Wanderings: San Juan del Sur

Yesterday my friend, H and I tried to find the lighthouse of San Juan del Sur.  We both have days left and decided we needed a mini excursion, and a break from our daily café stops and pool lounges.  I must write of one little adventure before I leave Nicaragua and this not so sleepy beach town. Although we didn’t find the lighthouse, we found our own wonders.

We knew roughly where the lighthouse is, although from the central part of town and the beach, it is not viewable.  So we headed in its general direction.  Walking through the residential part of town, it was refreshing to see what lay beyond the barefoot surfers and Nica taxi drivers asking for their service.  Children were playing in the streets, chickens and dogs wandered about.  No tourists here, just Nica life.

The road curved up, so we continued forward, taking note of the property that ran alongside us which was gated and obstructed from view.  I joked it was the home of SJDS’s drug lord due to the hidden opulence of the place.  We persisted up, up, up.  Yeah, it was really steep though…

Alas, a barbed wire fence and grassy lands notified us that the road had ended.  Naturally, we went past the barbed wire.  Stretches of land lay before us, H and I scanned the rolling hills trying to navigate this lighthouse.  With the encouragement of my friend, we squeezed through more barbed wire, our eyes on what looked like a cabana at the top of one of the hills.

We came across this spiraling grassy roadway that went around the entire hill and was lined with flower bushes. What we thought was a cabana was a sheltered hut with a long wooden table and some chairs inside. The thought was romantic, but how the hell would you get food all the way up here?

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Around the corner, a stunning view lay before us.  But still, no lighthouse.  We trudged on. The hills were carved out in dirt paths everywhere, we only needed to get on the right one. Down into the thickets we went, turning into a downhill slide, staying close to the ground I crabbed walked down, down, down.  I wondered if the way back up would be more difficult…

Now we were back on the coast, filled with smooth rocks, enclosed from anything and everyone.  We explored the rocky beach, picking up little sea treasures.  This was our destination.

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Wanting to avoid trekking through the dark, H and I took in our secret spot for a brief moment and headed back up before sunset.  The way up was much less treacherous, but my legs were feeling it.

This time we followed the spiraling path downwards and realized we were now inside the property we originally had been so curious about.  I hesitated going forward.  Maybe we should turn back and go around? That sounded tedious.  Again, my partner in crime encouraged me forward.  Hopefully we wouldn’t get murdered I joked.

Walking through the property, it was extremely well kept.  When there had been people about earlier, there was now no one.  Where did they all go?  Taking each other’s hands we approached the security guard at the locked gate.  He walked up casually as my friend tried to explain our misdirection getting to the lighthouse.  I’m sure he understood none of it and only nodded and unlocked the gate.  As freely as we entered, we exited

After our long trek we grabbed a cerveza from the market and popped them at the beach we know so well to see sunset.

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Thank you San Juan del Sur for revealing your secret places, and your everyday life I’ve been so far away from. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.

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Envision Festival 2017

Welcome to Envision 2017 in  Uvita, Costa Rica.  Nestled between palm trees  and sand, 4 days of music, arts, yoga, and hot, hot, hot heat commenced; bring your bindis and good vibes.  For some this is an annual ritual, and others, much like myself, it’s a once and a lifetime experience.  Whatever the situation, prepare to get lifted.  For the most part, it was an amazing third eye opening experience, and as always, one I’d love to share.

Upon arrival, I stood in what seemed like an endless zig-zag line of immigration and customs, Envision goers stood out like a sore thumb.  Indicating factors: tattoos and piercings, patterned clothing, and in my case, blue hair.  Some acknowledged each other in various ways, be it a knowing look, head nod or striking up a conversation.  However, when I arrived at SFO the day before, I had my flight canceled right off the bat and redirected.  Needless to say, I wasn’t in the Envision spirit and feeling exhausted, no one was getting a peep out of me unless approached.

I made moves straight to my hostel in San José, in the heart of the capitol city called Pangea. Every person I met there was going, which made it easy to make some friends and figure out how to get to Uvita by bus, about a 5 hour trip south along the Pacific coast.  I got dropped off in Dominical, the town before Uvita and made a friend while I scoped a café and waited for my friends to meet me.

First order of business: iced coffee and WiFi.  My new friend, Chris and I ended up sitting for a couple of hours while we exchanged the stories of our lives, reaffirming the reasons for coming.  Connection, authenticity, and a desire for growth (Of course you don’t have to go to a music festival to do or seek that out, but it helps ;)).  I ended up running into him a handful of times at Envision  and was honored to be that grounding buddy for him.

