Category Archives: Travel Inspiration

How I think. How and why I do what I do.

Why Not?

I didn’t make as much money as I expected so I’m going back to Greece, Rome, and taking a trip to Lisbon because I heard it was cool.  Then I’ll come home and work until Christmas and then make a new plan.  I don’t know what I’m doing.

“Yes you do.  You are working, saving, and traveling.”

Oh…right!

There are many people I am grateful to for the continuing support in my travels.

Dad, thank you for always keeping your door open and my room available for me to stay.  It makes me happy that we are able to spend this time together.

Sophia, thank you for being my best friend, lazy companion, and confidante extraordinaire.

Mom and Ken, thank you for everything you do for me.  Including the never-ending encouragement, acts of kindness, and emotional support.  I love you guys!

Libertine Bar (plus Bottle Shop and entire Lower Greenville Ave Crew), thank you for welcoming me home with a job!  That is a true blessing these days.   Not only do I feel so lucky for my awesome job but also the gracious, fun, and crazy group of friends that comes with it.

I’ll answer a few commonly asked questions with the most important response I learned during my time in Greece.

Why are you going back to Greece?

Why not?

Why are you going for four weeks?

Why not?

Why do you travel so much?

Why not?

When asked these questions the first time, I attempted to make some justified answers.  I think this was in hopes of warranting my decisions to myself but it wasn’t really working.  Ultimately, I was more stressed trying to give reasons for this trip and what I do in general.

So, I gave up.  I realized my whole life is full of “why nots?”  I should take advantage of those when I can.

I am going back to Greece because I want to see my neighbors, friends, and family I made this summer there.

I am going to Rome because I want to see my Italian family.

I am going to Lisbon because I want an adventure in a place I’ve never been.

As long as I live my life with respect towards others and the things I want do not hurt others, I’m going to do it.

Today, I found an old photo album of pictures from high school and a photo album from the time I lived Austin for Hurricane Katrina.  I thought about all the people who would love to see these pictures.  I thought about how nice it would be to have a home where these photos could be accessible for guests to look at, reminisce about, and enjoy.

I put the pictures away, turned around and looked at my bed.  On the mattress were my clothes and other belongings I am packing for my trip.

My thoughts went something like this…

Woah.  I’m still living my life and making these adventures happen.  I’m still choosing experience!  There will be plenty of time later for nostalgia.

So, today I am grateful to the above mentioned and to everyone who has encouraged me to keep traveling.

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Filed under In Between Traveling, Travel Inspiration

It’s Something!

Procrastinate

: to put off intentionally and habitually.

Sound familiar?

This has been a recurring word when I think about the blog.  However, now that life has a bit more stability and regularity (AND I had my first full day off of work yesterday in just over 2 weeks) I have the time to catch up on some things.

So, Greece was obviously amazing.  When I think back on the hesitations I had before going there, I laugh.  The majority of my posts from Corfu are about how loving, kind, and incredible the people there are and I want to reiterate that fact.  Of course I anticipated making friends but I don’t think I ever could have imagined the quality of these friendships.  Time was an irrelevant element; a magic I believe the island itself manifests in several ways.

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Without force, without hesitations, without skepticism, and within literally hours, I made some of the greatest friends I have ever made in my life.  All of my assumptions of time being the only factor in cogent friendships was proven wrong.

I have a strong image of the way children meet each other.  There is a curiosity and awkward dance of sharing between children who meet for the first time.  There are no conversations to get ‘to know’ the stranger, and common ground is usually found through games, toys, or fantasy.  The break in shyness is so immediate that you would think they had known each other for a long time.

Corfu was our playground, toy, and fantasy.  The commonality was the fact that we all wanted to experience everything the island had to offer.  Maybe it was this shared love for our surrounding that made us immediately respect each other.

Two months later, I am still in awe of the genuineness of these friendships!  It makes it even more justified that for the past two months since I left Corfu, there has not been one day without a message or conversation from my fellow Window Talkers.

The way of acceptance, love, and anticipation that friends of many years possess are obtainable during the duration of our lives.  What an exciting realization!  This magical and rare experience I am forever grateful for.

