Aldeia Hippie de Arembepe

Walking into the small hippie village in Arembepe, located about 30 km north-east of Salvador de Bahia in northern Brazil, feels like going back in time. There are no roads, just sandy paths that get uncomfortably hot under the blazing sun; there’s no electricity, so only the stars and the moon light the way at night; and everyone who lives there identifies as a hippie.

The tiny village is lined by the cool and calm Capivara River on one side and the raging Atlantic Ocean on the other, turning it into a sort of island with diverse and spectacular views and plenty of swimming spots. The locals fish in the natural pools left between the corals at low tide, they sell handmade jewelry and crafts to the tourists who walk around the small communal market in the centre of town, and talk about poetry and music as the slow, warm breeze brings the smell of salt to the thatched-roof houses.

The town gained notoriety in the early 1970s when singer Janis Joplin travelled there after being kicked out of her Rio hotel, allegedly for swimming naked in the pool. Locals told me the small house pictured below, located  on the crest of a hill overlooking the ocean on one side and the rivers and mountains to the other, is where the legendary artist stayed. It’s said that Janis’ hit Summertime was inspired by her time in Arembepe.

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My Nomadic Life: Parallel Universe

As my thirtieth birthday approaches, I find myself constantly thinking about time. I think about its role in our lives, how it influences our decisions and our actions; I think about how we try to manoeuvre it, wishing it to bend to our desires; I think about our perception of it when we look back, and what we imagine it to be when we look forward.

Olinda

Olinda, Pernambuco, Brasil

We live in a world that tries to manipulate time; we name it, measure it, count it, as if nomenclature could give us control, as if we could ever master it. This notion of control is fundamental in our understanding of the world we have constructed, and it rules most of what we do, from when we eat and when we work, to when we’re supposed to hit milestones like marriage and parenting. But I’ve always known that’s not the world I want to inhabit; I love living in a world where time is a concept as flexible and untameable as space, where the constraints of forces greater than us are respected but not idolised, where time is considered our greatest asset and most valuable currency. So I changed my world by starting on an exciting nomadic journey.

Although the ‘real’ world and my nomadic world occupy the same space, and exist simultaneously, the world of the traveller is one in which time works for us rather than against us; we who inhabit it have chosen to give up control and have freed ourselves from the traditional restrictions that attempt to overpower nature. Like-minded people live in this parallel universe, floating from one adventure to the next, sleeping in hammocks, sharing music, swapping stories and sometimes more, making friends, re-routing plans, falling in love, learning to say goodbye, following our hedonistic whims to the nearest paradise, all while blissfully unaware what the day of the week it is. Many might say we’re living in an unrealistic, utopian dreamworld, detached from responsibilities, but we like to think of it as controlled chaos, spontaneous planning, a sustainable life of surprise that lets us follow whichever path we choose on any given day.

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Morro Branco, Ceará, Brasil

In this universe, Monday and Thursday and Saturday are the same as the other four days of the week; for me, any day can be a day off, any day can be a work day. We don’t gauge time by numbers on a calendar, but by what we can get done in that space of time. That doesn’t mean we disregard time altogether, but we perceive it differently. Rather than filling in slots on a roster, waiting for the clock to hit that magic number so we can run out, escape the burden of pretending to have the ability to ‘manage’ time, we strive to answer questions like: How long can I spend by the beach? How much work do I have to do before, during, or after? How long will the bus take, how far do I have to walk? How many beers can I drink in the meantime? When does my visa run out?

Maragogi

Maragogi, Alagoas, Brasil

When we travel, we learn to really appreciate time; how quickly it can move, how flexible it is, how much we can squeeze into any given hour, week, or year, and how easily it can be lost. Right now, it seems impossible to me that only twelve months have passed since last May—it honestly feels like a short lifetime ago. And yet it feels like it was just yesterday. How many lives have I lived in the past year, I wonder? How many soulmates have I met, how much have I learned, discovered, let go of? The last year of my life seems to live simultaneously in the distant past and the present; so much has happened since that I can’t help but question the veracity of the calendar’s claims to measure my experiences, to quantify them into numbers so that they’re more easily digestible.

