Silk Road overland trip: on my travel bucket list! What’s on yours?

Hi all! From now on, Travel Bucket List Wednesdays will likely be short and sweet, as I’m quite busy! In fact, I want YOU to share your travel bucket list items. Submit your posts, photos, dreams, and any other type of travel inspiration on a comment below. Invite your friends–let’s inspire the world! Here’s how it works:

1. Submit a link related to an item you crossed off (or plan to visit!) from your travel bucket list below. It can be any type of travel inspiration, Pinterest board. photo galleries, blog posts, etc.

2. Tweet all your travel bucket list items with #TravelBL and I promise an RT.

This week, I’m adding Silk Road overland to my travel bucket list! Why?

Well…

travel bucket list, Silk Road routes map

“Silk Road extending from Europe through Egypt, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Java-Indonesia, and Vietnam until it reaches China. The land routes are red, and the water routes are blue.” (Wikipedia)

Any type of epic journey always gets my attention. Take Mr. Graham Hughes and The Odyssey Expedition, the first official Guinness World Record™ attempt to visit every sovereign state on Planet Earth without flying (and some territories in between). That’s a total of 201 nations visited overland/overseas. Or Family on Bikes, who cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina. One day I wish to complete several travel feasts in the likes of those epic adventurers, and a Silk Road overland (and oversea!) journey is definitely on the shortlist. It’ll be particularly interesting to cross the pirate-infested waters around Horn of Africa as part of an international flotilla. Just imagine those blog posts, photos, and videos…! Speaking of which, check these out. Now tell me you don’t want to go there with a straight face 😉

travel bucket list, Bukhara Silk Road

Also on the Silk Road: Bukhara, Uzbekistan (Guillaume Pelletier, Flickr)

Can you blame me? 😉 Maybe this will be my first epic journey after all…

What’s on your travel bucket list? Share your posts!

Travel bucket list: Fulfilling the dreams of mama and papa (share YOURS, too)

*To share your own travel bucket list, scroll to the bottom of this post*

As I thought of what to add to my travel bucket list this week, my mind was suddenly flooded with memories of mama. And papa. Maybe spending Mother’s Day away from her (and the coming Father’s Day away from him) contributed to this, but I digress…

travel bucket list, my travel photos

A few of my travel photos

I want to take mama & papa on an epic journey to realize their dreams.

Mama is an avid adventurer who married too young (though loves dad to pieces), so she couldn’t explore the world how I do now. Instead, she has held multiple jobs for decades, working up to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week to sustain my sister, my ill dad (muscular dystrophy), and me. You’ll hear her fantasize about the day she finally gets her full pension (just a few years away!) and has the means and time to explore the world and volunteer full-time. You see the hidden tears in her eyes when she sees my travel photos: Both of joy/pride for her daughter and of unfulfilled dreams.

I wanna change that. I wanna take mama to every site she wants to see.

That’s the newest item on my travel bucket list, which happens to be item number 1 as of today. In addition to…

Taking papa to Vegas.

travel bucket list, Vegas strip

Vegas strip at dusk (Nevada Tourism Media Relations on Flickr)

That’s item # 2 now. You see, dad hates flying and gets sea sick easily, so cruises and extensive travel are not for him. However, he would always hint to Vegas when I first wanted to get married…and has never stopped mentioning Vegas ever since. He even said “I would be brave enough to hop on a plane…just to make it to Vegas one day!” Then, as I recollect memories through the years…I remember dad would always mention Vegas in any conversation about fun, dreams, etc. And while he’s like the brother I never had (he knows some deep secrets I would never tell any other friend of mine, let alone mama!), he has always been secretive about his own dreams.

Except Vegas. He just can’t help that one.

I want to have cousin Sergio joins us, take papa to a few strip clubs (why not!? Just look and don’t touch!), take him gambling a little, maybe even fly the rest of the family over, drive and have a week-long vacay on a house boat on Lake Powell at the end of the trip. No motion sickness here, so it would be perfect for papa, too 🙂

travel bucket list, Lake Powell houseboat

View of Lake Powell houseboat from the restored Three Roof Ruins (jah~ on Flickr)

When I go back home (Puerto Rico) in July, I’ll make sure I have extensive conversations with both mama and papa, mental pen in hand, to make sure I cross off as many items from their travel bucket list as possible. Not now, as I’m currently struggling, but hopefully in the near future.

I want to get to know them more.
I want to give back to them as much as I possibly can.

