La fin dia en Costa Rica

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Last day in Costa Rica. Rico indeed. Rico means beutiful or very good! I learned that word in Colombia during my 2 months South America backpacking trip earlier this year. I use rico to compliment people and food especially when eating out or someone’s cooked meals. Speaking of which, I am staying at a 1915 vintage style hotel called Hotel 1915. I can say that as I am leaving, or else I would never mention name. It is across a police station too! I think this hotel is so cute and elegant! Simple yet rustic. My style. I love the yellow lights, high wooden ceilings, old fashioned doors. The breakfast was free, included technically. Heart healthy! Fruits, orange juice, coffee, fried plantains, and gallo pinto, traditional bean and rice breakfast dish of Costa Rica! Muy rico! My goal is to learn the recipe. I always make it a point to recreate the dishes I fall in love with when traveling such as bean soup of Colombia, potato soup of Ecuador, and now this! A taste of my travels shall stay with me through food and memories. Yesterday, I roamed around until it got dark. After I arrived at Alajuela bus station by the airport from La Fortuna, 4.5 hour bus ride, I called uber using my app. I use uber a lot. It is safer than taxis as it tracks my whereabouts. Crazy story: As I was getting off of the big bus, the lady, solo travelinh with her child, in seat next to mine had a toddler and luggage, so I was like necesita ayuda? I helped her carry her bags so she can carry her son off the bus. Women’s code. Somehow, I bond with women and children all over the world. It is like we have a secret code to look after eachother! Anyway, we got off of the back door, so I did not get to ask the conducter to get out my backbag from the bus storage on the side of the bus. He closed the doors soon as th lady, little boy, and I got off. I ran to the front of the bus and knocked on the door vigorously screaming disculpame. He opened the door, an I was like necesita mi monchilla. I need my backbag. The conducter/driver finally got off the bus to open the storage to get my bag. Close call! I keep nothing valuable in my bookbag anyway. I am a light packer and literally carried my bag on my lap on the bus ride to la Fortuna. Therefore, missed luggage does not bother me, a seasoned traveler. Anyway, then uber driver dropped me to hotel. I just needed by clothes and allergy meds, but I could have bought that in town if needed. I later walked around town to find a good restaurant. Some tex mex with local and central/south American cuisine. Very international and local fusion. It was soo good! I got free desert too! I was so tempted to get Colombian Arepas that I love so much! Instead, I went with enchiladas which were good too! I miss Colombian food! Colombia is one of my fav countries in the world! I made so many friends and memories there! The Colombian cuisine is mouth watering! Costa Rica is very nice too! Each place has it’s own charm and beauty. My backpack is packed and ready to catch uber to airport! Chiao! It is always sad saying goodbye to a new place that starts to feel like home. A piece of traveler’s heart is left in every place he or she lives in. This is not a vacation for me, instead, it is a life lesson and real world education. New streets, food people, finding my way, local public transport, navigating, climbing, hiking, ziplining, rapelling, so many lessons learned. Journey of personal growth. There is no problem that does not have a solution. Anything is possible if one believes. Travel taught me that as a solo female navigating the world on her own, funding her travels and time wisely to make these adventures possible! Si se puede! Yes you can!

Hasta Luego La Fortuna y el Volcan

Screenshot_20181209-083003_Samsung Experience HomeI am so thankful and grateful for what life has given me! The girl who grew up without family vacations, saw Disney only on Disney channel, and too shy, is now metamorphised into a world traveler in the last decade. My youth has been filled with adventure and travels, for education, work, volunteering, and leisure! I am blessed! I do not wait to live life until retirement as tomorow is never guaranteed. Costa Rica has been so lovely and welcoming. I got to know locals. Now, I have to say bye to La Fortuna, cute little town with volcano backdrop! The history of the volcano and town is fascinating! I have to come back.in the future, so much more to explore! At the zipliping company yesterday, I met such kind locals and travelers. I met a sweet rescue dog that was starving for love and affection. I used to scared of animals, but now, I pet cats and dogs, hold snakes.. Travel has made me grow so much! It teaches lessons and opens one’s mind beyond any book. Once a mind is open, it cannot go back to previous closed minded ignorance. Travel is antidote to ignorance. I also went to local park last night after having local choco ice cream, yummy! I love chocolate times 1000000, and Costa Rica is known for great chocolate plantations! I got some off farm for me! I also live off of hot choco here! The 4 traveler guys on my ziplining shuttle bus asked me if I was a consultant, for traveling since I book last min and travel so much for cheap and make it work with my busy work schedule! I was like, no, just my hobby! One of them was a solo traveler like me who travels alone and stays in hostels, an Indian. Very rarely I meet Indian solo travelers. Again, closed mindedness by parents limiting their grown adult children to not live their lives. I broke out of those shackles long ago! My amazing family is never shocked when I travel solo now! They kno how much of travel and adventure is therapy for me and my busy life. Travel is therapy, and I need my regular dose to keep me happy and at peace. I also met amazing tour guides who were so kind. I got stuck on two ziplines. One of them got back out on zipline to pull me to the tree house since I was having hard time pulling my body back with hands. It is a workout! One of the tour guides was saying how a man was planning a proposal for his girlfriend there, and they were setting up flowers at the ziplining place! It was soo sweet! These people won my heart! They truly care about strangers like myself who travel for mere days, yet they leave an lasting impression on me with their kindness and helping others! Beautiful souls! My career leads to burnout fast as you spend all day caring for others, and get mistreated sometimes, and you get no time to care for yourself, mind, body, soul. Travel is soul food! Happy Travels! It is raining! Got to pack soon, want to go to local iglesia aka church and head out of town! I have become friends with waiter at this cafe! I come here all the time!! I feel at home whereever I go in the world, as I learned to flexible and make most of every situation. Travel taught me to get out of my shell! It made me who I am! May be I should be a travel consultant! I love inpiring and motivating others! Young girls and other women look up to me when they hear my stories, and I strive to be a role model leading by example. Do not let status quo or dogma limit your goals and passions. On your death bed, no watch or car will be with you. Only your faith and memories of living  fulfilled life will..

