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…

 

Volunteering-the essence of global unity

Be a helping hand. After ages, few years, I am back at the free clinic I once volunteered at as a nursing student, then as a RN, and now, as a NP. It is a blessing. It is faith based, and that makes it even more beautiful. Although, I am Hindu, I respect and value all religions. God is God, and to serve others in the name of God is the best feeling and calling. I highly encourage others to take time to volunteer in their communities to do random acts of kindness with no motives. The world needs this. Nothing is ever ours alone as knowledge and skills are meant to be shared and used for betterment of others. Working in FQHC for last couple years may have challenged me like no other, but I also was blessed to care for people at their most vulnerable times. Volunteering at a free clinic will keep that passion alive, as this is not for money. I, myself, have to go without insurance, while being in-between jobs, but it is my duty to care for those without insurance or ability to pay. I believe that in life, God gives you what you need. The clinic physician and director were talking about how they wanted to recruit more volunteers, and I came back today. I think it is meant to be. I am never happier than when serving others. Humans are social beings, and spreading kindness, should be natural. There is enough hate in the world. Do what you can for the community and others; be a helping hand. Make sure to leave behind footprints worth following. Be it global volunteering abroad, or local, or helping an elderly lady hold grocery bags. No act of kindness is too small. Go out there and be the change you want to see in the world! -Gandhiji. Take a seed, an idea, plant it, nourish it, watch it grow, and see that a seed is all it takes.

Bring sunshine into others’ lives when they need it the most. All it takes is a smile. I missed seeing patients, and hope to do some clinics before starting my new job. I may need money, but somethings in life, you do because its the right thing to do. Volunteering is about giving back to God and the community out of gratitude, not asking for anything in return.

This picture will always be special because it was for my first nurse practitioner job which shaped me as a provider and gave the opportunities to give back to the community. I see my young self and think the growth and challenges I went through from bring a baby NP to now, and feel so blessed to finally volunteer as a NP, something I always wanted to do. Did a lot as a RN, but this is was my end goal. I encourage everyone to go after your dreams and goals in life. Nothing is impossible if one truly wants it and works hard for it!

Walk Down Memory Lane of Travel Videos

I cannot believe I have been making these videos and traveling for so long. It still amazes me. I always like to look back and reflect on how much I have grown through each journey, and these videos capture that perfectly. I encourage others to embark on their journey of personal growth through travel. I also just enjoy getting a good laugh at some of my attempts at editing which is such a learning process.

…Sometimes, I get a good laugh at my videos, and sometimes, I am amazed. Either way, vblogging or blogging is a great way to keep track of photos and stories, and help give others ideas and tips. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. When you think about quitting, think of all the reasons you started.” -Some famous people said that. I tell myself that anytime I am out of breath going uphill on a mountain!

Solo female travel myths corrected

Recently, I was having a conversation with one of close female friends. I am always asked this question: how can you travel alone as a female for so long? Aren’t you scared or bored? Etc. My friend voiced how she cannot even travel alone for 3 days, and I felt the need to share the reality of solo travel as a female. I see so many women or young girls with this fear including family and friends. Females are raised with certain preconceived notions that men do not always get fed into their brains growing up. As a result, grown women limit themselves. Now, solo travel may not be for everyone, but one does not know unless they experience it. The experience is priceless and one may love it, or take away life lessons. Win win situation. Here are some stereotypes or fears about solo female travel I need to shed light on:

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Interlaken Paragliding, before we did a 360 turn in the air

1. Is it dangerous? My answer: not any more than your own city. In fact, I always feel safer traveling than my own neighborhood or city. Use your common sense, do not get drunk with strangers (not saying do not party if that is your thing, but be mindful where and around whom). I personaly avoid alcohol with exception of with female friends, and drink rarely. Trust your instricts and gut feeling. It never lies, especially for women. I felt 100% safe at 1am in Cusco outside than at 6pm in my old job’s building. Crime rates change in different places.

