callie and the caribbean

have you guys ever met someone, or seen someone from afar, and instantly been intrigued? or maybe felt like you'd met/known them before that moment?

well, remember this gang in ohio? that girl to the left of me in the photo is named callie. when i first saw her couchsurfing profile, i knew i KNEW her, ya know? not long after realizing our mutual love of yoga, warm weather, and hiking, i began convincing her to move to st thomas (before i even knew i'd be going back). 

fast-forward a few weeks, some deep conversations, and some packing procrastination nightmares annnd HERE WE ARE!  callie and i came to st thomas together in early december and now have plans to adventure through costa rica next month! she had already been restless to get out of ohio for a while, and had an instinct to flee to the caribbean, but she said meeting me gave her to confidence to really go for it. i am honored beyond belief to share this experience with her, because she's maybe my new favorite person :)

i've had so much fun showing callie around the island, and seeing it new again through her eyes. and then watching her manifest her own perfect happiness---this girl is a force to be reckoned with. i cannot WAIT to explore la pura vida with her in a few short weeks! :)

the night i'm STILL recovering from...

our very first night in berlin, our couchsurfing hosts threw a huge party at their flat. before it started, i wondered how a party would even fit in the relatively-big-but-still-european-sized apartment. how many people are coming? where will everyone sit? will it get busted?

at 9 pm, eccentric hipster friends started buzzing in with bottles in hand. by midnight, there were at least 50 people packed into the confines of those narrow walls.

at first, everyone was sober and self-conscious about their english. so i listened to quite a bit of fun german conversation and observed these beautiful friends with such appreciation. soon enough, curious germans sat next to me and asked about my life. i've found that many europeans are better at speaking english than they give themselves credit for. especially considering what poor english i've heard in our own country, haha!

we laughed and played games and shared stories about travel. new friends poured mixed drinks into the disney princess cup that i picked out of the cupbard and held onto for the entire night. so i didn't keep track of what i was drinking one bit.

we drew pictures on the chalkboard, talked on stairways, smoked in the kitchen, and drunkenly belted out old backstreet boys songs in the living room. it was such silly fun.

the party lasted until 7am... and after everyone cleared out, my hosts insisted on THEN going to a night club... morning club?? they begged me to come along, to get the "real berlin experience". so i went and ohmygod do i regret it. okay, regret is a strong word, which i don't like using... but yes. yes, i do.

let's just say this night/morning caused me the WORST hangover i have ever ever EVER had. noelle and i were almost completely incapacitated for two whole days afterward. which unfortunately really limited our berlin explorations. are we getting too old for this sort of thing? i don't know! maybe we americans just can't hang. 

either way, the awful, torturous feeling i brought on myself only reminded me of how TOXIC alcohol is. whyyyy would i do that to myself?! my poor body!

its been almost 3 weeks since this night and i haven't been able to drink since... im thinking of making it a trend.

dirty pop

our berlin couchsurfing hosts were two german girls with an apartment in the hippest area of the artsy east side. 

our hosts had an awesome, huge place (as far as european apartments go--and their rent was cheaper than what i paid for my college apartment!). every bit of space had some kind of creative decor.  

the hallway was plastered with pictures of american pop icons, torn out of the pages of teen magazines--pictures of celebrities i hadn't thought of since middle school! the kitchen had a larger-than-life poster of bowl-headed bieber, other posters stolen on nights they can't quite remember, and half of a mannequin leg.

one wall of the living room held a map of the world with flags that showed their obsession with american culture stemmed from quite a few visits to the states. the adjacent wall was filled with black and white photobooth strips of friends, taken on the way to clubs. another wall had chalkboard paint with a "your mom" joke written in german. and some more stolen signs, of course.

it's strange how this foreign apartment, filled with familiar things, felt all the more strange because of the american stereotypes we're now not used to seeing.

that time i got carried by dutch giants

were you aware that dutch people are the tallest in the world? me neither.