Love you mama and papa. Los extraño mucho. Can’t wait to see you and start to cross off my our new travel bucket list items, together.

My sister has a baby + is finishing college. I already told her Titi María is taking Jayden on his very first trip: Disney World. We have a few years until then 😉

travel bucket list, Disney World fireworks

Disney World fireworks (Joe Penniston, Flickr)

For more travel bucket list inspiration, click here

What’s on your travel bucket list? Share yours below!

 

Remember: Travel Bucket List Wednesdays are every week!

1. Submit a post related to an item you crossed off (or plan to visit!) from your travel bucket list on Mr. Linky above

2. Please, leave a comment on this post.

3. Tweet all your travel bucket list items with #TravelBL and I promise an RT.

Dali Museum Florida and its Tree of Wishes: Photo essay

I also have this Dali Museum Florida post under “Inspiration” category of my travel blog, as this is one of my many (successful!) attempts at enjoying local tourism and dealing with my life after travel. Hope it makes for a good Travel Bucket List Wednesday photo essay as well! 🙂

Salvador Dali Museum Florida: Finally crossed off!

For years on my travel bucket list, it wasn’t until February of this year that I finally visited the Dali Museum Florida. Located in beautiful St. Petersburg, the “American” tribute to the famous surrealist artist was founded in (year), but was recently remodeled, expanded to more than twice its original size and reopened in 2011:

Old Dali Museum Florida

Dali Museum, FL before remodel (2010 Jinjian Liang, Flickr)

Interesting fact: Did you know Salvador Dalí’s full name is Salvador Domènec Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis de Púbol!? *catches breath* Whoa!

New Salvador Dali museum Florida at night

“The new Salvador Dali museum is the permanent home of the world’s most comprehensive collection of the renowned Spanish artist’s work” (Ron Ciervo, Flickr)

The Salvador Dali Museum Florida is only one of 5 Dalí museums worldwide, which include the Dalí Theatre and Museum (Figueres, Catalonia), Dalí Universe (London), Espace Dalí (Paris), and a permanent Dalí exhibition in Berlin.

It is impossible to see all the works in one day, obviously.

As “the world’s most comprehensive collection” of the eccentric artist (see caption of image above by Ron Ciervo), the Salvador Dalí museum in Florida has over 1,500 works. Thus, my first visit simply included a very informational scheduled tour to get a gist of all the exhibitions. While I’m usually against group tours, our guide was incredibly knowledgeable. Not only did we enjoy learning about how each of the works presented came to life (i.e. painting techniques used, how it was commissioned, etc.)–but we were also graced with additional information about the personal life and emotional background of each painting. I learned so much about Salvador Dalí–and came to fall in love with my favorite eccentric artist of all time all over again.

My favorite parts

I loved learning about his love affair with Gala Dalí. I was not aware that Gala left her husband (and her kid!) to stay with Dalí in Paris. In turn, Dalí made her famous, became his muse and one of the most painted models of the time. How did she repay him? Stayed with him all the way through his (alleged?) dementia and until the day she died. It’s funny, though, that the guide didn’t mention the several extramarital affairs Gala, and even Dalí, had. Apparently, Dalí practiced candaulism. Still, I’m not gonna lie–this eccentric love story, albeit sinful, captivated me…

Dali Museum Florida, Gala Lincoln painting

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea: A panting whose name–and reflection at a distance of about 20 meters–tells a bigger story (dasoaz, Flickr). Dali Museum Florida now houses the original piece.

Funny enough, my other favorite part of my day at the Salvador Dali Museum Florida was the “Tree of Wishes” or Wish Tree.

Dali Museum Florida Wish Tree

My man (in purple) and the Tree of Wishes at the Dali Museum Florida

Yes!

It is tradition to take off your museum admission bracelet once you are done with your visit, take it to the “Tree of Wishes” in the backyard, write a wish on it, and tie it to a branch of the Tree–then, believe it’ll come true! The kid in me was very excited 😀

Dali museum Florida building and wish tree

Wishes from all over the world, hanging by a tree

Our wish at Dali Museum Florida

Our wish <3

All in all, an enjoyable day of local tourism (Florida)

I’ll have to repay a visit and perhaps even take a scheduled tour with a different guide–I’m sure the experience will be totally different. It’s refreshing when one sees the attractions close to our current base as exciting as any other outsider does!