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my first backpacking trip solo, I was so young. Interlaken, Switzerland-a place I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. It is also the most expensive place ever, but budget traveling, any place is possible.

2. Is it boring? No way. You can make or break any trip based on your outlook. You can choose to be enjoy new places, people, oceans, mountains, etc, or choose to hate it. I let myself be intrigued. Keep an open mind, and it will seldom ever be boring.

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3. Don’t you get tired? Of course! We are humans. The above pic is after hiking up a hill, but do I look tired? No, because it is so worth the view and adventure despite the fact I was so short of breath and drank 2 bottles of water in 1 hour. Then, you have lazy days and nap. All running around and no rest can lead to illness and fatigue id the mind and body does not get rest. You learn to really trust your body.

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be spontaneous and make last minute plans-this was a last minute decision to go to a town 8 hour bus ride in the Andes from Bogota to Salento, and then to Valle de cocora in Colombia. One of the most beautiful hikes

4. How do you keep track of everything alone when it is hard enough traveling as a group to plan even a few day vacation? I agree, it can be hard to plan a family vacation. Solo trips are easier because there is no negotiation or multiple rooms or tickets. My family trips are lovely but take more planning than my 2 mo backpacking trip! When you are solo traveling, you can book on the go, live off of salads or pasta, you choose. Greater flexibility means easier journey. It really is not that difficult once you get a hang of booking accommodations, transportation, be it last minute or pre-planned. Itineraries change sometimes, and that is fun of it.

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5. Are you alone? I laugh at this one, because 99% of the time during my travels, if I want to be alone, I have to turn down invitations to hang with new friends or choose to seclude myself. As an introvert, I did value alone time a lot, but I always had people to socialize with if I wanted to cater to my outgoing self. Made some amazing friends and families that took me in like their own! Never a dull moment. No matter where I went, always ended up making new friends or meeting interesting people!

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This was my favorite spot in Santiago de Chile. Cerro San Cristobal

6. It can be daunting at first, and I understand that. It is not that big of a deal or challenging in my opinion. People make a big deal out of how I travel a lot or alone, but I see it as normal. I travel with friends and family too, and sometimes, solo travel allows you to climb mountains that your family would not do, or meet new people from 20 different countries that being with your friends you do not branch out. I may be biased, but even my Eurotrip 5 yrs ago did not scare me. When you travel solo, you adapt really fast! Your fears go out the window. Just keep your intuition with you, and use caution like you would in your own hometown.

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I made friends on the van ride/tour of valle de sagrado. They insisted on taking pictures, and stopped here for the glacier topped mountain view. Friends who turn into your photographer even when you would rather just stare at the mountains. People have a way of looking out for one another, and become a group of friends for the time being. Never once felt unsafe.

7. Girl, go do it! Do not let anyone else tell you how to live your life.

Hostels in South America

https://youtu.be/xZK45G29lHs can so relate. Staying in hostels in my early 20s vs late 20s is so different!

Here is a list of good and bad things about hostels, all subjective. My previous experiences with hostels were in India, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, and the United States. I have had my share of amazing hostels that I did not want to leave, and the ones that made me question, why am I staying here!?

Great aspects about hostel living during your travels:

