La Florida

So, it turns out I am not much of a blogger! There’s so much other stuff I rather do while we’ve been traveling and living in different locations in almost two years. This winter season Dylan stayed in the Gypsy Caravan with our Dutch Shepherd ‘Tila at our friends’ eco shire in California. I drove across on the 10 Freeway to South Florida with my Staffie Golden mix pup Osita and a lot of product. He preferred to work in cooler weather. I opted for a warm winter with family, friends, sun and sea, doing pop-ups and artisan markets with the Sage & the Butterfly collections.

Last year, we drove across from California to Florida in the Gypsy Caravan around the same time… and I am just blogging about it below!


It took us about eight days to get across from Southern California to the Sunshine State. On our way down the Gulf Coast, we made a quick stop in Sarasota, Florida, to meet our friends, Miriam, who lives there, and Colin from Idyllwild, California. Colin owns the Present & Positive land where we lived for three months, while remodeling the trailer, before we began this journey. It was great seeing them all the way on the other side of the country.

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Marcos, our brother-in-love (as I like to say), has a buddy from one of his performance troupes, Paul Anderson, who owns a number of properties in Hollywood. Paul let us stay in a property that had no structure, just a driveway pad and lots of old trees: mango, chiflera, among others. A beautiful mini urban jungle. The street was not wide enough and there were homes and condos on each side and across. The condo complex in front belongs to 18 French Canadian couples, who go down to Florida for the winter. They moved some of their cars and let us use their parking area to maneuver the trailer. It took us about two hours to park our huge fifth wheel, aka Gypsy Caravan, into that lot.

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We were starving by the time we got the trailer organized and cleaned after days on the road. Mom, who was visiting in Florida, my sister and her family came for a visit. We all went for a bite to eat at Zen Mystery, just a few minutes away, where we got tasty, wholesome and satisfying food. This vegan restaurant is cozy, but has a large room that is used for music, yoga classes and large parties. The housing price hikes have forced Miami hipsters to move north, which has brought an influx of cool spots to Hollywood.

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Hollywood is under an hour from Boca Raton and half hour from Miami by car or the Tri-Rail. Local taxis and Über were always available, too, when Dylan couldn’t join me. I don’t drive the manual Dodge Ram truck that hauls our trailer and we don’t haul an extra car. We couldn’t haul this huge rig and my Prius, so I sold my car back in California. Our conventional truck is a powerful machine, but it’s the thing that doesn’t meet our environmentally conscious lifestyle. I look forward to when electric heavy duty trucks are available.

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I never explored Hollywood when I lived in South Beach in the early nineties. I biked and skated everywhere then. It was fun, and my transportation. I didn’t drive, yet. New Yorkers are blessed with a well-designed public transportation system. Most people don’t drive. I didn’t get my license till I was 32 and into my sixth year of living in Los Angeles; when there were electric and hybrid car options. That was the motivator for me. I got my first Prius, and car in general, in December of 2000. I biked and skated until then and even after, when I preferred not to drive.

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This was an opportunity to explore Hollywood a bit. We were pleasantly surprised to find vegan and organic restaurants, yoga studios and a bustling strip with restaurants near our temporary neighborhood. We stumbled upon our friend’s fun and colorful mural. Kenny Scharf continues to be a force in the art world, as well as street art and, in recent years, has been doing karmbombz around the world. You can get your car spray painted by Kenny for free, if you happen to be in LA or a city where he’s exhibiting. His goal is to beautify the roads and driving experience. Email him at karbombz@kennyscharf.com to get yours done. We feature Kenny in our What We Love page.

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The Hollywood strip was alive with restaurants from around the world. Though, the Latin American flavor was prominent. There was a Peruvian restaurant with a live musician blasting traditional songs and couples dancing on the sidewalk. There were a few Colombian restaurants. We got some arepas at one of them while we waited for our vegan ramen at Go Bistro Japanese restaurant.

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We spent the whole winter in South Florida, where we have family in Boca Raton and friends in Miami, beach weather all winter long, art festivals, art and design districts, international fairs and Veg fests. We caught the January Veg Fest. It is exciting to see how the vegan lifestyle is spreading across the US and around the world. Veganism has grown 600% since 2014.

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Because it’s so cold in the north, people come down from around the globe to weather the winter in warmth, enjoying the beaches and events through Spring. Before it gets unbearably hot in summer time.

