Why Write?


Originally, I created this blog to document my trip to India. Upon my return, I realized that I couldn't shake the writing bug.
So, feel free to read about my adventures in India and stay tuned for my traveling updates!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Eat, Pray, Love: Guam (Pray)


In Hong Kong, I "ate." 
In Guam, I "prayed." 
In Hawaii, I "loved."

Preface

These blog posts were inspired by the book, Eat, Pray, Love. Even though I didn’t travel for a whole year, I did travel to three different locations (Hong Kong, Guam, and Hawaii). Each of these locations were island destinations and each of them taught me something. This is my story.  
Click below to see the previous blog posts:
Preface to Eat, Pray, Love

Guam

~Pray~


In order to get to Hawaii, I had to fly through Guam. Since I’ve never been there before, I decided to stop for a few days.   

At this point, my wanderlust had fully taken over, so I contacted an old acquaintance and informed him of my plans. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect tour guide. We explored the island, ate delicious local food, and played an epic game of darts, which lasted early into the morning hours.


Guam is a tiny little tropical island located in Micronesia. The island depends largely on tourism as a source of income and is famous for its beautiful beaches, which attracts tourists worldwide, especially the Japanese.

Its home to many exotic marine life, including the venomous Cone Shell. My friend told me of a tragic accident that took place a few weeks before he reported to his duty station. Apparently, a few of his co-workers were snorkeling in the ocean when his friend picked up a large Cone Shell. Unaware of the perilous dangers before him, he placed it in his pocket, deciding to keep it as a souvenir. He was stung and died within minutes.



The original inhabitants of Guam are believed to have been of Indo-Malaya descent originating from Southeast Asia as early as 2,000 B.C. They call themselves the Chamarro people.  I was able to observe a native fire dance performance, which was lively and full of energy.


Chamorro is a Malayo-Polynesian language, with much Spanish influence.  Click this video below to learn more about Guam's Chamorro history and culture.



The second day that I was there, I had some time to myself. I knew I needed this. I can't put my finger on it, but, something was beckoning me to slow down and listen to my heart. I felt like Elizabeth Gilbert when she goes to India. In India, Elizabeth truly connects with her heart. She learns to be quiet and she finally comes to peace with her past. Maybe, I needed to learn something while I was in Guam?


In my room, I discovered a little jewel. It was a Buddhist book filled with quotes. For those of you who know me, you know what I believe and that I am a Christian. But, we can learn a lot from others, even outside of our faith. Traveling has taught be to be more open-minded.  

So, I delicately thumbed through the pages. Curious, I guess. And as I sat on my balcony, looking out across the tantalizing teal blue sea,  I came across a quote that jumped out at me: 
“To worry in anticipation or to cherish regret for the past is like the reeds that are cut and wither away.” 


And it made me wonder, was I cherishing the regrets of the past? Even though I have come far, I am still holding onto an insurmountable amount of pain. Quite frankly, it's been exhausting. Don't get me wrong, overall, I am happy now and I have joy in my heart again; my fire is back. But, something is still nagging at me. How do I deal with this?

And just like that, the tears started to fall.

In the midst of my grief, I texted a friend. What he told me, gave me strength.   

“Amy, you are never alone. You have a huge family who loves you more than anything. That’s obvious from the adventures you have had with them and the pictures you share. You have good friends and I’ll always be your friend. Love will find you again.”
 I fell asleep tired, but full of acceptance. 


In the morning, I was awakened to beams of sunlight filtering through the window shutters. 

I grabbed my coffee, and meandered out onto the balcony again. More research and reflection needed. I called my Mom and told her how I felt and she reminded me to just “Be happy.”  Since I was in full reflection mode, I thought about those words after I got off the phone. Often time those words come across as being trivial or insensitive. But, I didn't see it that way. Being happy sometimes takes work. It encompasses dealing with your past and still seeing the beauty in the pain. I am not sure about you, but I am willing to put in the work.



Thus, Guam marked the "Pray" portion of my trip. Jitters started to fill my heart as I braced myself for the 3rd leg of my journey, Hawaii! 


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Eat, Pray, Love






I’m not going to lie; it’s been a long, cold winter for Miss Amy. Having evaded blustery winters for 7 years in a row, the cold weather was almost too much for me. Why was it that the year I moved to Norfolk, Virginia, they had records levels of cold and snow? 


