Almost 3 years ago I began traveling. The free-spirit within me has always wanted to see the world, but the way my wallet was set up because of student loans and a crazy expensive apartment in NYC, saving was always so difficult. Then? There was my over protective parents who hated (still do) the idea of their only child traveling anywhere outside the house ... if you have African / Caribbean parents, you know the struggle! lol. Finally, there was the issue of my friends, many of which said they wanted to travel, yet, had no real interest in making concrete plans. What I did get? Lots of talk surrounding going to dream places, but no actual steps made ** loud sigh ** .. It was at this point that I decided to travel on my own. My 1st stop? Home to the U.S Virgin Islands. I'd been traveling there with my mom since I was 3 years old, and know the capital like the palm of my hand mostly so I figured it was a great place to start. Ultimately, I'm glad I did.
Everything felt like home, familiar, childhood memories, foods I only can get when there, standing on the "waterfront" for a regatta race, watching the storm clouds roll over the hills and start a summer-like tropical shower .... sitting on the sand of my favorite beach Meghan's Bay ... I honestly didn't want to leave. Coming here as an adult, and especially as a solo trip, was the exact break from life that I needed. I had a lot of stressors in my life at the time, most personal, and an extremely cold, drab winter wasn't helping matters. This trip was literally the sanity break I needed. Moving forward, all of my trips would have some component of quiet reflection and stress relief built into the trip. each one, a mental sabbatical from life to recoup.
Flash forward to a year later in 2013, when I received a surprise text from my sister-friend Tiffany. She was in the midst of planning a week long, all inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic for herself and ten of her closest friends ... she wanted to know if I would be interested in going. As if I would ever say no! Ultimately, the trip was amazing. Sipped drinks, jumped off cliffs in an underwater caves, skinny dipped under the stars, drove dune buggies "Mad Max" style across the country side, swam in crystal clear beaches, fought off a rogue parrot eating my marley twists, crashed a wedding reception on the beach, drank drinks, and just laughed! This was my 1st international trip and not only did I have the chance to bond with a great group of ladies, but I had the chance to officially spark my international wanderlust safely ... with a group of women I trusted. I'll forever be grateful to them.
With these two trips under my belt, it was time to take my solo adventures out even further! Next stop, the rainforests of Costa Rica my birthday that year. My stay at eco-resort Westin Golf Resort & Spa was even better than I could have ever imagined. Rather than push back nature to fit around the resort, it was seamlessly included. Animals were part of daily life. Tiki lamps lit paths at night, rather than artificial lamps. Steps were taken to use natural resources wisely. Meals were all farm fresh, as agriculture is part of Costa Rica's economy. The beach was located on the property and only steps away. This was the closest I'd ever felt to Earth and I absolutely loved it. The rainforest was even more incredible. There, I sat under trees hundreds of years old, climbed mountains, got mud/clay massages, & sat in hot springs powered by a volcano (Rincon de la Vieja) in the Guanacaste region. I connected with nature in a way I never have, and to date, still have yet to. It spoke to my spirit. Showed me on how little we actually need to be happy. It put all of the daily stressors I worry so much about into a real perspective.
This trip confirmed for me so clearly that the fast paced life of NYC, with its noise, smog, and grumpiness wasn't for me. At least, not anymore. That trip literally changed my life. I asked a young man working at the hotel, for an unbiased / non-tourist version of what it was like the like there. I won't ever forget the story he told. Gist? His friend gets a job offer in the states paying way more that he would make in Costa. He takes the job, only to regret his decision. Long overworked hours and a new stressful life later, he wished he'd never taken the job. This friend works multiple jobs just to keep a roof over his head ... with little sleep and no time to enjoy the best parts of living. Simply put, he missed a simpler life.
What was the point of living a life that didn't feed our spirit and / or our potential? Why work an endless number of hours, building someone else's dream? Why live an unappreciated life with no time for family or friends? ... Living a life which feels like a one trapped in maze! Ok, maybe I'm being a bit dramatic with the maze comment, but you get my point. Seeing the Pacific Ocean for the 1st time while coming down from a volcano, just showed me in no uncertain terms that life was too grand for me to be living a live I wasn't completely happy with. These moments, served as yet another puzzle piece of my life that has ultimately spurred me to living the life I WANT to ... not the one I HAVE to. While I'm still figuring out how it will all fall into place, there's no time like the present to start!
Next stop? Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates .... Till then, the journey continues!
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*thumbnail image from - http://www.forestbound.com/