  1. Affordable. When doing long term travel, or even for 1 week or more, it can be expensive if you do not budget wisely. I have traveled, backpacked, since I was 23, and I was a grad student and a nurse at the time. I managed to do a 2.5 week Euro trip by saving wisely and budgeting for hostels and cheap flights, trains. Hostels were anywhere from 10 Euros to 50 Euros for a bunk per night based on the country or location. I could not have afforded to travel if I stayed in hotels all the time.
  2. Socializing. Hostels are amazing for meeting new people. I have made friends from all over the world in hostels. As a solo travel, this is a must, unless you want alone time. I enjoy making friends, and learning about their cultures and countries. It is so cool how I meet some stranger over breakfast or a girl in my dorm room, and next thing I know, we take a 8 hour bus ride to a town or go explore the city together. I have met people from all ages, 10 years younger, to 50 years older. Fascinating the stories you hear and what you learn in hostels. A melting pot of cultures. You are never alone, unless you choose to be in hostels. I still keep in touch with my travel friends from hostels sometimes.
  3. location: most hostels are located within central areas for easy commute. If not, they often still have a tour desk or information for booking transportation and activities. This is really convenient for last minute plans when you arrive at a new place. Often times, metros or bus stations are nearby, or you can find other travelers who are going to same places as you and share rides or walk together if you want.
  4. free breakfast or kitchen: A major way to save money or stay healthy when traveling, is to cook your meals or eat simplistically. I enjoy trying local cuisine, but that can be done with one meal out per day or budgeting for food. Hostels with kitchens for guests are wonderful! They have basic stuff, but you can make do. Also, free breakfast is a great way to get stored up on energy for the day and save money too. Common breakfast areas and kitchens are way to meet others too, and I have had the most interesting conversations while cooking in hostel kitchens or eating breakfast (usually is basic too, but food is food. be thankful!).
  5. Teaches you to be a minimalist and flexibility when you live out of your backpack and try to keep it simple. Sharing a dorm room with strangers is not always easy, and you have to fall asleep or try to with lights on or noise.

Now, the not so great things about hostel living. Of course, it is all subjective and all about perspective. There is always a good and bad side of everything, so all about perspective. The older I get though, the most I do realize these things though.

  1. Lack of privacy. Being in female dorms is OK, but I hate mixed dorms. I only stayed in 1 mixed dorm out of necessity due to a last minute booking and hated it. People have no respect for privacy.  Female dorms are my preference, and it is not too bad, but sometimes, you want space. Some hostels are nice in that they have curtains on beds so it feels like a mini fort or like 2 by 6 feet bedroom! Some people do not care about privacy though.
  2. Lack of cleanliness. Some hostels are very clean, but others can be dirty, especially bathrooms. I stayed in a hostel that I hated because of the dirty bathroom. I left, and so did other travelers I met. I have also had hostels with really clean facilities, and I was impressed. I stayed more nights there!
  3. Lack of consideration for others: Most seasoned travelers or backpackers are extra cautious, but not all. Some are groups of friends traveling together who think they are the only ones in the room. It is a dorm room, not your private hotel or guesthouse! They come in the room 4 in the morning and turn all the lights on and make ton of noise. Worst is when they play loud music all night long when there is a thing called headphones and clubs that can be gone to for such activities. Hostels have bars too that they can hang out in, but they choose to turn their dorm into a party although it says no noise or keep quiet after 10pm. I make every effort to stay in non-party hostels, but they all can be party hostels based on the people there. It is a draw of luck.
  4. Laundry! Most hostels charge ridiculous amount of money for laundry services. Sometimes, it is hard to find a laundromat nearby or you do not have the time, so you give in. Also, in South America, most hostels did not like me washing my clothes and hanging they to dry on my bunk. In Europe, Mexico, India, this was the norm to wash clothes by hand in the sink and hang them to dry. EVERYONE did it, and hostels did not care. In South America, I was told I cannot do that, and had to use stupid machines like western spoiled society. Backpacking is about self reliance and hard work. It is what it is, and I accepted it.
  5. Smoke everywhere. That goes for society in general though, no matter what place or country. If you want to increase your risk for COPD and Lung cancer, please do not harm others who try their best to be healthy. I want to give everyone the smoking cessation lecture and teach them about all the different modalities such as nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, oral medications, etc. I can give the lecture in Spanish, and have done so many times at work, but during traveling, I have to bear with air pollution. People come to dorms after smoking like a pack, and they stink up the whole room. They may be really kind people, but that behavior just made me so angry. I do not want my hair or the bed to smell like smoke.
  6. cash only: Even if the hostelworld or other hostel booking sites say accepts credit card, do not be fooled. Some hostels make excuses such as their card machine is broken or etc. You do not have ton of cash on you because that is stupid to carry so much cash when traveling. This forces you to find ATM machines and pay crazy fees sometimes. At least be honest on the booking website, so people can prepare enough cash adequately and plan wisely. This was never an issue in European or even Indian hostels.
  7.  You can nowadays find same price or even cheaper air bnb rooms, and avoid all of the above. Half of my trip, I chose to stay in air bnb rooms in peoples’ houses or apartments. I loved it. I did not spend too much more than a hostel dorm, and sometimes, even saved money! They have kitchens, laundry facilities, and I can still socialize with the host families and other travelers staying there. I made many friends that way too.

