Sunday, April 27, 2014

Freezing Time

know that there always comes a point in ones life/travels where it is time for them to move on. Time to close this chapter. Time to take on the next adventure that lies just around the corner. But honestly, right now I just want to freeze time. 

Sloth inside La Ruka Hostel

I want to capture all those special little moments I've had with my friends here so that I can keep them forever. 

Pirate Trivia - Tasty Waves Cantina

I want to be able to go back to those nights I tore up the dance floor at The Lazy Mon, rocked an air band rendition of Journey's epic anthem Don't Stop Believing at Tasty Waves, or just spent my afternoons with the best of friends out at Playa Cocles.  

Karaoke Night - Tasty Waves Cantina

There have been so many times I've said, "Remember this moment" in the back of my mind. Like the times I would see my friends after a long time apart and get the biggest hug and kiss on the cheek you could imagine. Like sitting outside TW with friends just talking, having some beers, and making music. Or even getting late night pizza at Pizza "Baracha" and then riding home in the pouring rain. 

I'm sensing a pattern here.. Friends.

Can we freeze time yet?

Some moments and memories really do live on forever. And there are times I will never forget. Like the day I conquered my fear and swam out to Isla Cocles and jumped off of a 40ish foot cliff into the Caribbean Sea. Or the time all the TW crew came to Community Karma Yoga at Om after a day of day drinking at the waterfall. Those images will be burned into my brain forever, but it was by far the best yoga class I've ever taken!

Celebrations after the cliff jump

I've faced my fears and challenged myself in so many ways. This place has changed me. These people have made a lasting impact on my life. 

Pirate Trivia - Tasty Waves Cantina

We are such a band of misfits. That couldn't describe us any better. We are all a little bit weird, and yea, maybe we do like a good party. But I know from experience that these people will take care of me when I need them. 

Pirate Trivia - Tasty Waves Cantina

I'm going to miss these people like crazy. Puerto Viejo will always be here, but it's my friends who have made those moments into moments I want to freeze and keep forever. You know who you are.

I've met some of the most empowered women out here and I've become one myself. There must be something in the water... Or maybe it's the Guaro?

Girls night at my house.

I know that we can't actually freeze time. And I am ready to see what is next for me, but that's not to say this transition isn't going to be hard.

"But there comes a time, not too long after the glory days have ended, that we need to put them aside and move on to something else. If those life experiences were really so great, shouldn't they provide motivation for greater challenges?... When we choose to willingly let go of those times, we're not really saying farewell - we couldn't forget them if we tried." Wise words from Chris Guillebeau in a book that has helped me in more ways than one. 

Everyone goes through this at some point. Graduation. Moving for a new job. Ending a relationship. Whatever the reason for this new beginning there is always something to take from it. Even if it is just learning that Captain Morgans is bad news for you or to always remember to keep your mouth closed while riding your bike.. Whatever the lesson, take it, keep it, use it. And respect the glory days for all that they were.

Pirate Trivia - Tasty Waves Cantina

I don't know, I think pictures freeze time pretty well, don't you? 

Some moments, some places, and some friends make a lasting impact on your soul, freezing that moment or that place or that person into your heart forever. Freezing time. 

(Photo cred for this gorgeous one goes to my friend Taylor Murray, love you chica! xx)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Traveling through Costa Rica

Hopefully up to now, you have gotten a pretty good idea about Costa Rica and what I am doing down here for the time being. And even further, I hope that you are strongly considering a trip to this beautiful paradise I have been blessed to call home for the last year. Whatever your situation, I hope to provide you with some honest information regarding travel in Costa Rica and experiences with the Tico culture.

First of all, Costa Rica isn’t necessarily cheap. Yes, some things such as fresh produce are much cheaper, but the luxuries are not. Gas is quite expensive and clothes and beauty products are comparable, if not more, than you would pay in the States. For accommodation, you can generally stay somewhere as cheap as $10 per night (depending on where you are) or as expensive as $300+ per night. My suggestion is that if you plan on doing excursions and having cultural experiences just get a cheap room or stay at a hostel because, let’s be honest, you won’t be spending that much time in your room. All you really need is a bed to sleep in and a safe place to store your things. Staying in hostels, for me, has been one of the best ways to meet new people and experience a very raw side of tourism in Costa Rica.

