Taxi cab driver story: The day a Haitian made me cry

I always take the bus. However, today was raining like crazy, so I had no choice but to splurge on a cab ride. This is the taxi cab driver story that developed.

Taxi cab driver story rainy day

Taxi cab driver story begins (Flickr Photo: Clint)

My alarm went off at 6 AM. I hit the snooze button…so many times that I had to jump out of bed like a possessed soul at 7:30 AM. Ten minutes ’til the bus, phew! Then I looked out my window.

Torrential rain. Damn. I guess I can’t walk to the freakin’ bus after all.

Knowing how cabbies take forever in this city, I quickly called one in, hoping it would arrive just in time to make it to work early. I took a shower, came out, and ACK! My cabbie was 3 miles away, TEN minutes ago! I ran out of the bathroom and almost fell flat on my tile floor. I looked out the window but no one was there. So I called the company…apparently, cab 475 was nowhere to be found. Operator dialed and dialed.

No answer.

“Cab driver will be seriously reprimanded, I am so sorry m’am. I’m calling a different cab your way right now.”

Le sigh. Late to work. On first day of the month. As a marketing manager. Didn’t look like a bright Friday.

Surprisingly, as I looked out of my window in frustration, I see cabbie 475 – YAY! I ran out in the rain and asked him to please wait, I’m here, let me get my purse!” Five mins. later, we were on our way.

Where the taxi cab driver story took a sharp turn

As I hopped in, Charlie quickly apologized: “sorry for the wait, m’am!” I then went to tell him the ordeal, and Charlie lamented that his phone broke down and hasn’t been able to answer some calls. This has happened all week and he’s about to lose his job, even though he’s right there to pick up customers a few mins. after the assigned time.

At this point, I call the cab company and tell them about cab 475’s technical issues, to please not reprimand him, that he made it despite the rain, and was very professional and courteous.

Taxi cab driver story tear

Photo: smilla4, Flickr

My cab driver teared up: “I can’t believe you just did that. That call just saved my job. That’s the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a while”

Naturally, given how much of a softie I am, I teared up too. “But it’s simply the right thing to do. Who wouldn’t do that?” Charlie responded: “Two other customers I had today were in your same exact situation, but didn’t even bother to call my boss to say everything was OK. Instead, they complained the whole way and told me how I needed to hurry the hell up, that they were late as it was because of the rain”


Charlie went on: “I just can’t believe you did that. I know you must also be late for work, yet you have been so nice to me. You saved my job. You are such a good person. It is so hard to find people with such a kind heart as yours nowadays.”

Yep, you guessed it: I teared up again. Just yesterday I had the most horrible day, deep within my life after travel depression, even yelled “I just fucking hate this country!” while sobbing in my gringo boyfriend’s arms last night. And then…I find a beautiful soul that makes my day (besides my boyfriend). But this not it for this taxi cab driver story.

Where this taxi cab driver story got funny

Charlie started asking where I’m from and if I’m a Christian. I say Puerto Rico and that yes, I’m a Christ follower. We started going about how we’re both just trying to follow Jesus footsteps and hoping that spreading our kindness however we can may hopefully transform some lives daily. We then went off about how hospitable Caribbean people are, how we rejoice on daily life and are not so sucked up on material things, like the new American Dream trap and such. I digressed, saying not many Puerto Ricans are like that, but we laughed it off. Live day by day. “Live that your memories will be part of your happiness.” That sort of thing.

Then he told me a funny Haitian tale and my top taxi cab driver story:

Back in Haiti, there was this good old man with 4 sons: Three were rich, one was very poor. One fine day the good old man dies. At his funeral, his 3 rich sons dropped $20,000 cash, EACH, inside the good old man’s coffin, so he could take riches to heaven. Can you believe that?! All that cash! Haitian beliefs and materialism, bad bad mix most times. Anyway! All that cash is in, then the 4th son of the good old man, the very poor one, goes by the coffin, writes a $100,000 check and tells his good old man: “Father, God doesn’t accept that much cash in heaven. I’ll take the $60,000 — here’s a $100,000 check, with $40,000 just from me, because I love you so.” Then the poor son walked away rich, with $60,000 … whilst his bank account had NO FUNDS!
But hey, there’s no cash and no banks in heaven either, are there? 😉

Lol! I died! We both laughed so hard! Charlie continued:

“You see, many times, many rich people not so smart, but many poor people very smart too. Depends where you go. But I see it here in the USA too: People with so much money, buy so many cars and big houses, put away so much money, work so so so many hours, barely live until just a few years before they die. Then they die and where does all that money go!? WASTED! Most true rich people, rich people in the heart, live instead of exist. Live much happier life. Enjoy much more life. Not saying being rich is bad, but it is like Jesus said: ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Only the humble in the heart will enter heaven. To me, only the humble in the heart, too, have true heaven on Earth.”

