During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, actress Ariana Ron Pedrique was busy filming “Ayar” in various parts of Los Angeles where she lives. “‘Ayar’ is a feature film about a Latina who returns home after an unsuccessful showbiz career in Vegas to reunite with her 5-year-old daughter,” she said. “Playing Ayar was special to me (and) peeling back all the layers of such an interesting and fully dimensional character was fascinating. She’s a strong-willed woman who is willing to face all her demons (and) hoping to amend the relationship with her daughter. This is also a story about survival, regret, forgiveness and rebirth.” “Ayar” will release in theaters on Nov. 26.
Q: What are some of your memories about growing up in Venezuela?
A: When I was a kid, my family would take me to Isla Margarita. We would go to all these beautiful beaches and eat empanadas for breakfast down at the seashore. This is by far one of the best memories I have of growing up in Venezuela. Also, all the Christmas parties at home with my family, listening to our holiday music while eating all sorts of delicious food, memories of us decorating the house together – I’ll never forget!
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Q: What kind of trips did you take during this pandemic?
A: My husband and I wanted to do something we’d never done before and decided to go on a road trip to Sequoia Park and Yosemite. We stayed at a charming Airstream hotel surrounded by trees and campfires. One day, we found ourselves surrounded by deer! I couldn’t believe how peaceful they were and how spectacular the experience was. We’re definitely going back this year.
Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: I love Playa del Carmen in Mexico. It’s so beautiful. I totally recommend it! And to someone going there for the first time, I would say – eat breakfast at La Cueva del Chango, snorkel in Playa El Cielo (in Cozumel), and don’t miss the seven-color lagoon at Bacalar.
Q: What was the first trip you took as a child?
A: When I was six months old, my parents took me to Oricao, a beach club in La Guaira (Venezuela). I know that because my parents took a picture of me with no teeth and a pink polka-dot swimsuit, which my mom likes to show to everyone. My family would go there every year. We would play in the hydrotubes and water slides all day long. It was one of my favorite places in the world.
Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A: I love Carmel, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Big Sur … and I can’t wait to visit Mammoth Lakes. I’ve been told it’s spectacular.
Q: Where is the most romantic destination?
A: I’ve been dreaming of going to Santorini, Greece, for a while now. Even though I haven’t been there yet, I can already tell it’s the most romantic place I will ever be.
Q: If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A: I did go to Vail once for Christmas. I stayed at a charming home in the middle of a white mountain. It was the first time I ever saw snow and it was everywhere. Everything was so beautiful. It looked like a Disney movie. It was also my first time skiing and I loved it.
Q: Do you speak any foreign languages?
A: I am a native Spanish speaker, fluent in English and lately I have fallen in love with Italian.
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A: Every time I travel, I will bring with me a big bottle of water, a great book and some healthy snacks. Chocolate, too.
Q: What would be your dream trip?
A: I would love to live in a beautiful bungalow in Bali for a month (and) give myself the time to just enjoy life. Also, ever since I was a kid, I’ve always dreamed of going to Egypt and riding a camel.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A: Listening to music from the ’90s and singing along so hard that it hurts. (Laughs)
Q: What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A: Lately, I’ve been enjoying traveling comfortably. So, now I look for the best possible schedules when considering buying a ticket. I check in early, do my bags a couple of days in advance. I like to review some of the places we can visit. But I also want to go with the flow and let myself marvel at the experience.
Q: What is your best vacation memory?
A: When my husband and I went to Honolulu to celebrate our engagement. It was our first time there. We rented a car and traveled all over the city to all the beaches we could find. It was very adventurous and romantic. We loved it!
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)