I love hostels, but I also hate them sometimes. Regardless, if booking a hostel, I recommend https://www.hostelworld.com/

 

 

Bienvenidos a estados unidos

exactly. ditto how I feel, but more like the blues. not clinical depression. It is more of a transition period back to western society and reverse culture shock. Travel is so reformative and leads to so much self growth. From daily meeting such open minded, global citizens, who I have the most intellectually stimulating conversations about global issues to practicing our language skills. Friends who I shared such amazing experiences with, but may never see again. It is tough. People back home cannot comprehend. I cannot comprehend myself sometimes what did I go through…Only fellow travelers can relate it seems. Of course, I am so grateful, and appreciative of my experiences, but post travel blues are no fun.

Estoy aqui…en Estados Unidos. Moment I entered Florida, I was met with rude airport personnel. It is the same story each trip. I go to places with such immense kindness and respect, to a culture of “too good to do your job” and entitlement, but not every one is like that of course. Many nice people in this country too. The lady at Subway, although an immigrant herself, was so sweet when I got soup at 3am! I missed the politeness and manners of Latin America already. Just 10 hours ago, in Bogota airport, or Santiago, so much sweetness and manners. Every other word with permiso, gracias, muy amable, buen dia, etc… In Miami, I ended up at the wrong security point and the guy did not even correct me despite marking my boarding pass. The guard was like you know what to do, take out all liquids etc. I was like I have had 15 flights in last 2 months. It is different in other countries, people are nicer and security is not as tight, yet no crimes happen. I barely ever took my laptop or body wash/shampoo bottles out. Half the time, I kept my shoes on too. The right security point guy was much nicer though in Miami. I was trying to be extra compliant, and he was like its ok, I won’t say anything. The girl on the plane next to me on my flight from Miami to Orlando was so rude. She was like can you move over to the other seat just so she can put her bookbag ON the middle seat. That is not even permitted. My bookbag was in the overhead bin like the rules, and it was my only piece of luggage unlike tourists with 4 big rolley bags and w carry ons each! Then, she was in a rush to go and scooted past me when I was in the isle and still had to retrieve my stuff. No patience. There was a young family in front of us with an infant and they took some time naturally, and this girl was in such a rush rudely. I was so annoyed. The complete opposite happened 10 hours earlier! My flight from Santiago to Bogota, I made a new friend, 2 actually! One from Ecuador, and one from Colombia. The Colombian girl and I became such best friends, or as it felt! She was so excited to learn about me and India, and I was excited to share my love for Colombia with her! We talked 6 hours and I showed her all my India pics. I offered to help her plan a trip to India in the future. We had so much fun in the 6 hr flight. We ended up getting secret snacks from the flight crew, and watched Wild movie together. Also watched 1st episode of game of thrones which both of us were so confused what was going on. She took the ham from the sandwich so I can eat only a cheese sandwich. Also I traded with her the meat sauce ravioli for her salad and bisquits! We made a great team! I encouraged her to travel the world, and not be afraid. She gave me hope for the future generation that has such sweet, nice, and curious young women. She wanted to be an architect, and she reminded me of the young me who once upon a time dreamt of studying architecture too! Such a rever culture shock being back in the US. I feel homesick for the love and hospitality I was showered with in the 4 countries I spent the last 2 months in. Don’t be sad its gone; smile because it happened. Forever grateful and blessed to travel so much in life. So lucky and thankful! I hope to inspire others to do the same. As I go back to stresses of daily life, I will remember the lessons travel taught me. Persistence-Hiking in low oxygen altitudes. Adaptation- and flexibility-different homes and hostels every few days. Open-mindedness and respect-new country every 2 weeks. Throw back as nostalgia and photos of my best experiences are the only thing to help with post travel blues.