While my new friend left to find a hostel, another Envision attendee sat down next to me.  A suave surfer, proclaiming he knew important people, although he was not at liberty to divulge. Ok…???  As he continued to tell me how cool he was he added he wanted to be a shaman with a wink.  At that point I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not.  Here I experienced a fine example of where privilege and arrogance meets consciousness and healing.  Quite a scary combination, but a reality.  After a brief convo and a monkey ball (a no-bake cacao, coconut ball) he was gone and my friends arrived shortly after.

So this was how the rest of my Envision trip was going to go.  People from all walks of life, the positive and negative, passing through briefly to share a collective experience.

Shortly after I met my sister friend and her partner whom I planned this trip with, we scooted off to our hacienda in the hills.  We swam, we drank, we ate, it was pura vida (Costa Rica’s national saying, translating to ‘pure life’).

The next morning it was time to get to the festival.  I tried Chi Gong (or Qi Gong) yoga for the first time, and for those of you who are unfamiliar, think controlled breathing with uninhibited shaking and wriggling.  Let’s just say I felt like a kid again and it was great, and to be honest, that’s probably the weirdest I got for the entire festival.  After loosening up my body and mind, we explored the festival and perused the yoga and workshop classes that would be offered.  I was impressed by the variety and mentally made a note of what I’d like to go to.  To name a few there was sacred tobacco ceremonies, jade egg class, Chakra alignment, and acro-yoga.

For the music portion of it, again I was impressed by the stage setups which were art installations in themselves.  A few must sees for me were Rising Appalachia (best performance of the festival in my opinion), Autograf (I danced the hardest for this set), Zach Deputy 2x (best vibes), and Random Rab for sunrise which was beautiful and something special to be apart of after staying up the entire evening with everyone and feeling that energy extend into daylight.

The one negative occurrence that continued to pop up was theft.  Unfortunately, one of the houses we rented was robbed.  Money, electronics, and a bottle of tequila. The tequila though… Needless to say, we were all pretty shook up, although grateful no one was present during the burglary.  The frustrating part of it was our friend who had two performances at Envision had her computer with all her set information on it stolen.  For an artist to have their tools taken from them on the eve of a performance is a great misfortune.  Luckily she had her music backed up and was able to borrow a friend’s computer. She pulled it together and had two beautiful performances. 

I spoke with a handful of people who had experienced something similar.  Be it house, hotel, hostel, car or tent, there seemed to be no discrimination.  There was obviously some bad juju, outsider resentment going on, which to an extent I can understand, and unfortunately it revolves around money.  All that I can say to this is that, for the most part, Envision is a positive creation with good intentions and good people.  To protect our belongings and prevent any future possibility of theft, we gathered all valuables and checked them into the baggage check at the festival.

The message of Envision was so clear and beautiful: come with the intention of building bridges and create a better tomorrow through self discovery and self improvement.  With that message, and the even the negative experiences that did happen, the most valuable piece I brought with me was knowing what’s not important and letting go of that, and finding the love within yourself to create and hold what is.  Pura Vida!

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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

I’m Still Here…

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted!  I’ve been up in the mountains, tucked away, planning and thinking.  And there is so much going on that I will again begin to share with you all.  However, this is a reflective post on turning the big 3-0 a.k.a: dirty 30.

Big sigh…of relief!  I saw my reflection the other day and truly saw myself as a woman: strong, beautiful, and willful.  The days of feeling unsure of who I was or where I was going are gone.  I’ve accepted that everyday I’m learning more about myself, and the future is widely unknown.  I no longer think in terms of how outside influences effect me only, but how my choices reverberate in a multitude of ways.  My satisfaction does not come from the approval of others but out of my own happiness that is being true and real with myself.

It seemed as I drew farther away from my early 20’s, I feared the superficial ideas of what that meant: losing my youth, effects  of aging, ‘taking life seriously,’ etc.  These ideas have transformed into knowing that my spirit will always be youthful; health, happiness, and authenticity is beauty; and life is part doing and part trusting.

These are the positive things you are not told enough. When you’re growing up, you’re growing.  And that is a beautiful thing.

In a couple of weeks I’m embarking on a Central/South America trip. I am so excited to delve into the journey ahead.  With these parts of myself that have grown and developed, I hope I can share with you the ever evolving transformation.

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? 

