perfect days at hull bay

on the north side of st thomas, there's a quiet little stretch of beach that all the locals go to. it's just about as beautiful as magens bay, but on a much smaller scale. my best girls and i spent our down days stretched out in the sand with cheap beer, watching surfers ride the winter swells, paddle-boarding out to the point, and enjoying each other's presence until well past sunset.

these are the days i'll look back on and melt into the memories of. love and beauty and absolute bliss.

boats and babes

during my VI visit, i had the anomalous good fortune of having almost* all of my best friends free from work on the SAME DAY. in the world of "island time" and last-minute bookings and work dependent on weather and captains who call you at 9pm (when you're already at the bar) to tell you princess cruises just booked a morning trip and "be at the dingy dock at 7am"... having all but one of your friends completely free is like winning the damn lottery.

so, we went on a boat trip about it!

quincy called her captain friend and he pointed the bow toward the british virgin islands. we spent a day around norman island, mostly at the willy t (a bar on a boat just offshore, with a dock to tie up to and a ski to take shots off of with your friends---a beautiful and silly combination). we swam and giggled and danced and had the most perfect day.

from snow to island

after a week in ohio, callie and i went back to the virgin islands---she, to resume her new life there, and me, to visit with the rest of my very best friends and do some work for a culture website.

i was asked to conduct interviews and take pictures around the virgin islands for a culture website that contacted me at the beginning of the year. although it was a temporary gig, it was a surreal and momentous thing for me to essentially make money from travel for the first time---a small, but reassuring step toward a lifestyle i've been hoping to manifest for a long, long time.

at the very least, it was an excuse to fly back to my little rock of paradise and spend invaluable time with my favorite people in the world! ;)

amber took me surfing at hull bay to test out my new skill. i may have stood up on my first wave in costa rica, but i hardly made it past the arduous paddle out to the waves in st thomas (my sailing muscles are looong gone). but this beautiful best friend of mine has turned into a proper island girl since i moved away last spring---surfing and free-diving and spear-fishing like a champ on her every day off. i am so proud of her.

i also got to visit with two-thirds of my old castaway crew! my captain and first mate are like family to me, so spending time with them was so comforting and fulfilling. 

kim was the first friend amber and i made on the island, and we have been so grateful for her ever since. she is such a sweetie that she attracts animals everywhere she goes. like this pack of strange fluffy creatures that found her at hull bay.

so many precious people to me, all in such a beautiful place. i am one lucky girl.

from jungle to snow

after three weeks in tropical costa rica, callie and i returned to the cold of small-town ohio, to visit with friends and family for a week, before returning to the virgin islands. 

it was surreal to fly from the warmth of central america straight back to snow. i think knowing we were only staying for a week made it much more bearable---that, and warm tea and (too many) hot cookies and days of cozy snuggles from precious friends and family. 

winter, you're alright sometimes ;)

envisonary

so wayyyy back at the end of february, a few friends and i ventured down to the jungles of central america to volunteer for a transformational festival called envision.

envision is intended as an event for individual transformation, via art, music, movement, and creative expression. so many beautiful, loving people trekked all the way to costa rica just to experience this powerful community.

imagine a ranch of tropical wet forrest, basically right on the beach and right down the road from a gorgeous waterfall. occupied for the weekend by a temporary sustainable village filled with 4,000 of the warmest people you've ever met. 

a tent city of all colors and sizes. flags and signs and colorful smiles that radiate love. no fear. no anger. no envy or no judgment. just love love love.

skilled hands built bamboo stages. bamboo climbing structures. bamboo plates and utensils and coconut cups. all the food is fresh and local and straight from the earth.

half-naked bodies getting painted by the rich-coast-sun. sandy handstands and naps on the beach, with a backdrop of surfers conquering tumbling sets. later, we let the salty waves scrub us clean--roll us like a washing machine. but on the hottest day, we sought the cold tingling of a jungle waterfall. some wade in shallow pools, while some take the leap.

stranger embraces and unbroken gazes and oxytocin at max capacity, seeping out of skin in sweat that drips and soaks into the earth. the richest of all soils to grow crops of humanly modified progress.