Recife Antigo

Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil

As the months pass by, I realise I can only tell them apart by the cities, accents, faces, and beaches that are attached to my memories, and as I move—on, away, back—I learn that time refuses to be measured or constricted, morphing into whatever shape suits it best, unconcerned by our desires or needs and specially our plans. And as travellers, we have learned to not only accept but embrace its rebelliousness; we have learned that hours only matter in terms of bus schedules, months in degrees and millimetres of rain; we have learned to prioritise weight and distances. Our search for adrenaline and novelty takes over as time becomes an impatient ally who we know can choose to stop being so generous at any moment.

BomFim

Lagoa Bonfim, Rio Grande do Norte, Brasil

So maybe we are running away, maybe it is irresponsible to live off the grid, allowing politics and monthly bills to become nothing more than a faraway memory; maybe we should care more about appearing in countless photographs wearing the same ragged clothes, eternally highlighting our simple but functional wardrobe and our unwillingness to conform to fashion trends or societal expectations of what we should look like, in this day and age, at our age. But we are otherwise preoccupied experiencing beautiful moments, fulfilling dreams, and creating collective memories. We have forged a supportive community that strives to live sustainably, happily, and fully, and in a world that seems to have lost its way and identity, we have chosen not to be bound by time, but rather freed by the possibilities it offers.

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My Nomadic Life

My Nomadic Life: My Real Life

I’ve been reading a lot recently about the reality behind popular blog posts and how the lives of travel bloggers in particular are glamourised to get more likes and shares on social media platforms. Of course, it can’t be denied that some bloggers hide some of the truth to spare their followers from having to witness the boring or difficult side of perpetually travelling, like the long waits at bus stations and airports, uncomfortable rides in trucks and motorbikes, and sometimes more downtime than you know what to do with.

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Ilha de Cotijuba, Pará

Although I mostly post pictures of the beautiful landscapes and cities I’ve visited—because they’re what I take away with me—I’ve tried to keep it real when describing my frustration during ridiculously long and uncomfortable boat rides, or with not feeling at home everywhere I land. I do this because I not only want to show what it’s really like to live a Nomadic Life, but because I’m merely documenting my travels through Brazil, not competing for likes (clearly) or wanting to make people jealous of my chosen lifestyle.

I’m actually living a pretty normal life, I just happen to be doing it on the move, on the road, in Brazil. I do normal things like worry about my safety (it’s messed up that I find this normal), which has put a damper on my ability to photograph many of the beautiful cities I’ve been in, because it’s not safe to walk around with a camera. I’d love to share what I see when I’m walking down the street, but sometimes all I can do is burn these images in my head and hope to never forget them; like the 17 year-old with a cart full of liquor in front of a comic strip piece of graffiti, or the man chopping up fish in a hole in a bright orange wall under the hot midday sun in Fortaleza.

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Lençóis Maranhenses, Maranhão

But life goes on, changing pace and rhythm, moving through the colours and smells and sounds that make up a city. The same things that made up my life in Colombia make up my life here: I go grocery shopping, I cook, wash, clean, wake up early, stream bad shows at night, worry about my budget, wonder when I can take a night off or spend the morning at the beach. Except here, I don’t have the comforts of home that make all these menial tasks much easier than they are on the road.

I’m also always on-call at work, which means it doesn’t matter if it’s Sunday or Tuesday or Friday, I need to be available. But in spite of the restrictions of a regular life, I do also have the privileges of a remote lifestyle. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I travelled nearly 170 km south of Fortaleza to Canoa Quebrada, a town on the coast that’s been invaded by the French, the British, the Portuguese, and eventually, the hippies. The story says it was a Pakistani man who left the biggest mark on the small town by carving a crescent moon and star in one of the beachside cliffs—a symbol that still represents the town today.

