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Digital Nomad Life Month 106

The first half of Month 106 was spent traveling in Cuba and although it wasn’t always easy, it was so worth it!

We started the month in Cienfuegos, where we had our best Airbnb experience in Cuba and did a beautiful day trip to the El Nicho waterfalls. Next up was chilled-out Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs where we spent three days, before spending a couple of days on one of the most incredible beaches in the world at Varadero.

Incredible El Nicho Waterfall

From Varadero, we traveled to Viñales via a one-night stop in Havana, and it ended up being my equal favorite place in Cuba, along with Havana. We went horseriding, did a beach day trip, a sunrise hike, and hung out in town. It was all fantastic!

Then it was back to Havana for two more nights before it was time to fly out. I felt a mix of excitement and sadness to leave Cuba – I was excited to have full internet and money access again, but also sad because we really did love Cuba and its people.

After flying into Cancun late and having a run-in with the taxi mafia at the airport, we spent one night at a nearby hotel then took a bus 45 minutes south to the less commercialized and quieter resort town of Puerto Morelos for three nights before flying back to Denver.

Puerto Morelos

We picked up Joni, who was pretty mad at us for a day before coming around, and headed to Golden where we spent nine nights at one of our favorite RV parks. Until the last couple of days when it snowed, we had beautiful hot weather, so I did lots of hiking as well as catching up with friends and family almost every day. 

After a snowy night with family in Aurora, we hit the road, driving through the snow to Glenwood Springs via Idaho Springs where we checked out the shops and had lunch. Glenwood Springs was warmer than Denver and we enjoyed a night and day there before driving to our final stop of the month: Moab.

Idaho Springs

We free camped for two nights in Moab and I did a beautiful local hike and checked out the downtown. It was hot and sunny and it felt great to be back in the Southwest.

Now onto the stats!

Countries Visited: Cuba, Mexico, USA

Places Visited:

Cuba: Cienfuegos, Playa Larga, Varadero, Viñales, Cayo Jutias, Havana
Mexico: Cancun, Puerto Morelos
Colorado: Denver, Aurora, Golden, Idaho Springs, Glenwood Springs
Utah: Moab

National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Topes de Collantes National Park in Cuba, Old Havana UNESCO Site, Viñales Valley UNESCO Site.

Islands Visited: Cuba

Perfect Varadero Beach in Cuba

Best Meals: Fried trout with rice and beans, salad, and yucca from El Campesino just outside El Nicho Waterfalls in Cuba; Chicken croquetas and fried plantain with garlic sauce from Antojos in Havana; Garlic shrimp and Patatas Bravas from Cubar in Viñales; Fried cauliflower and seitan Al Pastor tacos with roasted potato wedges and tamarind sauce from Veggie Veggie Street Food in Puerto Morelos; Smashed avocado Eggs Benedict with smoked cheese sauce and hashbrowns with a pineapple upside down pancake from Snooze in Denver; Fried cauliflower “chicken” and waffles with maple syrup and carrot “bacon” from City, O’City in Denver; Hipster Prairie pizza (pineapple, pepperoncini, ricotta) from Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs; Vegan Portobello Banh Mi from 98 Center Moab.

Best Craft Beer: Habanero Ale from Cerveceria Pescadores in Puerto Morelos, Grouse Mountain Gose from Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery in Denver; Samosa Ale from Mountain Toad Brewery in Golden.


  • Sunrise Hike to Mirador in Vinales, Cuba – 2.5 miles
  • Peak 2 Plains and Welch Ditch Trail loop in Golden, CO – 3.9 miles
  • Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks, CO – 1.6 miles
  • Chimney Gulch to Lookout Mountain Trail one way in Golden, CO – 4.5 miles
  • Olivine and Lubahn Trail loop in Golden, CO – 2 miles
  • Mayhem Gulch and Juniper Loop Trail in Golden, CO – 5.2 miles
  • Roaring Fork River Trail in Glenwood Springs, CO – 3 miles
  • Grandstaff Canyon Trail in Moab, UT – 5.1 miles

Grandstaff Canyon hike in Moab

Watching: The best things I watched this month were May December, The Gentlemen, Stutz, The Great Seduction, and Three Body Problem.

Reading: So many great books this month, again. I loved The Five by Hallie Rubenhold, Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune, Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, and This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub.