I nodded and teared up a bit again as we rolled into my company’s building. I said farewell, took his card, and went into my office. I know who I’m calling on another rainy day.

Taxi cab driver story

Got a taxi cab driver story? (Photo: presta, Flick)

Do you have a good taxi cab driver story? Share it below!

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.

American work culture: Illness and struggling to relax

This week’s Cultural Tidbits Monday post will be quite different. Instead of discussing world superstitions or travel through food, I’ll explore American work culture from my POV. I’ll tell you about how it led to illness, plus how I’ve been forced to learn how to RELAX in order to continue. It hasn’t been easy, but I could lose my ability to use my hands and forced to give up my digital nomad dream career altogether if I don’t step back…

Have you noticed a sudden halt of new posts on this travel blog? I’ll tell you why:

American work culture, carpal tunnel

I have overworked myself to this point… (John Kannenberg, Flickr)

Seems like I have developed carpal tunnel and/or RSI.

The most difficult part of all this? I could barely hold my dinner fork and feed myself last week. I cried myself to sleep as I got tired of sobbing for hours. I have never experienced physical pain besides my depression (pre-travel and during my life after travel), so it’s been very tough for me. Tougher has been having to significantly decrease the amount of travel writing so I could have a little strength left to be able to work at my 40-hour-a-week management position. You know, the one that’s paying for all my debt…

The new American dream is a trap. And American work culture got me ill.

Hard work during your youth, while being able to relax after you retire are two strong values of American work culture. These values pushed me to get 2 bachelor degrees, hold 4 jobs while studying full-time, and get into debt in the name of education.

My many scholarships and grants were supposed to “cover most expenses,” dammit.

These values made me keep this full-time management job so I could pay off my debt faster and have a great credit score. Yet, because I still wanted to be working toward my dreams, I worked after work, even during all my lunch breaks, on my travel writing. Meaning? About 12-13 hrs of work daily. Why? Because I would do a big chunk of travel writing on weekends, too. These habits, which had no space for relaxation except for a few hours on Saturdays, led my body to crash and destroyed my hands…

And don’t forget I only get 10 days of paid leave a year.

That includes sick days and vacation days.

American work culture, stressed out

Stressed.Out (Deborah Leigh, Flickr)

“Oh, but don’t worry, you’ll be able to relax after you retire! You’re such a hard worker María, keep it up!” they say. Well, my body forced me to tell them “F— jou, I’m relaxing now, too!” You see, the pain in my hands became so unbearable that unless I took little breaks during the day + stopped working altogether after 5:30pm, my hands would just stop functioning. I mentioned I couldn’t feed myself the other day, right? *sigh*

And so, with great pain in my heart, I’ve had to greatly scale back on travel writing (both blogging and my paid gigs) just so I can keep the job that pays my bills. That is my good “American work culture” paying for “my American dream” and the education that they inevitably include. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I would have just thrown myself to the world, started travel writing and translating and gone to school after I had the money to do so (you know, after saving $30k from working on a cruise ship).

But I digress.

What’s done is done. I am a prisoner of American work culture and the new American dream until I can pull myself out of debt. Then, when I have enough funds and time, I’ll be able to just do translating and travel writing full-time. To make my dreams finally come true. To not overwork myself and my body to the point of illness. And for now?

I’m still having a hard time learning how to relax.

American work culture, seeking relaxation

I wish I could have this every day…but I can’t…

Because of my RSI, I am forced to relax. Yet, I can’t stop thinking about work. I’m still struggling. This weekend I did see some glimpses of relaxation and, let me tell you, they were glorious. Still though…I wish I could afford going to the beach more often so I could relax even further. But no, I’m tied up paying all these student loans. I think it is quite ironic that American work culture always equals success, yet most of us are struggling, despite hard work and a decent education. But now I am mostly ranting, so I’ll stop…

I will work harder to relax. I must relax for better health. I must still find a bit of time to work for my dreams. I must still press on so someday I can truly be free.

I will win the war against American work culture, while still being a hard worker.

I will learn how to relax. I will succeed my way!

Those are my current thoughts about American work culture.
What’s your take?

My life after traveling the world: Local tourism (photos)

As follow-up to my Life after Traveling “depression experience” post, I decided to post photos of some local tourism I’ve been doing. It’s Travel Tuesday, and I’m trying to find some excitement and joy in beautiful spots and locales close to me…until I can spread my wings to fly far, far away again!

