Puerto Rico // Round Four

This past February I travelled to Puerto Rico with twenty middle schoolers and one other adult chaperone.  We had a chilly winter in Philadelphia, so the sunshine was welcomed, despite the fact that chaperoning school trips is nothing short of e x h a u s t i n g.  I had been on this exact same trip exactly two years ago and it was nice to know what to expect and also to see what had changed – the food stops were on-point this time around! We spent the first day exploring Ponce, a city in the southwest part of the island.  It happened to be carnaval there, so we got to experience the excitement first hand.  After that we spent the morning at Boquerón beach and then we were off to Fajardo to swim in the bioluminescent bay!  This was by far my favorite part of the trip!  We took a boat to a small lagoon and once the sun went down we all jumped into the water and swam underneath the boat to see the dinoflagellates light up around us.   Swimming at night (especially in the ocean with scary creatures) is not my favorite thing to do, but it was well worth it. The next day we explored El Yunque – the rainforest – in the northeastern part of the island and we heard lots of coquís singing in the background.  That afternoon we skipped the beach because it was raining. Our last day was spent exploring Old San Juan.  We visited El Castillo San Cristóbal and took a walking tour of the city.  Looking back at my old posts of Puerto Rico, I noticed that I took photos of the same buildings…weird! This was the fourth time visiting Puerto Rico and every time I go to this tiny little island, I fall in love a little bit  more.  The food, the warm people, the sun, the sand, the colonial architecture…it’s a pretty magical place! See for yourself: Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Puerto Rico // Favorite Photos

I heard something recently that said people who go to a museum and don’t take pictures actually learn and remember more from the experience.  At times, I find it hard to balance being in the moment and wanting to whip out my camera to try to capture it.  So I try to live first, snap second, but sometimes that leaves me wishing I had taken more.  One regret I have about this trip is the lack of pictures I took.  I often scroll through my old pictures for fun, and so my mission for our next vacation is to follow the rule of live then snap, but keep the camera out for a bit longer.

I also hate being that American tourist.  You know, the one who pushes people out-of-the-way to get a good shot.  Or the one who has the big map out and is silently screaming, “PICK POCKETS COME HERE!  TAKE ALL MY MONEY AND IMPORTANT PERSONAL DOCUMENTS.”  I also like to be respectful of the places and people I visit.  Maybe they don’t want to show up on a random blog on the internet in their bikini, you know?

But, I do love to take pictures.  It’s an artistic challenge that seems like it would be so easy, but it’s actually really, really hard to take a good photo.  I usually have one in about 500 photos that I’m proud of (no exaggeration).  Someday I would love to get a really nice camera and maybe take some classes.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of my favorite shots from the trip.  More details to come soon!

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Airplane Necessities

Airplane Necessities

The items above are my staples for plane travel.  I’m not a very comfortable flyer and so each item serves a specific purpose.  Whether it’s to distract me that there are thousands of feet of air underneath the belly of the plane (Kindle & headphones), or to make sure I don’t break out or get Swine Flu (face wipes & Purell) or to make sure my body feels good (Burt’s Bees and water bottle) – I never go without them.

Tell me! What are your travel essentials?

Adventure Awaits!

In a very short amount of time Dan and I will be jetting off to Puerto Rico.  I can hardly contain my excitement.  Like, I want to jump out of my seat just thinking about it.  I always get this feeling right before I leave for a trip … excitement that brings me back to my childhood.  I get butterflies, I have perma-grin, I go into “go” mode, as Dan calls it – I can’t stop buzzing around the house trying to get things done…packing, shopping, picking out outfits, reading our travel book, googling our hotel, the list goes on.