their average height is 6 foot tall... and they seem to keep on growing. the government recently had to change building regulations to increase the height of doorways! mirrors in bathrooms were almost too high for me to look into. and i had to stand on my tippy-toes to see the keypad at the ATM. not kidding!

i unfortunately don't have a picture to match the absurd story i'm about to tell, so here's ^^ a pictures of me enjoying some tasty pipe tobacco on the balcony before the night began. 

it was noelle's last night in amsterdam before her flight back to barcelona at 5 am. we spent the day exploring the narrow streets, and we kept telling ourselves this was our "last day alive"---a startling reminder to take full advantage of it. 

that night, we went to a bar down the street from scarlett's for a weekly couchsurfing meet up. side note: the couchsurfing community is awe-inspiring. if you live in a large city, i recommend connecting with the community there immediately. it's borderline unfair how easy it is to meet interesting, well-traveled people from around the world. life long friends can be made!

on my way back to noelle after ordering another drink at the bar, i turned a corner and bumped into maybe one of the tallest guys i've ever seen. i tilted my head all the way back to look up at him and apologize, but instead inadvertently said, "wow! you're taaalllll." he laughed and we started talking.

he told me he was over 2 meters tall. i had no idea what that meant, but i nodded and believed it... then two of his fellow dutch guy friends came and introduced themselves. they modestly admitted to standing about 2 meters tall, too! when i wasn't so shy anymore, i asked if they could convert their heights to america's silly system of measurement for me. and so there i was at a corner pub in amsterdam, standing with guys who were 6'5, 6'6, and 6'8.

when it hit 1 am, noelle had to go home to get things sorted for her flight. i initially intended on going back with her, but these friendly new dutch giants invited me to come with them to another bar. i thought, it's the last day of my life! why not! 

so i rode on the back of one of their bikes (a very common, very adorable dutch thing to do), along the dimly lit streets and canals to a traditional nightclub in westerpark. we went in and they led me toward the middle of the dance floor, where i stopped, looked up, and just laughed. 

i felt like i'd been transported to an all tall-person planet. everyone around me (girls included) was so tall that i felt like a child... or maybe a hobbit. i kept getting bumped into and nudged around because, i'm assuming, nobody could really see me! the boys were such gentleman though, and did their best to guard me against their fellow tall folk. 

when that got a little overwhelming, we all went outside to get some fresh air and smoke (hah!). i met two more of their friends, who were just as damn tall as the rest of them. so there i was standing in the middle of a circle of five guys ranging from 6'5-6'8, feeling soooo miniscule. 

it kind of felt like standing in a forest, and i was talking to the tree tops. i jokingly jumped as high as i could every time i had to say something to one of them, to get my words a bit higher. my neck started hurting from having to tilt my head so far back. and they had to crouch down, nearly folding in half just to hear me. there miiiight've even been a two second delay from my lips to their ears...

then, out of nowhere, one of the boys picked me up and held me high in his arms like a newlywed bride... he said very frankly, "there. now you're as tall as we are! we can talk face to face." and he just held me like that, suspended at his eye level, and continued on with the conversation!

after a few minutes of that, he passed me on to the next tall friend in the circle, who held me the same way for a few minutes and continued on with conversation... and then to the next boy. again. and again. until i'd been passed around this circle of dutch giants like some sort of drunken toddler that they didn't want roaming about at ground level alone...

i don't know?! all i know is that i giggled the entire time this was happening out of sheer disbe-fucking-lief at all of the wonderfully ridiculous stories i've been accumulating lately. thanks universe, keep em comin! 

naturally, i told amber this story as soon as possible, since she's forever in search of a man taller than her who isn't a complete dweeb. she about laughed her head clean off her shoulders. and then swore she'd come to holland soon, to find herself a boy who makes her feel short.  

because we all deserve to feel really small sometimes :) 

turning 23 in a foreign city

my birthday really crept up on me this year. normally i dread it coming for weeks and worry so much about what i'll do that i'm just annually disappointed. because i used to see birthdays as a loss of some sort, rather than a natural progression of life.

