a summer in film // europe

exactly one year ago, i took off on an epic, three-month-long backpacking trip across europe. i giddily couchsurfed and hitchhiked my way through spain, france, belgium, holland, germany, and malta. and along the way, i took pictures on an old canon t-50 film camera, which i JUST NOW developed, scanned, and uploaded... a whole year later. 

it's like i got myself this really sentimental gift and then neglected to open it for a whole year so that i would completely forget what was inside. 

and dear meeee, do i adore them! if film weren't so inconvenient (expensive) for my nomadic lifestyle, i would never take another picture with anything else. ahhh, i wish i could live in the grainy depths of these heavenly memories forever! 

and these babies are juuust in time for a short & sweet ROUND TWO coming up this weekend :) 

see, june is the very last month of non-revenue-flying-euphoria that i'll ever everrr experience. (unless i fall in love with a commercial airline pilot one day.) so i'm taking advantage of it the best way that a very-nearly-broke freelance writer/photographer possibly can. by flying roundtrip to europe for a total of $52, of course! :)

a few fortuitous happenings have compelled me to return to amsterdam and belgium for two weeks. so on saturday, i take off to answer the call and see what those elegant spaces have in store for me this time. i am so grateful. especially for the handful of friends who have invited me to take part in their journeys. 

yew!

costa rica video!

it's 4am in vegas and i'm up packing for a last minute flight to san francisco at 6am! i only got back from the virgin islands two weeks ago... i genuinely can't stay put for long. i was actually meant to visit friends in hawaii almost immediately after st thomas, but, at the great displeasure of those friends i've been promising to visit for 2 years now, all the flights were full. 

that's the thing about standby travel---you have to stay patient and take it all as it comes. i don't ever get angry when i don't make a flight, because i'm just grateful this opportunity even exists (2 more months!). so i'm alright with hawaii or no hawaii. i'll see it when the time is right :)

but cross your fingers this flight to cali has a spot for me! some beautifully serendipitous things are happening this evening and upcoming week, so i have a feeling it's meant to be!

while i'm hanging out at various airports today (for a minimum of 7 hours, depending on if i make my first connecting flight or not), i'll be catching up on costa rica writing. but first, my favorite part---THE VIDEO :)

sooo who wants to come to costa rica with me next year? ;) 

airport musings // on ripped suitcases and belongings and overpacked minds

Written in my journal on 4/10/2014:

i’m sitting on the floor of the charlotte douglas international airport all by myself at 1am. there is sand in my dready hair and bruises on my traveled limbs and a growing hole at the bottom of the old duffel bag i’ve been living out of for the past two months.

the bag is literally bursting at the seams from the marry-poppins amount of content i’ve been keeping in it. a hammock, a tent, a yoga mat, two towels, three pairs of shoes and a truly modest amount of clothing are all in fantastic danger of being strewn across america tomorrow morning, when i fly back to the heathen lands of las vegas.

i’d mourn the hammock and the tent for their growing usefulness in my life, but not the clothes so much. they smell of caribbean sand and florida sweat and ohio snow and that cold costa rican river water i last washed them in. 

i’ve worn each article of clothing so many times on my travels over the past couple years that they just don’t mean anything to me anymore. kind of like when you say a word over and over and over, until it doesn’t make any sense and sounds like gibberish. it doesn't make the word any less of a real word, but you question, "wait, what does this mean again?"

these clothes, though useful and once beautiful to me, have become redundant. these things i once spent money on because i thought they'd make me momentarily happy, or would somehow define ME and my style, have been stripped of that imaginary value and reduced to their practicality. will this be comfortable on an airplane? can i hike a mountain in these? would this be weird to hitchhike in? could i dance until sunrise and then fall asleep in these? 

you're bound to reevaluate the value of your possessions when you have to carry them on your back everywhere you go. and material things simply aren't worth so much when you're getting richer-than-a-king off of invaluable, mind-blowing experiences. 

so after carrying the weight of these things for so long, you get to a point where you're like, "yeah, whatever. i can let that awesome shirt go. i've had my way with it."