Elephant Riding, The Conscious Way


Before my trip to Southeast Asia, like many others, I knew I wanted to sit atop a glorious giant in all its exotic splendor.  However, I knew the reality of this popular tourism activity is widely rooted in some serious animal cruelty.  If I was going to do it, it could only be in a right and beneficial way.  Thankfully, I found Elephant Village in Luang Prabang, Laos. I was able to learn, care for, ride, and feel good about my experience and sharing it with others.

I did my research.  Elephant Village was by far the most expensive elephant riding organization I had seen, but for good reason.  These animals had been rescued from logging work and cared for in one of very few places that provided an elephant hospital and an on site elephant vet.  These creatures were only available to the public until around noon, bathed, then lead into the jungle within the perimiter of the sanctuary which was very vast. They all had days off and because the cost of spending the day with them was so high, it ensured a stress free environment with fewer people.  The day I went, there were only two other women in my group and we enjoyed a peaceful and personal day with the elephants.



The cost was  almost $100.  That was by far the most expensive part of my entire trip, and some serious $$ for Southeast Asia.  Although I was on a backpacker’s budget, this was the only big splurge I allowed myself.  This money went into feeding and maintaining the elephants as well as educating locals about the impact of slash and burn and teaching them other skills and alternatives on how to earn a living.  Elephant Village even denied the leasing of the land to the government to establish a tourism project!  How cool is that?!  I saw how dedicated they were to the land, community, and elephants, which meant a lot in deciding where I put my dollars. 

All in all, it was a memorable experience. I wouldn’t say to anybody, ‘Don’t ride elephants!’  The important point is to find an organization that cares and is not perpetuating animal cruelty.  There were many places that were ‘no ride’ which I think is great, but I had the opportunity to ride with a clear conscious and know that I was contributing to something positive.  It’s not so much what you do, but how you do it!

Fighting for Yourself

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Everyday is a challenge. Some days I’ve spent with friends, laughing and dancing until I close my eyes; those are the easily conquered ones.  Some days I can’t stop listening to that voice in my head that says, ‘what are you doing with your life?’  Not a fan of those days.  It’s those days I have to remind myself that life isn’t easy, and I’m not the only one who questions their own path.  A healthy dose of being constantly unsatisfied has kept me fighting.  And fighting for yourself is not giving up on your dreams.

I just finished watching Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue and felt compelled to write about standing on your own.  This documentary was done so well, and I was reminded of what a true artist she was, a blues artist.  Part of her story really spoke to me and I’ve been finding an uplifting thread lately with being a woman and doing what feels true to yourself.  This idea of fighting for what you want; it’s been keeping me going lately.

“You are what you settle for.” Those words stayed with me after that film and it’s exactly what I’ve been feeling these days.  This relates to my recent job endeavors completely.  I came rolling into Portland all nonchalant, thinking that I was going to freelance write and snag a cool barista day job, be creative and wander around Portland.  Not so much.  Unfortunately, my friendly warnings that getting a job in Portland is hell were true.  I almost bent a little for a corporate barista gig, but upon learning that I’d have to take out my labret piecring, cover any tattoos, and be drug tested, I literally asked, “Am I in Portland?”  I don’t feel bad about declining the position because I haven’t been traveling for 3 years to get a mediocre low wage job where I can’t be myself.  I may as well just go for an ambitious job with benefits if I have to abide by rules.  I repeat, ‘DON’T SETTLE!’

As for the writing, my real passion, I just continue doing it.  Everything else will work around it, and I can’t allow the excuse of ‘nothing is working’ to not write.  It’s why I’ve created my life the way it is, to be this constantly moving equation.  These wandering years have been filling my life with experiences and allowing new scenery, strange and beautiful people, and unconvered mysteries to constantly inspire me.

As I near the end of my 20’s, I feel myself crossing this imaginary threshold of gender expectations and an overall societal pressure to ‘build my foundation.’  But the truth is, I’m kind of irresponsible-in the traditional idea of what ‘responsible’ means anyways. ‘Un-dateable,’ that’s another one I picked up from watching Frances Ha.  But the one responsibility to myself that I must fulfill is writing.  I just went through a low point of being stressed out on life and not writing.  I ate a lot of ice cream too…But I can only stay away from the pen so long, until I really start feeling without worth.  That’s when you know what you should be doing and you owe it to yourself to do it.

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For all those people out there not settling, still fighting for your dreams, I praise you!  Those kinds of people are what make this world beautiful.  I know I am, it’s a constant evolution, and it isn’t always what I had in mind.  I read something the other day about the goal being secondary and process being what really matters.  It’s about what you’re doing now, because the presence is all we have, right?