hiking in the Amazon in Ecuador

Holding parrots

standing on the equator

hiking to waterfalls

arepa muy rico. I absolutely LOVE x 10000000 Colombian food! I am on a mission to teach myself these recipes.

valle de Cocora- hiking in this paradise in the mountains

best hot choco in the world is found in Ecuador

locro de papas (potato soup)- my fav soup found in Ecuador

laguna Humamtay. Lake 14000 ft high. Worth the hike and new friends on the path felt like my close friends and I hanging out.

petting Alpaca y Llama

self guided hike on train tracks

Best best best… Machu picchu

any and all sunsets

Sushi night with Japanese buddy

…and so much more that I did not capture in photos.

El final de mi viaje

a friendly young woman and I took turns taking photos of eachother! Perfect timing as my selfi mode cannot capture this! On cerro Santa Lucia.

sunset on a remnant of an old inactive volcano with panoromic views of the city.

hiking boots over heels anyday

Comida de Chile: guiso de cochayuyo, algas y papas con ensalada y te frio a mi restaurante vegetariano favorito en Santiago

Tomorow, I fly back with a series of flights and layovers, so I will arrive Friday the 13th. I am already having the post travel blues or may be that is fatigue from lack of proper sleep as people were playing drums outside at 1am. Backpacking is such a joy. I have lived such adventures and seen things that opened my mind more and made me feel more humbled as a human bieng on this planet. How does one return to day to day life?Home is where the heart is, and I have left a piece of my heart in every country I have now lived in. South America has won my heart with the kindness of the people and marvel of nature. I do not think anyone understands the affect traveling has on a person. It is not a few day vacation to a resort, going from one American place to a Americanized resort in another country while exploiting locals. Instead, it is living amongst locals like a local, feeling pride to be in Colombia as if it is my home, or going to the grocery store and laundramat in small town of Banos, Ecuador, or living with a family in Lima, Peru going to local markets, to climbing great heights in Cusco, to seeing my grandmother in a sweet elderly lady who looked after me when I was so used to fending out for myself. Strangers, who I shared hostels or air bnb homes with, who became best friends for days. Travelers have a way of sharing life stories over breakfast with strangers with no reservation, things I never share with my closest friends. Travel opens the mind so much to possibilities that the status quo becomes boring and tedious, yet it also teaches simplicity and minimalism. This has been the longest of all my backpacking journeys, and I can only imagine that the travel withdrawl will be that much stronger. Life is all about perspective. My family and friends may never understand how I can so easily transport myself to new places and be such a free spirit, but I met fellow travelers who reminded me I am not the only one. 1000s of people like me who have a unsatiable thirst for what life has to offer and love the world. No fence or cage can keep my mind and spirit. I broke out of stereotypes as a woman in a conservative culture where I was not allowed to have dreams and kept from living my life the way I want. I went from a shy little girl to an outgoing young woman. I went from not knowing what feels like to live in a house in my city to living in houses all across the world. I went from being mistreated to received immense kindness and generosity. Humanity sees no barriers of language or geography. Kindness is universal. I have seen and experienced so much. Despite all of that, I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family. Travel also teaches that best things in life, are not things. They are people and experiences. It is going to be so bittersweet tomorow getting on the plane. Real journey never ends, and this is a pause, not a stop. To be continued…

museo national de bellas artes

Emapanada heaven

Its like waking up from a dream: Wake me up, shake me up, race me to the stars. So much to know, so far to go, the galaxy is ours. The galaxy is ours my girl, the galaxy is ours… -Protozoa from Disney’s Zenon the girl of the 21th century.

