Monday, February 24, 2014

New year, New decade

This year marked a very important milestone in my life, entering a new decade! I wanted to put some thoughtful words together here about my feelings regarding turning 30, but I had the fortunate opportunity to contribute to a fantastic blog, My Thirty Spot, and their #Lovefor30Project so I thought I would link the article for those to read:

I am grateful everyday for the experiences and people in my life that have allowed me to have this life. If decades are improving exponentially, this one is sure to be off the charts. I look forward to more adventures, both travel and other, to share in this space.

With love,

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Incredible India, abbreviated

Happy New Year! I had the fortunate opportunity to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to India over the holidays and new year. It’s taken me some time to write about the trip, and I suppose perhaps I put it off because I needed adequate time to reflect on the experience, perhaps I was fearful that my words would in no way describe the trip in its most beautiful expression or perhaps 2014 came and “real life” just got in the way. Whatever the excuse, I did want to document some highlights from the 15 days I spent in one of the most magical, sacred, crazy and unpredictable places I have ever been….
The premise of taking the trip was to have the opportunity to participate in the Sacred Temple Vinyasa Retreat in the rural south of India with Janet Stone and Hareesh Wallis. However, since I had a few days off over Christmas before the group trip began, I ventured first by myself to the North to explore the infamous capital city, Delhi, and some tourist attractions nearby….
My flight landed at night, and I have to say, after a grueling nearly 2 days of travel, it was probably best that I went straight to the hotel for some rest before I could digest where I had actually landed.  My first morning, I was to meet a guide for a city tour mid-morning, but after meeting another friendly solo traveler at breakfast, we ventured out to the streets for a walk first. Everyone who has been to India tries to prepare you for what it is like, but I will tell you, I can’t describe it. I could tell you that I walked around the city with a heavy feeling in my stomach, guilty to make eye contact with the crowds of people, especially young children, living on top of garbage in the streets because clearly I had so much and they had so little.  I could also tell you the energy of the city is always alive, full of color and smells and flavors and heat. I could even tell you that hands down I have never experienced traffic and organized chaos like driving the streets of Delhi. However, nothing I would tell you would prepare you for your own experience, because India is so unique and has a certain power that seems to connect differently within each visitor.  My time in the North was mostly full of touristy stops; visiting Old Delhi, local shops, a trip to Agra for a view of that very famous wonder of the worldJ and a trip to Jaipur to take in the sites of the pink city and the Amber Fort. A few photos to share of some highlights:
Old Delhi views behind

vendors in Old Delhi

The wonder that is The Taj Mahal

exquisite palaces
views of Agra Fort

one of the many delicious meals

Following the hustle bustle of the north, I hopped a short plane ride to the city of Bangalore in the south where I had the opportunity to meet the other 35 seekers who would share the next 10-day pilgrimage with me. Guided by the most exquisite, beautiful and authentic teachers, Janet and Hareesh, I never dreamed of the experience that would unfold in this short time together. I really can’t put into words everything we “did” on the journey because so much of the experience was not necessarily an action or a place we saw, but rather a life lesson, a self-awareness teaching, an internal shift, a bond of friendship, a sacred ritual, a personal experience. I will sum it up that we did have the opportunity to practice yoga as a community, visit several spectacular, sacred temples and sites, relax among the rural backdrop of southern India, eat…and eat again, learn from each other and our teachers and welcome a new year, on a mountaintop as a satsung while the sun set on the past one. One thing that stood out to me thoughout the trip was the spirit of people. How they honor their tradition and how, even thought they seem to have so little, there is such happiness. It really allows one to evaluate life's important moments, people and actions and open the heart with gratitude and love. Truly a remarkable, life-changing trip and I am so thankful for the new friends, kindred spirits and our teachers who led us on this sacred journey. A few pictures of some highlights to capture the pilgrimage.
temple visit

footprints of Vishnu

the light peeking through the temple is magical 
exquisite carvings 

my man Ganesh

new friends

the teachers that inspire us

beautiful pooja ceremony

so lucky for my roomie and new friend

all smiles

sunrise at the Hanuman temple

sun set on 2013

sun set yoga

Yoga Bhaktas


A trip to India was an intention I set forth as I approached my 30th year, and I am so grateful for the experience. I know that the seeds have been planted and now there is so much more to discover. Wishing friends and family around the world a happy and healthy new year! with light and love, Namaste

Friday, December 20, 2013

Reflections and Gratitude, 2013

As I packed up my backpack tonight in anticipation of my departure to India this weekend, I stopped for a few seconds to take in the present moment. The smell of the worn backpack, the crispness of the new journal, the checklist of chicken scratch beside me. It was just nearly 1 year ago that I stuffed the same pack before departing on a yet-to-be-determined length of stay in South America. As the year comes to a close I can't help but reflect on what amazing experiences 2013 has brought me and I really just wanted to write some thoughts here to express my gratitude for the last 12 months of my life.