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Right now I am back in Dallas, working two jobs and doing my thing; work, work, work, save, save, save, travel, travel, travel, and then repeat.  I guess it is obvious this is becoming a pattern.  There are still no plans, no assumptions, no idea of what exactly I want for the future but I like it that way.  I know what I want right now and that is all I can work towards.

Corfu has also been an easy excuse for me to procrastinate in other ways.  I long for my life in Corfu.  However, if I cannot be happy where I am, how could I be living in the wisdom Corfu gave me?  I have to constantly be ‘living,’ no matter where I am.  I have to constantly be curious of strangers, I have to constantly be in search of new adventures, I have to constantly be learning.  I have been pleasantly surprised to find that Dallas is filled with adventures and fun! IE Boatapolousa, Mexican night clubs, Bingo Halls, concerts, cocktail-y things, family nights, and late night/early morning amazing conversations.

This weekend I took my Corfu wisdom to full effect.  Yesterday was the wedding shower for my cousin Alex and his fiance, Becky, in Arkansas at Lake Ouachita.  Another treasured family haunt.  I had resigned to the fact I wouldn’t be able to take off work.  The usual excuses ran through my mind; I can’t afford it, I can’t take off work, and if I tried to take off work, it would be a long hassle getting my shifts covered.  However, Friday morning something came over me and I had an overwhelming desire to be with my family.  I scrambled, pulled strings, bribed people, and luckily worked everything out to be able to go.

It is important for me to maintain a balance of my priorities.  Absolutely I can work towards my goal and initiate a substantial life at the same time!  Right?!  Taking two days off to be able to come to this beautiful, heavenly place to be with my wild and crazy family, who I love more than anything, should be a given.

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The hard part is already over.  It’s not like this is the first time I’ve had to save money to travel.  Maybe I won’t be able to leave when I want to, maybe my destination will change.

Who knows?

I like staying open.  If something comes along and grabs me, I’m going to take it.  That is how I’ve always done it.  That is why it works for me.  That is why I always seem to find myself surrounded by exceptional people.

All I have is right now.  This moment.  And I’m going to make the most of it.

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Filed under Greece, In Between Traveling, Travel Inspiration

It’s About Time!

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This is one of my favorite parts.   Laying out all my possessions and filtering through them, three or four times, until I am able to fit everything into one backpack.

I am finally hitting the road again.  There were several reasons why I stayed longer than I expected.  Mostly because of the wonderful people I met this year while living in Dallas and New Orleans.

My new path is not entirely planned.  That is how I like it.  This allows room for change if new adventures appear.

My current itinerary looks something like this…

February 21st-27th Berlin

February 27th-March 8th La Rocchetta-Claudio and Michelle’s farm in Italy (AKA my Italian family)

March 8th-18th Italy (Rome->Florence->Venice)-with my sister, dad, and my dad’s high school students

March 18th-??? If anyone has any great ideas let me know!

April 14th Have to get to Marrakech for a Moroccan wedding (YES!)

April 16ish-May 1ish I really want to travel down the Dalmatian coast.  Specifically from Split, Croatia ultimately ending on Corfu, Greece.  Anybody who is free and wants to come let me know!

May and June (this is where YOU come in!)-I have a dear friend on the island of Corfu in Greece who has offered me an incredible deal on her apartment there.  Some of you will remember when I stayed in this apartment almost 3 years ago.  It is a magical place-an upright piano adds to the calling of it!

Maybe this will inspire you…

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Greece 2010

Anyways, I want to make it clear that anyone and everyone is welcome to come and visit me and stay in this beautiful place.  It is not necessarily modern but there is certainly enough room for about 5-7 people to sleep comfortably.

This is my official invite to anyone who would like to have a summer adventure on a beautiful Greek island.  It is also my opportunity to give back to all the people who went above and beyond helping me when I travel.

PLEASE PLEASE if you are absolutely serious send me dates ASAP.  I’m very surprised at all the feedback I’ve gotten from people who would like to come.  I need to make sure that there will be enough space!

So, I’ve been experiencing thoughts of anxiety about this Europe excursion being the right thing to do.  Mostly because I still crave SE Asia with all of my being and this adventure includes a lot of places I’ve already been to.