As for transportation, public transportation in Costa Rica is pretty amazing. You can get pretty much anywhere you want to go by taking a bus and the best part is it won’t cost you much at all. Plus you will get to see how the locals travel because many people here do not own a car (again, gas is pretty expensive). They get around by way of bike or bus or their own two feet. Another little tidbit on the buses, try to get Directo or Expreso buses as they are nonstop. The Collectivo buses will stop at every single bus stop and pick up more and more people, sometimes until you can no longer even fit people standing. Collectivo buses are better for short, quick trips.

If you are travelling a very long distance, though, and have lots of luggage, I would recommend springing for one of the shuttles. Transportation companies such as Interbus and Caribe Shuttle offer shuttle services from the airport to many popular destinations around the country. They will be a little more expensive, but you will not have to hastle with bus stops, taxis, or worry about the safety of your luggage.

Now, on to the issue of safety. Lots of tourists are curious about safety in Costa Rica. Well, my best words of advice are to remember not just that you are in Costa Rica, but that you are in Central America. There is danger everywhere, but not necessarily more here than in other Central American countries. Be cautious, but not an annoyingly nervous tourist. Most people who say hi to you are really just friendly Ticos.

Now, to set the records straight, what everyone says is absolutely true. The Costa Rican people are truly incredible. They will happily welcome you into their home for a meal or offer you a ride as you walk in the rain. If you have children, they will fawn over them. Just to call them friendly would be a severe understatement. Their culture is extremely welcoming, relaxed, and loving and you can't help but love them back. 

All in all, depending on what you were expecting or looking for in a trip to this beautiful country, you should find it. There's a little bit of something for everyone. You can't be too much of a priss or expect complete perfection, because your transportation will most likely run late or you will get stuck hiking in the rain, but trust me, that's the best part of it all. And you will learn so much about yourself and your travel partner(s) in the process.

Pura Vida!! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A bit of light reading

Since I have been down here I have had a lot (and I mean A LOT) of time to read. So far I've blown through almost 4 books, and I've only been back for about 5 weeks.. That's a lot of reading.

A friend had suggested I read the book The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. The tag line alone reads "Set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world." Sounds like my kind of book. And no, it's not one of those annoying self-help books, I'd say it is more inspirational and empowering.. I've been into books like this lately.

This book really made me stop and think what would truly make me happy. Since moving to Costa Rica last year I have constantly been worried about what I will do after I graduate.

Will I be able to find a job?

What do I actually want to do?

Where do I want to live?

All of these questions have been piling up in the back of my head and stressing me out. And I've been updating my LinkedIn profile and applying for jobs left and right. But then I realized that it really is impossible to answer all of those questions. There's no right or wrong answer..

So this book made me think.. What really makes me happy? What am I passionate about?

Aside from my dance days (words cannot explain my love for performing), my time spent abroad has made me the happiest I've been in a long time.

Guillebeau points out that it is much more worth it to spend your money on experiences rather than things. I couldn't agree more. The experiences I have had over the last months I have spent abroad, in my opinion, are well worth the student debt I will be in. I realize now, that I don't need much. I can fit enough clothes and "things" in 2-3 suitcases and travel comfortably and happily.

That's all I need. Nothing more.

So my new idea, inspired by Chris Guillebeau's book, is to sell my things. Everything. All those "things" I have sitting at home collecting dust while I'm abroad. I don't need them. All proceeds will contribute to either 1) paying off my student loans, or 2) purchasing my next plane ticket and starting my life traveling the world.

I know, I know it sounds insane. But honestly, I don't want to be stuck working for someone else in a 9-5 desk job. If anything, I know THAT won't make me happy. I'm meant to do bigger and better things. And I'm not willing to settle.

I've seen what it is like to travel and see the world. And I've talked to enough people who have made it work that I know it is a possibility. Maybe I'll start my own business that allows me to work wherever I want or find someone to hire me who already has one.. I don't know. But as of right now, I am done trying to answer all of those impossible questions and have begun letting fate decide.

Whatever will be will be.

So if you are feeling stuck in your current life, job, relationship, or whatever it may be, I would highly recommend this book to you. Some people aren't ready to read these things, but if you are you won't regret it.