Eating my feelings with chocolate. Chocolate is the prophylactic treatment and medicine for the inevitable post travel blues.

…and hiking up an inactive volcano one last time…

san cristobal hill in the distance that I hiked 1 week ago

My lovely bookbag. We have been through so much together. Now, time to condense it all in you to avoid check in bag fees. Challenge accepted.

Santiago una otra ves

Finally used the metro! Had to buy a card, as they do not sell single one way tickets. Oh well, still cheaper than a taxi! I need to use the metro again! I will miss public transportation once I go back to land of cars, consumerism, and pollution. Why can’t all cities and mayors light a bulb in their minds to use tax payers’ money for public transport with a metro, underground or not. I have seen so mny systems in the world, and know it is feasible! Do not have to be a rocket scientist to see that. Have to go back to the govt taking 50% of my hard earned money for God knows what lame useless projects while I work my butt of. I will take care of everyone’s medical needs while I will be without health insurance myself for months. What type of backwards universe is this. I shouls move to Sweden. I have friends there now. Seeing so much of the world makes me see the flaws in my city that is not even safe for women in their neighborhoods, workplace, parks… Pay taxes and work like a machine to be harrassed. Some people do not know manners or how to respect female healthcare providers. Foul language and inappropriate remarks are simply unacceptable, yet female medical professionals have to deal with this crap all the time, especially young women. Forget it. I have been through the worst, and know the possibilities of the best that I have experienced through kindness of strangers in other countries outside of the Estados Unidos. Respect is a priority, not an option for humanity. Better horizons await land far away donde yo siento segura.

headed to my fav veg place in the city soon as I dropped my big backpack at the reception air bnb building. I was so excited for te frio y menu del dia pero 😞 no more menu del dia as time was up! I had enchiladas instead which were ok, but they will be my dinner for next 2 days here! I need to go back for lunch! Then off to my city hikes up tue cerros (hills)! The waiter remembered me haha. I think they realize I am obsessed with that place! It is rated one of the top vegetarian/vegan places here! Soju! Muy rico! Lunch time is crazy busy with line waiting to be seated!

I feel at home again in Santiago, but then again, I feel at home any place I go. I get homesick sometimes, but any traveler knows how to deal with that as it is a part of any long journey. Also, a part of being a seasoned traveler is that no place is foreign, and I turn strangers, or really strangers turn me into friends and family. It was sad saying bye to my host and roommates in Valparaiso, and I even became friends with the uber driver there! Muy amable! My Latino patients used to say that phrase to me all the time, and now I can see how much it is embedded in the Latino culture, genuine kindness and friendliness. I realize how much I do not know and how terrible my Spanish is the more time I am here. My patients used to tell me my Spanish was really good and I never needed an interpreter. Instead, I would help my colleauges by interpreting sometimes. Here, I learn new Spanish words everyday and realize how much I do not understand! I am humbled by people having patience with me as I try to converse with them in Espanol. I once read a book: Kindness Diaries. I feel like I have been living it. I can write a book on the people I have encountered and somehow they left a mark in the journey of my life. Each page can be a fellow traveler or local’s story of kindness and what I learned from them! Traveling really teaches that people are more alike than different despite global positioning and the differences should be celebrated as part of global diversity. Traveling and knowledge are antidotes to ignorance and discrimination.

the globe is my playground… And the world is my textbook. Forever, a student of life and Planet Earth.

My favorite stamp in my passport, and favorite stamp ever!! Passport to Machu Picchu!

I came across this about a week ago here… I had a bean burrito to fuel my hike up the cerro! Do what makes you happy in life! Life is too short to keep wondering if the taco bell tastes the same or different in Chile versus Estados Unidos!

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