Canoa Quebrada

Canoa Quebrada, Ceará

Although I worked every single day I was there, I always managed to take beach breaks and take some time in the evenings to taste the local food and smell the salty air. I loved walking around the cobble-stone streets and down to the beach, swimming in the rough water and admiring the Atlantic coastline from the high cliffs. It was great to escape the city for a few days and be closer to nature; it revitilised me  and made going back to Fortaleza pretty hard.

Besides my blog and other internet-based projects, I’m also doing work exchange at hostels; I already finished my work in Fortaleza, capital city of the state of Ceará, and I’m working at two more hostels in Recife and Natal. To stay on schedule, I was only able to stay a week in São Luís, the capital city of the state of Maranhão, a much shorter time than I would have liked. And I had so much work during that week (which I’m so grateful for, by the way) that I didn’t even have the chance to see much of the city or even go to the beach. And it’s understandable that these aren’t the type of things that we post as travel bloggers, because I’m not about to take a photo of myself working just to show you what I look like sitting down with my computer.

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São Luís, Maranhão

I know that if I only highlighted my days spent at the beach or in the jungle, my readers could easily think I’m living an idyllic life frolicking on beaches and visiting 400 year-old cities—which OK, I am doing—but it’s not all I’m doing. I’ve honestly spent most of the past two months sitting in hostels, on my laptop, working away while all the other guests go out sight-seeing, spending their days drinking beer at the beach or dancing in some reggae bar downtown.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, though I wouldn’t complain about having more time to spend at the beach or walking through centuries-old cities built with colourful Portuguese tiles, either. But that’s the reality of My Nomadic Life: work still comes first, play second. And most days I’m too tired after work to do much else.

Canoa Quebrada

Canoa Quebrada, Ceará

But then I think, if those are my ‘problems’, I definitely wouldn’t trade them for anyone else’s, and that’s the beauty of my life: it’s not just about travelling, about beaches and exotic meals, but about the freedom to choose the lifestyle that suits me best. And that’s what I think everyone should strive for: doing what you love and making it sustainable. Yes, I love to travel, I love to move around and learn about new places and people, but that’s not necessarily what everyone wants, or the kind of life everyone will thrive on.

So I think that rather than talking about the glamorous side of travelling (cuz it’s mostly not!), we should change the discourse to distinguish that we (nomads, if you will) don’t leave our stable lives to travel simply because we can, but because we must. And if you mustn’t, then don’t; if a nomadic, uncertain life isn’t for you, don’t go chasing it just because it’s ‘in’ or because you think it’s what you should do…according to the internet.

Fortaleza

Fortaleza, Ceará

I believe at the end of the day, no matter what kind of life you choose, it’s the little moments that matter, the ones we should treasure, because it’s those precious seconds and images that add up to become days and weeks and months and years and eventually, our lives, so they should be worth it. For me, it’s walking down the street after dealing with some bureaucratic nonsense and seeing a wall of blue straight ahead—and realising it’s the Atlantic Ocean! It’s strolling along the beach on my way to the supermarket and seeing a girl skateboarding down the main street with a surfboard under her arm. It’s talking to people from all over the world on any given day, knowing something about this place brought us all together.

Sao Luis 16

São Luís, Maranhão

I love the path I’m on; I am constantly surprising myself on this journey with how much I’m learning—like when I have a deep conversation with someone in Portuguese and I think, ‘Wow, that just happened!’, or when I finally figure out which bus to take without asking every single person I see on the road—so I hope you keep following my travels through my photos and stories. And if you ever think I’m slipping in my portrayal of this journey, I hope you call me out on it.

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My Nomadic Life

Nomadic Life: From the Amazon to the Atlantic

Day 1

Leaving Manaus on the morning of December 23, 2015, was not at all what I thought it would be. It’s midnight and I’m sitting on the top deck of the Amazon Star, the boat that will take me to Belém, thinking about how I was robbed last night. Just a few metres away from the hostel, two  men on a motorbike assaulted me and two other friends. It all happened so fast, and although my instict told me to run, the gun the thief had in his pants forced me to eventually allow him to rip my bag off my shoulder.

