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 ;)

Doing the Fire Dance

When you work, eat and live with the same people there are bound to be “inside jokes” that the new generation will be introduced to. Tonight, on a car ride home I was privy to one of those. After being informed of our decision (3 out of the five in the car) to do the “no-poo” routine as an experiment, the girls with the most seniority burst out laughing and decided this was the proper time to introduce “the fire dance line.” After a brief introduction that included their experience in a fire dance yoga class, where they shouted and group-hugged their way to a comical, and deeper understanding of their co-workers and roommates….they defined the line. As one of the girls said, “Living abroad opens you up to new things, it’s an experimental phase. After a while, you can get over it….or you don’t.” That experimenting is the fire dance, and the outcome defines which side of the line you stay. I thought about if for a minute, and realized how much “dancing” I’ve been doing.

For starters, I wash my hair with vinegar and baking soda. I started using coffee grounds and honey to exfoliate. Coconut oil goes on my skin as often as it does my morning smoothies, and olive and jojoba oils replace any other lotion needs. I’ve substituted Netflix with a good book, yoga and incense as part of my evening routine. Based on my personal evolution, you might as will consider the fire dance a synonym for turning into a hippie (and regularly rubbing food on my body). Regardless, it’s obvious how close the the fire I am.

What’s funny about the whole subject of “the fire dance line” is how we each dance. After all, getting to know every detail of a few people’s lives exaggerates the differences, and blurs the similarities. I live with two other girls, and work with them Monday-Friday from 9-5. Without knowing anything else, like the safety situation or limited transportation, anyone could tell it’s a challenging situation (Especially people who know how much I depend on communication, conversation, and a consistent changing of scenery!) But, Challenge allows you to approach a situation from whatever angle you choose. To be honest, my angle isn’t always a positive one. It’s easy to feel trapped, suffocated, misunderstood and all kinds of uncomfortable words. If we’re talking angles, this is the acute one. It’s narrow and focused on details; it’s hard to see the whole picture. This is the angle that is hard to talk about, but has to be discussed.

But challenging isn’t always (in fact, it rarely is) a negative thing. When I see the situation from a different angle – we’ll call it the obtuse point of view – it all makes sense. Frustrations turn into lessons, and independence goes hand in hand with companionship. It’s when I realize how much power I have over my feelings, and that happiness shouldn’t – and can’t – stem from things or even other people. It’s when I realize that a simple shifting of perspective is all it takes to turn a challenging situation into an amazing experience and eventually, a lifestyle.

No one here pretends like living in the jungle is easy and acute moments are easy to come by. It’s a lifestyle that attracts a certain kind of person, and then tests out their ability to balance a desk job with adventurous spirit, and relationships with independence. It’s a lifestyle that everyone deals with differently, and dancing around the fire is just one way to deal. Some of us are graceful, some of us have two left feet – but the best part about the fire dance line is that no matter which side of the line you’re on, you’ll at least know where you stand.

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This entry was posted on September 30, 2013 by in Travel reflections.

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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 🌅
Life update: I've moved out of the jungle 😭 Its been a little over a month and I've learned SO much during the transition. You know when you make a decision that others might not be fully convinced of....but you can feel that it's right deep down? This was one of those times. To everyone else we had a dream situation - and it was! - but the thing is....we all have to change, we all have to grow, and we all have to make the decision of when its worth fighting the current or going with the flow...and while we *deeply* loved being surrounded by nature 24/7, there are some things that giant blue butterflies and sunsets can't do in life. . . So what am I doing now?? I'm helping other people discover this incredible country 🌴 I'm designing custom trips, honeymoons and vacations. (See my very official headshot on my professional page - link in my bio 😆) I get to visit our partner hotels, do the tours, and experience the trips first hand so I can give first-hand advice and continue growing as a pro on tourism here. It is a LOT of work but I LOVE making totally custom trips based on my clients' personal #bucketlists! I'm optimistic, grateful, motivated and humbled. Pablo and I are building our dream life "poco a poco" but this year is about pushing harder than ever to put a foundation under our dreams. Paying off loans. Buying property. Planning our own jungle home....and so much. We can't wait to see what this new life-in-the city (with plenty of weekend trips) has in store for us 👊 . . "THE SECRET OF CHANGE IS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY, NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD, BUT ON BUILDING THE NEW." ~ Socrates
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 😍
Well, its official. Our year of living and working at @finca_bellavista has come to an end, and for all the lessons learned and incredible experiences had, we couldn't be more excited for our new chapter. We're already seriously missing the staff, volunteers, and pristine wilderness that surrounded us....we even miss our little hut by the river. But life needs to be shaken up sometimes and we're thriving in this time of change. As of this week I'm so excited to say that I've taken a job with a travel company I've followed and admired for years. I'll be planning custom itineraries to some of the best hotels in Costa Rica, and be showing visitors my version of Costa Rica....with all the hidden gems along the way 💓🌿💓 I haven't figured out yet if I'll start a separate IG account for it, but I'm so excited to show off the properties, tours, and experiences that make travelling here so special. In the meantime, if you know anyone wanting a once in a lifetime trip to the land of pura vida....you know where to find me 😊 But first, a quote that has been speaking to me this week: . . . "We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.” ― C. JoyBell C.
“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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