So, why am I doing it?  If there was anything I learned from this time in Dallas and New Orleans, it is that there are amazing people all over the world.  During this time in Europe I will see friends that I met in Russia, Thailand, Italy, Greece, and Morocco!

This is important for me to remember.  I am not living this way to please all of you.  I am not traveling to gain some kind of recognition.  This is my life.  This is what I worked hard to be able to do.  So I’m going to do what I want to do!  I’m not going to worry about time, money, and what other people think.  Is this an easier excursion from last time?  Maybe.  It’s too early to tell.  Anything can happen!

Maybe, due to the adventurous nature of my Uncle, I’ll freeze to death in a German jail for trespassing in an abandoned mansion in East Berlin.  Maybe I’ll find a teaching job in Rome and never want to leave.  Maybe I’ll meet a traveller who inspires me just as my Travel Companion last year inspired me to cross half of the globe via the Trans-Siberian Railroad!

There are so many things that could happen!  I have been giving into the thoughts and ideas that a persons life has to be lived in a certain way.  I forgot about spontaneity, serendipity, and finding happiness in the small things.  I forgot that, for me, travel provides the strongest sense of well-being and fulfillment I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Now the plane has pulled up to the walkway and I am about to board.  No this is not the glorious adventure of the Trans-Siberian.  This is something brand spanking new that I am creating on my own.

I have a blank canvas and this time I’m holding all of the brushes.

This picture was taken by Todd.  He and Manus were waiting for this moment.  I was completely horrified and begged him to delete the photo.  I am forever grateful that he did not.  I think this picture represents a lot for my new adventure.

All alone, in a barren land, caught with my pants down.

Life is good y’all.

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Before Sunset

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Bangkok rooftop view
419999_708202240075_2144163877_n The window to our room in the hostel The Overstay

 

I stormed out of the sweltering room and quickly descended the four floors of stairs.  I slowed down only to avoid slipping in a puddle of water that sat at the bottom of the steps of the first floor.  The dark and smoky essence of the entryway, that consisted of several couches, pool tables, and a full bar with several bar stools, was a relief from the heat on the upper levels.  However, I was too upset to stop and enjoy the cave-like room and briskly made my way across to the front door.

Once I opened the door, the heat of the city hit my face like a ton of bricks.  Reminiscent of New Orleans summers-where it is hard to find any sort of relief from the humidity-filled my mind.  However it was short-lived because after a few moments I realized there was absolutely no wind.  No breeze blowing, not even the slightest waft of hot air that would make you smile on a New Orleans summer day.  I struggled with the thought of returning to the cool cave and ordering a cold beer to quell my frustrations but instead I ran into a friendly face.

“Can I help you?” a British boy asked.

“How do I get into the city?”

“Well, just go down on the corner there and get on bus number 203.  It’ll take you right across the bridge and into Bangkok proper.  I’m Patrick, a manager here.  See you later!”

I smiled, thanked him, and walked to the corner to wait for the bus.  Within seconds, 203 pulled over and I boarded.  Luckily I found a seat and paid something equivalent to fifty cents for the ride.

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I enjoyed sitting on the bus with the air blowing on my face from an open window.  I watched the traffic and contemplated riding the bus until the last stop.  However, I decided to get off where it seemed the majority was exiting the bus.  I had no plan or agenda or even a map.  So I just walked.  I found a narrow street that looked like a small alleyway.  Food stalls and open-air restaurants lined the street procuring some of the most amazing smells.   I noticed a very tall man, a foreigner, possibly an American walking my way.

I have to explain that after a long time of being in a place where you physically look very different from everyone else, and on the extremely rare occasion when you run into another foreigner, it is hard not to feel as if you know them or recognize them.  Those features, more similar to your own, have a strange familiarity and even though those features have not been present in a long time you still remember them.

We locked eyes as we passed each other-like every time I passed another Westerner-and tried to conjure some sort of recognition.  However, like every other time, I had never seen this person in my life.  So I continued walking and quickly went back to breathing in the heavenly smells surrounding me.