New Posts: I wrote a couple of big new posts this month, the first one is possibly the most detailed and up-to-date guide on the internet to everything you need to know before traveling to Cuba, and the other post is a detailed itinerary for one week in Alaska in winter, focusing on outdoor adventure and seeing the Northern Lights.

I also completely revamped this post about the best things to do in Anchorage in winter and summer

Havana Fort


A Fun El Nicho Day Trip

One of the highlights of our Cuba trip was spending half a day at the gorgeous El Nicho Waterfalls in Topes de Collantes National Park. The drive into the mountains from Cienfuegos was beautiful and we hiked through the jungle to a series of waterfalls with clear emerald and blue water.

El Nicho Waterfall

We swam at a couple of the waterfalls and then ate at a great local restaurant before driving back to Cienfuegos, just as a storm was hitting.

The Best Airbnb in Cienfuegos

We enjoyed every Airbnb we stayed at and loved our friendly and welcoming hosts, but our Cienfuegos host was next level. Tomas is a retired architect and he designed and built his unusual and beautiful home. It is surrounded by gardens and trees and feels cool even when the sun is blazing outside. It really is a sanctuary.

Tomas invited us to have dinner with him, his nephew who lives with him, and his friend from Spain who was also staying, both nights that we stayed at his place. The food was so delicious, with so many dishes, and many of the vegetables he grew himself. He refused to accept payment and made us feel so welcome and at home. 

I will remember the good food, the laughter, and the hospitality forever. 


A Chilled Out Stay in Playa Larga

I enjoyed our three days hanging out in the relaxed beach town of Playa Larga. Every day we would walk through the quiet town and along the beach.

We made friends with two stray dogs and a big group of local kids, we got to see the smallest hummingbirds in the world – Bee Hummingbirds – which are only found in Cuba, we did a great half-day trip where I snorkeled the Bay of Pigs Reef and Toby dived, and we just enjoyed the relaxed vibe in this laidback town.

Beautiful Playa Larga

Incredible Varadero Beach

I nearly didn’t visit Varadero because I wasn’t sure it was the type of place that I would enjoy as an independent traveler, but after many Cubans we met said it was their favorite place to go in Cuba, I knew we had to at least give it a chance.

Varadero in Cuba

And I am so glad we did because that beach – wow! By staying in an Airbnb in a quiet residential area, we avoided the crowds in the resort area and we got to enjoy a mostly deserted beach. We also explored the town center, visited a local brewery, and ate at a couple of local restaurants away from the tourist strip.

Outdoor Adventures in Viñales

We loved our stay in Viñales and enjoyed hanging out in the lovely town center but the best part of Viñales is the surrounding nature in the UNESCO-listed Viñales Valley. We explored the valley in a few different ways including a day horseriding, exploring a cave and visiting a local farm to learn about cigar production, a sunrise hike to a mirador, and a visit to a small botanical garden.

Vinales in Cuba

I also enjoyed cooling off in the pool at our Airbnb which had incredible views over the mogotes, limestone hills.

Beach Day at Cayo Jutias

The second most beautiful beach of our trip was Cayo Jutias, a remote beach on the northwest coast of Cuba, within day trip distance of Viñales. We took a full-day trip here and had such a relaxing day hanging out on the beach, going for numerous swims, and enjoying the peace and beauty of the place.

Cayo Jutias in Cuba

Havana Walking Tour

Despite the rain, we really enjoyed our free three-hour Havana Walking Tour with Strawberry Tours. Our guide was amazing and we learned so much more about the history of the city. I highly recommend taking this tour if you are in Havana, and remember to tip well.

Rainy Havana

A Chilled Couple of Days in Puerto Morelos

Before heading back to Denver, we decided to spend three nights in a place in Quintana Roo that we hadn’t been to – Puerto Morelos. My goal was to eat lots of tacos, swim at the beach, and rent a scooter to visit a nearby cenote, and I succeeded in doing all three.

Puerto Morelos lighthouse

Reuniting With Our Sweet Kitty, Joni

After five and a half weeks away, we were so excited to be reunited with Joni. She was staying with a sitter from Rover and was thoroughly spoilt during our time away. We received daily video and photo updates but still missed her so much.

When we first picked her up she was not happy to go with us and ran away but within a couple of hours, she was happy to be back with her parents and was completely at home in the RV again within a couple of days.

