Monday Moment: Preparing for Home

~Now that I have been gone for so long

I realize the place to which I belong

I miss those familiar things that make me feel protected

That place I can shelter from the unknown prospected

Soon I will feel the warmth of my own bed

My teddy bear nestled between my shoulder and head

I’ll know where I can find my perfect delights

I can be assured where I sleep each night

The countdown is on and I’m going to soon be home

I’ve seen Paris, Barcelona, England and even Rome!

I wandered through cities like Edinburgh, Bergen, and Berlin

I went sightseeing in Venice and Florence with a big perma-grin 🙂

I explored some of India and in the hot sun I would wake

And of course, I went to Amsterdam and got totally baked!

Three more countries to go as I enjoy Argentina

A touch of luxury ahead with hot tubs and piscinas

I will finally see the great mountains of Machu Pichu

It’s amazing what this wonderful world can teach you

More adventure awaits as the last leg unfolds

I have so many tales that need to be told

So many stories that don’t seem like they’re actually real

I can’t even describe the many feelings I feel

My home is waiting and I’m just about there

I’m finishing off with a BANG!! And then once more…

I’ll fly UP UP UP high in the air!!

I can not express how grateful I am

Boy oh boy… I’m going to have the most incredible Instagram!!

My dreams have come true each and every day

I’ve lived life to the fullest in every possible way ❤

Thursday Thoughts: My Mumbai Airport Rant!

~A few weeks ago I found myself stuck outside the Mumbai International Airport because security would not let me in. My flight was at 4:30 am the following morning and I didn’t want to spend money on a hotel for that evening. There were only two spots I had to choose from to sit and wait. The 1st was a Burger King; if you’ve been to India you know how different these fast food chains are and I didn’t really feel like a potato burger. The 2nd was a little place called “The Beer Cafe”, now that’s more like it!

Here is my rant:

It’s going to be a long two days. I am sitting near the Mumbai airport in a café across from the International Arrivals doors. The security guards won’t let me in because my flight isn’t until 4:30 am tomorrow morning and right now it’s about 2 pm. Of course, I don’t really want to pay another $70 dollars to stay in a hotel for twelve hours so I’ve ordered a Masala Chai and I’m hoping no one notices how long I sit here.

This morning I had to beg the front desk for a late checkout, which only brought me to about twelve o’clock noon and then I sat in the lobby of the hotel for about a half an hour trying to figure out why my card wouldn’t work to pay for the room. I finally realized it’s just because this country is impossible sometimes… well, most of the time. After 3 attempts at the hotel’s card machine, I ended up walking in the blistering heat to two different bank machines each way down the street. After the 2nd attempt at the ATM’s nearby I thought maybe my bank back home had canceled my card for the 5th time during this trip. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all. But when I went back to the hotel and called my bank on Skype, the bank attendant told me my card was active and should be working just fine.

It was then that I remembered, “Right… India.” I should’ve guessed it wasn’t going to be a smooth transaction. Once again, I asked the hotel attendant if there was another bank machine close by and went for yet another walk down the street in a different direction this time to find a 3rd bank machine in hopes that this one would work. Finally, after all that, the 3rd ATM let me take some money out to pay for the room. Success!

Now, here I am sitting in this cafĂ© with only four hundred rupees in my wallet and fourteen hours to go. I’m really regretting not stuffing some bread in my purse from my buffet breakfast. I didn’t really feel like eating much anyway because my stomach was not feeling well. It has been a common and unpleasant feeling I have had a lot during this last month in India. I’ve heard of Delhi Belly before and luckily, I haven’t been that sick. Most of the time it’s just a morning thing, I do my business and then move on with my day. I have found that most travelers will talk about this at some point because the food is so different over here and a high percentage of people experience stomach issues while traveling through this country. Even locals have bowel issues. It’s just another wonderful thing about India; everyone poops a lot. It’s not the end of the world. Maybe just a minor delay in the day.

Never the less, the food has always been really tasty. This is one of the best things about India. Every dish is delicious. I haven’t really had anything I didn’t like. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed all the spices and curries this place has to offer. And not only that, I’ve also never had so much amazing Vegetarian food in my life. Who knew being a “Veggie” was so great?

The 2 things that have stood out most for me while exploring India are the food and the fashion. The colors and the sparkles of the woman’s clothing have blown me away. I’ve never seen so many beautiful garments in one place, and while being in one of the dirtiest countries I’ve ever experienced to boot. It does seem a bit strange at first when realizing how each woman dresses like this daily no matter what they are doing. Whether it’s going to the store, working in the farms, cleaning dishes and laundry in a filthy lake or even just sitting around on the pavement trying to avoid the scorching heat, the women of this country look amazing all the time.