I am grateful to experience Christmas in Buenos Aires, to take in the gritty, yet absurdly picturesque streets of the city, to sip fine wine and eat delicious food. To travel on to the beaches of Uruguay and soak in the sun, to meet the dawn of the new year after an epic fiesta. To wander through Patagonia and take in some of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. To challenge myself physically trekking through mountains and glaciers and reward myself with new friends and memorable times. To find a new home in Santiago. To begin to teach yoga. To work and play and live in a foreign city and country, yet not feel strange and alone. To make lifelong friends and learn a new language. To find new adventures in Ecuador, surfing the coast, exploring the bustling capital city, rafting through rapids, hiking for hours on end and blissfully taking in the heat of the sun on horseback. To drift north to Colombia sharing travel experiences with new and old friends, sleeping in hammocks, dancing on the beach until sunrise, hiking through remote jungle and coastline and taking in the history of one of the most beautiful capital cities I have seen. To return to the United States and slip back into the warmth of family and friends. To experience the summer coast to coast in the US. To celebrate momentous occasions. To challenge myself to figure out what's next. To make the move to Austin. To start a new job. To begin a new chapter. What a ride......

If 2014 brings me even half as much joy as this past year, I will consider myself a lucky girl. Happy New Year to my family and friends around the world. More experiences to share after I return from India.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Adjusting to the "norm"

As I was taking a mid-afternoon lunch break from my recently acquired full-time job, I realized that the last time I contributed to this page was likely at the end of my life-abroad experience earlier this summer.  Although the blog originally was intended to journal my travel experiences, I think I'd like to continue to use the space to reflect a bit on life and such. I mean, to think back that it was less than 4 months ago I was living and backpacking around South America, yet how much has happened since, it's truly mind boggling...

I recently spoke to a very good friend of mine who I had met traveling in 2012. She is currently still on the road, backpack slung over her shoulder, and I have to admit catching up on life over skype was difficult. I developed a deep nostalgic feeling for the free and uninhibited life I had previously closed. The constant adventure that meets you everyday. The life where you might not be sure what you'll be doing or where you'll be in a week, month, year....Alas, she told me, "part of me is jealous of your situation....the security, comfort and stability....I'm tired." Moral of the story, the grass is always greener, but the conversation had me reflecting on this incredible year I have had, the past, present and future which has altered the course of my life infinitely.

Fast forward 3+ months from my arrival back to the United States and so much has occurred. I have been reunited with family and friends. I have celebrated weddings, births and changing seasons.  I have traveled coast to coast in the beautiful U.S. of A. I have embarked on further yoga studies surrounded by inspiring teachers and friends. I have begun a new life adventure living in a new city with a new job.

I don't take for granted the unconventional life I pursued for nearly the last 2 years, in fact, I know it was meant to happen. For without the thrill, the travel, the new experiences, the lessons learned, I would not be the person I am today. As 2013 comes to a close and a new year (and new decade for me!) begins, I look forward to the goals ahead, the travel that awaits and the adventures that continue no matter where I am in the world. Stay tuned for more from the day-to-day and a few more exciting times on the road.....

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Colombian Heat

The weight of the humidity hit hard as I stepped off the plane in Cartagena, Colombia, however, as the taxi wove in and out of the old city streets en route to my hostel I could already sense it was more than just the oppressive climate radiating heat. I've said before in other places I've visited that you find a certain energy in the culture, the people, the lifestyle. But nowhere yet have I found this heated passion, this electrifying energy that seems consistent throughout the entire country. Perhaps it's the energizing music that is influencing sounds around the world, maybe it is the fact that Salsa and dance is a part of normal life, it could be that the population is extraordinarily good looking, or it is just that damn hot, literally. 

Clock tower, Old City Cartagena
My trip started solo in the beautiful caribbean coastal city of Cartagena. I spent my first few days exploring local neighborhoods, walking the streets of the historic old city, relaxing at the beach and adjusting to the heat. One afternoon I ventured by boat to Playa Blanca, as the name suggests a pristine white beach with crystal clear blue water reached via a 1 hour boat trip. I spent the night in a hammock listening to the waves crash a mere 6 feet away….blissful. 