yoga, reiki, and movement workshops taught by world-class instructors beneath the shade of surrounding trees. we stretch and guide and breathe and lean into people from all over the world, eager to learn. hungry to be better. 

sun salutations and sunset parties on the beach, with music and dancing and cheering to mark the beginning of a wild night, like coyotes howling at the rising moon. happy bodies move erratically as if pulses of electrical energy jolt their limbs alive to the beat of the drums.

a sideways crescent moon smiles at everyone in all their native glory. fire spinning and artists painting and music vibrating the airwaves. everyone dances until sunrise, energized and inebriated on pure bliss and love. who needs a happy pill when we're manufacturing it inside ourselves? 

i'm in the islands again, and i couldn't be any damn happier.

I've been slacking on posting about Costa Rica, because so many weird things have been happening in my world lately. After Costa, I spent a week with friends in Ohio, a week at Christine's beach house in Daytona, and another week around West Palm. I had a plethora of awkward, embarrassing, perplexing moments in each of those places, all of which will surely make great stories one day.

But for now, I'm letting it all go. Because I'm exactly where I want to be.

I flew to St Thomas yesterday, to do some work and spend time with my 5 best friends... 5 of my favorite people in the world all happen to live on this tiny island. I realized this for the first time in the air, and I wondered, whyyy did I move away again?

I was so tired of St Thomas this time last year. I was aching to break free and explore. But since then, I've done a lot of growing and traveling and experiencing. I probably wouldn't be as close to these 5 people if I hadn't left. In fact, one never would have met me or moved here, and another might have stayed in Paris... haha!

Long story short, after a few challenging, yet enlightening weeks on the move, I was SO excited for the comfort of the Caribbean that I wore my bathing suit under my clothes on the plane, met my friends at my favorite pool bar with my heavy bags in tow, and then walked straight into the ocean to cleanse myself. This sunset greeted me and reminded me that every little thing happens for a reason. People and perceptions change. The challenges lead to progress. Every interaction is significant. Embrace it all. Some situations might be impossible to understand in the moment, but it'll all make sense eventually. 

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! :)

a caribbean christmas

steel drum christmas tunes, santa hats on sun-kissed bodies, hugging strangers like they're family, and sea-themed ornaments on skinny palm trees. 

christmas time in the caribbean always feels really surreal.

last christmas was my first away from family. the string lights on palm trees and shirtless santas just didn't cut it for me at first. but then, the love of friends brought about the best christmas i could have imagined. 

this year, i got to the island about a week before christmas. yacht haven already had its big christmas tree set up in front of those million-dollar sunsets. the sailboats had already shown their lights in the parade along the waterfront. my captain's wife baked cookies the moment she heard of my return. callie and i went out to their catamaran and talked over jimmy buffet christmas music. and amber ate half of the cookies my captain's wife made me, because she couldn't wait for the girls to be done with their gingerbread house (she was asking to eat it before they even finished making it). 

on christmas eve, callie and i stayed home in this perfect little place we're house-sitting for the week. it has the most beautiful view during the day and the most delicious winter winds by night. we watched captain ron and it's a wonderful life, because both felt required for this time and place. callie made stir fry from the fresh veggies on the balcony. and we drank red wine and talked all night about the men we've loved. 

on christmas, we worked from sunrise to way past sundown. i worked two snorkel trips and one sunset trip on castaway, but at least i had my amber with me :) she wore reindeer antlers and convinced most our guests to take pictures with them (and a bottle of rum!). i said some form of "merry christmas" to everyone who came on board---not because i'm particularly fond of the holiday or particularly sad about not celebrating it properly, but because i wanted everyone on my boat to be as happy as humanly possible. so i helped them and served them and really got to know them and loved them enough to hug a good majority of them at the end of each trip. because loving strangers like family on a day when family matters most... that's maybe one of my favorite feelings in the world. 

i hope you all had a lovely holiday. i hope your hearts were filled with cheer, regardless of where you were or who you were with! :)