AmazonStar 3I tell myself it was a life lesson, I tell myself now I know better than to go out carrying things I won’t need, specially at night; as I try to forget all the things I had in my bag–sunglasses, two small note pads, a lock, a USB stick, my phone–I tell myself it could’ve been so much worse. But I’d had a long day and I wasn’t thinking clearly, and being so close to Christmas, the robbery shouldn’t have surprised me. People, desperate to bring presents home, go out in search of easy prey on dark nights in the city centre. I try to forget the robbery by looking up at the black sky of the Amazon.

Despite getting onboard at 7:30 am, there were only a few spaces left; I had to hang my hammock up in the middle of the crowded deck, surrounded by rows and rows of hammocks on either side. I think about how I could not only have a better spot but could have avoided the robbery had I slept on the boat the night before sailing. I know it’s useless to think about all the things I could have done differently to avoid the robbery, or my discomfort on the boat, but I can’t help replaying it all in my head in the darkness of the night.

The lights are still on when I go back down to the middle deck, which is so full of hammocks and luggage, I had to crawl under the sleeping passengers just to get out of my hammock. There are so many people, every movement triggers a tremour that shakes the intertwined hammocks, feet and heads dangerously close regardless of what position you choose. AmazonStar 19

While some people sleep, others read their Bibles and sing Christmas songs; I’m sure it’s hard for them to be stuck aboard a ship over the holidays, so they try to invoke a sense of normalcy during the long journey along the Amazon River. I still have hope that at least some people will disembark at the ports along the way, although I’m preparing myself for the very real possibility of being stuck among the crowds until I reach Belém, a city on the shores of the mouth of the great river.

Day 2

Most of the lights were switched off at 2 am, and past 7 am, they haven’t been turned on despite the darkness on deck, caused partly by the dim, grey sky (or is it smoke again?) and partly by the towels that hang from the ceiling, covering the windows, filtering the little light that comes in. Someone walked around, ringing a bell, just before 6 am to announce the start of the day.

AmazonStar 4

After a shower, I go into the dining room on my level and buy the big breakfast: for $10 Reales, I get juice, milk coffee, bread, ham, cheese, a fried egg, and a selection of fruit. There’s another breakfast for $5 Reales, which is just bread, milk coffee, and some sort of rice pudding. Sitting at one of the five blue tables in the room, I realise I’m the only person having the $10 Real breakfast; other than two couples who are sharing it, everyone else is smothering butter on their $5 Real piece of bread, hoping to make it more substancial.

We make our first stop in the port of Parintins, but only a few passengers disembarked. The day is cold (well, tropical cold) and the sky is completely white, contrasting sharply with the chocolate coloured waters of the Amazon. Lying between the bright hammocks that hang over the floor, which is already littered with garbage, I listen to snoring, crying, singing; I’m invaded by the smell of smoke that comes from the jungle; I keep reading until I fall asleep for the first nap of the day. As I fall asleep, I think about how different my trip aboard the Itaberaba, from Tabatinga to Manaus, was, more than two months ago already.

AmazonStar 13People’s excited voices and the silence of the engines woke me up from my nap. We made a quick stop at the port of Juruti, where I finally see blue skies, free of smoke. Wanting a change of atmosphere, I go upstairs to the top deck where there’s a completely different feeling to the relative silence downstairs: upstairs, where the sun and the warm breeze are strong, there’s music and people are having animated conversations, most of them drinking beers, taking selfies, enjoying the landscape and the journey. But there are so many people I can’t find a chair, so I sit on the floor and look out at the beaches and the dry trees of the jungle. It’s the same landscape I saw from the Itaberaba, although the vegetation isn’t as thick and trees are smaller and further apart, at least near the shore.

After a short but heavy rain, we stop at Obidos, in the state of Para, where there are little yellow school boats moored by the shore, one of my favourite sights so far. There are fireworks at sunset, probably to celebrate Christmas. With the air conditioning switched off and the windows open, it’s unbearably hot in the hammocks, and I’m still praying people will disembark in Santarem to spend the holidays with their families.

