More life advice from someone completely unqualified to give it

YOU GUYS. Sometimes I just sit at my computer and stare at a blank WordPress draft for a while and have no clue what to write about. So usually then I just go look for recipes I’ll probably never make or pictures of puppies (awwwwww).

I’ve realized over the last year or so that writing for me is like working out- sometimes it seems like it would just be so much easier to just not do it, but when I actually get my lazy ass in gear I feel fucking amazing. Running, for example, is not actually one of my favorite things to do. I’m not one of those people thats like “I just can’t wait until my next run!” Honestly, sometimes I feel like a baby rhino trying to keep up with the pack while trying not to clench my jaw, swallow bugs or trip over my own feet. I keep doing it though, because I know afterwards I’m going to feel great physically and mentally (unless I do actually trip and eat it) and every so often I have those days where I just settle into a running groove and want to keep going. I explained that to someone recently, and all I got back was: “If you don’t like running, why don’t you just not do it anymore?” I think he missed the point.

It got me thinking though- why do I so strongly believe it is beneficial for us to do things we find uncomfortable? Do I have some sort of self destructive streak that I camouflage by pretending its just existential badassery? The fact of the matter is I really believe that in order to grow, to move forward in life, we need to force ourselves out of our comfort zones. (yes I know I’m like a goddam broken record with the comfort zone stuff… can you just believe me already?)

So, again.. how do we make that happen?

1. Know your weak points and learn to be OK with showing them:  it can often be stressful for me to reach out to people in my life to let them know I need something from them. It is actually out of my comfort zone to call a friend and tell them I would like to see them- I have a terrible habit of assuming that people will call/text me when they want to see me, and that if they don’t, they must not want to. I also am a procrastinator. A really bad one.. like, I meant to write this post 2 weeks ago.

2.  Find pride in proving yourself wrongsometimes there will just be a bunch of weirdos at that Meetup event.. and sometimes there are a bunch of awesome, likeminded people that you can’t wait to hang out with again! But you’ll never be able to prove to yourself that they’re out there unless you actually attend the event!

3. Remember that the thing you’re scared of is probably less scary than the actual fear: It took me almost a month to finally get up the guts to go take a Crossfit class in Barcelona. I’ve taken Crossfit before, and like to think I’m in pretty good shape, but was worried I might not be able to keep up with the class in Spanish, or that I’d forgotten the lifts. Once I got there, I remembered exactly why I used to love it so much. The fear of not being good at it anymore was a bunch of bullshit.. although I’ll be lucky if I can walk tomorrow.

4. Even if you think you might not like someone, try it anyways, just once: In college, I dated this guy that used to bribe me to try foods I thought I didn’t like. For example, he would take me to sushi if I tried mustard. In the end, I tried a lot of new things and I ate a lot of sushi. WIN.

5. Give people a chance: I get it, everyone is ‘busy.’ While you may think you’re too occupied with other things to take a few minutes to chat with someone, do it anyways. The other day, a 19 year old Greek kid who just moved to Spain made my day, even though at first I was inclined to ignore him  and what seemed like a bunch of annoying questions in favor of my computer. I didn’t, and I ended up walking away from the interaction feeling great- I helped put a huge smile on his face,he gave me some lovely compliments that I never expected, and I learned a little about Greek culture.

Sometimes I don’t always take my own advice, and in reading what I just wrote here I am realizing that there are a few actions I can take in order to improve my overall experience. Moving somewhere new is hard, but it is also a great opportunity to examine what it is I really am looking to get out of my time here (is that an existential ‘here’? I don’t know.). I think we all deserve to live really awesome lives, and it makes me sad when I hear complaints with no plan for actions towards resolving the issue. I get it, life isn’t easy, but the only person that can start the wheels moving on making it better is yourself.

**MIC DROP**

I can't take credit for finding this gem. Amy Poehler is a genius. If you hate this post, I won't tell you what amazing person to blame for sending this to me.