I have been to Puerto Rico twice before, once with a couple of friends from college and last year with some students.  Below are some pictures from my first time to the island this weekend to help me get EVEN MORE excited!  My first trip was purely for beach relaxation and my second was with 25 middle school kids.  Both were wonderful experiences but I am insanely excited to travel, explore, and be adventurous.  And I’m the most excited to share that part of me with Dan.  Travel is part of who I am.  It’s taught me about life, the world, helped me shape my morals and pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I crave to see new places in the world and to really get to know a place.  I’m also excited, of course, to get in some serious beach time with my second book for the month of March, the Divergent series and hopefully one more (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is on my list).  Last but not least, I can’t wait to speak Spanish.  It’s a beautiful language and learning new words and phrases gets me all excited!!!  I’m a nerd like that.

Here’s a sneak peek at my last trip to Puerto Rico.  All are unedited and were taken with my iPhone.  Forgot my camera charger last time…oops!

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Machu Picchu

The travel series continues!

Machu Picchu is one of the few places in the world that is on my list of places to revisit (Rift Valley Children’s Village in Tanzania, being another). I spent five weeks in Peru in the summer of 2012 as a trip leader and although it was an amazing opportunity, I am itching to go back and explore on my own.

The history and beauty of Machu Picchu took my breath away; it is truly one of the most magical places on Earth.  While I was in Peru, I read, Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams, which is a travel log of the author’s trip to Peru.  It documents his experience hiking the Inca trail, gives a good history of the city and discusses some of the controversial issues surrounding the landmark.  It was a great read and one that I would recommend to anyone who has travelled or is traveling to Peru.

Without further ado, here are my favorite photos from the trip to Machu Picchu.  Although nothing will ever replace the experience of being there physically, I think the pictures still capture the beauty and majesty of the Andes mountains and the city nested between them.

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Long time no blog!

Whoa!  It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog.  I had so much excitement! and energy! when I first started working on this space, and then real life happened.  I got busy.  So, here’s a little recap of my last two weeks.

Lucy and I have been doing a lot of this, due to two snow days in three days.

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I finished my January book, The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom.  I absolutely loved Tuesdays with Morrie, but I have to say, I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much.  I felt the characters were under developed and that it was a little bit hokey at times … it was one drama after another.  I would give it three out of five stars because it was a compelling story, especially at the end – I wanted to find out what happened!

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I took a tour with a group of my students with City Running Tours Philadelphia through the Italian Market, which was so much fun!  It was such a great way to learn more about this city I still feel like a stranger in (most of the time) and I can’t even wait until the weather gets warm so I can stroll through the market and relive my days living in South America.  (It was originally filled with Italian food and shops, but is now an amazing mix of cultures and stores.)

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Speaking of Latin America,  Dan and I have officially begun the countdown to our trip to Puerto Rico in March.  With all of these cold, snowy days, I am regularly checking the weather in San Juan.  There are no words to express my excitement for not only the warm weather, but to travel with Dan.  CANNOT.WAIT.

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I did some cooking and baking with all this free time.  I made yet another chicken pot pie, banana bread (a staple in our house) and I experimented with a coconut milk, cilantro, lime tilapia dish last night.  No pictures, but I will surely put some of these on the blog, eventually.

And last but not least, I’ve been working on my next travel post.  Next up: Perú!  Here’s a sneak peek…

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Book image from here:  http://www.amazon.com/First-Phone-Call-Heaven-Novel-ebook/dp/B00CLH38JU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1391610564

Ngorongoro Crater // Favorite Photographs

I returned from Tanzania 5 months ago and I still think about my time there every day.  As part of the travel series of the blog, I plan do document my travels, (past and future) through words and photographs.  I already blogged about my travels to Africa here, here, here and here, so I won’t bore you with more details.  But, I recently went through my photos on my new computer (yay!) and made some small edits.  That’s the best part of digital photos, isn’t it?  That you can relive the best moments in your life over and over again.  Sometimes I go searching for one photo and get caught up going through the whole album and looking at all of them.  Anyway, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite photos from the safari I went on to the Ngorongoro Crater.  Enjoy!

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