Life after traveling: Making up after a fight on Davis Island, Tampa, FL

My partner and I actually had a fight/argument last Wine Wednesday, right in the middle of the wine aisle of a supermarket. That’s where he broke down and said he couldn’t take my “life after traveling depression” anymore. That we had to do something about it. After some tears and emotional “yanks,” we finally figured it all out. Then, we decided to simply get some deli sandwiches from the cafe nearby and head to Blaine’s favorite spot in our city: Seaplane Basin Park on Davis Island, Tampa, FL. The breeze was a bit cool, just what we needed to calm us down, plan our future local tourism adventures and remember how much we do love each other 😉 🙂

life after traveling, Seaplane Basin Park

life after traveling, Seaplane Basin Park sunset

We watched sunset together, happy with our adventures ahead

Seaplane Basin Park marina

The marina

Stay tuned for more local tourism adventures. Next Travel Tuesday post will be about the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, FL!

Salvador Dali Museum and Moon, St Petersburg, Florida

Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg, Florida (Matthew Paulson, Flickr)

How’s your life after traveling the world? Share your experiences below!

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!”


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?


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?

Puerto Rican slang lesson no 2, ID theft, and LIFE

I meant to publish this Puerto Rican slang lesson yesterday for Cultural Tidbits Monday, but of course, LIFE got in the way. I found out I’m a victim of ID theft yesterday. I called the IRS to ask what’s wrong with my taxes, and seems like someone else used my DOB, social security # to file as me. Now I’m swimming in an endless ocean of paperwork, calls, etc. which I honestly  have no time to deal with (but will have to anyway).

identity theft

ID theft is more serious than most people think (Photo: JJ & Special K, Flickr)

I hold a 40-hr-a-week management job, in addition to working as a freelance travel writer PLUS maintaining/writing on 3 different blogs. And have a boyfriend. This ordeal has thrown my entire productivity cycle out of whack, but I’m honestly more concerned about the repercussions of this ID theft in the future and how it was University of Tampa’s fault and a massive security breach they are not taking ANY responsibility for. Needless to say I am pissed off.

Thank goodness for my readership, though, I wrote this post before I found out about this mess. The accompanying video I was going to record, however, will have to wait (unfortunately). Hope you still enjoy this Puerto Rican slang post anyway…I did put effort on it…

Click here for Puerto Rican slang video no. uno (directly from the beach!)

Puerto Rican slang, phrasebook

Puerto Rican slang phrasebook by Jared Romey (Photo:Speaking Latino)

Puerto Rican slang: A brief background

As you know by now, Puerto Rican culture is a mix of Arawak Taínos, Spanish conquistadors, and African slaves that rushed in since the island’s discovery in 1493. Naturally, Puerto Rican slang is full of Taíno, Spanish, and African influences, in addition to Arabic as well, due to the Moors invasion of the Iberian peninsula.

Another thing that you should know about Puerto Rican slang is that our Spanish is not as unique as most people think. By that I mean that Puerto Rican Spanish is in fact quite similar to Andalusian Spanish (Wikipedia). For instance, many letters are omitted and/or weakened: The letter S is barely ever pronounced, while letter R is typically substituted or pronounced as the letter L — and I used to think this was simply a Boricua occurrence!

Puerto Rican Spanish vocabulary time!

Ready to learn some new words!? Here’s my second lesson on Puerto Rican slang:


“A cacophony of ahumado,” which actually means smoked (and can be used to described smoked meats, yes), ajumao is the word of choice to describe someone who’s drunk. Meaning, engulfed by the “fumes of alcohol” (Wiki).


Shortened version of the word afrentado, meaning someone who is a glutton, or greedy, in any kind of way. Over-consumption of anything will grant you this adjective in Puerto Rico.


This Puerto Rican slang word actually comes from the Arabic-Andalusian word alqawwád, which was used to describe the person who spread the gossip in town (Wiki). Nowadays in Puerto Rico, however, alcahuete is typically used to describe a person who spoils another one. So, if my boyfriend spoils me rotten, he is my alcahuete!

Algarete / Revolú

If something is algarete or a situation described as a revolú, it means it is out of control, chaotic, disorganized…¡LOCO!


Also the Puerto Rican slang word for sour, amargao is a contraction of the Spanish word amargado, so it has the same meaning. When a Puerto Rican uses it to describe you as a person, he/she means you are a party pooper, a Debbie Downer, etc. (depending on context, you’ll know which applies)

Arrancao / Arranca’

Puerto Rican abbreviation of the Spanish word “arrancado,” which means torn or ripped out. We Puerto Ricans say “¡estoy arrancao!” when we are broke – aka our pockets have been ripped out!