AmazonStar 17

I was relieved to see a lot of people were getting off at Santarem when we arrived just after 8 pm. Although I left my hammock in the same spot, I can stretch diagonally now without bumping into feet, elbows or heads, and I can even get out without crawling under everyone else. This is specially good news because I heard we’re spending the night at port.

AmazonStar 14

Day 3

My happiness and comfort of stretching out was short-lived; dozens of passengers going to Belem got on the boat in the morning, although there aren’t as many people as that first day we left Manaus. I also found out they sell hot ham and cheese sandwiches in the little cafeteria on the top deck, which would have been a much better option for last night’s dinner, since I bought (and couldn’t finish eating) a huge plate of meat, rice, pasta, and farinha.

AmazonStar 16

We left Santarem at around noon, and I saw a beautifully unexpected surprise: another meeting of the waters as spectacular as the one near Manaus. The waters here are turquoise and chocolate, and their dance creates a dividing line that contrasts against the green jungle that surrounds the river. My hope to see Alter do Chão now, instead of waiting until I return in nearly two years, intensified and then evaporated with our departure.

A few hours later, talking to a group of women who were tweezing each other’s hairs and popping each other’s pimples on the top deck, I hear we’re not arriving in Belem tomorrow as I expected, but early the following morning. This means spending one more aboard the Amazon Star. To deal with this new information, I drink beer. AmazonStar 23

Sitting there with a cold beer, trying to follow the women’s quick conversations in Portuguese, I notice the river here is much wider than before, giving meaning to its reputation as the widest in the world, even during the dry season which has exposed the riverbanks and beaches of the Amazon. After drinking too many beers, bought by a man trying to conquer one of the women I’m talking to, I finally go downstairs to eat and sleep.

AmazonStar 25Day 4

A lot of people boarded at Monte Alegre, filling up the boat even more than the first day we left Manaus. My anxiety over our arrival is only worsening with the claustrophobia. I slept crammed between the other hammocks, which are so close together it’s impossible to move without bumping into someone, or staying still without my neighbour crashing into me. We’re all on top of each other, and even the hallways are occupied with the hammocks and luggage of all the passengers who boarded over night.

When I wake up from a long nap in the afternoon, I look out the window and see the jungle. I know I’ve been travelling through the Amazon for over two months, but this is the first time I actually see the jungle in Brasil just as you would imagine it: thick, lush, green, vibrant vegetation hanging over the river. We sail by small communities who live in wooden houses that are barely visible behind the coconut trees and mangroves. The indigenous people approach the boat in their small canoes, waiting for the passengers to throw bags of food and clothes into the river. Under the strong sun and the blue sky, we slowly make our way through the narrow channel that gives us respite from the monotony of the last few days. I feel that, although I left the state of Amazonas behind, I only just arrived in the jungle.

AmazonStar 24

We make one last stop over night at the port of Breves and my anxiety hits its peak; I’m desperate to sleep far away from the girls who move my hammock all day and the man who snores all night; tired of the filthy bathrooms and crawling on the grimy floor; done with the R$5 beers and seeing the same curious faces that stare all day; I need to get off this vessel.

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Day 5

Unable to sleep among the crowd, I spend the last night awake, watching the sky as it goes from a deep black to a soft purple and eventually a bright blue. I see Belem in the distance, bathed in the light of sunrise, surrounded by AmazonStar 27clouds. The size of the city surprises me; the tall buildings by the river, the clean, modern port. I arrive at the hostel to eat and sleep and recover from this journey which ended up being much harder than I imagined, but also made arriving in this new city all the more satisfying.

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My Nomadic Life

Nomadic Life: Finding the Road from Manaus

Manaus - parqueFor a few weeks now I’d been trying to write about Manaus, this strange, crazy, concrete jungle of a city which I can’t quite figure out but have loved from the night I arrived. Located in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, Manaus is home to 2.5 million people aManaus - ruand spreads out over 11,000 km² along the banks of the Rio Negro. I’ve spent my days visiting its old buildings and walking its pot-holed streets, wondering what I can write about this exotic, weird place.