It was a rather lonely winter for me, I spent a lot of time on my own, and I burrowed myself furiously into work. Honestly, I missed how easy it was to make friends while I was living overseas. So, to combat this dreariness, I decorated my classroom island style with the hopes of warming up my internal climate. It certainly proved to be the most challenging year for me professionally.




Thankfully, Winter turned to Spring. And, by the time May rolled around, with the promise of summer on the distant horizon, I started to dream. Where could I go this summer? I was ready to be let loose!



My friend and I settled on a last minute road trip to Florida. We packed up the car and headed South! I thought a trip to Florida would satisfy my adventurous spirit. This was all I needed to feed my wanderlust appetite. I told myself I would be fine after that.


Upon my return, I attempted to nestle myself into a sleepy summer schedule. One that included cooking, reading a plethora of books, and occupying the local beaches. Maybe my goal could be to obtain a luscious tan? But, fate had other plans.





After three days of sleeping in, 2 home cooked meals devoured, and one book later, I was ready to be on the move again. This time, I decided to go to China. 


"I'll be back to Virginia in 6 days," I naively told my friend Jonathan. 
I didn't know it at the time, but I was about the embark on my very own, Eat, Pray, Love trip. In the book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert is given the opportunity to travel for one year and to three different destinations with the understanding that she will complete a memoir from her experience. EAT, PRAY, LOVE is the result of that year. 

Even though I didn’t travel for a whole year, I did travel to three different locations (Hong Kong, Guam, and Hawaii). Each of these locations were island destinations and each of them taught me something. This is my story.

To be continued...


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Middle Eastern Foreign Clash

Jane Austen once said, "If adventures do not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad."


As an avid Jane Austen fan, I have always read that quote with a sense of agreeable fondness. I used to take pride in the fact that perhaps I understood who Jane Austen was. After all, hadn't I feverishly read all of her novels multiple times over? Coupled with my love of Jane Austen and the meaning behind the words, acutely written three hundred years ago, I naively thought I understood what that quote meant. That was, up until I moved to Bahrain.  



Everyone has their worst case scenario when living overseas. You see, there are definitely certain fears that one learns to live with. For me, it was the fear of being deported or having a run in with the authorities. Anyone who knows me well, understands that I possess a very vivid imagination. It was pretty easy to let my imagination run away with these "worse case scenarios." Even though I was having the adventure of a lifetime, I still knew I was a foreigner walking amidst a foreign land.



So, here we are at the end of my time in Bahrain. I had spent almost two years living in the Middle East.  I had established myself in a new location and I felt hesitant about leaving. I was lucky enough to met the most intriguing, loving friends while living there.



I was down to the wire. Only a week left. It was time for packing up and saying my goodbyes.  My roommate could tell you that I pretty much failed during that week.  My friends would come over "offering" to help me pack, and it would wind up being a long talking session with nothing accomplished. My suitcases remained unpacked until the very last second.


One last night. One last night out with my girlfriend.  She used to joke that she brought out my wild side. Well, she was probably right. So, it was supposed to be a goodbye sort of night. You know, where we could go let our hair down, drink a glass of obligatory wine, and say our goodbyes. It was scheduled to be a perfectly normal night. But, isn't that the funny thing about "normal?" It's those normal nights that always creep up on you.


After having a nice dinner, we decided to go dancing, one last time! After all, weren't we the queens of the dance floor? So, yes! We danced. We lived. It was just like old times. That is, up until we got into our car to go home!



My friend Isabella was driving. She's a sassy Dominican who knows how to dance and has a fierce presence about her. Yep, I love her. With my lovely lady friend in the driver's seat, we were simply driving away from our crime scene.

After we made the first turn out of the parking lot, we were intervened by an unmarked vehicle. It was a white car with two men in it. They passed us and started waving and making faces at us. One thing is for certain, as a foreign woman, you learn to ignore these encounters because they are most often just some obnoxious male, trying to get your attention. You can never be overly cautious. So, you learn to be fierce.

They continued to follow us, even when we took the back roads home. We thought that we would take the detour home to maybe ditch them along the way. Sure enough, after every stop light and every turn, it was clear that they were there stalking us. After a mile of this torture that we started to get seriously concerned.

They started getting aggressive. Passing us, yelling out their window. Making gestures and flashing their lights. We couldn't shake them and it was nerving. What were we to do? We had learned not to stop for anyone! It was far too dangerous!

Finally, at a stop light, they swerved in front of us, blocking our ability to turn. Out the man clamored from his vehicle. I cringed as he aggressively ran towards our car!