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Boca Raton is a gorgeous place with architecture designed low enough to hide amongst the Banyan trees and lush vegetation under a tropical sky. Its demographic is multicultural, with a mix of retirees and young families. It is an artist’s haven, as many collectors buy art to grace their homes, offices and condos at the many art festivals in Boca and vicinity.

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While there are neighborhoods specifically for the older demographic, there are others where you can see children playing outside in a safe space, unsupervised. I joined the kids at play many times at my sister’s. Friend and colleague Sara, from my days as a designer at Patagonia, dropped me off after having lunch one day, and she was surprised to see so many kids outside. She hadn’t experience that side of Boca.

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I stayed at my sister’s for weeks at a time in the three months we were there. Mom was there for a couple of months through the holidays. While mom was still in New York, before she retired from the UN, we’d visit her there often. Since she retired and moved back to Peru, we only get to see her once or twice a year. Thankfully, due to technology, we can see each other daily on video calls. But it’s not the same. It’s really sweet when we can all get together in one place.

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My brother and his family made it to Florida for a holiday reunion. One of our cousins also lives in Boca with her family. It was so energizing to spend days in the ocean, go on skate-walk-bike rides, play in the pool and enjoy each other’s company. The kids grow up so fast; these moments are precious.

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Most people that visit Florida, do so for its gorgeous, warm beaches and eternal summers or its theme parks. Florida is surrounded by rich vegetation and wildlife. You can see all kinds of birds, reptiles and other animals right in your backyard and alongside streets.

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The Everglades are home to vast plant and animal species with waterways that snake around the marshes for miles. We canoed the Everglades a few times for hours around the grassy swamps of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, twice with the kids and for my birthday.

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The alligators were as close as two feet from us. Some young and some adult alligators were basking in the Sun’s warmth. Rowing quietly was meditative and allowed us to see the wildlife that showed up. We also canoed and explored Dickinson State Park further north.

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In January and February, our friend Kue King exhibited at the Boca Raton and Coconut Grove Art Festivals. Since we were in town, we made sure to visit him at his shows. There were a few artists that stood out, including Kue’s stunning wire sculptures. Kue and I met at Burning Man back in 2009, on the dusty dance floor. While he lived in San Francisco, traveled around and I was in Los Angeles, we stayed in touch.
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It has been inspiring to see him evolve as an artist. His work is exquisite, and he is art himself with his unique style and poetic expression. He is prolific and continues to make his collectors happy with every piece he places in their homes. His sculptures emanate an energy, like mandalas, that calm and energize. We need to commission a little piece for our trailer. We have a spot that has been left empty and it’s perfect for his powerful sculptures. Gotta save up for that one.
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Friends Amie and Curline met me at the Coconut Grove Art Festival where we discovered some other talented artists.
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The magic of Kina Crow at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.

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Metal sculptures by Steven Olszewski at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.

We walked to Amie’s place after stopping for a loaf of delicious organic spelt bread from a local bakery. Amie has been making empowering crystal jewelry since the 90s, which I used on models in my 1995 NY fashion show. Her work is still as powerful and enchanting. We often talk about another collaboration.

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One of Amie’s stunning necklaces for a lucky client.

We went to the Winter Equestrian Festival in February. Horses are one of my favorite creatures. Their elegance, muscle tone and strength is mesmerizing. They are powerful on the arena. I know that most of them probably live good lives and are treated well. And while I enjoy the spectacle, I couldn’t help but question the fact that these gorgeous animals are used for sport. I didn’t think much about this before I became vegan for the animals and planet. It was beautiful to watch them jump.

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Wellington Winter Equestrian Festival.