like this long, flowy tribal skirt i was given at a bar the other night in the virgin islands...

i complimented a passing girl on the skirt she was wearing, had a quick conversation with her about traveling, and five minutes later, she appeared next to me again wearing shorts, with the pretty skirt in her outstretched hand.

a random, selfless gesture, which i am wearing as i type because it's my new favorite thing/story/present-ever-received-from-a-stranger-in-a-bar. ;)

it's not everyday you compliment somebody on their clothes and then they almost immediately strip them off just to give to you... that sort of radical detachment from ego is the sort of thing i want to stand up and applaud. 

but this girl was a traveler too. and we nomads have come to know the real worth of these material possessions---skirts and shirts and boots and things---the things you don't even remember you own until you go home and find them hiding in the corner of your closet. they are only worth what you do in them. and what i really mean is, they’re meant to be worn in fantastical places on a weekly basis for months or years on end, until your perception of their worth transcends their monetary value.

because then, their value exists in the photographs of you twirling on that faraway beach with your best friends. their value exists in the memories of the things you conquered while in them. the way they made you FEEL in them, in those moments that changed the way you look at the world forever. 

once you appreciate your experiences in those physical things more than the things themselves, it’s easy to let them go. to recycle them. to give them away. to pass them on to the next wide-eyed, adoring girl, who will wear that skirt like it's brand new and give it a whole new life of badass experiences.

so for the sake of posterity, once i’ve had my fun with this skirt---once it's exhausted its worth with me---i’ll pass it on to the next appreciative girl along my journey.

just like i did with the sunglasses i found on the beach in st thomas, and then accidentally (drunkenly) lost on the beach in barcelona (and secretly hope somebody finds, cherishes, and then drunkenly loses on another beach in another awesome part of the world!).

because that’s the best thing you can do with something really useful---SHARE IT. ...discover it, try it on for size, learn from it, grow in it, and then pass it on! 

you see, it’s been two entire months on the road(/mountain/island/sea), and my brain feels just about as jam-packed as my luggage. as much as i CAN'T WAIT to unpack my dirty travel gear, wash it and put it in its place or give it away, i also CANNOT WAIIITTTT to empty the contents of my very full and scattered brain. to unpack all these lessons and revelations and manifestations. to line them up, clean them off and maybe even polish them. so that i can share. so that they can have a whole new life with someone who's never worn them before. 

as i sit here in the loud silence of this massive airport, the core of my very being feels like it could spontaneously combust from all of the loving and learning and hilarity that I've reveled in lately. i want to hug every human i know and collapse into a coma at the same time. 

it's the same way i felt when i returned from europe last summer. because traveling, and really living deliberately, doesn't afford much time to step back and look at everything i'm experiencing from an outside perspective. to put the chaos of my thoughts into an orderly peace. and to share with people who could relate to/laugh at/learn from them.

this is all to say, i am so excited to go home (or to the semblance of it anyway), and to just BE there. to once again rest my tired mind in a real bed (hallelujah!) near a real fridge (not a tent or a backpack or a friend's fridge!) where i can keep real veggies to heal my tired cells. to do yoga and meditate on a regular basis. to read and learn and digest, until i feel revived enough to share. 

ohhhh, i believe in the good things comin', comin', comin', comin'!

and, as always, i love YOU for being present in this journey, and your own! light it up!

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. 

cuddle puddles with strangers in san jose, costa rica!

callie and i spent one night in Costa Rica's capital city, before moving south for the festival. and ironically, it was one of my favorite nights of the whole damn trip. we were tingling with excitement about the adventures to come, and just so very ready to make friends and start feeling the travel love!

the hostel i booked (at the very last minute, while at the airport waiting for callie's flight to arrive) just happened to be the most perfect little microcosm preview of everything good and positive and genuine that we would soon come to embrace at Envision.

this hostel, called Pangea (to represent the coming together of people from all parts of the world), was a little backpacker's oasis in the middle of the grimy chaos of San Jose. every wall was covered in tribal and psychedelic paintings. there was a pool, a bar, good food, and a huge deck with hammocks overlooking the valley and the mountains surrounding us.