Solo travel teaches me…

The kindness and hospitality I encountered during my solo travel trips is surreal. I say that as I encountered such hostility and entitelement with disrespect and harrasement in my own city in the states. I make instant friends on the road traveling abroad or other cities which gives me hope that there are kind people in the world. During my volunteer mission trips or free clinics, people who have so little in materialism or money, have so much to give in love and respect. I am met with opposite here where people with money, some, not all, have sense of entitlement and verbally abuse those trying to help them! Therefore, I am never impressed by money. Kindness is my mantra, yet not everyone lives by it. People told me out of ignorance that solo travel is dangerous and you are a woman! Blah blah. I have been showered with love traveling abroad alone, or with friends. I never met any danger or threats. Whereas in my city, the story is different, not to generalize. Not everyone is like that of course. I met many kind people here too. Regardless, travel teaches me that respect and kindness are virtues that cross cultures and nationalities. We are humans binded by string of humanity, so why this hostility? Travel teaches me there is  a world out there, many, that welcome me as their own despite me being a traveler. Air bnb families taking me in to live like local, or hostel travel buddies I make every place I live. Travel never fails to teach me the beauty of life is in these human connections across boundaries. We are more alike then different. I say this as I cannot wait to meet the jungles and strangers to be new friends in central America once again! My Spanish and love for Latino culture will take me where I am met with kindness and love for humanity. Spread kindness wherever you go in life! Our footsteps and passing it forward will be our memoirs, not materialistic items. Solo travel or travel in general teaches me to be brave, courageous, “gutsy” as my female friends say, and assertive for what is right standing up for myself and others in life. I don’t face down in adversity as I climbed mountains with altitude sickness. I speak up and force ahead. One step at a time..

Million and one reasons to give thanks…

20181121_104441Happy (almost) Thankgiving! It is easy to get lost in day to day agenda of our adult lives working and so forth, but when we take time to count our blessings, we realize how lucky we are.  In spirit of Thanksgiving, here is my list. I encourage others to make a “I am thankful for…” list or share with your friend, family member, or colleague daily. Here is mine, or a part of it in no particular order. I am thankful for… 1. Family 2. Friends who are like family 3. A home 4. Good health 5. Food 6. Clean water 7. An amazing career that is also my passion allowing me to care for others 8. Travels 9. Heat in winter 10. Warm clothes in winter 11. Being established in my career and stable enough, especially having grown up as an immigrant seeing so much disparity. Bottom line-an incredible education that gave me these opportunities. 12. My faith (this is number 1). I am deeply spiritual, and my faith guides me in life. I thank my connection with God for giving me the courage and strength to take care of sick people, to travel the world, to overcome adversities, and to become a stronger person. There is so much more to give thanks for.. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and wish a smile on your face when you think of something you are grateful for.

 

Breaking Stereotypes and status quo

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Sometimes  I have dreams, I picture myself flying, above the clouds, high in the sky, never being scared.. but then I realize..  Paragliding, must do in Interlaken. Saved up overtime money for this adventure. I had tears in my eyes when we did the whirly or 360 turn in the air upside down from how windy it was! so worth it!

Over the years, growing up in a diaspora, I was surrounded by conservative Indian culture and open minded American culture. I saw gender roles daily, yet I learned possibilities. Most people who know me now always say how they remember me as a shy child who was so quiet. They are surprised how I grew up to be assertive and adventurous. To be fair..I did climb trees as a child! Anyway, they say how they are most surprised how I can travel solo as a female. Other females tell me they are too scared or afraid of getting bored. Honestly, I have never once been bored in my solo travels. I make friends easily, and I became best friends with other travelers from different continents as well as locals. I never felt unsafe. I feel more scared in my own city sometimes. This blog is about inspiring and sharing my experiences because I broke out of traditional stereotypes of being an Indian woman, and found my niche.

