Today FriFotos celebrates ONE year – Happy Anniversary Mr Epstein! =) Great concept, I follow it religiously since I discovered it. And so, fitting it is this weeks theme: ONE. It could mean a variety of things, depends on one’s POV, which is why I love it today – such a variety of photos I’ve seen on Twitter! Woman solo travel it is, then 😀
As for me, this FriFotos theme was a perfect “excuse” to make a photo compilation of some of the journeys I’ve embarked on solo – my many experiences as a solo woman traveler. Please note, this is only meant to be a “teaser” or photo summary – full stories of each journey will follow soon! Conversely, if I have already written about a particular topic, click on the in-text link to read the respective post. Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful weekend! =)
Cancun & Chichen Itzá, Mexico – March 2008
I tried to get a group of 16 of my college friends together to head out to Cancun for my last spring break before studying abroad. Didn’t work out, so I said screw this, I’m going solo! And this is what they missed *evil grin*
I, however, always make friends rather quickly…
Aaand wore a *cough* thong *cough*
Plus spotted some bad-ass Mayan architecture at Chichen Itzá during a day trip that week
Washington, DC – June 2008
Shortly after my Spring Break stint, I headed to Washington DC for the Scholarship Convocation of that sweet deal I earned thanks to months of essay-writing and years of good grades . You know, that $20,000 study abroad scholarship to study Arabic in Egypt for a year? Yeah, that one =D Of course, I had to head out to DC solo, got a sweeeet room all for myself right by the Capitol at The Liaison Hotel, and met some wonderful brains in the process. With them I walked around the Mall & marveled at the sights for the first time in my life. Fun times!
Egypt, Israel, Jordan – August 2008 to July 2009
Just two months after DC, I departed for my greatest solo adventure to this day: Egypt and the Middle East! For a full grand year, I got to enjoy the most stigmatized (imo) region in the world. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that what the Western media says about the fascinating Arab world is quite skewed. Sure, there are problems (aren’t they everywhere tho!?), but I honestly felt more secure walking through the streets of Cairo at 4 AM or the streets of Jordan at 11 PM by myself than doing so in Puerto Rico or Tampa at any time of the day! If you have been avoiding this region because of what the news say, let me give you a news flash myself: JUST TAKE THE PLUNGE ALREADY! It is FASCINATING!
I rode camels – several times over…
Wandered through historical, ancient cities & sites
Climbed many historical sites, all while mingling with locals (and other world adventurers)
Witnessed history buried underwater…
even floated on historical waters…
…and, as a dramatic farewell, embarked on an epic 5-week solo Middle Eastern road trip, which took me to dozens of cities, spanning 3 countries, hitchhiking and Couchsurfing all the way. AH-MA-ZING!
“The Transatlantic Tour” NYC, London, Spain – August 2009
The Middle East wasn’t enough to satisfy my wanderlust, oh no – I had to study abroad again in Africa, this time a little west, in Morocco. En-route, I went on what I called “The Transatlantic Tour,” with stops in NYC, London, Spain & 2 cities in Morocco before arriving to Ifrane.
Morocco – August to December 2009
I briefly visited Casablanca and Fez, but that first day in Moroccan lands was so erratic, I couldn’t really take many pictures (click here to know why).
And so! High in the Atlas mountains, I studied Arabic language, Islamic history and World Religions at Al Akhawayn University for 4 months.
It wasn’t all books, though – I befriended a great entourage from West Point (yeah, that bad-ass school) and together we took road trips around Morocco and have quite a couple of stories to remember! (to read more, click here)
During my Moroccan stint, I even got to go to Europe for a 3rd & 4th time!!
Ater heading back to the US of A in January 2010, I realized my last college Spring Break would be 2 months later, and so I planned my next journey: PANAMA! I traveled solo, met some great travelers from all over the world at Aqua lounge Hostel in Bocas del Toro and then heard some interesting stories from US diplomats on a chartered, 8-people, 4-day sailboat trip through the San Blas Islands by the Caribbean coasts of Panama. Yes, epic should be my middle name -I know (because clearly, modesty isn’t. LOL!). For a full trip report of this journey, click here!
And then…I stay put for a while. I haven’t embarked on any crazy solo journey ever since, except for the occasional weekend Couchsurfing in Orlando, FL for some concerts and Miami, FL for Latin spice and extra fun in the sun. Oh, WAIT! There’s ONE MORE!!!
Ummm, yes, as the photo caption suggests, somehow I flirted my way to the VIP lane and could get first-row-seats (I mean, standing spot) with even a private bathroom at the Ball Drop in Times Square for New Year’s 2011. Probably not too legal, thus the covered NYPD Officer’s face so the poor kind man doesn’t get in trouble! (to read more about this epic Times Square NYE, click here)
And behold, my loyal followers – the next epic adventure is set and the wanderlust shall continue!
*happy sigh of relief*
What was your definition of ONE for this week’s FriFotos? Share in a comment below!
wow, you’ve done a lot of traveling. I can’t get over how you went solo for a whole year from Jordan to Egypt. That’s incredible! I don’t know if I could live through those countries for a year but you make it sound amazing.
I actually lived in Egypt for a year — my soul Middle Eastern Rd. trip only lasted about 3 weeks, and it included Egypt, Jordan, and Israel 🙂 but thank you! It was amazing and I would never hesitate to recommend it to anyone else.
It’s all about being open-minded, flexible, and willing to learn. We will never get it all right from the get-go — and that’s the beauty of life! 😉
Aaaawww this was such a cute post! I just stumbled upon your page from Marcello’s site, the video with you speaking “PRican” spanish. Anyhow Arabic has always been one of those languages I’ve always wanted to learn! Was it hard? I’m out here in NYC so the next time you’re planning to come back, hit me up!
Arabic is hard when it comes to conjugations and grammar, but to me the pronunciation wasn’t hard at all. Then again, my first language is Spanish, so you might have a dif. experience with Arabic 😉 I’ll def. give u a shout when I go back to NYC! 😀
Awesome pics! I like the new site design too!
Great pictures Maria… You sure have been around the globe a lot. Let me know when you go shipwreck diving… I love to watch that on NatGeo, but it would be fantastic to do it myself one day…
Take care and watch out for sneezing people around you :-p