this year, instead of dreading the impending doom of a higher number. i was too damn incandescently happy to think of anything other than the amazing things i've been experiencing. and rather than feeling like a whole 'nother year was wasted stressing about school or work or living in a place i couldn't stand, i felt proud of how i spent it. 22 was so good to me.

nearly every day of the past year has felt like my birthday. because i quit my job and graduated college and moved far away from that place i couldn't stand. i chose to live deliberately and make every day a little special. i went out in search of happiness and i followed it ardently, like a lover i could never live without again.  

this year, i'm PROUD of all the years that i've acquired. because i've lived the hell out of them and i have no regrets. 

so i treated this birthday, this 4th of july, just like any other birthday-like day, in that i celebrated being alive and happy. and thats the way every day should be.  

this birthday was extra special, without even really trying. everything came together so perfectly. all because i was lucky enough to be in the company of some top notch people. 

noelle and i woke up with the light of the view and did some yoga to get our blood pumping. it was such a perfect way to start the day---immediate good vibes. a little later, my friend chelsea from high school came over with pretty little dutch pastries as presents for me! :) we girls (scarlett, noelle, chelsea, and i) had breakfast together and talked like long-lost best friends, although we were all kind of strangers.

i'd just gotten to know noelle from traveling with mutual friends, and scarlett from being invited to stay at her house in amsterdam. scarlett and noelle hardly knew each other too, only having met at a couple parties at FSU. and though chelsea and i grew up in the same small town, we had never hung out before this day!

chelsea and i knew each other from high school, but never really knew each other. we hadn't had a conversation until a couple months ago, when she contacted me to talk about traveling and following our dreams :) we had this wonderful, long correspondence, which inspired both of us equally. in it, i mentioned backpacking europe for the summer. then she said she'd be in holland visiting her dutch boyfriend, and that we should hang out if i made it to amsterdam. so when noelle made it super easy for me to visit amsterdam, i told chelsea and she just happened to be available right on my birthday!

after talking for a bit, we girls went to the train station to meet up with another stranger friend named willem. we actually party tornadoed willem and his friend on that night in plaza del sol in barcelona. i drunkenly mentioned to them that we might be going to amsterdam soon and that we should meet up again. he wanted to write down my info, but nobody had pen/paper. so i verbally spelled out my name for him to find me on facebook. i never ever thought he'd remember, but a week later, willem sent me a request :) and when i told him i was coming to amsterdam, he just happened to only be available on my birthday, too. 

sounds too good to be true right?? thanks universe! ;)

so my four perfect strangers and i walked around amsterdam all day, reveling in the unusual sunshine. noelle planned for us to see a couple cool art galleries, but both had notes posted saying they were suddenly "closed due to circumstances"... we interpreted that as "it's sunny for once so we're pausing normal life to go play in the sun." which i'm okay with. cause we enjoyed it, too.

so instead, we moseyed through the charming little village-like streets, tried traditional dutch food, went vintage shopping, taste tested delicious cheese, and wandered through a "hippie market". willem, being the perfect dutch boy that he is, acted as tour guide and told us a ton of cool facts about the city along the way. i bought myself birthday moonstone earrings and willem bought me the coolest stone ring. :)  

later, after willem left town for work, the girls and i had lunch and beers on a terrace in the perfect people-watching spot. we talked about growing up and changing views, and how surreal it is to reflect on it all now. afterward, we picked up a couple bottles of wine each and made our way back to scarlett's to meet up with chelsea's boyfriend, jaco.

we spent the rest of the evening drinking wine on the rooftop, eating brie cheese with slices of apple, and taking pictures of our red-stained smiles. we sat together, buzzing on good vibes and red wine, talking in depth about philosophy and spirituality as the sun set behind the buildings. 

there was a moment when i stopped, looked around and felt so grateful---grateful for their company and the conversation and the view. because that sort of thing fulfills me more than anything... i told them there's nothing i would've rather been doing in that moment. and i thanked them for making the day worth celebrating. 

cheers to 23!