Baby Joni with her squirrel

Back in Golden

I am always so happy to return to my beloved Golden – one of the few places in the world that feels like home to me. I love staying at the Clear Creek RV Park because it is right by Clear Creek and within walking distance of the town center and hiking trails.

Golden from South Table Mountain

We spent nine nights there this month and it was wonderful to hike my favorite trails, drink beer at my favorite breweries, and eat at my favorite restaurants. And to stay in one place for nine nights in a row is a lovely novelty.

Lots of Friends and Family Catch Ups

Our time in the Denver area was packed full of friends and family catch-ups, and although it was a lot, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I left Colorado with a full heart.

Hiking in Golden

Visiting the Colorado History Museum

I wanted to visit the Colorado History Museum for a few years now and I finally made it there on a cold and snowy day this month.

The museum is huge and is split over five floors with exhibits covering the Dust Bowl, the Sand Creek Massacre, iconic Denver places from the past, and the 10th Mountain Division in World War Two to name a few. I spent nearly four hours there and could have easily spent even more time – it is an excellent museum.

Colorado History Museum

Revisiting a Couple of My Favorite Colorado Mountain Towns

I’m always happy to revisit some of my favorite Colorado Mountain Towns, and this month I got to visit three – Golden, Idaho Springs, and Glenwood Springs. We were lucky to stay in Golden for nine nights but Idaho Springs and Glenwood Springs were just quick visits.

Downtown Glenwood Springs

In Idaho Springs we had lunch at the iconic Beau Jo’s before doing some shopping, and in Glenwood Springs I did a short hike up the Roaring Fork River, had a beer at Casey Brewing, checked out the shops, and soaked at Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

Soaking at Iron Mountain Hot Springs

As we were spending a night in Glenwood Springs, we decided to splurge and spend the morning at the luxurious Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

This is definitely one of my favorite hot springs in Colorado because it has multiple pools of varying temperatures and gorgeous views over Red Mountain and the Colorado River. It was so relaxing and worth every penny.


Windy Beach Days in Playa Larga and Varadero

On our first day in Playa Larga, we were so pleasantly surprised by how nice the beach was but unfortunately, it was windy for the next two days of our stay and it completely transformed from a clean white sand beach with clear and calm turquoise water to a trash and seaweed strewn beach with big waves and cloudy water.

Oh well, at least we got to see it at its best for one day.

Playa Larga beach

A Disappointing Playa Larga Day Trip

One of the things to do in Playa Larga is a half-day tour to the Enigma de las Rocas, a hiking area with lots of limestone caves and cenotes as well as native birds. It sounded cool on paper but we actually found it rather dull, and to get to the starting point we had to literally drive over hundreds of migrating crabs which was a little traumatizing.

This was the most expensive day tour we did in Cuba and it just wasn’t worth it for me. 

Crab migration Playa Larga

A Cloudy Sunrise in Viñales

I am not someone who generally enjoys getting up early to see a sunrise – I’m much more of a sunset person – but one of the worthwhile things to do in Viñales is a sunrise hike to a mirador so we signed up for it and I sucked it up and got up early.

Vinales sunrise

We walked into town, met our guide, and took a taxi to the starting point of our hike. We hiked in the dark for around an hour, sweating in the humidity, until we reached the mirador where we were served local coffee and waited for the clouds to clear and the sun to come out from behind the mountains.

But unfortunately the clouds never really cleared, they swirled around a bit and the sunrise was still beautiful but it would have been much better had the sky been clear.

A Bad Encounter With the Cancun Taxi Mafia

The taxis at Cancun Airport are the worst of anywhere I have been. It is extortionate how much they charge – we got told $110 for the 20-minute drive to the hotel zone! When we arrived last month, we managed to haggle and get a more reasonable price and we thought we had managed it again this time, but then after paying we just sat there, waiting and waiting.

It was late and we were tired so we tried to move it along and were told that we had booked a collectivo and we would have to wait for more people before we could go (despite not being told that when we booked). They refused to give our money back so Toby got the cops involved, and then magically we had a private taxi ready to take us to our hotel.

The greed of the taxi syndicate in Cancun knows no bounds, and if I ever return to Cancun I would stay downtown so I could just take the bus and avoid taxis altogether.

Lots of Seagrass in Puerto Morelos

I don’t know if there is always tons of seagrass on the Yucatan Peninsula beaches these days or if we visited at a time when it was worse than usual because there was just so much of it lining the beach and it made the water murky as well.