I chose a restaurant that sat directly on the river.  I took a seat at a table by the water and watched massive fish nibble away at leftovers floating on the surface.  Boats rowed, drove, and paddled by.  The city runs in an organized chaos.  After a few moments of reflective dazing I looked around the restaurant and noticed the same Westerner I passed on the street eating at a table across the room.  At this point, I didn’t think much of it.  It is common, not only when you are traveling, to see the same person in one day.  I went back to dazing and watching the fish in the canal.  When I looked up he had left.

I paid for my meal and continued exploring the area.  Patrick, the manager from the hostel, showed me how to get to the infamous KohSan road and so I started making my way in that direction.  I walked a few blocks toward the traffic circle where I made my way to the crossroad.  As I was walking to the light, I again saw the same Westerner walking from the other direction.  We met at the crosswalk and looked at each other with a smirk.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hey,” he said.

The next thing I knew I was walking with Mark; a guy from Mid-West America who was living in China, teaching English, and in Bangkok for vacation.  He was heading towards the train that would take him back to his hostel.  From his map it seemed far away, so we decided it would be more interesting if we walked there together.  Talking to strangers instantly appeared to come natural to him.

Almost immediately we ran into a hawker who was trying to sell us something.  These situations are always a little awkward for me.  However, it seemed Mark was used to it more than I was.  Somehow he made a whole joke of the situation without being insulting, awkward, or exhibiting any usual tourist qualities.  In the end, the hawker pointed us in the direction of our destination.  We continued walking and talked about pretty much everything under the sun.  There wasn’t really enough time to remember that this was a complete and total stranger I literally met on the street.  Neither of us were in a hurry so we slowly strolled along the canals walking into places every now and then to double check that we were heading in the right direction.

We continued walking and talking until the sun disappeared and we ran into more hawkers selling rides in rickshaws.

“I’ll take you anywhere for good price.  Where do you want to go?”

Mark stopped, put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said,

“We want to go to your house.”

The man furrowed his brow in confusion.

“We want to go to your house.  Is your wife a good cook?  I’m hungry!  Will she cook us a good meal?”

The man looked at him and slowly began to smile.  A light went on in his eyes and he understood.  He laughed and wagged his finger at Mark in a way that translated, “Ah, so you’re a wise guy.”

We all laughed and Mark and I continued our way down the street.

“That was hilarious,” I said.

“You should see the faces in China when I answer them in Mandarin.  No one ever expects that.”

I looked up at the tall, dark haired, Caucasian man next to me, and thought, “Yea, I can see how that would surprise them.”

Soon after, we finally found the road that would take us both home.  Mark was going left and I was going right.  I am uncertain of the exact amount of time that passed but I’m fairly sure it had to have been at least 4 or 5 hours.  Somehow, in what seemed like no time at all, I had walked with this stranger around half of Bangkok.  It was a feeling of complete elation to have been able to make such a genuine friend in a short amount of time.

We exchanged information, said our goodbyes, and walked our separate ways.

On my walk back to the hostel I reflected on this new friendship.  I smiled to myself and thought, this is exactly what they teach us NOT to do.  Talk to strangers on the street that is.  However, I overcame that initial fear and went with my gut feeling to trust this person.

It had been a while since I had been a participant in such a spontaneous and instantaneous connection (almost as random as the story in New Orleans with the guys I met on the street who became my dearest friends throughout college.)  Mark and I had laughed and talked like we had known each other for years.

On my way back to the hostel, with no certainty of where I was or which way I was going, I looked around and noticed that the Bangkok nightlife had come out in full force.  Although even in the chaos, I did not feel nervous or threatened.  Somehow, with Mark’s help, I had made Bangkok a familiar place.  Whereas only some hours earlier the city had been overwhelming.

I found myself back at the crosswalk where Mark and I had started our tour.  Across the street I saw a pizza place hiding behind the overpass.  It had been months since I had eaten a pizza.  It certainly was not a commodity in Mongolia or China.  I had to have some.

While I was walking to my bus stop, I was carrying the large pizza box and eating a slice.  This must have been a very interesting sight.  Little foreign girl, fingers dripping with grease, walking and eating pizza in a dingy corner of Bangkok, Thailand.  However, it didn’t seem that strange.  I looked around and saw several people laying in the park.  Some were giving massages to people who were laying on cardboard boxes and others were loitering around eating or drinking unidentifiable things.  What was like Mardi Gras for me seemed a normal night for a local.