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1st time solo traveling.. young RN, young explorer, young backpacker in Interlaken, one of my fav small towns in Europe. 

How did I get there? Be strong. Filter out what others say. One of my old fav songs.. kuch to log kahenge, logo ka kaam hai kehna, chodo bekaar ki  baaton mein kahi, beet na jaaye raina. People will talk, let them, forget useless things, don’t let these moments pass. Growing up, I was taught to not pray when on my period, come on! Who dictates me relationship with God? Not anyone but me. I learned how oppressive my culture can be in the name of blind faith. I broke that status quo after years of being ashamed of my own body and  most natural human processes such as menstrual cycle aka how the human race still exists on this planet. I learned to empower other young girls in India teaching classes on their body and health as a new nurse 7 years ago.

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Strength training weights room for women in the gym! Who said muscles are for men only. All human bodies are made of muscles, how strong they are, depends on YOU! DO your thing! Be it running, dancing, lifting, swimming, etc.. whatever you enjoy.

One step to another. If I could empower other girls, why not keep pushing myelf to grow and develop new skills, I thought. Afterall, personal growth is so important! News flash, even the Hindu holy book, Bhagvad Geeta, my fav book, talks about the same concept. My spirituality led me to push myself out of my comfort zones and break barriers. I knew my God, best friend, is with me, and I took off with a backpack and backpacked across Europe! Family tried to stop me. Friends thought I was crazy. People said what if something happens? Why don’t you join a tour group, so you are not alone? I said, I trust myself and can take care of myself. A petite barely 5ft woman took her weight on her shoulders, literally my 10 pound bookbag, with 3 weeks of essentials, and boarded the plane for London. I had the best experiences with my 1st long hiking in Italy, to paragliding in Switzerland, I concured one fear after another. My fear of heights.. bye bye. There has been no turning back. Once  you break the shell and box, you keep growing. I dedicated my youth to breaking stereotypes of how women in my family and culture, not to generalize, but from my experience, were told to be quiet, submissive, cook all day, clean all day, take care of everyone but themselves, rely on men, not be financially independent or career driven, and give up dreams and goals to fit into the society of a typical Indian woman aka from the 1950s.  I decided that being forced to fast as a 5 year old girl for being a girl..no other reason while my older brother ate in front of me is not the type of value I will pass to next generation. Instead, lead by example. When people tell me they want their daughters to be like me or they want to get over their fears, I tell them courage and independence are values worth striving for. Not easy, but worth it. Best things in life are not things.. anything worth having, you have work for and push boundaries and status quo, be it in your family, own mindset, or the society.

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Pintrest quotes indeed. Pass it forward. Good thoughts for keeps. Thanks for sharing stranger!

Fitness

Image result for exercise quotesI am a huge advocate for living a healthy lifestyle, and ever since I could remember, I have loved exercising and challenging myself. Now, this does not come easy to most people. Most of us have to motivate ourselves to hit the gym or do some form of physical activity at home or outdoors. It takes mental will and endurance to commit to be fit, but remember, when you were a toddler and learned to walk, you probably did not stop running around. All you got to do is bring back that same curiosity to explore the world, or try new exercises. Soon enough, it will become a habit. Your body naturally releases endorphins, Dopamine, through exercise, and this is often very rewarding. It is what the runners call “runner’s high.” Exercise is beneficial to mental and physical health. Of course, before starting any exercise program, you should evaluate your own overall health and consult with your healthcare provider if you have medical conditions. Being a nurse, it is my mission and passion in life, is to help others on their journey to well-being, and that includes primary prevention. Primary prevention is health promotion and disease prevention through lifestyle factors such as regular exercise and healthy eating. Image result for exercise quotes Here are a few starting tips for those who are contemplating starting such a lifestyle.

1, Try incorporating exercise in daily life. For example, take stairs instead of elevator or escalator when possible. Park further away in the parking lot at the grocery store to get few extra steps. Carry groceries out, instead of using a shopping cart to transfer to the car. Do what works for you, but keep your safety and physical abilities in mind. One step at a time..

2. Stay hydrated. I cannot stress this enough, especially in the summer. Drinking at least 8-10 cups of water a day, and more as needed, is so essential. Most people do not get this as people tell me they are simply too busy to drink water. Busy to drink water, but not too busy to text their friends all day. It takes 5 seconds either way.

3. Switch it up. Some people love weights and strength training, and some love cardio. Do what you enjoy. It is not a competition. Try something new if you want, but find your niche. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and do NOT compare yourself to others. Challenging oneself is great, but everyone and every body, literally, is different. Always, keep your safety and well-being in mind.Image result for exercise quotes

Happy exercising…

 

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