Dali Museum Florida, building

Dali Museum bench and part of the bldg. (Matthew Paulson, Flickr)

Have you been to a Dalí museum? What’s on your travel bucket list?

Travel bucket list ideas, photos: Aogashima, Dali’s home, and more!

It’s Travel Bucket List Wednesday again! My favorite daydream time of the week. My travel bucket list additions today are mostly places that I have never seen a blogger talk about (minus the Dalí house, perhaps). How new they were to me (first time I ever saw most of them!) made me quite excited about this post. See my entire travel bucket list here and share yours by the end of this post!

Aogashima island – Japan

Located in the Philippine sea, Aogashima island literally dropped my jaw! I mean, just look at that photo *points below*! Whoa! What’s more is that despite its 4 submarine calderas, it is actually inhabited. By the by, this island also made it to my travel bucket list because of how difficult it is to visit (and to leave). The population and its culture must be different feasts in themselves. Seasonal sports fishing and tourism, in addition to agriculture, sustain the few dwellers in Aogashima island. Another interesting fact: There’s only one school in the island, with grades from elementary school to junior high.

travel bucket list ideas, Aogashima island

OMG...

Salvador Dalí’s house museum – Cadaqués, Catalonia

I absolutely adore Salvador Dalí. Ever since I first spotted one of his paintings in Spanish history class back in elementary school, I was intrigued and never forgot his name (or eccentric works). So if you tell me you are able to visit his home, now turned into a museum in Catalonia, I’ll be all over it! His work in an actual building he designed himself? Yes! As you would expect, his quarters are a reflection of his paintings and sculptures, plus the museum also features some of his unfinished works. I can’t wait to finally cross this item off my travel bucket list! I’m sure my camera will run out of memory that day…

The Door to Hell – Turkmenistan

Really looks like the door to hell. And it is in freakin’ Turkmenistan?! Heck to the yes – in fact, I want to take a micro-flight over it! I wonder if that’s possible…

travel bucket list ideas, Door to Hell

Whoaaa! (flydime, Flickr)

Thor’s Well – Cape Perpetua, Oregon

Yet another natural wonder joins my extensive travel bucket list this week. I’m not quite sure whether it is as impressive as the picture below suggests, but I still want to make it there. Plus, there’s always Portland…which I haven’t had a chance to visit yet either…

travel bucket list ideas, Thor's Well

It is best, and naturally the most dangerous, to visit during the winter storms. Woo!

Remember: Travel Bucket List Wednesdays are every week

1. Submit a post related to an item you crossed off (or plan to visit!) from your travel bucket list on Mr. Linky below

2. Please, leave a comment on this entry before you leave.

3. Tweet all your travel bucket list posts with #TravelBL and I promise an RT.

What’s on your travel bucket list!?

Life after travel: My depression and learning to live day by day

Life after travel has been quite difficult for me. Being the control freak I am, feeling “trapped” in a world I no longer felt I belonged to drowned me back into the big black hole of depression. Yesterday, however, my partner helped me resurface with a conversation and sort of “ephiphany.” I can’t believe I was so paralyzed to see it until now…

1.5 years traveling and living abroad = one spoiled María

In 2008, I was part of a study abroad program in Egypt for a year on a full-ride scholarship to learn Arabic intensively. Also, I traveled the Middle East extensively, met amazing people from all walks of life, and heck, even got to salsa dance with Egyptians 7 days a week. The cultural and sensory stimuli were unbelievable. I thrived and I enjoyed myself, despite traveling with a broken heart and fighting depression back then for the second time. Yes, I felt abandoned by a love back home, yes. I struggled with chemical unbalances and clinical depression. However, my life-long dream of traveling and seeing amazing ancient temples and monuments greatly helped my recovery.

life after travel, Pyramid of Giza

me at the Great Pyramid of Giza

My Arab adventures didn’t end there. I moved to Ifrane, Morocco and studied Islamic Civilization and Modern Arabic for 4 months (a semester), again on a full-ride, and even got to teach colloquial American English to a group of Moroccan college students as part of my financial aid package. I befriended an American-Moroccan and 4 West Point cadets, we took road trips around Morocco almost every weekend. I had the time of my life. I even traveled Europe extensively, thanks to low-cost airlines. I saw Rome, the Vatican, I went to Madrid about 3 times, and London in about 4 stopovers. Closing that year was an epic week-long Couchsurfing trip to Iceland. How could I withstand life after travel? How could I “settle” and be “normal” upon graduation after experiencing all this?!