it was easily the nicest hostel i've ever been to, and it was only $12 a night! not baaad for a super last minute booking ;)

and to our ear-to-ear delight, the majority of the people staying at the hostel were also young americans (and canadians) headed for Envision! so from the moment we relieved our poor shoulders of our heavy bags, until long after the bar upstairs closed, we spent the day/night connecting with all of the beautiful, open-hearted strangers who traveled from far and wide for this unique chance at transformation.

callie and i made friends with a group of boys as soon as we got there. we had dinner with them and picked up some beer to bring back to the hostel. then, what started as a small talk by the pool with one other girl turned into a proper party tornado in no time at all. a huge group of us migrated up to the bar, and hung out on the hammock swings drinking our $2 cervezas and divulging all of our greatest passions. 

within a couple hours of talking and connecting with these perfect strangers, i was in love with half of them. not "in looove", but i LOVED them, yanno? the quality of the people we encountered that night completely took me by surprise. they were happy people with open hearts and open minds and so much to share. they were the kind of people you typically meet on fun adventures, but turned up a notch, because we were all about to be a part of a huge, peaceful love/art/music fest in the jungle and we were STOKED. 

later in the night, after the bar closed and many beers were had, what was left of our party tornado went downstairs to the small parking lot by the pool for a cig circle. we sat and talked and laughed and shared drags of tobacco like old friends. it's incredible how some strangers can make you feel more comfortable and at home than people you've known your whole life. these sorts of connections are my very favorite thing about traveling.

and after expressing our gratitude for meeting each other with hug after hug, our drunken parking lot circle turned into a downright cuddle puddle. about ten of us envisionaries huddled together and giggled incessantly and laid on each other like it was the most natural thing in the world. 

because it WAS the most natural thing in the world! i know cuddling with a group of people you just met sounds like absolute insanity, but i highly recommend it ;)

maybe you'll scoff and call us hippies, but i think impromptu cuddle puddles are the kind of thing that people in the real world should really learn to be more open to! our society is so deprived of genuine connection and affection. it's a tall order to ask for direct eye contact when speaking with someone in public, let alone a hug or touch. but we need ittt, and if we don't get it, there's a chance we'll resort to destructive habits instead. so go cuddle with a friend or hug a stranger! and stay happy :)

after one night in san jose, we hitched a ride with our new friend alex all the way down to Uvita for Envision Festival. and then the real fun began :)

PURA VIDA

my goodness, Costa Rica, where do i even begin?

i've dreamt of traveling to these jungle lands since i was a young, naive, restless girl. i didn't know much about the world then, but i heard a whisper about the natural beauty and pure way of life in Costa Rica once, and i've been yearning for it ever since.

fiiiiinally this eager fantasy of mine has come true!!

and guys, it is surpassing my every expectation.

last summer, when i was hitchhiking across europe, my friend noelle told me about her experience in Costa Rica last year. she volunteered for a transformational festival called Envision. i didn't know what a transformational festival was, but after watching a couple of these bloom series videos explaining the nature of their purpose, i made it my top goal to experience Envision this year. everything i planned after europe revolved around THIS trip to Costa.

and it JUST HAPPENED... months and months of preparation and anticipation finally culminated into one of the purest, most beautiful experiences of my life.

side by side with some of the greatest, most open-hearted people i've ever met, i traveled to a ranch on the pacific coast of Costa Rica for a week of PURE BLISS in the jungle, on the beach. there was music and dancing and camping and yoga and reiki and community and sharing and SO MUCH LOVE. 

after 5 days at Envision, i have left feeling so inspired to carry all these loving, positive vibes out into the world for everyone to share and experience and multiply, until the whole world is touched by this pure love. 

because, dear readers, it is the best feeling i've ever known.

FRIEND SHIP VIDEO

ahhhh, this is long overdue seeing how this boat trip through the british virgin islands happened the first two weeks of january and we are now almost in march in costa rica! but! it's finally done! and these are such glorious memories! i just love sailing and blue water and green islands and beautiful friends so very much. something about seeing them in motion makes me grin from ear to ear. thanks Friend Ship 2014!