California Love


Spending the summer in California. I think it’s safe to say this state is my home.  Every time I come back from a long trip away, I’m reminded how beautiful this place is.  Although this isn’t the best ‘mountain view’ photo, it does have something to say about the bonds I’ve made in California.  There’s something special about a place that draws people from all over the country and world.    It’s California love.

Reflections: San Juan del Sur

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It is my last day in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.  These past few days have been beautiful and rich.  Days spent climbing the highest perch to swim and see the town below.  Afternoons in the garden of my favorite café, sipping, writing, day dreaming.  Feeding my eyes with many sunsets, and my soul with many embraces, knowing that soon it will be time to let go.  And I am ok.

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It’s always bittersweet leaving a place that has given so much.  Moments of laughter and dancing, walking barefoot in the streets.  When the electricity cuts out, we find the myseteries there, friends gathering, lighting the darkness with music and conversation.

Yoga mornings after an evening of festivities.  Other mornings when breakfast is missed all together, there’s always tomorrow, but today is the last day, so tomorrow will be else where…

Through this place, and these people passing through, I’m reminded I have fire and passion in my spirit.  I believe I must be a cat sometimes, days filled with routine naps, my playfulness begins at 1:00pm.

I’ll remember our room at Casa Oro. How we made it home with rocks and sea treasures. The stacks of cordoba change on the top shelf, a constant goal to get rid of; which in the end, we did. Music always playing.  A white room with white sheets and two colorful people, never to return again to habatacion numero 8.

San Juan will continue changing, and if I ever do return, it will not be the same. With different people and different music, but that too is part of the experience of growing older, because nearly everything changes; save for the rising and setting suns on San Juan del Sur.  All I have to give is my gratitude and these words, the rest is swept up in the sands.

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Reflections: Delicious Ambiguity

Happy belated Valentine’s Day everyone…or perhaps not depending who you’re talking to!  Valentine’s is one of those weird holidays that either makes you feel what you’re missing or reminds you of what you have.  And somehow with this strange life I lead, I fall somewhere inbetween.  I wanted to find a quote that spoke to my own uncertainty about travel and love and I think this quote by Glida Radner says it perfectly.

I wanted a perfect ending.  Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end.  Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.  Delicious Ambiguity.

-Glida Radner

Dating and Traveling


As we all know, dating nowadays is exhausting.  Technology has opened the doors to ever greater options of courtship while dually diminishing our standards of thoughtfulness and respect through the process.  So yeah, dating is tough, but what’s even more difficult is trying to date as a traveler.  Motives are misconstrued, insecurities are amplified, and a general understanding of how to date a traveler is like asking a drunk person to walk a straight line, they know how to, they’re just suddenly incapable under the circumstances.

First off, I’m surprised there isn’t already a hip portmanteau or blend word for a travel dater (Any suggestions?).  For the past 3 years I’ve had a serious case of wanderlust.  Coupled with my natural inclination to be in a relationship, these two ideas that make me happy struggle to  coexist for an extended period of time.  For one reason or another I get to the next place alone, every time.  My time spent in one place seems to dictate how long the relationship will last, never the other way around, and I have yet to travel with a significant other.  The easiest thing to do on both sides is to be grateful for the short lived romance and get when the gettin’s good.  Why haven’t I been able to maintain something long lasting?  Why doesn’t it ever work out?  Ever? 

When I type in ‘travel dater’ on Google the first result that pops up is an article entitled, ‘Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels’ by Adi Zaradias.  Ok, I’m going to go cry now.  Among a handful of cliché, over romanticized travel fluff jargon, in bold letters the author writes, ‘She will never need you.’ Yes, obviously women who travel are pretty capable, badass bitches, however, what is also implied is that if you’re not in the travel game, you won’t get it and you’re not good enough.  Ouch.    Additionally, I feel she’s trying to say travelers don’t have a soul when it comes to relationships.  What the hell?! 

I’ve met many different kinds of travelers with all sorts of ideas about love and relationships.  To be honest, the spectrum isn’t much different than if you put a bunch of random people with roughly the same age in one room.  Everyone would still have their own unique outlook on how they want or don’t want to experience a relationship.  The only problem is that when you put the idea of frequent travel into the mix, it gets complicated. Duh.  