I’ve been here for over a month and yet I was stuck, unsure what to say about this grey oasis that only hints at the great jungle that surrounds it, lulling us with its oppressive heat into forgetting where we are, offering no respite from the giant, hot sun, unapologetic for obscuring nature with its tall buildings and cracked asphalt, still clinging on to the remnants of the rubber boom that built the city amidst the thick jungle in the late XIX century.

I couldn’t write, I wasn’t sure about anything anymore, and I was starting to feel unsure of my purpose. And then I read my friend Carolina’s blog post about her first month of travelling solo in South Asia and how she, too, had writer’s block until she realised that everything turns into something different than what you planned when you’re on the road, and that’s the beauty of it, that is what we seek. When I was reminded of that, I was inspired, not only to write, but to make an actual plan, to set goals for myself that I could methodically work toward. I love the nomadic life, how unexpected and chaotic it can be, but in both writing and life, I like turning chaos into a more tangible, spontaneously planned state of disorder.

Manaus - orelhaoSo I started planning, and changing those plans, and guessing, and second-guessing, and I finally came up with a schedule and budget of sorts that should see me through to mid May, 2016. I figured that having an idea of what I’m doing for the next five and a half months is enough planning, and now that my calendar’s filled up with the names of exotic locations, I can go back to dreamily drifting through Brazil’s hallucinating Amazonas and north-east coast.

During the next five and a half months I’ll travel nearly 6,000 kms away from Manaus and its incredible market place, its colonial architecture, its history and culture, its freshwater beaches, churches, and of course, all the cupuaçu picoles and din-din (tropical fruit popsicles and frozen juices in a bag) I could dream of! I don’t know what will happen or who I’ll meet, but I do know I’ll be in Belém for New Year’s, in São Luis and the Lençois Maranhenses in January, in Fortaleza for Carnaval, in Recife in March, and then back up to Natal in April. I know I’ll visit the beaches of Pipa and Olinda along the way, and sometimes wish I hadn’t planned so far ahead.

I know I can hinder myself and the possibility of taking spontaneous opportunities by schedulling the next six months, but having this purpose, this trail, gives me a sense of responsibility to myself, to fulfil this plan, to follow through and make my way down the Atlantic coast, all the way to neighbouring Uruguay, then Argentina, and then finally back to Colombia… before going to France.

OK, so I’m a compulsive travel planner! But life is short and full of wonder, and it’s too easy to get lost in the mundane, in the comfort of stability or instability, and I don’t want to miss a beat. To see what comes next, follow me on this uncertainly planned journey of discovery and learning.

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Nomadic Life

Daily Life: USA

I was in the USA this past May and June visiting friends and family and doing a bit of sight-seeing in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I hadn’t been in the United States in 8 years and had never been to New York or San Francisco, two of my bucket list destinations.

So I flew over the Caribbean and after a few delays, I was in my new suburban home in Potomac, Maryland where I watched the trees change from pink to green; in New York, I walked past a crime scene; in California, I saw the red-suited ligefuards on the beaches of Malibu and gawked at the Redwoods of Muir Woods outside San Francisco.

I rode buses, trains, cars, cable cars and ferries in and around these four cities. I walked over two of the country’s most iconic bridges and flew over some of its most impressive landscapes.

I ate delicious food (mostly cheese, let’s be honest) and took every chance I could to indulge in my curious observations of  daily life in the US, from commuters and tourists struggling for space on the Brooklyn Bridge, to the lives of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.

I was there long enough to get used to daily life, to gain a bit of weight from all the cheese food I ate, and by the end I even managed to wrap my head around the sun setting at 8.30pm. I thought about staying–just for the summer–to earn some dollars, crash some festivals, have a summer fling, maybe? I thought I could have my own American summer, just like the movies.

But I was too busy living to make plans and so, sooner than I’d have liked, I was on a flight back to Ft Lauderdale and then to Cartagena, followed by a bus home to Santa Marta, a colonial city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. And despite returning to the warmth I’d been craving, the smell of the ocean, the cold tropical fruit juices on the streets, I wasn’t all that excited about being home; I couldn’t stop thinking about going back.