Amy Poehler is a genius.I can’t take credit for finding this gem. If you hate this post, I won’t tell you what amazing person to blame for sending this to me.

 

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the epic settle of 2014

Bye San Francisco! I miss you!

Bye San Francisco! I miss you!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a pretty terrible planner. In fact, in the last 6 months, my departure from the states was the only thing that I actually planned ahead of time, and that was purely out of shame- after broadcasting my emigration from the states to everyone I know, I was going to look like a real idiot if I didn’t go through with it.

So naturally it is safe to assume that my recent move to Barcelona was a bit out of the blue as well. Here’s a little backstory- my first trip to Barcelona was back in 2011, a magical four-day stopover (on my way to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday in Mallorca) in which I spent days wandering the streets and nights feasting on tapas and vino. Then, I was lucky enough to stay with my friend Marta, a native Mallorquina who I met when the gods brought her to UC San Diego to study, surf and snowboard with us for a year.

this beautiful lady standing next to me is Marta

this beautiful lady standing next to me is Marta

A few weeks ago, in between mopping floors, making beds and cleaning bathrooms at my Workaway position in Portugal, I found myself glued to my computer, frantically scouring the webs for an apartment in Barcelona. After a couple of days of cleaning fumes and out of control hostel guests yelling until all hours of the morning, I think I subconsciously decided I had had enough of the impermanence of hostels for a while. In keeping with the theme of the last few months, the universe responded in the form of my good friend Marta. Being the badass that she is, she literally kicked out the two guys subletting her apartment for the summer so I could move in for the month of August. I know, I’m so not nice enough to deserve friends like that.

not to mention Sagrada Familia was a block away from Marta's apartment!

not to mention Sagrada Familia was a block away from Marta’s apartment!

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oh you know, just tagging along to ‘work’ with Marta

A month later, I have an apartment, a job (and a half), and actually have a couple of friends to call my own. I set an intention for every week I was here- the first week was to decide if I wanted to stay, the second, to find a job, 3rd, an apartment, and finally, last week, I intentionally set out to make some new friends.

not one of my new friends, unfortunately

not one of my new friends, unfortunately

So how’d that work out?  I just so happened to stumble into the home base of a company that runs gastronomic tours through Barcelona’s old city during my ‘work’ week. Somehow, I managed to charm them into giving me a tryout, and am now running 3 hour long tours in which I try super hard not to bore people to death. Mostly I succeed, and the promise of food every 30 minutes or so definitely helps.

Next, after visiting what seemed like 842 apartments, I found a cute little place with 2 other girls in the newer part of Barcelona, a district called “Eixample” (pronounced eye-shamp-lah). Again, with my winning smile and sometimes awkward Spanish, I managed to convince the girls to accept me as one of their own.. and THEYRE NEVER GETTING RID OF ME. Just kidding.. they might, eventually.

The friends part is slightly trickier, but definitely looking good- here’s a few tips on how you might force strangers to be your friend in a new city:

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new friends, old friends, and dead friends at the Fiestas de Gracia

1. Couchsurfing.org: Despite having recently gained infamy as ‘couchsexing.org’ (I may or may not have totally made that name up), Couchsurfing events actually seem to have great attendance with a mix of travelers, locals, expats and random unsuspecting people who are just trying to have a quiet drink in their local bar. So far I’ve been to 3 events, and although no new best friends on the horizon, its been an overall good experience.

2. Meetup.com: Good idea in theory, but the only time I’ve tried to attend an event, I couldn’t find the group and ended up making random friends with a completely unrelated group of people and stumbled back to my apartment at almost 4 am. I call that a successful evening, although the “meet-up’ portion may have ended up a bit misdirected.

3. Facebook: there are Facebook groups for everything these days. Want to run with fellow expats every week? Group for that. Do you enjoy painting your face and blowing bubbles in the park? They meet on Sunday mornings. Have a gerbil and want to teach it to fly a kite? There’s a group for that. Seriously though, Facebook is full of weirdos and there is a niche for all of them, even me.