I was completely oblivious to my status and I did not care how I looked.  I just walked eating my pizza and thinking about the wonderful day I had.

Now it is Mardi Gras time.  Where no matter where you are in this magical city, there are strangers to meet who have the capacity of becoming some of the greatest friends one can find in a life time.  We all have the opportunity to share these extraordinary experiences together.  So let’s celebrate!

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Happy Mardi Gras everybody!

Let’s have some adventures this Carnival week!!!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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Filed under New Orleans, Thailand, Travel Inspiration

Do Whatcha Wanna

A LOT of questions lately.  I am hoping I can clear some things up today.

Why haven’t I hit the road again?

I felt a strong desire to spend the holidays with my family.  The most efficient way to do that was to continue working and saving at The Libertine Bar.

The three months I intended on staying in Dallas became 5.  I’ll admit that there were other reasons besides money and family as to why I stuck around.  I never expected to make the wonderful friends I did this summer but because of them my time there was very fulfilling.

Why did I leave Dallas?

I still plan to travel!  I still am keeping this life style going.  I am being more present and making choices that only postpone far away traveling however, I am still living the indefinite adventure.

Why am I in New Orleans?

I wanted to have quality time with my family and friends who live here.  I’ve been traveling off and on for the past 3 years now.  Within that time I have only been able to briefly visit New Orleans.  I spent a significant part of my life here and have been eager to rekindled my relationship with the magical city.  Everyone who comes to New Orleans knows what I mean.  It is magical and magical things happen here.  So why not continue my goal of ‘have fun, make money’ where I can live rent free, continue saving, and spend time with people I love.

Yes, I have to get a new job and I have to make new friends.  I have to get used to the changes that have happened in this place and deal with the unending flow of tourists.  However, I have some old friends who were in New Orleans with me years ago and their support and willingness to reminisce as well as show me a ‘new’ New Orleans is a huge jump start.

Within the week, I will have my PediCab license and will be working with Bike Taxi Unlimited.  I will be toting around tourists and locals alike through the French Quarter, Marigny, and the rest of New Orleans.

One of the most difficult things about the way I travel is how much I miss my family.  With all of us being scattered over the country, the holidays are the only time everyone commits to getting together.  Since I missed last year, I made the choice that I would stay this year.

Not to say that the last holidays were bad.  For Thanksgiving last year, I was on Olkhon island on Lake Baikal in Russia.  Our Thanksgiving consisted of cured fish, potatoes, meatballs, and 3 in 1 coffee.  We were in a beautiful place with some of the most generous people.  A lot to be thankful for.

When I was in New York, I realized the importance of quality time with the people you love.  That is why I came down here.  One thing that keeps me confident about continuing to travel and do what I do is that no matter how much time goes by without seeing these people our friendship never falters.  In Dallas, there were people I had not seen in years and once we reunited it seemed as if only a few days had gone by since we last saw each other.  This is what I am ultimately grateful for.  The love between friends reminiscent of the love within family for it never diminishes.

Of course we change and people change but love and memory stay constant.  So, I am once again choosing to be present and unafraid of change.  I’ll never forget The Libertine and the wonderful people there.  I’ll never forget the amazing times I had in Dallas.  Just as I haven’t forgotten about New Orleans and have come back knowing that there are new adventures to be had here.  I’m only lucky enough that my family lives here too.

I still plan to travel far away and as of now that time looks like after Mardi Gras.  New Orleans is a catapult for the next big adventure and more than that it holds all new discoveries in itself.    I’m still not certain about any details after my time here but that’s how I like it.  I am available and up for anything.

Down here they say, “Do whatcha wanna.”

I plan to do just that.

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The possibilities are endless…If you want them to be

Where are you going?  What are your plans?  What are you going to do next?

These questions have been directed at me on a daily basis since I came back to Dallas in May.  In the beginning I didn’t worry too much about it.  I had a simple answer; I was completely broke and needed to make money.  After a couple of months working two jobs and my bank account looking less dismal, I started thinking about what I wanted to do next and what were my goals.  I began responding to these questions by going over all the possibilities and options I had.