I’ve had to tackle tough conversations with partners explaining why I can’t stay.  My goals and intentions for possible travel plans are always explained in the beginning.  The thought of having a particular corner of the world that I need to visit hanging over my head is not an option I’m willing to compromise.  Resentment in the conquest of love is not a risk I’m willing to take.  So you might be wondering if I don’t stay, why wouldn’t your partner go, right?

There are two main reasons I have not traveled with a partner.  The first is simple: time.  I have never stayed in one place long enough to allow a relationship to get serious enough for that option or to even consider how to go about it. The other reason, which gives me the most grief, is that (in my personal experience) men don’t take dating a traveler seriously.  It’s a bit of a catch 22 at times.  Because I am leaving eventually, they don’t care to put in the effort, and because they did not show me their best selves, I don’t care to ask them to join me in my life changing adventures.  It’s like an inevitable relationship trap I willingly go into.  Every.  Time.  

My understanding is that people view a traveler as someone who doesn’t really care about who they’re with in the first place, the real catch is the next stop, the new experience, the plans after them.  Then there’s self preservation.  Why get caught up and treat it seriously when the other person will leave?  When you try to date someone who embodies both these notions, it can be dangerous.  Yes, I’ve been cheated on.  The only thing I can say is, I do care, and I’m as every bit of human as the next person.  I put love, respect, and value into all my relationships and I deserve to receive that back as does everyone in a relationship, no matter the circumstances. 

Perhaps this is a bit of a commentary on the types of people I choose to date.  I can hear that one friend on my shoulder telling me, ‘stop dating losers!’ Truly though, I hope I have shed some light and widened the perspective on dating someone who travels.  It could be, if you’ve ever dated a traveler, that you end up being a whirlwind of a story in their own epic adventure or even become the other half of the journey entirely.  But isn’t that the possibility we hold to all relationships we enter? 

Reflections on Constant Movement

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I’ve decided to move to Portland in 2 weeks.  Well, I actually decided this 9 months ago, after travel plans preceding it.  I’ve never been to Portland, and the farthest North of the PNW I’ve been is Ashland, OR.  What comples a person to move to places unknown?

Everyone has their reasons.  A job opportunity, a friend, mother, or lover.  Hope- an idea of something better, something more.  For me, it’s uncovering the mystery of the unknown.  It’s reinventing myself.  It’s inspiration.

As a teenager, I remember watching Almost Famous and falling in love with that movie (all my friends did as well).  Kate Hudson’s character, Penny Lane was so cool, how could you not fall in love with her too?  There’s a scene where she muses on her idea to move to Morrocco, “I think we should have completely different names and be completely different people.”

Don’t mistake me, I’m too honest to fool anyone and I like who I am, but what’s life without a little mystery, a little fear?  Perhaps that also has something to do with why Halloween is my favorite holiday…

The first time I returned back to California after about 6-7 months, everything looked smaller than I remembered it to be. When I looked up at the stars from places I had been, the horizon and the twinkling canopy above felt like it had shrunk; I felt almost disappointed. I realized that it was myself that grew, and I needed to see other horizons. The solution: keep moving.

It’s not so much running away, but running towards something- A better understanding of self; a wider perspective of the world.  When I took my first solo trip, a friend told me, “You’re going to get lost to meet yourself.”

There’s a difference between moving and traveling, traveler and vagabond, wanderer and tourist; I’ve done and been them all to varying degrees.  They’re all bound by a common thread: to discover.  It’s pealing the layers away from what you think you know, and if you go far enough, if you’re lucky even, you get to the core of yourself.  You face your dreams and fears, sometimes in the same breath.

Perhaps it’s the fear of mediocrity, or the fear of commitment, and don’t even get me started on fomo.  Some people want a family, a home built in the ground, and a perennial garden they can count on every year.  I guess I just want to live many lives in the one that I have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I look;  morning to night I am never done with looking.  Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around as though with your arms open

-Mary Oliver,

Excerpt from Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does it End?

 

It Could Be Anyone, Anywhere

  

It’s tough being a modern, independent, adventurous woman sometimes.  When I ended my last long-term relationship of 3 1/2 years, my protective bubble fell away. I’ve experienced how being outgoing, nice, and alone has made me a perfect target for predators, and has set my ‘bullshit detector’ on full blast.