Cartagena city streets at night

Relaxing at Playa Blanca
From Cartagena, I made my way about 4 hours along the coast to the city of Santa Marta, not known for much, but a gateway stop to the National Park Tayrona where I was eager to visit. Luckily, I found a fantastic hostel, The Dreamer, just outside the hustle and bustle of the city with a great pool, bar and loads of friendly travelers who became fast friends right away. After a night here, I spent the next 2 days in Tayrona, camping overnight. It really doesn't get much better than hiking in sunshine with breathtaking, untouched beaches on one side and lush green mountains on the other. 
Beaches in Tayrona

After Tayrona, I headed back to The Dreamer Hostel to plan the next part of my route. After a lively night out with new friends, we headed 1.5 hours further along the coast to the sleepy beach town, Palomino. 2 days and nights here proved to be the perfect amount of time to relax and enjoy. 
new friends and a party bus!

From Palomino, I headed back towards Santa Marta, to the hippie beach town of Taganga, a requisite stop on the gringo backpacker trail. In Taganga, I was fortunate enough to be joined by my friend Rena who was looking for a fun escape from NYC. Here for 2 days we enjoyed the beach, great seafood and a day of learning to scuba dive! 

Scuba Diving

After Taganga, we packed our bags and made the journey back to Cartagena where we would spend our last 3 days together touring the city, eating fabulous meals , enjoying the beach and making a few new traveler friends. As the weekend came to an end so did my trip in Caribbean Colombia and I said farewell to Rena and hopped a plane to Bogota, the capital city. 

One more stop at Playa Blanca

Rena and I enjoying a drink at Cafe del Mar
Bogota is huge. Like really, really overwhelmingly large. Thank god, I had a local friend, Felipe, who was kind enough to show me the best spots and introduce me to his city. After settling in at a fantastic hostel in the Candelaria district, Felipe and his girlfriend took me on a mini tour of city center and out to dinner at the most indescribable, oddly entertaining, Colombian institutions for a sampling of delicious bites and drinks among utter chaos. It was a blast and a great welcome to the city!
views of Bogota from Cerro Monserrate

Me and my Colombian friends at Andres DC

The following day, I played tourist and hit a number of museums and city highlights including the cerro monerrate, which offered a breathtaking view of the entire city. My last day in Bogota, I hit a few more tourist stops before meeting my Colombian friends for a late lunch and afternoon beer, after which I departed for the airport to head back to the U.S. 
Botero Museum, Bogota
Street art in La Candelaria

Colombia has been known for many defining characteristics during it's history, and unfortunately from the average US citizen point of view, in recent times it's mostly negative. But more than any summary of my 3-weeks traveling in a new country, I really hope to convey to my friends at home how safe, friendly and breathtakingly beautiful this place is. It was a pleasure to experience the passion and heat of this country and culture and there is still so much more I hope to see one day. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

With Gratitude

With bittersweet emotions, tomorrow I say goodbye to my life in Chile. I thought it best
to honor my experience by giving gratitude to the people who have made this past 6+ months ones I will never forget.

My Dear Friends of Santiago:

Thank you for allowing me to find and make myself at home, thousands of miles from what I had known.

Thank you for offering friendship and family, creating bonds beyond my wildest expectations.


Thank you for including me in trips near and far, from the parks in Nunoa to the ski lifts in the Andes, to the beach and beyond.

 Thank you for sharing your country, the excitement of the city, the beauty of the Sur and
the magic of the Norte.

Thank you for accepting language and cultural barriers, yet finding common ground to connect and communicate.

Thank you for helping me discover myself along the way of this adventure.

 Thank you for teaching me.

 Thank you for making Chile a place I will always know and care for in my heart.

 This is not goodbye, but rather, hasta luego...until we meet again.