The Art of Non-Conformity
by: Chris Guillebeau

"Set Your Own Rules, Live The Life You Want, And Change The World!"

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Date a Boy Who Travels

Dating. It's complex and crazy. Add someone who travels into the mix and you are playing in a whole new ball game.

I recently came across two fantastic articles on dating men and women who travel. Though I still have yet to travel much, I have this intense desire to see the world in any way I can. We who travel have seen poverty, lived frugally, and even stood on top of mountains. Our hearts long for more and we have become addicted to the thrill of visiting a new place and meeting new people. We are different, and therefore difficult to date..

Date a Boy Who Travels by Lena Desmond

Date A Boy Who Travels
Date a boy who travels. Date a boy who treasures experience over toys, a hand-woven bracelet over a Rolex. Date the boy who scoffs when he hears the words, “vacation”, “all-inclusive” or “resort”. Date a boy who travels because he’s not blinded by a single goal but enlivened by many.

You might find him in an airport or at a book store browsing the travel guides – although he “only uses them for reference.”

You’ll know it’s him because when you peek at his computer screen his background will be a scenic splendor of rolling hills, mountains or prayer flags. His Facebook friend count will be over-the-roof and his wall will be plastered with the broken English ‘miss-you’ of friends he met along the way. When he travels he makes lifelong friends in an hour. And although contact with these friends is sporadic and may be far-between, his bonds are unmessable and if he wanted he could couch surf the world… again.

Buy him a beer. Maybe the same brand that he wears on the singlet under his plaid shirt, unable to truly let go. Once a traveller gets home people rarely listen to their stories. So listen to him. Allow him to paint a picture that brings you into his world. He might talk fast and miss small details because he’s so excited to be heard. Bask in his enthusiasm. Want it for yourself.

He’ll squeak like an excited toddler when his latest issue of National Geographic arrives in the mail. Then he’ll grow quiet, engrossed, until he finishes his analysis of every photo, every adventure. In his mind he’ll insert himself in these pictures. He’ll pass the issue on to you and grill you about your dreams and competitively ask about the craziest thing you’ve ever done. Tell him. And know that he’ll probably win. And if by chance you win, know that his next lot in life will be to out do you. But then he’ll say, “Maybe we can do it together.”

Date the boy who talks of distant places and whose hands have explored the stone relics of ancient civilizations and whose mind has imagined those hands carving, chiseling, painting the wonders of the world. And when he talks, it’s as if he’s reliving it with you. You can almost hear his heart racing. You can almost feel the adrenaline ramped up by the moment. You feel it passing through his synapsis, a feast to his eyes entering through those tiny oracles of experience that we call pupils, digesting rapidly through his veins, manifesting into his nervous system, transforming and altering his worldview like a reverse trauma and finally passing but forever changing the colors of his sight. (Unless he’s Karl Pilkington.) You will want this too. 

Date a boy who’s lived out of a backpack because he lives happily with less. A boy who’s travelled has seen poverty and dined with those who live in small shanties with no running water, and yet welcome strangers with greater hospitality than the rich. And because he’s seen this, he’s seen how a life without luxury can mean a life fueled by relationships and family rather than a life that fuels fancy cars and ego. He’s experienced different ways of being, respects alternative religions and he looks at the world with the eyes of a five-year-old, curious and hungry. Your dad will be happy too because he’s good with money and knows how to budget.

This boy relishes home; the comfort of a duvet, the safety stirred in a mom-cooked meal, the easy conversation of childhood friends and the immaculate glory of the flush-toilet. Although fiercely independent, he has had time to reflect on himself and his relationships. Despite his wanderlust he knows and appreciates his ties to home. He has had a chance to miss and be missed. Because of this, he also knows a thing or two about goodbyes. He knows the overwhelming uncertainty of leaving the comforts of home, the indefinite see-you-laters at the departure gates and yet he fearlessly goes into the unknown because he knows the feeling of return. And that the I’ve-missed-you-hug is the best type of hug in the whole world. He also knows that goodbyes are just prolonged see-you-laters and that ‘hello’ is only as far away as the nearest internet cafe.