Moral of the story- set an intention, don’t be a lazy-ass, and force yourself out of your comfort zone- in doing so, you may just find a whole new ‘comfy space’ to enjoy! Big changes are only scary if you are scared of them- you can only be disappointed if you have expectations to begin with!

 

 

 

so far so good.. heres what I’ve picked up along the way

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Manhattan as seen from Brooklyn

I’m a big fan of learning stuff. For me, learning implies forward motion- collected energy coupled with information to help propel you into the future. And I’m not just talking about book-learnin’- the type of learning I’m interested in is all about experience, observation, and feedback. Well, in the last few weeks, my life has been an onslaught of ‘new’- and I don’t plan on stopping that anytime soon.

Here’s some tidbits from what I’ve picked up so far:

Lets start in Brooklyn.

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Like many big cities, New York has a fabulous array of galleries, museums and exhibitions to attend- I did check out the MoMA (tip: Friday afternoons- after 4:15- are FREE to the public. Yes, it is crowded as hell, totally worth it to save the $25 entrance fee)- but I found the best art on the streets.

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Bruce Lee, immortalized in Williamsburg

 

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Hypnotized by Biggie in Fort Green

I picked up some super helpful underground tips- not, like, how to find random password protected parties scented by Parliaments and old PBR, but literally underground. I’ve concluded that pretty much anything goes on the subway. Breakdancing? Hell yeah. Diaper changing? Yup, saw that one too.

Brooklyn also taught me a lot about how to be inconspicuous. If you really want to fit in, the key is iced coffee and awkwardly placed portrait tattoos. If I had a dollar for every kid in jorts with an iced latte and a thigh tattoo of some obscure musician’s face from the 60 I would have a lot of dollars (but not so many pounds! Damn you exchange rate.)

In Fort Greene, I learned that religion is just as subjective as you want it to be. Who needs church when you can go straight to the gods themselves?

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(*Bey and Jay are not MY gods, as I have not yet decided which member of pop culture royalty deserves my utmost devotion. Michelle, on the other hand, has spirituality on lock. Get it girl.)

I also learned a little about predicting the weather. Think San Francisco is difficult to dress for? Put every season into one day and you’ve got New York summer. Which is great if you love to cool off your sunburn with a rainstorm.

Moving on to Washington DC, where I learned that you can do ALL THE ACTIVITIES and still have time for naps in less than 36 hours. *(Thanks Jessie!)

I also found out where the preppiest people in the world live, and exactly what type of man I am not interested in. Since I never took the obligatory DC trip in elementary school, it took me 27 years to learn that he White House is, in fact, white. And quite the popular tourist destination. Luckily, the bars on the gate are spaced just right for a little arm to fit through to take this ‘no one at the White House but me’ photo.

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in real life, it is slightly larger than the tree in the foreground, I promise.

My last days in the US reminded me of the fun of exploring a new city, the comfort of seeing an old friend, and the excitement of not being altogether too sure of tomorrow. Though my confidence is often a little shaky, I honestly believe that wherever I go and whoever I meet, I’ll learn something. And as long as I have that, I’ll keep moving forward.

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Bucket List- this is getting real.

I finally bought my ticket to New York for my little brother’s graduation- one step closer to the final (ish) destination.. England! As of May 20 I will be leaving San Francisco, the place I have called home for the better part of the last 3 years, to continue exploring, creating, learning and growing.

There are about a billion things I know I’ll miss about San Francisco- this city is pretty magical. Although I’ve had some pretty epic adventures in this city, there are still a few I have yet to experience, and others I would love to relive before I head out. As of TODAY, I have just over 4 weeks left to enjoy California, so I figured the best way for me to make sure I get through the ‘list’ is to actually write it down.

*** if you are available to join me for any of these mini-adventures, I WANT TO KNOW****

 

MY SAN FRANCISCO BUCKET LIST

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1. go to the beach! Yes, friends, this has been an epic failure on my part. Three years in SF and I have yet to lay on the cold, windy sand-sprawl of either Ocean or Baker beach.