life after travel, Morocco

me in Essaouira, Morocco with one of the local kids we took in for lunch

life after travel, Vatican

me at the Vatican

I stayed in college for another year, with the “excuse” of starting (and finishing) a second bachelor’s degree. I love school, so it was the best of both worlds. On spring break I took a trip to Panama and went out dancing as much as I could. Then the inevitable happened: Graduation. I already had a cubicle job, translating and earning good money in a bad economy. Then my friends started to move away. Then I felt more and more alone. I grew to feel trapped in a job with no cultural stimuli beyond language, no exciting itineraries, barely time to travel.

life after travel, San Blas islands sailing

sailing San Blas islands – I saw many deserted islets like this one for 4 days

Life after travel = depression…with a boyfriend

I didn’t want a boyfriend, but I met someone special in Nov 2011. I was still managing OK back then, especially since I could take a great 5-day trip to Curacao. But as I received 2012, I felt the big black dog of depression approaching. It fully hit me around February and has not left me alone since.

My life after travel paralyzed me. I cried daily. I didn’t know how to live anymore.

All of a sudden, I was completely lost and was drowning in utter misery. No matter what my sweet boyfriend would do, it never seemed like enough. Naturally, he exploded yesterday:

“Need to do something about this. If you are miserable, DO SOMETHING!”

Right.

I felt so lost in a life after travel in Tampa, FL. To me, it is a city that could never live up to Cairo or Fez. No cultural stimuli, just a bunch of rich kids “living the life” — a life I could not afford on my salary, not when I was trying to save AND pay off debt at the same time. And no time to travel. It almost felt worse than prison. BUT WAS I DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT? Was I trying to see new things and attractions along beautiful Florida? Was I trying to escape on weekends, couchsurf locally, try to see my known surroundings in a new light?

NO.

Then it dawned on me: I was drowning in a glass of water. I wasn’t allowing myself to be happy unless I were abroad. The positive Maria who would always take the best out of any situation had been forgotten.

This life after travel had to change.

Yesterday, my boyfriend Blaine drew some plans in order to help me live my life after travel day by day, learning how to enjoy myself locally:

1. Each Wine Wednesday, we’ll have a picnic outside, watching the ocean, as we plan out what we’ll do the weekend ahead.

2. One weekend, we’ll have an event. Say, we have a day trip or weekend out of the city, but somewhere nearby. Maybe a 2-hour drive away on the east coast of FL? Maybe finally visit St. Augustine, one of the oldest cities in America? Yes!

3. The weekend after an “event” we’ll have a “try a new local restaurant” day. We’ll thrive to find quirky joints or try to recreate odd dishes in our own kitchens. Then maybe even visit a local park we’ve never been into.

4. Always be on the lookout for cool events in the area. Every Wine Wednesday, after our weekend plans are down, we’ll look up events happening in the coming weeks. If they involve money, we’ll then plan and save ahead so we can make it happen.

How did I not think of this before? In a life after travel, I was too busy thinking of the big future instead of thinking of the “small” present. “Small” doesn’t always have to be “boring.” Small means “I’m planning for something bigger, so I must rejoice on simpler things right now.” Besides, even the unknown foreign lands eventually become familiar, so we must learn to enjoy SIMPLE daily life regardless. Life, unfortunately, won’t be exciting 24/7, so…

life after travel, carpe diem

(C) Carolyn Sewell

I know this seems like common sense to many of you, but someone who has struggled with depression and even eating disorders in several occasions, it is quite easy for me to fall pray of helplessness. Specially when the chemical unbalances of your body aren’t helping. Not that I am seeking excuses, I just need to push myself harder in this life after travel. And that’s OK. Because we all have limitations — this simply happens to be mine. I must push a little harder and be ready to punch and kick depression right in the butt. Also, I must remind myself that my current situation is only temporary, that I’m simply gaining a lot of experience from this translation post. That my business trips start this summer and it’ll only get brighter from there. That God has amazing plans for me and I simply need to be patient. That I’m pretty damn lucky to simply have food, shelter, more than one job, and loving people around me who support me no matter what, while most of the world is suffering of hunger and loss. Shit, sometimes we can be pretty damn ungrateful. But it’s ok, so long I don’t stay in that damn mental hole for too long…

life after travel, drag queens

At least I got my Drag Queens in Tampa!

How do you deal with life after travel? What’s been your experience like?

