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GettingLostInAlleys

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On Friday morning, I woke up in my little jungle bungalow and had to pack and prepare for our day on the lake and then visiting the small Caribbean town of Livingston. After breakfast, we all piled into a little speedboat and set out for a lovely day on Lake Izabal. Cruising through mangroves and passing by colorful lake front beach shacks, it felt like paradise but also, as though I had left Guatemala and been transported to Jamaica. We arrived in Livingston, a sleepy little town with a super relaxed vibe and a really interesting history. It's located in Eastern Guatemala and sits at the mouth of the Rio Dulce at the Gulf of Honduras. It's well-known for its unusual mix of Garifuna, Afro-Caribbean. Maya and Ladino (mestizo) people and culture and several languages are ... read more
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On Wednesday morning I woke up at 5:30 am in preparation for a 6 am pick-up at my Airbnb. I decided late Tuesday night to book a morning tour to hike Pacaya Volcano and am so glad I did! Surrounding Antigua there are 3 volcanoes--Fuego, Agua and Acatenango. Pacaya is an active volcano about an hour's drive outside of town and rises to an elevation of 2552 metres (8373 ft). It's last activity was in 2014. In my group there was a family of 4 (French Canadian), a couple and their good friend (from France), Fernanda (my friend from Costa Rica) and myself. Upon learning that I speak Spanish, Fernanda and I quickly became good friends and hiking buddies. She's traveling around Guatemala for a week with a co-worker that as she described it, "is older ... read more
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Roasting marshmellows
Volcanic rock


My last day with Guise in Guatemala City was spent running errands as she continued to show me around town. We delivered some of her freshly made bread to friends of hers across town and in the evening, made homemade pizzas while drinking boxed wine. The next morning we woke up early for our mini road trip to Antigua and Guise had made fresh banana cupcakes to drop off at her church. She sent some with me as part of a care package along with a loaf of fresh-baked bread. Guise had volunteered to drive me to Antigua so that we could enjoy a farewell breakfast together and she could buy some goods to send to her daughter Jennifer in the states. We hugged each other goodbye when she dropped me off at the Central Park. ... read more
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I arrived in Guatemala City late Friday night to find Guisela (Guise), my Airbnb host awaiting me with a giant sign that was shouting my name in capital letters. A tall, busty woman in her mid-60s with white spikey hair and bright purple glasses--she was sweet as can be and we took an instant liking to one another. She was especially delighted to learn that I speak Spanish and insisted I speak to her in Spanish (although we'd switch back & forth as we were searching for the right words). Upon arriving at her charming home, I set down my bags and joined her for a glass of wine at the kitchen counter. A few glasses later, we felt like old familiar friends and were ready to hit the hay. My first morning in Guatemala began ... read more
Guise's rooftop garden
Guise's rooftop garden


Clusters of white clouds float past my window as if someone's shaved off the frothy tops of hundreds of thousands of individual root beer floats. Or perhaps we are slowly approaching a new planet that's been overtaken by a mob of cotton candy. This visual makes me laugh quietly to myself as I imagine an army of cotton candy faces charging at us--their swords in hand. As our plane gets nearer and we appear larger and more threatening, they call for backup--a fleet of unicorns with candy-colored hair. With a new journey upon me, I'm embracing a whimsical sense of adventure and imagination! It's been three years since I've last traveled on my own and since I've shared my experiences with an audience. Three years ago I set off on a solo adventure to explore Spain, ... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona August 26th 2014

It's Tuesday morning and I'm enjoying my last cup of Spanish coffee before I return home to the states tomorrow morning. As I sit here at a local cafe in beautiful Barcelona with the most breathtaking view of the Sagrada Familia, I'm beyond sad that my two month journey has come to an end. I set out on this adventure on July 2nd with the hope of obtaining a new level of happiness, healing, new friendships, and above all--a sense of mental clarity. I've achieved all of these goals for the exception of clarity. I still don't know what lies ahead and in all honesty, have seriously contemplated extending my stay until I sort it all out. The reality is, I've fallen even more in love with traveling and especially with Spain. I left a little ... read more
Sagrada Familia ceiling
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Beautiful Barcelona

Europe » Spain » Valencian Community » Valencia August 21st 2014

Yesterday morning I bid farewell to Josh yet again as it was time for me to move on to Valencia from Madrid. We spent three lovely days together walking the busy streets of Madrid and finding hidden streets where we could catch up on one of his crazy stories or read the morning paper. We popped into several cafés for a morning coffee or afternoon beer and spent hours people watching while sharing tapas. I also allowed myself some "me" time to explore the park and Prado museum and stopped in one afternoon to enjoy churros con chocolate (warm, sugary fried dough with a side of thick chocolate pudding for dipping). It was delightful! On Tuesday night Josh revealed to me that he had booked a place for two days in Toledo and had invited me ... read more
My Good Friend Joe!
Brie & Plum Jam
Grilled Calamares

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid August 18th 2014

You know the song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco?" For a long time after leaving and just moving across the bridge to Oakland I truly experienced a feeling of loss and as if a small piece of me and what felt like a lifetime of memories had been left behind. Eventually I adapted to my new home and grew to love it immensely. But I can't help but wonder if that new love for Oakland, California had something to do with the fact that in the back of my mind I knew that on any given day I could hop in my car or on the BART and find myself in this city that I loved so much. My love for Granada is unlike this experience in that once I return home, I know ... read more
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Prado Museum

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Seville August 15th 2014

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Seville, Spain after spending four beautiful nights in Portugal. After leaving Lisbon, we stopped off in Evora for the day to explore the city & to check out the Chapel of the Bones (Photos included in previous entry). Although a bit morbid, I found it to be absolutely fascinating. As the story goes, the city of Evora had too many cemeteries during the 16th century--taking up way too much land in the city. It was decided by a Franciscan monk to tear up the cemeteries and therefore the buried corpses were exhumed in an effort to save their souls from condemnation. The chapel's walls & ceilings are covered and decorated with the bones of over 5,000 people. in the entryway there is a famous warning that reads: "We bones that here ... read more
Algarve Coast
Spanish guitar
Flamenco

Europe » Portugal » Lisboa August 12th 2014

Greetings again as this time I'm writing from the Algarve Coast! This will be another short entry with a longer more thought out posting soon to follow. I arrived in Lisbon after leaving Morocco & stayed one night in a lovely B&B in the center of town. I basically slept the whole time as I was still fighting a bug (and it appears I still continue to be). Then I headed over to the hotel where I met my second travel group with which I'll be traveling this last leg of my trip. This group is a bit larger than my Morocco group and consists mainly of Australians and Canadians with two other Americans and an Irishman sprinkled in. We've had a lot of down time for exploring and so, as I do best, I've ventured ... read more
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