There are so many stories to tell and it looks like I may just have enough time to write a few while I wait for my flight out of here. I can’t say I would come back to the North again but I would really love to travel through the Southern region in the future. I’ve heard there are some wonderful beaches down there and it’s more of a chill, relaxing atmosphere. I entered through Delhi and stayed in Rajasthan for the month I’ve been here and the chaos is very real through this region. There is so much congestion and pollution in a lot of the areas I’ve visited. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also seen some very nice areas as well which I am very excited to write about while I have this time in the airport here.

I mean really, what else am I going to do now for the next… thirteen hours? I have no excuses anymore.

It’s story time! 🙂

Wait… this is beer cafĂ©!!!!

OMG!

Thursday Thoughts on my Travels

~Here I sit in Bergen, Norway on a white cloudy day. It may seem like any other day to my family and friends back home but to me this day is extraordinary. I’ve been gone for nearly 2 months and home seems so far away. The rest of Europe seems so far away as well as I sit in the North contemplating my next move.

I’ve seen very small portions of 5 different countries; each one varying ever so slightly from the other. I’ve had ample time to reflect on my own inner thoughts and demons.  I no longer question whether or not I am doing the right thing anymore. All of the time and planning has brought me here to this very moment.

Although I have only just begun to tap into the cultures and ways of living, I have also gained an overwhelming amount of knowledge from each place I graze through.

The words evade me…

How can I put into words the emotions and visual pleasures I’ve experienced? So many feelings within my gut I can barely begin to explain in a transparent sentence let alone describe what I’ve seen or heard in my passing through these mysterious realms.

I’ve been surrounded by history and sophistication. The aftermath of victories, accomplishments, and defeat throughout many battles and wars have literally been at my fingertips and yet I could never actually come close to understanding the complexity of it all. I can lay my hands upon the ruins. I can read the engraved words in the stone. I can sit and bask in the elapsed time bubble that has brought me here.

My eyes can merely gaze in wonder.

In Paris, I slept in a building constructed in the 1800s that has been restored time and time again. In Barcelona, I realized a resistance had transformed the very flags in which the country of Spain had once honored. I discovered a language I had never heard of before. I stood inside a tunnel in Bury St. Edmunds, England, encompassed by ancient ruins which had been originally erected over a thousand years ago. I have recited tales of witches and ghosts in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Here I sit in Bergen, Norway on a white cloudy day writing these indescribable feelings the best I can. A beautiful little city enclosed by glorious green mountains, trees and lakes. Cold streams of water trickle down the slopes of Mt Fløyen. At night the entire city center lights up from the shops and houses nestled within the mountain side. The reflections in the harbor waters glow and dance with the wind.

My best explanation of my thoughts on my recent travels; they are vast, deep and full of fascination I wish I could convey. I am so incredibly grateful I have this chance to experience something so much greater than I could ever explain.

Travel now. Travel far. Travel; for it will show so many truths within ourselves. The world has so much to offer.

A Friday Poem- Reminisce

~Thank goodness it’s Friday, it’s been a long week

As I reminisce, the sun warms my cheeks

Standing at the window I look to see through

I remember when I used to spend my Fridays with you

And as the months pass by it gets easier to swallow

But still there’s a soft dull pain; a sweet empty hallow

For once my heart longed for the week to end

It was because of you but now I look forward to my dear friends

Freedom is funny when you wished for a bond

That desire to be connected suddenly gone

Now today is just mine and I’ll do what I wish

I will dance. I will sing. I will accept the tarnish

For my broken wings are starting to heal more and more

I think I am finally ready to close that heavy rusted doorantelope-canyon-543590

The brightness I thought I’d lost is shining into my cave

I know I have to emerge. I have to be brave

Today is my Friday and it is mine all mine

From the depths of my heart, the sun will continue to shine xo

Happy Friday

~T

~Saved by the Sea Turtles~

~For the past 3 months or so, I’ve been contemplating how to write this story. Do I write it with the swirling emotions I felt because I finally had a chance to see turtles? Or do I write the cold facts about the grievances those poor creatures endure? Does this story end with a broken heart or a happy little turtle scurrying off into the sea as the sun sets beyond the ocean?

This story is not just about the greatest turtle experience ever in the history of all turtle experiences (biased opinion since this was the first and only turtle experience I’ve had so far), but it’s a story with no real happy ending. I set out to learn about the sea turtles and those tiny turtles taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Arriving in Junquillal, Costa Rica on a hot overcrowded bus was uncomfortable, to say the least, but the sunset that evening made it all worthwhile. You really haven’t savored a sunset until you watch fresh newborn baby turtles pushing their tiny legs through the sand fighting for their freedom. Watching those ambitious little babies swimming their very first strokes towards the depths of the dangerous ocean is beyond any words I can write. It’s an emotional event. I didn’t know if they would make it. And most of them probably didn’t.