The day after I got home, my head still in the gringo clouds, I went to the beach with my friends, swam in the warm ocean, had some wine, and kinda got over it. Why chase after the American dream when I’m living the Colombian dream?

Even though I didn’t explore it further, I lived my American Dream for 6 amazing weeks. The USA completely exceeded my expectations, impressed me in so many ways, and left me hungry for more. I couldn’t have imagined a better journey.

Check back soon for more photos of both Colombia and the United States!

DAILY LIFE / VIDA COTIDIANA
Travel / Viajes – 20152011-2014

#MyBBB: My Biggest, Baddest Bucket List (Top 28)

Since entering My Destination’s ultimate travel competition, MY BIGGEST, BADDEST, BUCKET LIST, I have been thinking very seriously about what I would want to do if I won. What places would I just have to go to? What things couldn’t miss out on?

With only 28 days left for voting, I decided to write up the top 28 items on my bucket list. What would make your list? Share in the comments!

And to vote for me visit my entry page and share through Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon, G+ or Pinterest. Thanks!!!

Laura’s Bucket List (Top 28)

1.    Get my adrenaline pumping in New Zealand
2.    Hike through the jungle in Borneo
3.    Island hop around the Solomon Islands,
4.    Vanuatu and
5.    Fiji
6.    Remind myself to breathe in Palawan Island, Philippines
7.    Go to a full moon party in Koh Phangan, Thailand
8.    Visit the Bagan temples in Myanmar (Burma)
9.    Bungy jump in Macau — 233 m!
10.    Ride a horse through the Mongolian plains
11.    See Lhasa with my own eyes
12.    Ride a camel and camp out in the desert in Rajasthan
13.    Be amazed in Tajikistan
14.    Enjoy the blue waters of Cyrpus
15.    Get lost in the streets of Santorini
16.    Visit small towns (and a few old castles) in the Transylvanian Alps of Romania
17.    Swim under the lush Plitvice waterfalls in Croatia
18.    Marvel at Malta
19.    Travel Tunisia by land
20.    See the mountain gorillas in Uganda
21.    Get to know Zanzibar
22.    Explore Madagascar
23.    Admire the deserts of Namibia
24.    See the polar bears and icebergs in Arctic Canada
25.    Bike around Hawaii
26.    Hear the roar of Angel Falls in Venezuela
27.    Beach hop in Brazil’s north east
28.    See the penguins on Isla del Fuego

Vote for me

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Blog Post: Finding the Lost City

Pursuing Happiness

It surprises me when I hear people speak of happiness as an unachievable, ephemeral dream, when we can live it every day. Most people seem to be too blinded to notice, blinded by the goal of finding happiness, as if it was an object you could grasp with your hands.

 

People spend their lives reaching for this idealistic happiness they’ve heard of: trying to build the perfect life. The thing is, nothing’s perfect, but we can find small moments of perfection if we look for them: moments of joy, of beauty, of simplicity. These moments are the true fibres of happiness. I think happiness is all about recognising and appreciating those moments, those little details that can make huge differences, rather than looking for a whole picture of happiness, like a big house or an expensive car.

 

So, what are those beautiful moments? There are so many and we can find them in every aspect of our lives, if we pay attention, that is. This is what happiness means to me:

 

  • taking that first bite of a home cooked meal
  • talking to a friend I haven’t seen in a long time
  • finding money in my pocket
  • a cold beer on a hot day
  • a deep conversation with a good friend: knowing someone out there gets me
  • feeling the waves crashing against my skin
  • enjoying and finding pride in my work
  • a shared look with a stranger
  • a new addition to the family
  • a new relationship
  • a new beginning
  • knowing an old friendship is still going strong
  • realising I know someone else better than I know myself
  • a cheap ice cream cone
  • someone noticing I’ve changed my hair or glasses
  • seeing a loved one who was away for too long

 

Happiness is many things, not just an abstract illusion (or delusion for some). Find your happiness in your every day, you’ll see you’ve stopped searching on the outside for something you had to power to create all along.

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