Discover more from Brent and Michael Are Going Places
Welcome to Our Travel Newsletter!
Plus, just how long can you keep appreciating that amazing view?
Welcome to our very first travel newsletter!
In case you’ve forgotten, we’re Brent and Michael, and we’re going places. That’s because we’re digital nomads who have been traveling the world the past four years, living in thirteen towns or cities in ten different countries (with lots of shorter visits in other places in between!).
Many of you have been following us in one form or another for a very long time. Some of you probably go all the way back to our AfterElton.com days — a website that looked at entertainment from an LGBTQ POV. Others might know us from our novels, or from Instagram, Facebook, or some other kind of social media.
Now we’re officially starting this regular newsletter devoted strictly to our travels!
We’re both writers by trade, and we’re excited to have a newsletter devoted just to our adventures around the world, allowing us to take a deeper dive into different aspects of our lives as gay digital nomads, as a long-term couple, and as Americans living abroad.
In short, we’re big mouths who have a lot to say.
We’ll be posting once or twice a week. And for the time being, it will be entirely free. If we do ever start charging, there will always be some free content as well.
Okay, that’s it for our intro. Now onto the main topic of our first newsletter!
Hasta Luego, Puerto Vallarta! (Or How Long Can You Stay in Awe of an Amazing View?)
It’s hard to imagine a better place for us to have waited out the global pandemic than Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Beautiful weather? Check! (Although I’m a bit of a delicate flower and whine when it gets too cold or too hot. Seriously, I can out sweat a whole pen of pigs.)
Delicious food? Check! (The fish skewers served by a little shack on the beach are some of the best food we’ve ever had.)
Friendly people? Check!
A sweep view from our balcony, jumping humpback whales, and some of the most amazing sunsets we’ve ever seen? Check! Check! Check!
Strict mask wearing, social distancing, and appropriate lockdowns? Ummmm, pretty big fail, sorry to say.
But let’s be honest: the worst culprits were American and Canadian tourists. As for the locals, Mexico is a very poor country, and Puerto Vallarta is a tourism-based economy. If people don’t work, they don’t eat. It’s understandable that the country didn’t do stricter lockdowns.
But as we enter our final week of our seven month stay here in Mexico I’m looking back on our time with a mixture of sadness we’re leaving and excitement to be moving on.
Okay, that’s a lie. I am freaking desperate to get moving again!
I’ve loved our time here and appreciate our good fortune at having scored a beautiful villa with an incredible view.
Honestly, “incredible” doesn’t do it justice. This is an Amalfi coast, million dollar kind of view. Check it out for yourself.
It’s okay if you want to hate us. Especially if you had to spend the winter locked down in say Canada, or Norway or, well, pretty much anywhere north of southern California.
I know I’d hate us.
Oh, and did I mention that just twenty minute walk down the hill, we have some gorgeous little coves I got to spend the winter exploring?
I’m pretty sure that’s what kept me sane.
If you didn’t already hate me and want to do so now, please go ahead. I know I deserve it.
FWIW, the only reason we scored this view (and a pretty sweet villa) is because COVID wiped out a lot of the tourism to Puerto Vallarta. So it was a win/win situation: we got a great rate and stable place to stay, and our landlord was able to rent out at least one unit for seven months.
Given this view you might be thinking to yourself: How on earth can this moron be so eager to leave?
Which is a totally fair question.
But here’s something I’ve learned after living with this view for seven months: It’s pretty much impossible to stay in awe of something day after day, month after month.
For instance, think about how amazing it is this solar system came into existence 4.5 billion years ago. And then the earth formed out of a bunch of space gas and rocks (writers, not scientists, remember!). Then the oceans formed followed by some microbe popping into existence and then a fish crawled out of the water and turned into a mammal that finally led to you sitting here reading this newsletter.
That’s way more amazing than this view, and yet I bet you don’t wake up every single day and think I cant believe I get to be alive! It’s a MIRACLE!
So you’re no better than I am. Which means you can stop hating me now, okay?
Which isn’t to say I ever stopped enjoying the view. I didn’t.
In fact, I’m writing this post on our deck, and now I’m going to stop, stand up and go appreciate it.
Okay, I’m back. And even though it’s kind of a hazy day, it was lovely looking at the Bay of Banderas. Most mornings, Brent and I sit on our balcony, drinking our coffee and leaping up from our chairs and squealing every time a humpback whale jumps out of the water below.
I still can’t wait to leave.
Because part of what makes something special — a view, a beautiful hike, a delicious meal — is knowing that it won’t last forever.
Honestly, I think being a digital nomad, and living in so many different places, has forced me to live much more in the present. Because I know for a fact we won’t be wherever we are for long.
Our old life in Seattle was certainly comfortable, but I had long stopped thinking of living there as being anything special.
That’s much less true now. These days I frequently stop and think about how lucky I am, and how I have to make the most out of life while I still can.
At least if I’m not stuck in the same place for seven months.
What I’m Reading Now!
Brent and I have written a travel memoir about our first two years on the road, which we’ll hopefully have more news about down the road.
In the meantime, I’ve been doing some travel reading of my own.
I really enjoyed Why the Dutch Are Different by Ben Coates, which takes a deep dive into what makes the Dutch genuinely different. You can read my review here.
I also loved Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes. Our month in Switzerland was one of the best months of my life, so I definitely enjoyed this deep dive into what makes the Swiss so uniquely Swiss. You can read that review here.
Instagram Me, Baby!
Those of you you found us via Instagram already know I’m a pretty prolific photographer and love sharing my photos. For those who haven’t yet followed us on Instagram (what the devil are you waiting for?!?!) here is a little sample of my work.
These are some of my favorite pics of our time here in Mexico.
After five months on our own, we were joined by our digital nomad friends Tyler and Kristin!
The beaches here weren’t actually very swimmable so I didn’t get to spend as much time in the water as I hoped.
So many palm trees….
Yes, there are actually crocodiles here! I tried to get Brent to pose with a live one but no…
Puerto Vallarta is filled with incredible art from this mosaic tile bench to fantastic street art to beautiful sculptures along the Malecon (the boardwalk).
Having the beach to visit definitely helped keep me sane.
And a final look at Playa los Muertos, the main beach here in Puerto Vallarta, where we spent a lot of time strolling.
That’s it for our first newsletter. Next week I’ll be writing from Seattle where we’re going to have a whirlwind week getting ready to move to Istanbul, Turkey!