Travel without a plan experiment: my Curacao trip report

I can’t believe I never told you the details about my travel without a plan “experiment”! While I have shared most of my Curacao adventures, I have failed to explain, in detail, the outcome of my Curacao experiment. So! What better time than Travel Tuesday to share this with you!? Let’s hit it! 😀

travel without a plan, Curacao Nov 2011

what I love about travel: Locals like him

Travel without a plan: The Hypothesis

I’m going to be honest here: I thought it wasn’t going to be that great. Don’t get me wrong–I loved the adrenaline rushes I was feeling weeks before the trip as I knew I would go plan-less. I mean, I did it in Israel and let’s be honest: It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. No way I could have planned 3 weeks straight of hitchhiking and couchsurfing solo across historical sites and kibbutzes! However, I at least had a plan-as-you-go mentality: While I had no itinerary when I departed, that quickly morphed into a “I know what I’m doing 2 days from now” mentality. Yes: I had itineraries written down 2 days ahead of time during the last half of my trip. This, however, would not be the case in the Curacao experiment…at all.

And I was scared because of it!

Why, you may ask!? Because I thought I would miss out on a thing or two. And do I know how the “travel regret” hits me…hard! So I was challenging myself in a big way.

Travel without a plan: The Methodology

Just bought a RT ticket Miami-Curacao. That’s it. Granted, I sent some Couchsurfing requests. Yet, in the end, I said: “Screw this, let’s make this the real Travel Without A Plan experiment!” I was even going to hit Bonaire in the process, but wasn’t going to buy that plane ticket until after I got to the Curacao airport. Yah, NUTS!

travel without a plan, Curacao flight

Curacao sunset from above

Travel without a plan: The Experiment

I arrived to Curacao with only one colorful duffle bag and a purse. Once at the airport, I simply asked a clerk where to go to book a flight to bonaire for a few days. She said: “Don’t go there if traveling solo! You’re young and unless you are diving, Bonaire can be boring. Spend your whole vacation in Curacao instead. You’ll have fun, I promise!” And so this is how I stayed in Curacao for 5 days…

Then, it was the Operation Finding a Cab. Charged me $25 as no one else was going, but at least he spoke Spanish and we had a great conversation on the way. I commented that I had not booked a hotel and told him about my Curacao experiment. What did my cabby think? A0 Estas loca. B) Te voy a ayudar (I’ll help you out). And so after asking “for any cheap hostel or guesthouse by the center of town,” I arrived at Villa Colombia. $13/night for a bed, including full breakfast? Oh yah, it’s on!

travel without a plan, Villa Colombia, Curacao

My Curacao guesthouse: Villa Colombia, No 74 – 79!

Villa Colombia was just a 10-minute walk away from the center, called Punda. For 5 days, I lived in the middle of a true Curacaoan neighborhood. Which of course, made the walk out and back to the guesthouse wonderful. I took in the daily Caribbean life, had a Curacaoan mom (my host!) that spoke Spanish, and was taken care of like family. Mom even exchanged my dolllars for florines (Curacaoan currency) at the fair market rate. I doubt I could have planned this so well!

travel without a plan, my Curacaoan host

my Curacaoan mama and me!

My days consisted of walking around the center of town, taking photos, and getting food at local restaurants, which was easy as virtually everyone spoke Spanish in addition to Papiamento (Dutch Caribbean dialect) and Dutch; sometimes also English. I had some great conversations and understood that Curacaoans were pretty similar to us Puerto Ricans. After all, we are all from the Caribbean 🙂

me walking toward Curacao's center: Punda

action shot!

On my second day in Curacao, I befriended a Venezuelan guest called Sonia, and we would hit town together many times. Also, that same day, I met a couple of Latinos in the center of town, Yara and David, which were on their way to the beach. After Sonia told me to go alone because she wanted to do more shopping, I hit my first Curacaoan beach!

travel without a plan, Mambo beach Curacao

Mambo beach

Once at Mambo Beach, I really befriended the Latinos. I learned that Yara was actually a tourism exchange student, so she was living on the island. This meant that after the impromptu day at Mambo Beach, I got to see her awesome cottage in a completely different town and met more exchange students there!