Don’t hold onto this boy. Let this boy go and go with him. If you haven’t travelled, he will open your eyes to a world beyond the news and popular perception. He will open your dreams to possibility and reality. He will calm your nerves when you’re about to miss a flight or when your rental blows a flat, because he knows the journey is the adventure. He will make light of the unsavory noises you make when you – and you will – get food poisoning. He will make you laugh through the discomfort all while dabbing your forehead with a cold cloth and nursing you with bottled water. He will make you feel like you’re home.

When you see something beautiful he will hold your hand in silence, in awe the history of where his feet stand and the fact that you’re with him.

He will live in every moment with you because this is how he lives his life. He understands that happiness is no more than a string of moments that displace neutrality and he is determined to tie as many of these strings together as he can. He also understands your need to live for yourself and that you have a bucketlist of your own. Understand his. Understand that your goals may at some points differ but that independence is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship when it’s mutually respected. You may lose him for a bit but he will always come home bearing a new story and a souvenir he picked up because it reminded him of you, like it was made for you and because he missed you. You might be compelled to do the same. Make sure that independence is on your bucketlist and make sure it’s checked. Independence will keep your relationship fresh and exciting and when you’re together again it will forge a bond of unbreakable trust.

He’ll propose when you’ve breached your comfort-zone, whether it be a fear like skydiving or swimming with sharks or sitting next to the smelly person on an overcrowded bus. It won’t be with a diamond ring but with a token from a native culture or inspired by nature, like the penguin and the pebble.

You will get married somewhere unassumed, surrounded by a select few in a moment constructed to celebrate venturing into the unknown together again. Marry the boy who’s travelled and together you will make the whole world your home. Your honeymoon will not be forgotten to a buffet dinner and all-you-can-drink beach bars, but will be remembered in the triumphant photographs at the top of Kilimanjaro and memorialized in the rewarding ache of muscles at the end of a long days hike.

When you’re ready, you will have children that have the names of the characters you met on your journeys, the foreign names of people who dug a special place in your heart if only for a few days. Perhaps you will live in another country and your children will learn of language and customs that open their minds from the very start, leaving no room for prejudice. He will introduce them to the life of Hemingway, the journey of Santiago, and empower them to live even bigger than both of you.

Marry a boy who travels and he’ll teach your children the beauty of a single stone, the history of the Incas and he will instil in them the bravery of possibility. He will explain to them that masking opportunity there is fear. He will teach them to concur it.

And when you’re old, you’ll sit with your grandchildren pouring over your photo albums and chest of worldly treasures while they too insert themselves into your photographs, sparked by the beauty of the world and inspired by your life in it.

Find a boy who travels because you deserve a life of adventure and possibility. You deserve to live light and embrace simplicity. You deserve to look at life through the eyes of youth and with your arms wide open. Because this is where you will find joy. And better, you will find joy together. And if you can’t find him, travel. Go. Embrace it. Explore the world for yourself because dreams are the stuff reality is made from.

If I could pick a man to date out of a catalog, this would be him. To all of my fellow traveling women, this is exactly the man we dream of. Someone who can challenge us to face new fears and see new things and who will follow us to every corner of the earth.

But just as I am no travel expert, neither am I a dating expert. I have not yet traveled as much as I would like, but I have the heart of a girl who travels.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lucky Girl

I live in paradise.

I don't think I've ever been this happy in my life. And no, I haven't found love down here (insert eye roll).. Unless you consider my love for this place and the friends I have found in it. Because, that I have found.

I don't know what I did right in my life, but somehow I ended up in one of the most beautiful and friendly communities in Central America. I feel so unbelievably blessed I cannot even put it into words. 

There are many ups and downs to this place though. Yes, the natural beauty and vibes are intoxicating. But life here is not for the faint at heart. Spending a short time here may not seem like enough, but an extended period can be too much for some people. It is very easy to just get lost in the everyday parties and celebrations and completely forget about work and sleeping. This I have learned from experience. 

Managing time and sleep is extremely important. The people who call this place home have it down to an art. Since this is such a touristy town people are always coming and going. Thus it is always someone's first or last day in town, birthday or anniversary. To say the least, there is never a lack of reason to celebrate (aka go out and paint the town red). 

