anyone, the republic has its own government, constitution and even currency.

And of course, to get there, you have to cross a border. Well, border. You have to cross a bridge with a sign that states that you’re entering Uzupis. Not very different from many other European borders, to be honest. If you want to, right after the bridge, you can have your passport stamped.…

Meet the locals

Last week, I got the chance to visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. While the weather was rainy and cloudy (I guess that’s why it’s called a cloud forest) and we did not get to see many animals, we walked through a beautiful forest. And I had the opportunity of meeting Ricardo. He was our jungle guide, someone whose family had been around at the founding time of Monteverde, and he was nice enough to agree to do an interview with me.…

Meet the locals

I have already done one interview with a local. When I travelled to Ecuador, I met Jaime, a tour guide from Cuenca, with whom I spent an amazing day in the Cachas National Park.

Now that I have moved on to Colombia, I got the chance to meet more amazing people. Colombia is one of the most interesting countries in South America. Not long ago, it was completely off-limits to tourists and Medellin was labelled as the most dangerous city in the world. It is unbelievable how much this country has changed. When I came here, progress was visible everywhere. From public libraries and free wifi at every corner to the creation of small businesses, it is obvious that Colombia has come a long way.…

Meet the locals

The best part about travelling are the amazing people I meet along the way. One of them is Dorothy, an American expat living near Boquete in Panama with her family. She runs Jungla de Panama, a wildlife refuge where she helps injured and abandoned animals, and she agreed to do an interview with me so I could learn more about this fascinating woman and her story.…

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