At home or abroad, it makes no difference- it still happens.  While working at a nice farm-to-table bar and restaurant where I lived, I was walked in on in a bathroom (that didn’t lock properly) and trapped.  The guy got a swift knee in the gonads and I got away.  So did he.  My last 2 days in Thailand, a man I met who spoke 5 languages and was finishing up his degree, wouldn’t let me close my door after walking me to it.  He only left after I told him I’d raise my voice louder after every time I told him to go.  Guess he wasn’t smart enough to translate ‘No.’  Of course he had the audacity to ask me out the next day.  Get out of my life!  When someone offers to buy me a drink, my automatic thought is, ‘what do you want from me?’  I’ve come a long way from being naive and trusting.

While backpacking Costa Rica, I made friends with a local.  He offered to show me around the gems of Manuel Antonio, and I was excited to see the less touristed areas.  We trekked for a while, but once we were in a completely secluded area, he asked me to lift up my top.  I was out like lightning.  It was then (my first solo trip) that I had to come to terms with who I was to the outside world, especially while traveling: attractive, single, and easy to take advantage of.  It was depressing.  I wanted to make genuine connections, get to know another way of life, see the side of places I might not be able to on my own.  Why did there have to be an alterior motive?

This isn’t a ‘woe is me, I’m beautiful and life is hard’ post.  It’s a message to men that women, under no circumstances should be viewed as something to be conquered.  It’s a message to women that it could be a reality for you.  It’s a warning that the cool operator that says you have a beautiful heart and he only wants to respect you, might actually want to do the opposite.  I know this, because I’ve experienced that.

I’m truly thankful that these close calls haven’t gotten out of my control; I feel for those in which it has.  My heart seriously hurts for humanity when a gentle, beautiful, trusting person can be broken.  It’s not fair.

This isn’t a light post, I know, but it’s an issue worth talking about.  Many travel blogs only talk about the beautiful, positive side-and surely that’s true and real, but there’s the dark side too.  So much seems swept under the rug and replaced for something lighter and brighter.  I want to share my beautiful discoveries with you too,which I do, but I  also want to reveal the darker truth that few seem to talk about. 

My intention is not to discourage solo travel, but enlighten, raise awareness, and hopefully arm you properly.  It’s a big, beautiful, chaotic world out there worth exploring.  But not everyone is as trustworthy as myself and perhaps you.  Not everyone has pure intentions, and that is just the reality.

The hard part is acknowledging it is a part of life.  Have I put myself in situations where the probability of these instances are more likely to happen?  In some cases, yes.  Does it make it justifiable?  No.  But I refuse to change who I am and how I do things unless it suits me.  Why should I?

It’s upsetting and frustrating because I come from a place that wants to see the best in people.  Although I’ve had numerous experiences where I’ve been unjustly disrespected and sexually harassed, it hasn’t lead me to put all men under the umbrella of unworthy.  But it’s happened enough times that I want to speak about it.  What gives?

Koh Rong Gone Wrong

Talk about paradise lost.  Being here and witnessing all the building, consuming, and trash strewn beaches has been eye opening.  This has been the first time I really, really felt bad for being a tourist.

Last night I climbed to Sky Bar with a friend I made in Siem Reap.  We had to escape the main beach strip where sewage wafts through the air almost everywhere.  It’s a hike to get there, but worth it.  Clean and relaxed, they take the plastic off your water bottle before handing it to you and serve you glass mugs instead of plastic.  These little things make a difference!

As we listened to what my friend said was ‘solid house,’ I couldn’t bring myself to move.

“I’m depressed.”  I let this paradise gone wrong ruin my night.

We talked to the bartender about beach cleanup and what conservation measures were being taken.  Apparently there’s a beach cleanup once a week, but it all just builds up again.  I couldn’t believe all the beach trash was an accumulation of just 1 week!

“The problem is education.” Said Camille, the bartender at Sky Bar.

Yes, we agreed.  We learned as children the importance of recycling.  Captain Planet anyone?  Beyond this however,  most businesses use styrofoam platters, plastic cups and utensils.

I just wanted to yell, ‘Did everyone forget we’re on a f****** beach?!’

I’m calling out all the hippies that come here, all the travelers looking for beauty, the people trying to get away from it all, and all the educated people that come here to start a business- THIS IS NOT OK.

I genuinely hope this blog post, out of all of them, gets read.  It’s not because I hate this place, it’s because I love it.  I love the beautiful children here, and the well fed dogs.  I love the clear blue water and the ferry boats docked on the pier.  It’s a colorful island.

I know I will never come back to Koh Rong unless I intend to make a serious effort to save it.  I hope the same for those that have felt similarly about this paradise.