Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

This is my personal blog and a space that I try to make sense of my wandering life. Depending on the day it could be a helpful resource for the country I'm in, or a self-help guide. We'll just have to see ;)

Homeward Bound

I’ve been back for a while now, and if anyone actually reads these things I’m sorry for the delay. And even though I’m back in my typical role of wearing 50 hats, running early morning to late night, I feel like I’m just now coming home. It was gloomy at first, but stick with me. I promise I’m working on a happy ending.

For those of you who have traveled, maybe you’ll understand. Everything was different, this time more-so than before. It turns out that being aware of your own culture shock does very little to dampen the effects. I’m almost over the morning realizations that in that very moment I could be floating, weightless atop a wave or trudging up,up to the top of a mountain. The thought that “I could have stayed there this time, taught English, lived cheaply,not worried…” has regressed to the confines of my mind rather than the too-quick tip of my tongue. I’ve re-learned how little people really want to hear about how great someone else’s life is, or was and I’ve felt the sting of absence. “5 months is a long time..” was a statement that stuck with me bitterly for my first weeks back as I discovered the extent to which people, places had changed. America weighed heavy on my conscience; the obesity, dependence on technology, and constant push to do and never relax drove me to feverishly check the next flight South. Heck, I even checked north, east and west.

That was my first month home. I can say with confidence that I was suffering some form of depression; everything I’ve learned from commercials with women (it’s always women?) and bouncy white blobs has taught me depression means little to no interest in anything, blurred memory, blah blah blah.

So I took a trip.

I didn’t drive to Mexico, or even Miami as I think so many people expected me to. I went to Bloomington, Indiana. I visited an old friend, and made myself get out and do things. We hiked, discovered new shops and food and music and bars. I met new people, even spoke a bit of Spanish and I slept on a couch. I was back in my element and out of my funk.

Since then, I’ve landed a job I love and as always – have a hundred other projects keeping me busy. I turned a few doodles into cards, printed them and all of a sudden I’m participating in gallery hop and selling them in 2 locations. I picked henna up again, promoted myself and have now set up shop for a belly dance studio, University of Kentucky and private parties. I still stop by the hookah bar too. Shoot, I even sell worm poop when the opportunity arises.

I’m working as a trail guide and assistant at an outdoor rec area in Lexington, and soon will be zipping above the gorge and treetops of Fayette county. I’m able to get outside, and even though my dog now lives full-time with my sister I see her when I can – I feel like a divorced parent and it’s comical and heartbreaking all at the same time. I got to spend time with my dad, and am still making peace with myself and the family for not being here in that time of need. I’ve reconnected with old friends, and neglected some as I acclimate to being glued to a cellphone all the time. I’ve discovered new places, faces, and food and settled for skyping my boyfriend once a week instead of hiking, biking, or road-tripping with him.

Being back has been a slow progress for me, but it’s an exciting time to be here. I have more pride in Lexington than ever and have embraced it as home even as I dream of leaving. Something has changed, because now when I think about leaving I also think about coming home. To West 6th street brewery. To spicy hot chocolate at Coffee Times, and Keeneland in the spring. To a quirky but growing group of outdoors enthusiasts, hippies and humanitarians. Lexington is changing and so am I. People keep asking me “where next?” and I have yet to reply. Because, as much as I believe in and miss traveling I know there’s so much to learn here too.

I’ve almost been back for 2 months, but I’m still coming home.

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2 comments on “Homeward Bound

  1. Hannah
    February 1, 2013

    I love this Chelsea! I’ve felt this way so many times before…..and even in the painful, lost-feeling moments, it’s a beautiful experience. I’m sure it will lead you somewhere amazing, even if only HOME.

