I am a Russian Jew born in the USSR during the Cold War. The reason I emphasis Jew (not by practice but heritage), is because Russia doesn’t consider Jews part of them (I think it’s the same today). Even our passports were different than the non-Jew Russians.  Aside the deep anti-Semitic roots of the Russians, Jews had one major thing going for them – Russia wanted them out. So my parents rode the hard and complicated ride of becoming refugees and immigrating to lands unknown. Unknown, because when you left Russia during those years you really had no idea where you were going to be accepted in: Israel, they normally took all Jews but since it was a new nation without many resources back then, it wasn’t the first on everyone’s list. Australia, also a new nation, but very few people knew anything about it, so it too wasn’t the first choice. United States of America was the golden ticket. But without a personal invitation/visa you couldn’t get in. Many people stayed in Italy (part of the immigration route) for over a year waiting to find out where they were going. We were lucky. We only had to be there for three months before a friend of a friend of a friend, etc… sent us an invitation. We arrived to NYC on my 6th birthday with $400 for the three of us.

marina-with-oxcartI won’t bore you with the details of growing up accept to say, my parents did all they could to make sure that I had every opportunity available to me. They worked hard, bought a house in the suburbs and the rest is history in the respect that I had a very normal American teenager’s upbringing.

At 18 I headed off to college. However, my parents, travel junkies themselves, pushed hard that I study abroad in England and then backpack through Western Europe. Without knowing, my dormant wanderlust burst out and after that there was no turning back. I think from that point on, everything I ever did in life somehow was travel-oriented. It was either by getting a job to pay for the next trip or struggling in a crap-ass apartment with too many roommates knowing that a major travel trip was around the corner. In the next ten years I finished university, traveled extensively whenever I could and lived in over six States. I decided to stay put in Manhattan for four years as I worked my butt off for the Big Trip which finally happened when I was 28!

I left my house with a backpack and a bus ticket going south. I had no idea where I would go except that I had to see the world. I got stuck in the Americas🙂 After three months on the road, I met my husband camping at Tikal, the Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Our relationship was on and off for a while, giving me the opportunity to travel all the way south to Argentina by bus. However, being apart was too hard and we got married. Immediately after that, my husband was offered a full ride for his Masters degree at the National University of Costa Rica and that’s how I came to live here.

Once I became an expat I realized that was the missing component of who I am. It’s a part of me and I feel so lucky to be living this life. Although, I am even more grateful that my son can grow up being a multicultural, trilingual, international boy whose roots span over three different continents. 

marina-park1I started Travelexperta.com because over the years I’ve become somewhat of an expert on Latin American living and traveling. Plus, I’m in the process of launching a website about Costa Rica and Guatemala which will be a one-stop-info-shop where you can learn all about these destinations and also book tours.  My other passion is being green, which for any developed nation is almost a norm these days, however, Latin America is way behind in the times. So my blog also covers practical ways to be green in not-so-green-friendly countries.

As you can see I am extremely passionate about travel, Latin America – in particular Central America, and being a mom. I am open to ideas and direction of my posts for TravelingMom. I love advice.