I met a few people that had booths at the event. I spoke with Kat of Willson Riding Boots about the possibility of making vegan options for people like us, who don’t wear leather, but appreciate good design and function. Equestrian photographer David Erdek had a booth there and met a group of women who had a line of eco friendly products and clothes.
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Wynwood is always a fun place to visit while in Miami. We met a few friends at Coyo for a couple of nights of Dubwise and churros. Ky-Mani Marley and other DJs spun roots reggae, lovers rock and dub. Wish we’d gone more. I still love dancing till the wee hours. We saw Donna and her beau. Donna’s gorgeous daughter Zoe was working the bar. Curline, Miriam and Jude came.
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Dylan used most of this time in Florida to catch up with work, making some new knives and razors for customers. He joined us some evenings and all weekends in Boca. I did some work on our website and online stores, plus pop-ups in Miami to sell some of the lines we carry at our store, and completed a large painted wall hanging for my sister’s place.
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The pop-up at Ironside was inspiring. Filled with sustainable and stylish brands coming out of Miami. Ironside itself is an interesting place, with art galleries, independent boutiques, an old printing press and architectural stores. Our host Karelle of Krelwear who has a sexy line of knits at her shop, has created a unique venue. I loved meeting the other artists and designers and look forward to doing a pop up there when we are in Florida.
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After we left South Florida, we spent a week in Crystal River, along the Gulf Coast, on our way up to Atlanta, Georgia. Lynda, whom I worked with on color when I was senior designer at Patagonia, moved there a few years back. She and her boyfriend, Randy, live there. They invited us to stay at their property by the river. A beautiful spot near Crystal River National Forest, where we walked the dogs. It was idyllic. But the multitude of no-see-ums and ticks made it tough to be outside for long periods. All of us had ticks stuck to us. We pulled ticks off the dogs and got rid of them. But a few times, we’d see them crawling on the floor in our trailer. I had two on me, Dylan had three. Neither of us got any symptoms of Lyme disease. But we still want to get tested, just in case.
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We went to their local Monday hangout a couple of times, danced to the local bands, met their tennis crew, and cooked dinner at their place a few times. They also had us over for their family Easter gathering, where we brought a yummy vegan meal for the potluck. While Lynda and Randy eat organic and a lot of their veggies come from their organic garden, they are not vegan or vegetarian. Randy and his twin brother commented that, if vegan food was this tasty, they’d eat more vegan food… Music to the ears.
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Randy and Lynda took us on a gorgeous boat ride along Crystal River to the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico, where sea and river water meet. We watched the splendor of the golden sunset framed by the silhouette of palm trees and glistening water. The dogs enjoyed the ride as much as we did. It’s always better when we can take our dogs with us. Lucky for every one, our friends are dog lovers. Their boat is rightly named Ruff Life.
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After having spent three months enjoying the family in South Florida, the heart strings were still pulling me. My sister had mentioned about manatees in Crystal River. She wanted to take the family to see the manatees that migrate to the area around Spring time. Ana, Marcos and Colin drove up five hours from Boca Raton to spend a day with us. We spent the day at Three Sisters Springs where manatees gather in large numbers.

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We walked around the park to the places with the most numbers. There were about 35 manatees in one spot and a few dozen others around the other springs. It was absolutely gratifying to be there for this wondrous moment. Seeing these majestic creatures huddle and swim together was humbling.

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Later, we took out the kayaks that Lynda and Randy had in their shed, and kayaked for a few hours along the canals. I tried to keep up with my nephew, who’s eleven and kayaked the longest. He loves the water and all kinds of sports. He is a natural. The calming motion of the water, the rhythmic rowing, the trees at the edge of the water that spread far into the forest and the blue skies above reassured that life is grand, rich and sweet. We ended the night in the hot tub with cold plunges in the freezing pool, before they headed back to Boca Raton, on another five hour drive.
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After three months in Florida, it was time for us to leave Crystal River and head north to Atlanta, Georgia.
If you haven’t read about our earlier journeys, visit our blog page to read about it. To connect with us, send us a message in our contact page, follow us on Instagram and shop the beautiful products by us and our friends.
We work along the journey, making new things, art and also selling the awesome lines our friends make. This journey depends on it. Shop the collections and invite your friends to shop our online store filled with handcrafted and ethical jewelry, knives, art and fashion.
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I am the one overseeing this website, creating content, posting, sharing... While we are both creative, gypsy artists, Dylan prefers to spend little time on the screen. I enjoy creating as much as playing with the social aspect of this virtual space. I love to sing, swim, paint, design, dance, skate, surf (though I haven't in way too long), yoga, being with family and friends, naps, though I rarely take one. Born in Peru and raised in New York City, I am a designer by trade, artist from the heart, ecopreneur and vegan. A lover of people, planet and culture.

You can follow me and my work on Instagram @violetavillacorta | @violetavillacorta_official | @violetavillacorta_art | @ORGbyvio | @theSageandtheButterfly | Twitter @viointheamazon | www.violetavillacorta.com | www.orgbyvio.com | www.wildvioletmusic.com