travel without a plan, Curacaoan cottage 1

the exchange students’ Curacaoan cottage! So lovely

travel without a plan, Curacaoan cottage 2

The layout of the Curacaoan cottage was nice

travel without a plan, Curacaoan cottage 3

hammocks and…a KMART pool! XD haha I call those like that =P

That same night, I went out with all of them after eating some home-made Curacaoan fish and veggies. We danced the night away (live Latin band, YAY!) and sobered up by eating Curacaoan fast food afterward.

travel without a plan, Curacao clubbing

me with Dutch girl Sandra (center) and Latina-Dutch Yara (right) at the nightclub

My 3rd day was a day trip with Yara and David to Blue Bay with another Curacaoan friend of theirs. This was a beautiful resort and we had a blast, despite the cloudy weather!

travel without a plan, Blue Bay Resort, Curacao

part of the grounds of the Blue Bay Resort, Curacao. It was gorgeous!

travel without a plan, Blue Bay beach, Curacao

entrance of the main beach at Blue Bay resort

travel without a plan, Blue Bay, Curacao

Blue Bay beach view

What about my fourth day? On a tour, hopping some of the best beaches of Curacao and even a grotto all day! Oh, and did I mention it included an amazing lunch (I ate iguana in Curacao!) and free beer all day long?! Booked last-minute (the night before) and got a sweet 60% discount. Bargaining, of course. Ahh, gotta thank Egypt for the practice! 😀

travel without a plan, Porto Mari beach

Porto Mari beach

travel without a plan, eating iguana in Curacao

IGUANA I ATE!

travel without a plan, Boka Kalki

Boka Kalki

Finally, Mr Mitch (@Mackinnontweets) arrived from his house build in Argentina and we spent the last leg of my trip together. Sharing travel stories while watching the ocean, eating amazing food at the more upscale restaurants in town, and even gambling at the local casinos was the perfect ending to my trip.

travel without a plan, Curacao harbor

watching ships leave harbor with Mitch before dinner

walking to our restaurant (it was on a high floor)

travel without a plan, Curacao restaurant

gorgeous view with dinner!

a little gamblin’ after dinner (Photo: Mitchell Mackinnon)

Oh wait! I almost forgot to tell you: the hitchhiking was the pinnacle of this trip!

We took the local bus to Cas Abou beach on our last day in Curacao. You see, we were told we would only have to walk a couple of meters from the bus stop to the beach…wrong! It was more like a couple of kilometers… Soooooo after about 10 mins of walking and no coast in sight, I encouraged Mitch to hitchhike. He agreed, and we flagged the next vehicle: a mom and daughter from the Netherlands, who spoke perfect English and were quite chatty and amusing. Just fabulous!

Curacao hitchhiking

300 meters? Not so much!

Cas Abou beach, Curacao

Cas Abou beach (Photo: Mitchell MacKinnon)

Travel without a plan: The Conclusion

One of my best trips to date, for sure! I proved my hypothesis wrong: I didn’t really miss anything, except for the diving. Which, in all honesty, iw as planning to do on a different trip anyway. So for not having a set plan (not even a hotel!), I paid close to nothing for a room, good several free meals, saved on exchange fees, and met some amazing people on the way! The best part? Living like a Curacaoan and seeing how they go about their daily life. I only took public transportation (except for 2-3 occasions) and stayed in a residential neighborhood. Just treat after treat! Traveling like a local surely is better than just being a tourist

Punda, the center of Curacao, at night

Cas Abou beach again

Artwork in Punda, Curacao

Curacaoan rum — oh yes

Do you have a great Travel without a Plan tale? Share it below!

Postcards: Surfing in Puerto Rico and the best spots to do so

Surfing in Puerto Rico is on my travel bucket list.

surfing in Puerto Rico, Aguadilla

Photo: Josh Bozarth, Flickr Commons

Odd, eh? Not crossed off yet! I grew up in the island and was there for 18 years of my life. However, never made it to surfing. I was an avid in-line rollerskater, mountain biker, and track & field athlete — and a nerd. I think my mom refused to buy me a surfing board and by the time I was able to afford one, I moved to the United States to go to college.

surfing in Puerto Rico, girls

Photo: redpepperflakes, Flickr

Funny how life works, eh? Still, with many of my friends surfers themselves, I recently wrote a detailed article about the “Top Surfing Beaches in Puerto Rico” for My Destination, my newest client!