 With Gratitude, Light and Love,


**Of course, thank you to my family and friends in the States for your support and trust this year. Without that, I'd truly be lost.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ecuador: Ama La Vida

 As the sign greeted me with the national slogan "Ama La Vida" along the breezy beach amidst sunburned vacationers and salt drenched surfers I knew that it was more than just words that would show me to "love life" during my brief journey through this beautiful country.
My month in Ecuador began on the southwest coast in Montanita, a soft days/hard nights kind of surfers paradise. My stay overlapped with the end of the World Masters Surf Championship, so I was fortunate to be in the company of some awesome surfer dudes and chicks from the US, Australia, Venezuela and more.  During my days I took to some local surf lessons or yoga at Casa del Sol, where I stayed. And at night ventured to town with new friends for tasty cheap bites.

sunset surf

surf lessons

From Montanita, I continued 1 hour north along the beach to the small coastal fisherman village, Puerto Lopez. During my brief stay in this sleepy town, I volunteered at a local organization there, Clara Luna. During the day we assisted at the organizations foundation for disabled children and adults and in the afternoons we enjoyed the beach and relaxed vibe of the fishing village. A few afternoons I was able to help out with the Club de Ninos, where we read and played with local children from the town. Before my departure, I took one excursion, a boat ride/day trip to Isla de la Plata (also known as the poor man's Galapagos) for some hiking and snorkeling. A perfect way to end my time on the coast.
Club de Ninos

Isla de la Plata

From there, it was time to connect with Holly, my friend from Santiago who I had planned the majority of the trip with, so after a rather uncomfortable 10 hour overnight bus ride (buses are nothing like they are in Chile!) I made it to the capital city of Ecuador, Quito. In Quito, we explored the city during the days taking in the beautiful architecture, churches and culinary delights.

From Quito, we wanted to visit the Ecuador section of the Amazon so we ventured to El Oriente via an overnight bus to Lago Agrio to get us, eventually, to the Cuyabeno Reserve. After 2 hours by bus and 2 hours by motorized canoe through the jungle, we arrived at Guacamayo Lodge and enjoyed a fantastic 4-day, 3-night adventure in the Amazon.  Days were spent swimming in the lagoon, hiking in the jungle, relaxing in hammocks and visiting a local community and Shaman. During the evening we enjoyed the company of the other fun travelers and delicious foods served by the lodge and, even one night, ventured out for a private paddle trip and night hike with our awesome guide Vin. It was so powerful and yet so simple to disconnect completely over those few days. I didn’t find myself missing email or Facebook, but rather looked forward to the time of day where I could see the sun set and moon rise at the very same time over the lagoon. Absolute bliss.

Canoe ride in to the jungle

sunset swims in the lagoon

From the jungle we headed back to Quito, but another overnight Ecuadorian bus ride was a bit much to stomach, so we opted to break up the trip with a short stop in Papallacta and enjoyed a night at the Termas (hot springs) before bussing back to Quito early the next morning. Our next destination was the Otavalo market, about 3 hours outside of Quito, it is known as the premier destination for Ecuadorian handicrafts, and it certainly did not disappoint! We spent a few morning hours browsing the multitude of stalls and interacting with friendly, if not a bit overly pushy, vendors. After settling on a few personal purchases and a few gifts to bring back home, we returned to Quito for another night before packing up all our bags and heading south to Banos.
our goods!
Banos was the town we had heard about from other travelers, but really had no expectations going in and it turned out to be one of my favorite stops! This is the place you go for any outdoor adventure sports you can think of: hiking, rafting, jumping off bridgesand then follow that with any kind of spa service you would want. We opted to rent bikes one day to explore the various waterfalls just outside of the main part of town as well as rafting the next day, followed by steam baths and massages! Day 3, we joined up with some new friends for a rather challenging hike up to the cabin of one of our bartender friends in town. After just barely making it through the freezing cold night, and unfortunately Holly getting quite sick, we made it back to town eventually and spent the rest of the day trying to recover. We thought it best to lay low and relax for another two days until Holly was feeling better enough to travel onward.

Waterfall bike ride

hiking "upstairs" with Roberto

steam baths

From Banos, we continued south to Cuenca where we spent 2 days and nights exploring the beautiful colonial city.

views of Cuenca
From Cuenca, we continued on to our last stop and furthest south, Vilcabamba. This small town gained recent notoriety as the valley of longevity since so many of its residents were living well into their 100s. Thus, many gringos began relocating and it now serves as a mix of local Ecuadorians, retired Ex-pats and new-age backpackers taking in the beauty of the area as well as meditation, medicinal healing and vegetarian food that the town has to offer. After 4 blissful days, it began to feel like time really did stand still, alas, our trip had come to an end and it was time to head back to Santiago.

mountain horse rides

All in all, Ecuador was a country I knew very little about and had heard even less, yet surprised me to be one of my favorite places I have visited. A small, yet proud land filled with beauty, tranquility and, of course, friendly inhabitants.