13509069_10157119828460444_9055118651432322492_nThe odds are not in the turtles favor, unfortunately, but the biologists and volunteers do everything they can to help save them from poachers and other various threats. I was placed at a small turtle conservation hostel called Verdiazul, which means green/blue in Spanish. In the orientation, I learned a lot about the practices of the project and the harsh realities of the sea turtles demise. The chances of the turtles returning to the beach to nest are slim to none once they are released. If they do happen to survive, the turtles will always come back to the same beach they were born and lay their eggs in the area.

The release is a beautiful thing. It made me feel like I finally had a purpose while traveling and that all of my planning had paid off. My very first night at Verdiazul, we released nearly forty babies.

The three species of turtles that the conservation had interactions with are Black (Negras), Olive Ridley (Loras), and finally the most endangered species on the planet; Leatherback (Baulas).

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Each night the volunteers patrolled the beach for 3-4 hour shifts. Walking up and down the shoreline searching for nests, tracks or nesting mother turtles. We would spend thirty minutes walking to either the south or north ends of the beach in small groups then we rested and sat in the sand under the stars. During the mild nights, it was so tranquil I could just stare at the moon for hours listening to the waves crashing against the shore.  But when the wind picked up you would have to hide your face from sharp spitting sand in your eyes and mouth. My skin stung from some of those windy patrols. But it was the wonderful people who made those nights fly by with laughter and great conversation. I made some lovely new friends and felt very content in the passing of time.

The bitter-sweet part of this story is where I had my dream come true. My wish to encounter a Leatherback; the largest species of turtle in the entire world and the most critically endangered, finally became real on my 3rd patrol on Playa Junquillal. That was the sweet part. The bitter part is that I experienced this incredible event with someone who is no longer in my life. It’s hard to tell the story without him in it as it was such unbelievable trip. It’s a shame these memories are slightly clouded by pain now when I reminisce.

The siting was magnificent regardless. As the glow of the moon bounced off the water, the seven hundred pound mother slowly slid her way onto the beach that night. From twenty feet away she looked like a huge rock and if it hadn’t been for the slightest of grumbles as she pulled herself through the sand, we probably would’ve walked right by. We came to a sudden halt when we realized the beautiful mama Baula was directly in front of us and then slowly backed away to give her some space.

Some would say she was ugly with her wrinkled scaly face and fishy scent, but I was mesmerized by her enormous beauty. The volunteers who had studied sea turtles told us that she was probably more than fifty years old! They determine the age by the size of the turtle. The older they are the bigger they are. We watched in amazement as the mother moved up the beach towards some nearby grass, looking for the perfect nesting spot. Our group leader called the rest of the volunteers from a cell phone as Baulas are rare and she knew everyone would come running to witness the endangered creatures trek to lay her eggs.

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Tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I patiently waited to see what would happen. Just as the turtle neared the grassy mound, she started to turn around back towards the sea. At that moment a group of the senior volunteers circled around her to take down some information. I did wonder if she was spooked by the people surrounding her at first, but they started to take measurements and record the markings on her shell. Apparently, this was not the first time the mother had traveled to this beach to nest. I was astonished to learn that the markings on her shell and the irregular shape of her fins matched those of the Leatherback babies we had released from the hatchery earlier that day.

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Although the mother turtle did not end up nesting that night, I felt privileged to be in her presence none the less. The only images I have of her are in my mind, just for me as I was not able to take any photos. Turtles are very sensitive to light and that’s why they come to nest at night, guided by the moon. But through the darkness, I saw something most people never have a chance to witness. To know that her kind is almost extinct and that I had the chance to see a short part of her journey, well, the feeling is indescribable.

Looking back, I understand that a 2-week en-devour did not have a huge impact on the sea turtles at all, nor can I say that I saved them. My wish to save the sea turtles will only ever be a desire and not a fact. I was merely a small aid to the conservation project in its efforts to improve the chances of the turtles survival and educate the community about the threats to these glorious reptiles. I did, however, learn a great deal about the life of a sea turtle and I will forever be grateful for that.

10431871_489861497868477_1069012161_nSo how did the sea turtles save me you ask? Well, they taught me some very valuable lessons:

Swimming out into the unknown will either kill you or make you stronger.

Letting go is an essential part of life and although it may be the most difficult thing you ever do, it will only pave the way for a new life.

