Category Archives: In Between Traveling

Time in Dallas, New Orleans, etc and in between time of traveling.

Full Circle

4 continents, 3 deserts, and 1 year later I again had to say ‘goodbye’ to my Travel Companion.  If anyone is still wondering, I am now in the Good Ole USA!  Here’s how it happened….

I’ve got a golden ticket!

I sang to myself as I drove my scooter home.  It was traffic time in Koh Tao and the street was busy with its residents and tourists driving home or getting dinner.  I had just gotten off the phone with my Travel Companion (aka Todd) and he had some really great news.

I had been living on Koh Tao for five weeks and no matter how happy I was, the desire to travel again became too overwhelming.  Unfortunately, almost all of my money had been depleted and any option for change, other than staying on the island where my expenses were virtually nothing, was non existent.

However, this all changed when I was given the opportunity to have another adventure.  My Travel Companion was going to ‘import’ me to Perth, Australia where we were going to cross the entire continent in his VW campervan.

This kombie was to be my new home for two weeks before coming back to Dallas to attend an old friend’s wedding.  Even though this meant leaving my island paradise two weeks earlier than planned, I knew it was worth it.  How could I pass up a free ticket to Australia?!

Stephanie and I made plans to leave Koh Tao and go to Singapore where I would fly to Perth and she would take an exhausting number of flights back to Texas.  The weeks that led up to our departure were filled with innumerable adventures and wonderful days with The Lost Boys.  We soaked up every waking minute (as well as soaked up a lot of water during Songkran-The Water Festival) with The Lost Boys and our other close friends on Koh Tao.  I will never forget how incredible our time there was.  With that said, I will retell many of those stories another time….like I always say…but it is all too good to pass up!

I flew from Singapore to Australia.  I arrived with no expectations.  I remembered reuniting with my Travel Companion 8 months earlier in Istanbul.  Instead of a yellow banana, that he brought to the airport for me in Turkey, he brought a yellow VW campervan.  My Companion tried to run across the street to greet me but the airport security would not let him leave the van unattended.  I hurried over, dropped my bags and was happily surprised to be picked up and twirled around in a loving hug.

We drove away in a flutter of new and old stories.  After spending almost every waking minute together for 6 months we had a lot to catch up on and say about the two months spent apart.  The van itself is spectacular and instantly reassured me of the incredible adventures to come.

This picture shows the inside of the van where the couch retracts into a very comfortable bed, the fridge to the left of that, a sink that you cannot see to the left of that, and turn the camera around, a three burner gas stove.   The sliding cabinet has three shelfs.  I claimed the top one for my clothes and over time commandeered the middle one for toiletries.  All you need; a bed, fridge, sink, stove, and a couple of shelfs.  It was home.

When I arrived it was already dark so we found a place to park and sleep.  I was completely exhausted after taking the 30+ hour journey from Koh Tao to Singapore that included a night ferry and three bus transfers.  I woke up to the sun shining through the curtains and when  I opened the door, a vast and beautiful blue sea sat within view.  The terrain in Australia is a combination things.  With big open skies, far reaching oceans, deserts, white sandy beaches, and cascading cliffs there is no room for more enchantments.

With petrol prices being the most expensive in Western Australia due to the mining economy, there was absolutely no way we could make the trip alone.  Directly from Perth to Sydney would have cost $1500 or more in gas.  So, we gathered two guys from a ride share forum who joined us across the Nullabor.

Our cross country team is in the picture below.  On the far left is Miks who is from Latvia and next to him, Jordan from Essex in England.  These two guys were incredible additions and it never would not have been the same without them.

Everyone was happy to take our time and see the sights along the way.  One day my Companion took a turn on a dirt road.  We ended up parking at the edge of the cliffs that you see in the picture below.  We jumped out the van to peek over the edge of the cliffs.  As we looked down, a school of dolphins swam by along the rock’s bend.  It was truly magical.

We dropped off Miks in Adelaide and met up with a few of my Companion’s friends who had couch surfed with him in New Orleans over a year earlier.  I will never forget the hospitality of Stella, Tom (Browny), and Matilda.  They opened up their homes and lives to welcome us.  A side note; is it just a coincidence that we would pick up another “Jordan” on the last leg of the Epic Adventure?

Leaving Adelaide and our new friends, we made our way on the Great Ocean road to Melbourne.  The entire drive was incredible.

We dropped off Jordan in Melbourne where he would begin the search for a job.  My Companion and I continued Sydney.

The pictures are alone testaments to the beauty that we saw across Australia.  I am so grateful and prideful of my Companion’s incredible talent in capturing all of the places we have been.  The photos not only provide proof of the countries, people, and events we experienced but more importantly the nostalgia.  This visual art form is one of the most marvelous ways of reliving a memory or experience and my Companion’s ability to fully represent the various details of emotional and physical senses is prodigious.

When my Companion dropped me at the airport in Sydney I did not feel the same despair as our first parting in Thailand.  Partly because the fact that I was in Australia in the first place was surprising.  Only a month before I never even imagined going to Australia was possible.  However, there I was and with my ultimate traveling companion.