Well, I found this job in Myanmar and I want to get my Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate and I want to go back to South East Asia but my friend is trying to get me to go to South America although I would love to go back to Morocco and Italy or I could go to Australia on the way to South East Asia on the way to India and then swing by Europe when I run out of money again…..

These rants and uncertainties did not seem well received.  So I took a breath and spoke the simple truth.

I don’t know.

Phew!  That felt good!

I’ve had to remind myself yet again, to allow the unknown and unexpected to present what it will.  It really is very simple.  I’m working hard, doing what I have to do, to be able to have the freedom to do whatever I want to do!  Even though there are a million things I want to do, I feel confident that whatever is supposed to happen will happen.

I have to remind myself all the time, that when I decided to go on the Trans-Siberian I had absolutely no clue the other adventures that would come from it.  Nothing was ever planned more than a few days in advance.

This is my acceptance speech of my choice to live an extraordinary life.  Where I allow myself to do what I want.  I want to travel.  I want to live in optimistic uncertainty about the future.  I want to be of service to the world.  Thank God for this clarity of some things I actually want!  That alone is a blessing.

Can I achieve all these desires without putting in some hard work?  Hell no!  My time here in Dallas has been extended almost two months compared to the original 3 month plan (original PLAN…Ha!)  Now that I have finally accepted my life choices and these aspirations, I can relax and be more present.  I can enjoy my time here with the people I love and make the most out of Dallas because I know I will be leaving at some point in time.

Nope, I don’t know where…yet.  Nope, I don’t know with who….yet.  I sort of know when but there is no exact date.  Aren’t you excited to find out?  I am!

If there are still any questions, please refer to the quote at the top of this page on the right.  That pretty much sums it all up for me.

Opportunities are already popping up.  For example,  I received a response from the International Buddhist Education Center in Sagaing, Myanmar (Burma) in regards to a teaching job.  This is one of those chances I feel cannot be missed.  The affirmations of this place seem to be endless.  Beginning with the coincidence that the teacher who contacted me is named Kyaw Min, the same name of my dear friend on Koh Tao.  Yes, yes maybe it’s a common name but of course I’m going to believe it’s a sign.  Also, this picture gets me all excited inside….

Absolutely stunning.

 

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Filed under In Between Traveling, Interesting Things, Travel Inspiration

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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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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Filed under In Between Traveling, Interesting Things, Travel Inspiration

A Horse With No Name

My first goal in returning to Morocco was to go to the Sahara desert.  Time and weather were against us during my previous stay and we were unable to make the trip.

At that time I was in the mind set that this trip to Morocco was a vacation.  I wanted to do all the things I did not have the chance to when I was working full time at Peacock Pavilions.   Go into town more often, treat myself to Les Bains de Marrakech, practice piano, go to the beach, and most importantly go to the desert.

This trip I had a return ticket and a dream of ultimately moving back to my beloved New Orleans and…settling?

It is humorous to look back, see yourself and ask, “How could I ever think that?”

I knew the desert would be magical but I did not know that the experience would completely throw any notion of “settling” out the window.

Due to some miscommunication my initial traveling companion was unable to accompany me on the excursion.  So in a panic of missing the desert again I contacted an acquaintance I had met at this year’s Mardi Gras who I knew was in London.  A true friend of a friend of a friend.

Via Skype:

“Todd!  I know you want to buy a ticket to Marrakech and go to the desert with me!”

“Can I call you?”

Within 30 minutes he had purchased a ticket to Marrakech from London leaving in 5 days.

When we met at Mardi Gras the conversation was just as abrupt and sincere.

“What do you do?”

“I travel.”

“I travel!  I’ll be in Italy and Morocco next week.”

“Maybe I’ll stop by.”

All of our communications were short and quick to the point.  Neither of us ever looked at the fact that we barely knew each other.  Our mutual friends were the basis of our trust.

So the magic of Mardi Gras and my beloved city of New Orleans created a remarkable friendship that aided me in fulfilling my desert journey.

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Filed under Morocco, Travel Inspiration

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