Things aren’t great, but there’s always a rainbow ahead

Photo by Yerson Olivares on Unsplash

For years, I’ve been so passionate when talking about my adoptive country, Cuba. So much so, I led groups all over the island singing its praises and enjoying seeing many first-time travellers fall in love with the island.

Now that passion is running low, and frustration and tiredness has come in its place. While Covid numbers were lower here than many places in the world during 2020, the airports reopened in November and now we are seeing the highest ever infection rates — 1,500 a day in an island of nearly 12 million.

So much has happened in the last…

How to build a portfolio career and never dread Mondays

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Fifteen years ago, I swapped my last ever 9–5 management position for a temporary voluntary tour leading job halfway around the world. It was the biggest ever leap of faith, but it allowed me to become the person I needed to be.

Now I am married to a man who only ever had one hustle, as a musician, all his life. It’s the only thing he’s ever done or wanted to do. For me, focusing on only one career was a struggle because everything interested me.

Some years ago, bemoaning my lack of commitment to any one thing, I discovered…


I always knew I wanted to be a Mum but I came late to the party.

Photo by Kristin Brown on Unsplash

Traveling around the world, fearing commitment, unsure how to recognize a good partner, far too many things I wanted to see and try. Many are the reasons I held off on becoming a Mum, mainly for lack of the right man for the job. My mother had my sister and me in her mid-40s so I always felt that there was time. Until there nearly wasn’t.

These many years of wanting to be a Mum someday gave me ample opportunity to watch friends and see how they did it.

7 pieces of advice to my former single self

Photo by Danka & Peter on Unsplash

My 30s were spent living abroad teaching English, learning Spanish, and later travelling the world as a tour leader. I loved it. But for one thing. Love eluded me. I left a steady relationship at age 29 to go and explore Latin America, the guy was lovely but I wasn’t sure he was the one and I had itchy feet.

For over a decade after that, I had relationships here and there, some fun and frolics, but with no commitment anywhere and no one to plan a future with. In fairness, my mother thought it’d be hard for anyone to…

I've been there. I'm just writing a similar piece and came upon yours. The bit about feeling like you have to get that sorted before you can focus on your life REALLY resonates with me. Great article!


How do Mums ever manage to get words on paper?

Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle on Unsplash

7 am: I wake up and sneak out of bed. Hubby and 3-year-old are still sleeping. I went to bed early with my daughter so I would be well-rested and motivated to wake early and write. She sleeps in an adapted cot next to our bed. It’s a long story, she has her own room, but we were going to move and turned it into a guest room with a big bed and then, with Covid-19, we never moved. Anyway, I love her next to me. This won’t be forever.

7:05: She somehow senses I am getting up and wakes…

I just read this when I did a search under mommy and writer. I have the same dialogue happening myself almost every day! I feel better now. Thanks!

Interesting article. I am a language lover too, teaching English and speaking 4 others.

I second Remarkl's comment, though. I would be tempted to ask why you learnt certain languages because I am interested in what drew you to them, there is probably an interesting story, you aren't just learning them to go on holiday. Or maybe you are?

For many people, to study a foreign language requires enormous effort and commitment so many would be less likely to do it unless the language was essential to your future.

Mmm, interesting. Here in Cuba, mango season is just beginning. It's one of the cheaper fruits in the season and one of my greatest pleasures is to sit with family and devour a mango just collected from the tree. Mango juice every morning, mangoes in the afternoon. Cuba being Cuba, mango is also the word used by some men to refer to really luscious, sexy women ;-) In India too?

Ha! Love this. Brilliantly written. Very interesting. I want to translate this for my friends in Cuba, where few people have Asian heritage and foreign visitors are often labelled as Chinese without much further investigation. There is a lot of mixed heritage here, just not so much from the Asian continent.

Julie van Maanen

Lifelong multi-lingual traveller, writer, learner, teacher. Raising my little girl in Cuba and Europe and cannot wait to show her the world.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store