The ‘unexpected’ won again and I was happy for it.  Remembering this now is especially helpful in my transition back into the American culture.  As I have said before, isn’t it better when you do not know what is going to happen?

Everything was planned out for me to not have time to even think about missing traveling or my Companion.  I stepped off my 15 hour flight direct from Sydney to DFW and was greeted by my good friend Omar.  He and Stephanie had come to pick me up and were awaiting with a half of bottle of Sangsom (the popular Thai rum Stephanie had brought back with her from Koh Tao.)  She quickly put on one of our favorite Burmese songs and before I knew it, we were all talking as if no time had passed at all.

I got home to a massive box my Companion and I had sent from China.  This box held both of our boots that had saved our lives in Russia and Mongolia, several souvenirs and gifts for friends, and some winter clothes that had been apart of our daily wardrobe on the Trans-Siberian.  Instead of longing to relive these memories I let the nostalgia settle in me (especially after reading my Kazantzakis quote that is at the top right of this blog!)

“then to close my eyes and feel the riches deposit themselves inside me calmly or stormily according to their pleasure, until time passes them at last through its fine sieve, straining the quintessence out of all the joys and sorrows.”  

Australia really gave me the time to root all of the amazing events and memories that have occurred over the past year.  I had a lot of time to think and process in the campervan.

Yes, I could not prepare fully for my transition.  And yes, it is really uncomfortable.  However, this displeasure comes in phases and my longing for certain people and places comes and goes the more I realize that everything will work out the way it is supposed to.

Two days after I flew into Dallas, my dear friends and old roommates from New Orleans came and stayed at my dad’s house.  We were reunited after at least a year for Erline and James’s wedding.  It was, in simple words, a blast.  I was so thankful to come home to a group of friends who know me as well as I know myself and in ways better than I know myself.  The nights were filled with intriguing conversations and reminiscences and I remembered,

Oh, I have lived before this Epic Adventure.  Oh, I’ve HAD other epic adventures.  And more are awaiting me!”

I was being provided for, having my friends there and being able to tell my recent story and past stories in the most sincere way.  The Universe was aiding my transition from being away from the people and places I love, by giving me some of the dearest friends I have in the same place at the same time.

So, now the wedding is over.  I visited New Orleans where my mom and Ken now live full time.  They have a wonderful house and again I was lucky to see so many good and wonderful old friends that reminded me of the importance of my temporary return.  OH YES.  It is temporary.  No set plan as of now but I’ll keep you updated…

Horrible quality photo but certainly captures the exuberance of us all being together again after so long…

How lucky am I to come home to my amazing family and friends?  Thank you especially to Sophia, Dad, Mom and Ken for all the love and support in my travels.  Thank you to everyone for always being there for me and mostly being here for me now!

Life is good y’all!

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БЫТЬ В РУКАХ чьих-то

БЫТЬ В РУКАХ чьих-то” is a Russian idiom that literally translates, “be in the hands of someone.”  I’ve been having some recent anxiety because in a way I feel in the hands of someone else.  The Trans-Siberian adventure was not my idea.  I am following the lead of another and that is something I am not used to.  Throughout most of my travels I would be planning and going with my own spontaneity.

In working through this inexperienced situation of relying on someone else I have realized a few important facts of life.  Well, at least in my life.

Trust.  Not only trust in the people you surround yourself with whether on an adventure or in your daily life but trust in The Universe.  Haha.  Yes.  I believe in that kind of thing.  There is no way after all the incredible people, places, and things that have come into my life I could possibly ignore the idea of there being something out there that is watching out for me.

Let go.  This takes constant practice!  Having grown up in an Alcoholic Anonymous environment and visiting several meetings as a child the saying, “Let go, let God” has crept into my subconscious and has driven a lot of my adventurous spirit.  As well as being a reminder during hard times that I do not have control over everything.

The Fun of the Unknown.  Have you ever been afraid of not knowing what you were going to do or where you were going to go? Have you ever worried about where you would live or if you would like your new home?  Have you been nervous before knowing if you would get that job you wanted or get into the school you had planned?  Have you ever worried about the future?  What if you could plan everything?  What if you knew everything that was going to happen?  Do you think life would be better?  Sometimes the fear of the unknown surfaces and to feel better I ask myself, would I WANT to know?  Would I want to know every outcome that results from my choices?  Hell no!

Life is so fascinating because everyday we are presented with opportunities that show the numerous choices, decisions, and/or paths we must make.  The outcome of these choices that we think we control is indeterminable.

Curiosity sparks the imagination and if I knew the result of every decision I made throughout my life I would feel unfulfilled.  Serendipity, fate, spontaneity, these are all words and scenarios that exist in life.  How much more powerful are they when they occur at unexpected times!

So today I’m going to think of these three things and remind myself that it is okay to be a little out of control.

Isn’t that part of the adventure?

“I hope for nothing.  I fear for nothing.  I am free.”
-Nikos Kazanzakis (Zorba The Greek)

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San Fermin in Nueva Orleans

The Running of the Bulls.

Wait a second!  Roller Derby Girl Bulls with wiffle bats?!