"This is it," I thought.
"My life is over!" (insert vivid imagination here)
He motioned for us to roll down our window. At this point, there was a traffic jam behind us and people were honking their horns!

Through the language barrier, we concluded that he was probably traffic police in an unmarked vehicle. He was off duty though. Well, I guess we had a light that was broken and he claimed that he was trying to inform us of the broken light. Really? Stalking us? Almost running us off the road to tell us this? Nearly killing us! It was clear that his pride had been wounded because we wouldn't stop! His behavior was unconstitutional!

He wanted us to get out of our vehicle. We refused! After all, we were two foreign women not about to jeopardize our lives. He could have been anyone! He could have conned someone into getting a fake ID! My friend Isabella told him this, which escalated the situation as he seemed to drown in rage! Oh man, he was beside himself!

We closed our windows, after telling him we were calling the police ourselves. After we notifed the authorities, we voluntarily drove to the police station. We wanted this situation solved once and for all! He followed us closely the entire way there.


Once there, we waited for what seemed like forever! I ate an apple that I had stashed in my purse. Opps! I like food too much! We watched as the officer on duty issued the man into his office. There were glass doors so we could see the entire, dramatic scene unfold. Arms flailing, fingers pointing, yea the works! We were eventually issued in. By this time, it was 2 in the morning.

"Don't say too much," my friend Isabella said as we went into the office. "Okay," I thought because I was already scared out of my mind. "I'm going to wind up in prison," I thought. 

The man in the unmarked vehicle was allowed to stay in the office as we were questioned. We basically explained our situation to the officer on duty. We told him we absolutely didn't  know that he was police. His vehicle was unmarked. He didn't have any sirens or lights!  My friend Isabella was sure to point out all of his violations! She definitely intimidated the officer on duty. I don't think he was used to a woman speaking so passionately. He was very sweet and understanding. He told us that he wouldn't want his sister to stop for an unmarked vehicle either. He was on our side.

I could only pick up bits and pieces but my friend translated to me in quiet whispers. The man who had followed us earlier was furious! He wanted us to apologize. He ranted "these women have disrespected authority, etc." He said that we owed him an apology. He wouldn't leave until we said that we were sorry! Well, we weren't about to do that!


The story and the questions seemed to last forever. Both parties had to be appeased. Finally, in the very morning hours of daylight, we were released. No consequences. Thankfully! I felt like I had dodged a bullet! Only a few more days and I would be headed home!


Friday, January 31, 2014

Marry a Girl Who Travels


Photo Credit: Port Wallpaper

Some people may warn you to stay away from a woman who likes to travel. They may claim that these women are flighty.  Some say they are unrealistic dreamers. Today is the day that I prove them wrong. Men, if you are lucky enough to catch one, here it what to expect. You may be pleasantly surprised.

 

Marry a girl who travels. Your taste buds will always be satisfied. 

As she will be a lover of food, she’ll most likely be adventurous in the kitchen. Chances are she has developed a love of all things exotic, which definitely applies in the kitchen. When she travels, nothing gets her fired up more than trying new dishes. She’ll know how to con the locals into sharing their secret recipes. She’ll even find out where to buy the necessary spices so she can re-create this dish at home. And baby, she’ll stock up!

Marry a girl who travels. You’ll never get lost. 

Yep, you heard me correct. She understands that knowing how to read a map is an essential skill in life. Most likely she has refined this skill and possesses a keen sense of direction. She understands that relying on map quest is not always an option when traversing in a foreign land. You see, she’s already done her research before the trip. She’ll be able to navigate you through the trickiest of traveling situations. She’s already intensely studied the maps and run through all of the options in her head. She’ll know the best modes of transportationand will even know the going rate for a taxi. You may hear her say, “Would you like to take the long scenic way back to the hotel, or the quick route?”

Marry a girl who travels. She is not materialistic. 

She doesn’t need to own Coach purses nor does she need to drive an expensive car. She realizes that there is more to life than keeping up with the Joneses. To her, she would rather sport the embroidered purse she bargained for in Mexico or wear the maxi shirt that she bought in the South of France. You see, her favorite possessions are a reflection of her favorite memories.  Because of this knack, she has refined the art of bargaining. Mark my words, she’ll carry this passion back to her homeland. She will never buy anything full-price and she loves discovering a good deal. She’ll know which grocery stores are having a sale and she isn’t afraid of using coupons.  She’ll even know how to make things from scratch, thus saving money in the long run.