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This entry was posted on February 1, 2013 by in South America 2012, Travel reflections.
One of the best parts of "living in Paradise"?...Getting to share it with family ♥ I'm going through wedding pictures and stumbled across this shot from our sunset horseback ride near Santa Teresa. As crazy as it was planning a wedding and a family vacation directly afterwards, it's the moments like this that made it all worth it. Now, less than 4 months later....it's my JOB to ensure families come home with memories like this one. Not a bad gig if I say so myself 🌅
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When life gives you too many beautiful photo opps....make an image slider 🤓 . Pics taken on one of our recent roadtrips. La Paz waterfall is still one of my favorite falls in the country and you don't even have to get out of your car to see it! (Though I recommend that you do). This area is full of strawberry farms so our favorite way of playing tourist is to grab a box from a roadside vendor, snack on the ride down the mountain, stop for photo opps, then throw a few berries to the local -incredibly adorable - pizotes 🤗 (scroll to the end to see their close up!)
At about 7 inches long, this little guy was just a speck of brilliant color in the greens and browns that surrounded him. One of the best parts of exploring national parks is that "scary" animals like this eyelash viper aren't just tolerated, but are celebrated. People kill snakes out of fear, but even venemous ones like this are no threat if we just let them be. I'm extra thankful for Pablo's steady hands and this close up (taken with his phone!). Toucans and monkeys are great, but these vipers are some of my favorite animals to see in the wild. If you look closely you can even see the "eyelashes" this species are famous for 😍
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“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and attention.”💕 ~ Buddha . On an especially hectic Valentine’s Day, I want to remind everyone that it’s not all about roses and dinners or sappy love movies. Sometimes, it’s not even about our partners. It’s about a deeper love that sets the foundation for all other relationships to flow out of it. Self love, self respect, and living your life in a way that simultaneously sets boundaries and breaks them.... that’s what it’s all about. It’s finding the balance in serving others and serving yourself, in seeking happiness not through someone else but alongside them. It’s about figuring out this miracle called life one day at a time, ending the day with gratitude and holding the people dear to you close. ✨ Happy Valentine’s Day y’all.... I love you and am grateful for your presence in my life🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
Rum-chata for the win 🙌🏻 Miss Ashley Layne and Aaron (@thetroxella) mixed up this magic: homemade horchata on the rocks with a splash of Flor De Caña Nicaraguan rum. I’ll be calling it “Christmas in the Jungle” but you can just call it “delicious.” 😜
It’s been one month and three days since this day and I can’t quite put into words how crazy life has felt since then. Our wedding was the perfect combo of hilarious day-of drama (I might have forgotten Pablo’s ring and only realized it as we were saying vows 😂) and fairy-tale moments (like seeing the perfect altar that Pablo built and the amazing decorations that friends, family and staff put together). I wish we could do it 1000x more, and soak in the simplicity that was the main attraction : good food, beautiful views, good people, and the amazing presence of Mother Nature. There’s so much to say but all I can muster is this: we can’t wait to see what’s next 👊🏻. Here’s to a bright 2018, to living life on our terms, and to growing even more as people, partners, and friends. 💕💕💕
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” - W.B. Yeats 🍍 I’ve walked by our little pineapple patch so many times I can’t count during this past year, but yesterday I discovered that baby pineapples (like the one pictured) bloom with the most beautiful purple flowers. Pineapples can take up to 2 years to produce their fruit and only produce 3 times in their lives, every time getting smaller (but sweeter!). Such an incredible, delicious plant from the tropics 🙌🏻
In yoga, tree pose is used to promote balance - in the feet, hips, pelvis....and also in emotions . . 22 days until our wedding, until our families meet for the first time, and until our little family of two becomes official. We decided on an outdoor ceremony becasue that's where we feel connected; it's where we met, where we feel most spiritual, and where we find inspiration. Whether it's helping run a treehouse community, traveling through the Andes with everything we own on our backs, or opening up our own eco-business somewhere in the Americas.....nature is our constant. She's what binds us, and I'm thrilled that I will get to commit my life to someone while enveloped in her sunshine, with the sound of her waves, the smell of her breeze, and the feeling of her beneath our feet. Here's to taking a break from the stress of wedding planning, and focusing on what really matters....✨love✨
Life tip: marry a man who knows how to use a machete 👌🏻 . . Also...we had an earthquake last night but besides the swinging lamps and fruit baskets, no damage and everyone is safe and sound in “paradise” 🙏🏻
5+ years of traveling and exploring Latin America and yesterday....it finally happened. Thanks to an incredibly well-timed Facebook post, and a group of people doing amazing conservation work, Pablo and I had the opportunity to help release not just 1, but 50, baby Olive Ridley sea turtles into the ocean. It’s hard to describe what it’s like: watching them struggle through the sand... get stuck...become exhausted...then move forward again despite what (to them) are mountains and tidal waves... then just as the sun soaked us with the deep gold of sunset, the tide swept them away one by one. Their tiny bodies came to life when they touched water for the first time - it’s such a moment of instinct and pure drive and every single one paddled as hard as possible to avoid being swept backwards.... Not a bad metaphor for life, huh? Anyways... I’ll be posting a blog about the babies soon. In the meantime, we’re sending all of our love and good vibes to these little ones.... we’re hoping that most of them made it through the night and they’ll be on their way to even deeper waters today 💙
My entire life I've connected with the quote that "the mountains are calling and I must go" but I'm happy to say I've found a happy place on lower ground as well 🙏🏻 Jungle + Beach + Pipa = perfection 💕🐚🌴 ......I'm curious! Where's your "happy place?"......
Back to these beautiful Costa Rican sunsets 🙏🏻 After a whirlwind visit to see friends and family in Kentucky, I couldn't help but notice how our lives are syncing with the season: the pumpkins and leaf piles reminded me how autumn feels - the rapid changes, the little moments and flavors that everyone goes crazy for (pumpkin everything!) and the last burst of energy and color before the cool calm of winter washes over. We're in the heart of wedding planning, gearing up for high season at the hotel and facing a completely uncertain future in the way of visas, travel plans, etc... Here's to savoring this season of our lives instead of worrying or stressing about the ones to come 🙏🏻
The power of imagination makes us infinite." - John Muir . Exploring the magical treehouse Fila Tortuga at Finca Bellavista. No matter how many I explore, the truth still stands: treehouses bring out the kid in you, they make the impossible seem possible (like a tree floating in the jungle canopy 🙊) and they inspire you to explore...to look at the world a little differently. . Comment below if staying in a treehouse in on your #bucketlist!
(Fun fact: zip lines were invented in Costa Rica as a way for biologists to have easier access to the dense forest canopy 🤓). I could get all metaphoric - but let's just say this: flying through the air, above the sun-drenched jungle canopy, surrounded by good people and delicious air.... puts life into perspective. We're just tiny little beings trying to make our way in the world.... and have a little fun while doing it. Pura vida chicos, and I hope you have an amazing day 🙌🏻 (scroll through for more pics of Finca Bellavista's Sky Trail!)
Jungle essentials: camera, boots, smile. Sometimes, when my hundreds of mental to-do lists start to feel heavy... I have to remind myself we live in Paradise. It's in my backyard but I rarely take enough time to explore "beyond the bridge." Hiking alone in the jungle, despite years of my getting to know these kinds of landscapes, is still ✨magical ✨Everything is rain-drenched and thriving....little movements that proceed each step remind me that there is FAR more life surrounding me than what I'm aware of, and of course the trees: beautiful, entangled, and reaching towards the fog (or sun, depending on the hour). I'm back to my to-do lists today, but man what a little fresh air can do for the soul 🙌🏻
Playing jungle book in the Osa Peninsula 🍃✨💕
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