It did taint the experience of the beach at Puerto Morelos for me, unfortunately.

Puerto Morelos seagrass

Cold and Snow in Colorado

In typical Colorado form, we had a week of hot spring days, followed by two days of snow and sleet. Luckily the RV stays warm with our propane heater, but driving over mountain passes when it was snowing was a little hairy at times.

Spring snowman in Colorado


I don’t include international flights in my recaps. Some of my costs are shared with Toby.

Total: USD$2428

A more expensive month than I thought it would be, but that’s life these days. It scares me how much more I spent in the past year than I did the year before when I haven’t changed my own spending habits much at all.

Accommodation $577

My 25 nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of 13 nights at Airbnbs in Cuba, three nights at a guest house in Puerto Morelos, and nine nights at an RV park in Golden

My six nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of one night at a hotel in Cancun (hotel points), two nights with family in Aurora, one night free camping in the RV in Glenwood Springs, and two nights free camping in the RV in Moab.

Food and Drink $821

Food was very affordable in Cuba but as soon as I got back to the U.S. it was through the roof again, and of course, I indulged in some craft beer too once I was back on U.S. soil. 

Whole fish at Don Alex in Varadero

Clothing $68

  • Puffer jacket (thrifted) $40
  • Hiking shorts (thrifted) $16
  • Socks $12

Transport $351.50

  • Bus from Cienfuegos to Playa Larga $11
  • Private taxi from Playa Larga to Varadero $45
  • Horse and carriage taxis in Varadero $4
  • Bus from Varadero to Havana $16.50
  • Collectivo from Havana to Viñales $25
  • Bus from Viñales to Havana $17.50
  • Taxi from the bus station to our Airbnb in Havana $3.50
  • Taxi to the airport in Havana $12.50
  • Taxi from Cancun Airport to our hotel $15
  • Uber from our hotel to downtown Cancun $6
  • Bus from Cancun to Puerto Morelos $2
  • Taxi from the highway to Puerto Morelos $2
  • Taxi from Puerto Morelos to Cancun Airport $14.50
  • Gas $172
  • Parking $5

Activities $280.50

  • El Nicho half-day collectivo transport $20
  • Topes de Collantes National Park entry fee $10
  • Hummingbird House entry fee $3.50
  • Transport and Snorkeling Gear for Bay of Pigs Reef $20
  • Enigma de las Rocas tour $35
  • Viñales Valley Horseriding and farm tour $29
  • Cayo Jutias full day collectivo transport $20
  • Sunrise Viñales Valley hike to viewpoint $20
  • Botanical Garden entry fee in Viñales $3.50
  • Free Havana walking tour tip $10
  • Palacio de los Capitanes entry fee $0.50
  • Castillo de la Real Fuerza $0.50
  • Classic car tour to forts in Havana $20
  • One day scooter rental $13
  • Cenote Kin Ha entry fee $17.50
  • Buffalo Bill Museum $5
  • Iron Mountain Hot Springs $53

El Floridita in Havana

Other $221

  • U.S. Phone plan $35
  • Spotify $12
  • One Drive storage $2
  • Toiletries $4.50
  • Cat stuff $58
  • Garmin monthly subscription $7.50
  • Souvenirs $3
  • Charity/Tips $50
  • Laundry $11.50
  • Netflix $3
  • Muffin tin $2
  • Parking ticket $17.50
  • Colorado History Museum $15

Website Costs $34.50

  • Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
  • Website Domain Renewal for One Year $22.50

Van/RV Costs $74.50

  • RV and van insurance for the month $40.50
  • RV oil change $17.50
  • Propane $16.50

Fort view in Havana

What’s in Store For Next Month

For the first three weeks of the month, I will be continuing my slow road trip to the Gorge visiting the National Parks in southern Utah, and Vegas, before Toby and Joni split off to head to the Gorge over a couple of days.

I then have almost two weeks to solo road trip and my plan is to drive Highway 395 in California to soak in lots of hot springs, and hopefully do some hiking around Mammoth Lakes, Lake Tahoe, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Mount Shasta.

From there I will be heading into Oregon and I want to visit Klamath Falls, Crater Lake National Park, Bend, and Smith Rock State Park before arriving at the Gorge to get ready for the season.

The last week of the month I will be at the Gorge, mostly working, but probably also running errands to Moses Lake and Wenatchee.

To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here

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