¡A mí plín!

You don’t give a fudge? ¡A mí plín! is the phrase you want to use! 😉 No idea where it came from — you know, one of those phrases.

Anda pa’l sirete / Anda pa’l cara’

Holy crap! Indeed, anda pa’l sirete is one of those phrases you want to use in lieu of cursing. When something is amazing–for good or for bad–you would yell ¡anda pa’l sirete! If you wish to be closer to the original curse phrase (but still not be a potty mouth), you should say ¡anda pa’l cara’! (Want to curse anyway? Then yell ¡anda pa’l carajo! ;))

Got more Puerto Rican slang phrases and words? Share them below!

It is OK to be normal …at least for a little bit

It is OK to be normal and let the wind blow sometimes

It is OK to be normal for a bit…Winds changed, but I’ll reach my dreams soon enough!

“It is OK to be normal…please be patient little María!” I need to keep reminding myself. If I don’t, I’ll go insane. Literally. As I had some plans…some big plans. I was going to either move back to the Middle East, Oceania or heck, I even considered Brazil. I was so excited that after paying for all my debt this summer I was going to start a new life abroad again in the Fall. But of course, not everything went as planned…

I got a promotion. I’m now the marketing & translation manager at my company.

Anyone in America would be psyched. Heck, a career! At the tender age of 24!

But instead, I‘m scared.

Not of the demands and responsibilities of the new position, though. I’ve already been managing many translation projects and helping the project manager in many of her tasks.

I’m scared of the stability. Am I going to get stuck now!?

Another proof that I’m crazy. I’m scared my nomadic life will be over, that I won’t be able to travel the world as much anymore. That I’m going to be stuck in Tampa for much, much longer. That, eventually, I’m going to get so comfortable with the annual salary raises, the promotions, the typical American life. That I’m going to forget my free spirit and regret every second of it when I grow old. Will this happen?! It is okay to be normal, without losing my soul in the process?!

Then I remember how all the “speed bumps” in my life have brought me ever closer to my dreams, to the career I’ve always wanted, to every passion of mine. Is this another one of God’s funny little secrets, then? Is this another little joke of the universe? One I will laugh at later on in life?

I think so.

As hard as it is to accept now, seems like there’s a big, BIG plan that the future is storing for me and that for now, all I have to do is be what “American society” deems to be a “responsible adult:” Pay off debt, save, put money away for retirement, start investing. Then, when those funds get fat, perhaps my big break will come again? Or maybe a different epiphany? I don’t know, but I have learned to be thankful for blessings in disguise and follow my heart.

My heart is a bit restless at the moment, but it also knows I should stay here longer.

Plus, I gotta admit, the gig I got now is pretty sweet. My boss is awesome (how many people get to say that!?), the work environment is great, and I enjoy my projects for the most part. And it pays well. So I’ll just keep paying off my debt, traveling as much as I can on holidays and vacays for leisure, writing about the many journeys I have yet shared with the world. And most importantly? Keep listening to my heart carefully. Then, once I pay off all my debt, once my heart starts screaming for me to leave, I will.

I must keep reminding myself that it is OK to be normal…at least for a little bit 😉

I feel my heart jumping right now. I’m starting to feel, to believe, that this will take me closer to my dream career. I’m just a little impatient…!!!

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!

Travel and a broken heart: How they changed my life forever

Travel and a broken heart: Gluing the pieces together

Travel and a broken heart feel like… (Nevit Dilmen, Wiki)

I don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for travel and a broken heart. My life, personality, and even career choices would be completely different as we speak. So today I open my beat, albeit undefeated heart and show you that the worst things in life usually end up being the best for us. Thank you BootsnAll & 30 Days of Indie Travel (prompt 2) for making me open up again and hopefully strengthen and inspire many others to follow their dreams & passions — despite of the consequences

December 13th, 2008. I was in Egypt studying for my Arabic language finals, a little distracted because I was excited to go back to America in 10 days to surprise my future husband, love of my of life, for Christmas. He thought he wasn’t going to see me for a full year – all the way ’til the summer – but who does he think he is? I am Maria Alexandra, expect the unexpected! His handsome face, cheery eyes and dropped jaw once he saw me at his front door were all I could think about that night. Then, the call

“I just can’t do this anymore,” his broken voice spurted. I thought this was a bad dream: “Didn’t you just tell me last week that you looked to your bed in the morning and realized how much you missed me, that you couldn’t wait to hug me, squeeze me, and kiss me? That you missed seeing me standing on my tippy toes because I looked so cute? That I am the love of your life?!” My heart paralyzed and went into chaos all at the same time. I couldn’t breathe. I was choking in my own tears. I don’t think I have ever hurt or cried so much in my entire life.