¿Por que no?

There was excitement, costumes, smiles, laughs, and wagons!

And let me tell you…

Those bulls hit hard!

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Filed under In Between Traveling, New Orleans

You Gotta Work

Today I am going on my 8th day in a row working at The Libertine.  I cannot express how grateful I am to be working there.  What?!

Yes I am tired and yes I am looking forward to my day off tomorrow (WOO!) but I’ve found something in Dallas…

The Libertine is a special place.  When I think about it, I haven’t had a job with co-workers since the first Morocco trip in 2010.  Even then it was sort of a special circumstance because there were only three of us and we all lived together.

I had forgotten about the rapport you have with the people you work with/for.  Only they understand things like how much I hate ‘doing ketchups’ or rolling silverware or when people leave quarters as part of the tip (that’s the worst!).  Only they understand the importance of our wit and banter and how these key elements make the night bearable.

That is an interesting part of the work force.  Everybody jokes around and is in a playful mood.  Resulting in the tedious things (rude customers, busing tables, bad tips, etc) loosing their power over the experience and attitude of the staff.

I feel a part of a new family.  I did not expect to find this in Dallas.  I had made many new families from my year working abroad but I never thought Dallas would yield anything comparable to my Italian, Greek, and Moroccan families.  I have been proven wrong.

Thank you Libertine for giving me the opportunity to work towards my goal and for being something special in a town I was beginning to resent.  Thank you to all the people who work there who make it a pleasure when I walk in the door.

“God changes his appearance every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises.”
— Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek)

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A New Adventure

I have done this process before.

Two years ago I uprooted my five year life in New Orleans and came to Dallas to…work and save money.

Would you like to know how long 3 months of working at a restaurant and coffee shop in Dallas gave me to travel?

1 Year + 5 days.

Dates: December 5th, 2009-December 10th, 2010

Route: NYC-Italy-Greece-Italy-Morocco-Italy-France-NYC

The budget lasted this long because I was working via WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming) and Work Away.  These are programs that provide you with numerous profiles of hosts situated worldwide who give you room and board for various jobs.  The only money going out was for my travel costs!

Through these programs I worked as a gardener, builder, cook, wood-chopper, farmer, cement mixer, painter, decorator, home school teacher, au pair, hotel staff manager, server, and marketer.

Phew!

After returning from this year long jaunt I prepared for what seemed…well something more like a ‘jaunt.’

I was given the opportunity of chaperoning my dad’s High School Spring Break Italy Trip where he takes a group of his students on a tour through Italy.

I had decided that once my dad’s group returned to Dallas I would stay and revisit Morocco to see friends and the family I worked for in the Fall.

I arrived in Marrakech with expectations of renting my own apartment but after looking at a few and coming to grips with rent prices I came to a disappointing realization, I didn’t have enough money…this time!

After a few days of squatting in my friends cousin’s abandoned Riad (In Arabic: رياض‎. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard) with no electricity or running water…I decided to return to the luxurious Peacock Pavilions, the boutique hotel in Marrakech where I had worked 5 months earlier.

It was wonderful to be back with the family and coworkers I spent almost every waking moment with only months before.

The day after I arrived I woke up bright and early to drive the kids to school.  This had been one of my jobs the previous trip and I was more than happy to do it again.  Every morning we would pile into the car (usually in a some what hectic, “we are going to be late!” way) and as we pulled out I would crank up one of the kids favorite songs.

Click here and continue reading…

We would belt our hearts out on the 15-20 minute drive and somehow this tradition became a type of meditation.  Having a degree in Music Therapy made this exercise obvious to me of its benefits for personal well-being but for the children it was just fun!

I instantly felt at home yet again.

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Filed under In Between Traveling, Morocco, Travel Inspiration

Have Fun Make Money

Since I graduated from University I have been living off and on in Dallas, Texas and New Orleans.  The purpose of these locations are solely based on the fact that I can live rent free.  However, since I grew up in Dallas and lived in New Orleans for 5 years, I have a strong home base of family and friends in both cities that I am very grateful to have the time to revisit.

How this works…

I get 2 or 3 jobs in the service industry because it is fast and easy money.  In Dallas I have worked here….

The Libertine Bar

Cosmic Café

My goal is quite simple;  have fun, make money.

Am I saving for school, debt, a house, to move, or something obvious?

Nope.

I am saving almost every single penny I earn to take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Russia to Mongolia.

The longer I continue these fun but sometimes tedious jobs I realize that I am not only saving for the Trans-Siberian but for an indefinite adventure.

Hmm…what about the future?  What will you have to come back to?  What do you want to do?

Yes.  These questions can sometimes be intimidating but that is what I am here to tell you, and remind myself, of the little importance of knowing the answers to those questions.

I am riding the wave into oblivion.  Giving myself the opportunity to think and act in the present.  Working only for the foreseeable future and taking the risk of finding an unknown adventure.  Living life and following in the footsteps of one my most influential archetypes, Zorba the Greek.

As Zorba says,

“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition. To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them. To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize all of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.”
-Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek)

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Filed under In Between Traveling, Travel Inspiration