Marry a girl who travels. You’ll never be lonely. 

Most likely she considers conversation to be essential to getting by in a foreign land. She isn’t afraid to strike up a conversation with the cashier at a rest stop and she may become best friends with the girl sitting next to her on the airplane. She has a desire to hear people’s life stories. Her curiosity spurs a desire to know everything. Best part? You’ll develop some new friends too, thanks to her. You may get invited to a wedding last minute or spend the evening experiencing a meal at a locals house. Because she’ll make new connections wherever she goes, this will serve you years down the road if you go on a vacation to another city or country. Most likely, she’ll already have some friends there who will able to show you around.

Marry a girl who travels. She’ll be good at managing a budget. 

When she travels, she does it economically. She won’t waste her money on fancy hotels or expensive meals. She would rather experience life as the locals do. Yes, this could result in some random adventures, but she understands that this is part of the journey. She knows how to survive off of a small budget and will find a way to make her money last. You see, to her that’s part of the joy in traveling.

Marry a girl who travels. You won’t have to spend a lot of money on an engagement ring. 

Yea, that’s a bold statement. But, it’s true. Diamonds are probably NOT her best friend. Most likely, she’ll want something unique and different. She may want to wear your grandmother’s ring or something vintage that has a history behind it. She’ll want your purchase to be well thought out and a reflection of who she is as a woman. You won’t need to break the bank to do this because she knows that love can’t be purchased. Her family, friends, photographs, and memories will be the things that she cherishes the most. Those are all things that money can’t buy. Traveling has taught her this.

Marry a girl who travels. Life will always be an adventure. 

She will find joy in the small things: the sunset, a field of flowers, or a good cup of coffee. She’ll be sure to point these tiny glimpses of beauty out to you. Because she lives by this motto, she’ll probably be able to keep her chin up, even in tricky situations.  Missing a flight, lost luggage, language barriers, a misunderstanding with foreign police? Nope, that won't get her down. And guess what? She’ll help you keep your chin up too:)

You see, when it’s all said and done, it really doesn’t take a lot to please a girl who likes to travel. She’ll take a handwritten note any day over an expensive card, or a bouquet of wild daisies over a dozen red roses.

 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Into the Heart


Dear Diary,

I'm skating on thin ice here. 



You see, for a while now, my heart had been bottled up in a sense. I've met some amazing people in the last year. Friends, romantic interests, a new single me. There have been a lot of firsts. As far as the men are concerned, I tried not getting my heart too attached. Some of these men, I really would have considered seriously dating or maybe making something with. But, the tricky thing about getting your heart involved is that usually you end up getting hurt. I secretly wanted to feel that excitement, but didn't want to get burned.


I've done of lot of thinking about this and I have concluded that maybe I’m a bit like Ted in the sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. I know there's a stash of Lily in there too. You know, a bit quirky, sappy, and dramatic. Yea, that's me. But unfortunately, as far as dating and love is concerned, I'm a bit like Ted. He’s the hopeless romantic, who can never seem to find the right one. See, the problem with Ted is he sees the world with rose-colored glasses. His heart is open to love but he gives it away to the wrong girls, hoping for the best. And, he has many connections that simply don't work out because of timing. I call these "misconnects", where things don't work out because one of you is moving, or just got out of a relationship, etc. I can relate to him because sometimes I think this is my lot in life. The world is just too big.

I'm at a point now where I could jump. But, do I dare? What about the past? What about my mistakes? They still linger. I have had far too much time to dwell on my faults and imperfections. How can one start over when you are not yet perfected? Is that a sign, this lack of perfection?  Does that mean you can’t begin again? My fear is that I never will.   I want to feel happiness in companionship again and I want to open my heart.  Everything I've held onto has vanished and I want to be free. Why in the world am I still dwelling on my regrets? Maybe life has tarnished me? Or, so it seems. 


You can't cling to the past because no matter how tightly you hold on, it's already gone. 

 

But you see, wanting to be free isn't enough. Of this, I am sure. My heart wants to be free, but where it should rest is a matter of questioning. If I dare let my heart open again, it could be madness. Risking this madness with another person, can be even scarier. I'm in a situation where one of my "misconnects" is back in my life. I need your help diary!

Should I settle on a life of good-decisions, safe decisions? I know I can simply allow this to be a misconnect x2.  Or, I can do something about this. I can jump. After all, one can only live in the gray shadows for so long.

Signed,
ME