He might read this, but he knows anyway. And if he doesn’t, I am kind of happy that today he will find out. And so, I decided to write an open letter to him…so you can see how travel and a broken heart were the two best things that ever happened to me (having loved with my all tying at the top…)

Dear James,

Today I want to thank you for giving me the gifts of travel and a broken heart. I know you planned it all very carefully, I know you also hurt while doing so, but furthermore I know you did it all because you deeply cared for me. They were almost 3 bittersweet years. You were there through my worst, through my depression, eating disorders. YOU, in fact, took me out of those black holes in my life. You never deserted me. You saved me. You truly loved me James, and I’ll cherish that forever.

Thank you for lying to me when I asked you if you wanted me to stay or apply for the Boren scholarship that eventually paid for my studies in Egypt. Keeping a straight face for a full year as I prepared my essays, application, and dreams must have been hard. Thank you for taking my essays to the most suitable person you knew so they could be proofread and the finish product be stellar. Thank you because no matter what, you always put my happiness before yours. You knew I’ve had the travel bug for quite some time, and instead of killing my dreams, you gave them wings. You knew that our relationship had come to a point of no return, that it was too damn difficult, and there was no way I could be truly happy with you. That we could be happier apart. And while both of our families already knew about the wedding plans…they could be put aside to make the best decision for both of us, the ones who actually mattered in the scheme of things. So you let me go…


Yet…you did tell me to stay AFTER you, YOURSELF, faxed the contract that bind me to “my dream” for a year in Egypt, and you know there was no chance of me backing out from it at that point. WHY DID YOU DO THAT!? That pissed me off! Sorry, I had to say it. I believe my heart was broken just then. True of the matter is, I was such a little girl. I didn’t understand. You simply wanted me to know how you truly felt — and that the reason you did all of that was so I had no choice but to follow my dreams. You knew I would drop everything in a second just to be with you – and you didn’t want me to do that. Of course, I didn’t understand then.

Ironically enough though, I felt that every day that went by just brought more and more pain, more and more guilt, more and more questions on why I was still there with you. But I guess I was too weak. I couldn’t let you go even though you were simply an “idealized” image of what I wanted my future husband to be. You were him though, a wonderful man! You loved me, you were/will always be there for me. Yet, I was also sure that wasn’t going to be the case.

So I left. Travel and a broken heart…

And you know what James? It is the best decision I have made in my life. I learned Arabic (reached intermediate level in just 2 semesters!), traveled to more than 11 new countries, and even decided to study in Morocco after a year in the Middle East because I just couldn’t handle coming back to Tampa and see you every day on campus. And once again I thank you, because you were my impetus, the catalyst – in so many ways. Basically, running away from you equaled even more travel and a broken heart.

In 2 years, my country counter almost hit 30, I could get by in 3 different languages, and most importantly, I found myself. I figured out exactly the kind of man I needed (an educated, rambunctious wanderer like myself). I realized that my career goal had to be being a successful digital nomad through writing, translating & interpreting in a myriad of languages. At last, I knew exactly what I wanted. I became a woman. I grew up.

As I went through said metamorphosis though, I struggled with embracing the changes. I still hated you while loving you so deeply for more than 2 years after the break up. I was traveling, learning, seeing new things but once a week or so, I would break down. I would write pages and pages in my journal telling you how much I hated you for dropping such a beautiful kind of love. Clearly, I was still a little girl back then. Or maybe it simply means being human? Whatever it was, one day I finally understood that you didn’t give up on love. Neither of us ever did. We simply realized that “letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that certain things aren’t meant to be.”

Love is like energy: It can’t be destroyed, but rather, transferred or transformed.

True love never dies. Life moves on, people come and go. A new relationship might make us happier. A new love is born. However, that doesn’t mean ours will weaken or dissipate, James. Love will always be strong & true. It has simply…changed.

*wipes tears off her cheeks* Remembering the best and worst moments of my life always makes me cry of joy. They are reminders of how greatly I’ve been blessed, because they have all taken me where I am. Which is where I’m supposed to be today. Crazy I figured it all out by age 24…

Travel and a broken heart changed my life forever.

Travel and a broken heart are the reasons why I’m so happy I could die

Lyrics of my life’s anthem here