And finally; even though your initial release into the deep waters ahead of you may inevitably end in disaster, the only thing you can do is move forward like those little babies swimming their very first strokes towards the depths of the dangerous ocean in the direction of that fading sun while it sinks away.

It may have taken months to come to these conclusions, but now I am here at the shoreline ready to see what lies ahead. And yes, sadly, my story ended with a broken heart, but my survival odds are greater than the turtles and I am very fortunate for that. In the end, my experience with the sea turtles turned out to be much more rewarding than I expected. I left the conservation full of love, knowledge and admiration for those involved with this remarkable cause. It was worth every second and I will never forget it.

And that’s my story of how I was saved by the sea turtles.

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Thursday Thoughts: Learning to Love Myself Again Xo

I think a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT!

My mind is made up of multiple wheels turning in every direction, so naturally when I experience something painful it hurts in all kinds of different ways. Maybe it’s just the cycle you go through after your heart has been broken. But for me it feels so much deeper than I would’ve imagined. After 4 years with one person it has been extremely difficult to be alone with my crazy mind. My thoughts seem to take over.

It’s been about 3 months now and I do feel like the worst of it has passed. But there are still times when I’m alone that my heart starts to ache repeatedly. I still lie awake wondering how I got to that point where I am alone in my bed. I feel like I never want to let myself fall in love with anyone ever again. One time seems painful enough.

Then I start to think about others who have shared their stories with me when it comes to heartache and pain. When there is marriage and children involved and many years of counseling, I can’t even begin to understand how that feels.

Moving on…

I have been so lucky to have the most loving friends who have helped me through this break up. They have lifted me up and made me laugh. They have said so many loving things to me to try to help me remember who I really am and that I matter. I am not just a broken heart.

The hardest part is writing about my most recent travel experience in Costa Rica; the trip that I thought would bring us closer together. How do I write about that? Do I just write him out of all the stories I want to tell? Do I include him in the adventures I reminisce about? I’m torn between wanting to forget and needing to remember. After all, he was there with me and we had that wonderful experience together.

Maybe some of my blogger friends can shed some light on this situation.

How do you bring yourself to write about someone who broke your heart?

How do you get the words out while you are still hurting so much?

How do I share my story when I just want to forget about him?

I know I am worth more than I feel I am now and I know that my heart won’t always hurt. After so much reflection and self affirmations I feel like my old self is slowly returning. I do feel happy, but when I sit down to write the pain comes flooding back.

How do I stop this from happening?

How do I learn to love myself again?

Traveling: Will It Make or Break You?

~Relationships are funny. You gain some and you lose some. Lessons are learned and hearts are broken. Travelling is a huge test when it comes to relationships and putting the two together can be either a wonderful practice or a deadly concoction.

If you have read my blog recently you may have noticed that I am going through a very painful break-up which makes it incredibly hard to write about the trip I just experienced with my ex two months ago. It really is true what they say: Traveling will make or break you.

Learning about someone in a relationship is exciting at times, but when you realize something is not quite right in that person’s actions towards you, it can be hard to understand where that person is coming from. This is exactly what happened to me. All I can say is that a distance grew between us and I don’t really understand why. Distractions caused me to feel invisible and ignored. Once we had returned from our trip the distance grew so strong that we ended up further apart than ever.

So I guess traveling broke us.

In any case, I find this to be true in friendships as well. Maybe it’s because there are shades of colors you can never see in a person unless you travel far away from home. Maybe it’s because traveling changes you. Whatever the reason may be, I believe it’s a blessing in disguise. Everything happens for a reason.

Going outside of your comfort zone can be a challenging decision. Stepping outside that zone with another person; well that’s a whole other story.

I lost a very special friendship while I was traveling through South East Asia. I had planned to meet up with an old friend in Thailand who I had known for years. I jumped on a plane and flew from Singapore to meet him. Once I arrived in Bangkok, we met up and had some fun in the city before venturing out to an Island called Ko Samet. My birthday was right around the corner and I was excited to celebrate.

But something happened during that trip that I will never understand. Everything seemed fine when we arrived but after a night of drinking and words, our friendship went sideways. Again, a distance suddenly grew between us and I started to notice a strong wall being built up inside my friend.

That evening I celebrated my birthday without him and danced around with some locals instead. If you’re interested in the details of how that night you can read my post: Stories of a Solo Traveler. In the end, the trip was a bit of a disaster. We left the island without speaking a word to one another and I sat on the bus back to Bangkok all by myself. I felt horrible.