In case you were wondering: Yes, I’m also a bilingual freelance travel writer on the side in addition to being a nomadic translator + work 40 hours+/week as a full-time manager for an e-commerce firm in the U.S. Speaking of which…my spirit has been facing some tough tests latelybut I’ll talk to you more about that on  a separate blog post at a later date. Now! Back to the fun photos:

surfing in Puerto Rico, Rincon's big waves

Big wave in Rincón! Photo: captain_ambiance, Flickr

surfing at sunset

surfing under the beautiful Puerto Rican sunset must be magical! Photo: Josh Bozarth

Have you ever gone surfing in Puerto Rico? Is it on your #TravelBL?

Travel without plan: Curacao and Bonaire, here I come!

Heya peeps! It is T minus 2 days for Curacao and Bonaire, aka the Dutch Caribbean, and all that’s on my mind is travel without plan! Huh!? Well, I sent some Couchsurfing requests and only one has been answered which was to say that unfortunately he won’t be able to host me because he is moving this very weekend (of course, such is my luck). The CSer did tell me that we would def. flip the island over though…and I just 😀 !! Sooooo uhhhhh another travel without plan trip – wooohooo!?!??!?!

I got no accommodation set. Like, at all. And I don’t know why I’m so friggin’ excited about this. I’ll just arrive, meet up with the CSer in Bonaire and be like “so where do you think I could stay for a reasonable price?” and BAM. For Curacao I will then have 3 additional days for someone to “pop up” on Couchsurfing but if nothing happens, then travel without plan again!

Travel without plan: Dutch Caribbean

Curacao: The Dutch Caribbean!

I do have some ideas on what I’ll do in Curacao, though. Lola Di Marco was kind enough to tweet me some pics & locations I def. have to checkout while I’m there. For Bonaire though I don’t have a clue…and while I’m being tempted to look some stuff up, I think I just want to fully wing it again (ahhh, reminds me of my impromptu Israel hitchhiking/Couchsurfing trip in 2009!) and just wait until I get there and have the Dutch Couchsurfer simply show me what’s uuuup 😀 ahhhh the joys of travel without plan…always so exciting!

So! To get you (and me!) excited for my upcoming trip, I decided to share some of the photos and locales Lola tweeted me and advised I should not miss when I visit Curacao. Oh by the way, over there I’m meeting up with Mr Rupert (long story on his nickname lol) so it’ll be a tweet up of sorts 😀 he’s coming from a Habitat for Humanity house build in Argentina and I hope he is ok with the whole travel without plan deal! 😉 😛

travel without plan, Cas Abao

"Cas Abao, #Curacao named one of the top 10 beaches of 2011!" -@LolaDiMarco

travel without plan, Curacao

"Hike to the blue room to snorkel #Curacao" - @LolaDiMarco

travel without plan, Dutch Caribbean

"Crossing the pontoon bridge in #curacao" -@LolaDiMarco

travel without plan - Santa Cruz, Curacao

"Beautiful boka Santa Cruz #curacao" -@LolaDiMarco

travel without plan, cliff jumping

"Cliff jumping at Playa Forti #curacao" -@LolaDiMarco


And Bonaire? Will wait and be totally surprised 😉 😀 So that’s it for my travel without plan post! I’m off to Miami by train tomorrow, right after a nice Thanksgiving brunch with the roomie, and then it is Latin flavor night with my cousins and off to the Dutch Caribbean Friday morning. Can.NOT.wait! Oi btw,

Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias! 😉

Travel quotes and inspiration: #Indie30 post

Day 14 of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel Project is all about travel quotes and why they stand out to you. And as a person who is dangerously obsessed with any type of written inspiration, I decided to write down most of my favorite quotes (yes, plural!) and, whether they are travel related or not, how I connect them to my travels. Why they inspire me to go out there and see the world. How they inspire me to change the world. Hope you enjoy these and get inspired yourself!

So live that your memories will be part of your happiness

travel quotes inspiration

New Years in Times Square, NYC - memories like this one will always be part of my daily happiness!