And yet through everything, I still love this place to pieces. I like the way I feel here. I like who I've become. I love how open and welcoming people are and how I feel comfortable just being myself. No one will judge me if I spend the night dancing like crazy on the dance floor. Yes, they may think I'm extremely inebriated, but more often than not they couldn't be farther from the truth. We all have different stories and we are well rehearsed in telling them.

This year, I want to meet someone new every day. I want to enjoy every minute I have here, but still get my research done and done well. Who knows, maybe at the end of this I will end up with a job or have opened a new business.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Home Away From Home

I have found bliss. Family. Friends. And the most incredible energy and feeling of love in this place.

La Ruka Hostel in Puerto Viejo is truly a gem. The people. The atmosphere. The energy. You simply can't leave this place without longing to come back. I'm one to talk. I've stayed there almost every free weekend I've had since being down here. And trust me... that's a lot! Even now that I have my own place, I still find a reason to stop by and hang out.

Here I have found some of the most incredible people who welcome me home every time I walk through the gates. The hugs and kisses are in abundance. These people are truly enlightened and empowered and share their love with everyone.

I have had the opportunity to celebrate the full moon with the Mayan traditional Chocolate Ceremony. They have random jam sessions and family dinners. Not to mention everyone is happy to go out on the town with you and dance like crazy!

So if you are ever in Puerto Viejo, please, do yourself a favor and stay with them. And I promise, you will not only leave with friends from all over the world, but you will leave with a new found feeling of love and inspiration.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Life in the Jungle

It is now 2014. I still can’t believe it.

As I sit in my new “Jungle House,” completely disconnected, I really cannot believe this is my life right now.. Out here I have no wi-fi, no A/C, no hot water, yes I do have electricity and running water, though other so-called luxuries are lacking. But frankly, it’s not that bad. And I have to say… I kind of like it.
Honestly, I was quite nervous the first night. Up until now, I have never even lived by myself in the states, and now I’m out in the jungle of Costa Rica on my own. Talk about a challenge. The first night was kind of hard for me because I’m used to at least being able to watch Netflix or check Facebook when I got bored, but out here it’s only me and my thoughts. Let’s just say I’ve already finished one book… and I only brought 5.

It really is nice though. The property is absolutely beautiful. Very secluded. Many people today are afraid to be left alone with their own thoughts. And it is kind of scary at first, but after a while you get used to it. Out here I can just sit and think, or nature watch (this morning I watched a pack of squirrels play in the trees), or read, or write. Heck, sometimes I even sing. My book may finally get written living out here. Not to mention, you will get many more blog posts out of me!

When the sun rises in the morning (around 5:30 am), I am wake to the sound of howler monkeys and roosters crowing. I sleep to the sounds of cicadas and crickets in the jungle and I have access to organic bananas and plantains and free range eggs in my neighbor’s farm. Though this place is much farther from town than I had originally wanted (a 30 minute bike ride) I may stay here for a bit just to see how it goes. 

Anyway, I am officially back in Costa Rica for another 4 months or so in the Puerto Viejo area. I know I’ve probably said it before, but this place is absolutely insane. I have only been here for about a week and am already finding it hard not to go out with friends every night of the week. I have officially joined the wolf pack. As this is a very popular vacation spot, it always seems to be someone’s last night in town, birthday, anniversary, or other reason to celebrate. I’m sure you can see how that would be difficult to turn down.

This year will be very exciting for me though. Not only am I living close to one of my favorite spots in Costa Rica, but I will be working on my Field Experience for grad school with the Camara de Turismo del Caribe Sur (aka the Tourism Chamber for the Southern Caribbean Region of Costa Rica).

This position is right up my alley. I will get to work with local business owners and tourism aficionados on building their chamber as well as increasing the “right” kind of tourism for the region. This area of Costa Rica is very popular for the backpackers. It is right on the way to and from Panama and thus receives many tourists passing through. Many of whom end up staying a little longer than expected. Once here, no one really wants to leave. 

Needless to say, I am extremely excited to see what these next few months have in store for me. My friends out here are absolutely amazing and welcomed me with hugs and kisses the day I returned. 

It's good to be home :) 

Save the penguins!

It's been quite some time since I've felt inspired to write and publish a blog, but guess what?!? I have found inspiration! And ...