Once arriving back in Bangkok I confronted my ex-friend about his actions towards me. He left me at the bus station that day and three days later he boarded a plane and flew back to Canada. I haven’t spoken to him in almost ten years now. Travelling seemed to have broken him and our friendship.

And that’s how fast it can happen.

Maybe it was something I said. It could have been something he felt and I didn’t. In my current situation, it was clearly something I felt and he did not. Now we are just strangers with a bunch of pictures of us from another country. Memories that were supposed to be happy but now just cause pain.

In both cases, I have felt totally abandoned by people who I thought cared about me.

I’m not going to lie, it hurts… a lot! But you can’t stop the changes that happen to someone else when you travel. Going somewhere else in the world is a life-changing experience. People’s true colors shine through and the universe either brings you together or it tears you apart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also had some amazingly happy trips with other people in my life. My best girlfriend and I have traveled down to Mexico a few times and everything turned out great for us. It all depends on the people, the timing and the situations you put yourselves into.

You can’t stop change. You can’t force change.

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It is true what they say: Traveling will make or break you.

Luckily, I know how to put myself back together 🙂

 

For the People Who Truly Love Me xo

For the people who truly love me;

For the ones who take a moment out of their day to tell me that they are proud of me and they admire how far I’ve come in my life.

For the caring notes and messages I receive when times get tough.

For the thoughts that pass through your minds when I am near: “Is she OK?” “What can I say to help make things better?”

For those questions you ask make me feel special.

I no longer feel unwanted, unloved or invisible.

I no longer feel a sharp pain or a sinking heart.

I no longer believe hope is lost.

I no longer want to dwell on the people who do not truly love me, for I do not deserve to be treated in such a way.

I deserve the ones who truly love me without any conditions.

For those amazing, wonderful kind-hearted souls who have reached out to my heart, I give you a small piece.

I know you will not give it away or crush it.

I know you will keep it warm and embrace it.

I know you will try your best to put the broken pieces back together again.

For the people who truly love me, I love you too xo

Thank you for being you 🙂

For what would I do without your true love?

Letter to a Lost Love xo Moving on Monday

Dearest Lost Love,

I felt as though I owed you a great special surprise for your birthday this year. I had started planning a while ago. I was making a list of the things you loved: knives, machetes, climbing gear and mail. I’ll never understand why you loved receiving mail so much, but it always made you so happy to open it even if it was just a bill.

It would’ve been a grand bouquet of sharp things wrapped in rope with a bottle of scotch on the side. There would have been our first adventure book that I had begun to put together with our first travel memories from Costa Rica. I was hoping to add to that book as the years passed by. I was hoping to get all of your loved ones to mail you letters and cards all at once. I was planning on making a private Facebook page called: Surprise letters for (I can’t even say your name without pain now). It doesn’t really matter anymore.

It was such a splendid idea. Two weeks before your special day, I would’ve told everyone to write to you so all the mail would arrive all at the same time. The mailbox would’ve been overflowing with love from your friends and family who you love so dearly. You always wanted me to include them in our lives. They would’ve wrote to you about the memories and fun times you had shared. They would’ve wrote the things they loved about you. I still grin at my master plan. The look on your face would’ve been priceless.

But alas, my plans have been shattered by the cold space between us. I had lost you some time ago but had held on for dear life. When I realized you did not feel for me the way I felt for you, I wasn’t sure which direction to go. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all. Maybe if I’d stayed complacent you would still be holding me in your arms. Maybe that feeling of emptiness would’ve passed.

When you walked away from me that day I thought I was in a bad dream. But as the nightmare unfolded, my heart crumpled within my chest and I realized it was all too real. Now as I sit here writing out my master plan I know it will never happen. 

Maybe I would’ve made you fall in love with me. 

For it was I who asked what it was you truly wanted. For when that moment arrived and you paused and did not know what to say, I knew you did not want to fall in love with me. There will be no letters. There will be no special gifts from my heart. For I don’t feel my heart anymore.

So now I’m moving on, Monday. Now I have to say goodbye to a lost love I don’t even know anymore. Maybe you never truly loved me at all. Maybe one day you will read this, or maybe you won’t. Maybe this letter is not the one you were hoping for. I don’t know because I have lost you…

My dearest lost love xo

Friday Photo *Fallen* – Never Forget xo

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I have fallen…

I’ll never forget the times we shared

A love so painful I could not compare

I let myself love you so deeply and true

Down in my heart, I always knew

You could not love or feel how I felt

But when you stopped to actually see me, I would completely melt

For all I ever wanted was you

Now the memories are so heartbreaking, I shouldn’t have let myself fall so hard for you

Now our sun is setting into the sea

Oh how I wanted you to fall in love with little ol me…

A sad goodbye xo