I believe I stumbled upon this quote very early in my teenage years, while I was browsing the web looking for material to read in order to improve my English (as you know, I taught myself the language). And ever since that day…this quote has not left my life. It is a travel quote to me because ever since I can remember, I have dreamed about traveling the world, enjoying life to its fullest, day by day, do everything I can today and never leave things for “tomorrow” because that may never come. I’m the kind of person that not only says she will do something or work hard toward her happiness and wholeness — I’m one of the few people that actually do. I never allowed stupid money or negative people to hold me back from pursuing dreams that were meant to be impossible for a person like me. Oh, I couldn’t win a Boren scholarship because it was too competitive and English was my second language, my essays wouldn’t be good enough. I won and got the maximum amount. A woman apparently can’t travel the world by herself, especially the Middle East! I lived and wandered solo through those historic lands for 16 months. Not bragging or anything, just saying, I don’t allow life to go stale, I do not drown my passions and my happiness with them. I give them wings. I make them fly. Thus, I live in a way that once I’m old and wrinkly holding the hand of my life partner on a balcony in some remote beach, I can not only enjoy that very moment greatly, but also be able to simply close my eyes and rejoice by bringing back the memories of the full life I’ve enjoyed. This is one of several travel quotes that have become my life motto, which I recite when looking at myself in the mirror every morning I am blessed to live. The memories I build through the years will always be part of my happiness!

If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders

travel quotes inspiration, portrait

I'm is always in la-la land

I am a hopeless wanderer. Unless I’m traveling, my mind is always someplace else. My heart is always fluttering somewhere remote. That is, until I get moving. Until I’m helping people. Until I’m seeing beautiful things. Then, I’m living the moment. I’m absorbing the colors. I’m deeply inhaling the scents. I’m touching the softness of my surroundings. I’m smiling because of the kindness of people (which is so underrated in the Western world). I feel deeply and completely in touch with all my senses when I’m abroad. I even meditate more often. I don’t stress about the small little things. I feel alive. And while I could see, feel most of these things here, at home, or somewhere a little closer than I always think of, my mind is always wandering afar. Thus, my heart is always away, flying. This travel quote couldn’t describe me best…and I got the biggest grin on my face when I’m moving!

travel quotes, Eat.Pray.Love book

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment
–Elizabeth Gilbert

My favorite book ever, overflowing with a myriad of travel quotes. This happiness quote however, is the one that stood out to me the most. Liz traveled to forget, she traveled to find happiness. Then she discovered happiness truly flows from within, from following our own hearts, from seeking what it is that sparks us up, and that it is a journey rather than a destination. We must thrive to be happy daily. It may not come easy at one point or the other, but we must not drown in the dangerous ocean of mediocrity and negativity.

The normal make a living; the deranged make history

travel quotes, Dali

my favorite artist - "deranged" painter Salvador Dalí (Photo:Carl Van Vechten estate)

I wander because I know I’m not normal — and it is OK. My lifestyle could be frowned upon or even brought down by many, but what can I say? This I tell ’em, which I have defined as another inspirational travel quote in my book. I will change the world someday, you know? I won’t die before I make a positive impact on this Earth. I won’t rest until I have transformed someone else’s life, somehow. And not just people with my own DNA (or The One that I decide to share the rest of my life with). I feel that’s still kind of selfish. The world has billions of people and I was given too big of a heart to only share it with a few dozen. Here we go for the thousands. Or who knows, maybe even the millions. I am not on this Earth by accident! This innate curiosity and motivation that has made me move mountains since a very young age was given to me for a purpose.  And many purposes I shall even find stemming from that one main purpose of me being here. And they are all related to travel, this I know. I’m not normal — I am deranged by this world’s standards, which is why I will make a difference and not just sit in front of my TV for years to come. ‘Nuff said!

Maybe some women weren’t meant to be tamed; maybe they need to run free until they can find someone, just as wild, to run with
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

travel quotes, free spirit

me at Kom Ombo temple - taken by a passerby as I traveled throughout Egypt solo (2009)

Being such an independent woman, this free has come with a price. I feel like friends, people that mean (or meant) a lot to me just kept dropping like flies when I decided to pursue my wildest dreams and passions. It is like, if there’s some distance, there’s no need for them to keep me in their lives. Naturally, even more so with relationships. Guys can never handle it…I am not seen as stable. Then when watching Sex and the City one day I just picked up what is one of my favorite love, and even travel quotes ever! I am wild, I am free — and I was not meant to be shaped into something else, but rather, be accepted and loved exactly by who I am. I was meant to run free until I can find someone, just as wild, to run with!

What do you say of taking chances,
what do you say of jumping off the edge
never knowing
if there’s solid ground below
or hand to hold
or hell to pay
what do you say?

As you’ve seen, I’m all about taking chances. While the above is more related to love and relationships, I also apply these lyrics to my lifestyle in general. So yah, I’ve just made a Celine Dion song an awesome compilation of travel quotes! 😀

Got travel quotes? Share them on a comment below!