2. check out sunset from Twin Peaks.

3. go to yoga on a Tuesday at Grace Cathedral.

4. go wine tasting.

5. explore space in music at Audium.

6. chow down on food truck grub at Off the Grid in the Presidio on a Sunday afternoon

7. run across the Golden Gate bridge

8. trampoline jumpstravaganza at House of Air

9. go to a Giants game! (this one I’ve already done a couple times, but think I need a last one before I leave)

10. drinks at the Tonga Room

11. dinner at Nopa (done it before, need to go again!)

12. brunch at Plow (ditto!)

13. picnic in Dolores Park complete with friends, mimosas, charcuterie and music.

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I am literally crying as I write this- for those of you that know me well, you know that isn’t something that happens often! I will miss so much about San Francisco- the people, the hilly streets, the always-sunny Mission, the sketchy as hell Tenderloin, amazing food on every corner, the hipsters at Dolores park and dirty hippies in the Haight… among so many other things. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience San Francisco in so many different ways- here’s to many more years and many more cities- some may be just as exciting, but none will be the same..

 

As it has been said before: “San Francisco, you have my heart.”

 

 

 

Trekking Santa Cruz and some tips for next time

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view from the peak

so, i didn’t exactly come on this trip fully prepared, as one might say. i don’t have a pair of those funny looking zip off pants/shorts things, i don’t have a first aid kid or a money belt, and i definitely didnt pack hiking boots or rain pants. taking into consideration the amount of disdain i have for packing and my tendency to get distracted every 15 seconds or so, we’re lucky i brought socks.

check out those sweet leg warmers

check out those sweet leg warmers

regardless of the fact that i wasn’t exactly prepared gear-wise for a 3 day trek, my heart was set on doing the Santa Cruz route in Huascaran National Park. as with most of my trip so far, it was a ‘deal with it when i get there’ sort of situation. after paying my hostel for the trip and buying a pair of gloves and a beanie, i figured i could hack any kind of weather for 3 days as long as i got some good photos out of it. <- not true. it was cold as hell and i cried. mostly because of  the pounding headache i got from the altitude, but I’m sure a little was due to my cold feet as well.

the trek itself is either a 3 or 4 day trip (41 km total), and you can approach from 2 different villages- starting in the pueblo of Cashapampa (300+ people) or from the even smaller pueblo of Vaqueria (less than 30). Most treks (in the high season, when it rains WAY less) start on the Cashapampa end. We started in Vaqueria, which to me seems like the best choice- the third (and last) day of our trek was by far the most beautiful, not to mention had we done it in the opposite direction we would have started the trip with 800+ meters of climbing! <- sounds like a recipe for altitude sickness!

our little buddy in Vaqueria

our little buddy in Vaqueria

the highest point we hit was Punta Union- 4750 meters (15,584 feet) up- high enough to have to gasp for air and give us terrible headaches! luckily, our guide packed a giant bag of coca leaves and we were able to chew on those to keep altitude sickness at bay (at least for a little while). after 5 hours of climbing in dense clouds and intermittent rain, we descended into the valley, which was almost like a different world- clear skies, blue lakes, and unbelievable scenery. our 3rd day of trekking was spent hiking along the river towards Cashapampa, and then back to Huaraz!

view from Punta Union

view from Punta Union- 4750 meters up

thats our 'we dominated this' face

thats our ‘we dominated this’ face

would i recommend this trip? hell yes. would i do it again? probably- but not during the rainy season, and definitely not with the clothing/gear i brought with me!

along the river, heading towards Cashapampa

along the river, heading towards Cashapampa

—What to bring/know/consider before doing the Santa Cruz trek—

  • alpaca everything. seriously. socks, sweater, gloves, hat.. before you head out on this trek, you should own enough alpaca to cover 90% of your body. pure wool is also a good choice.
  • waterproof everything. you know all that alpaca stuff i told you to get? cover it all up with some rain gear. if you end up going during the rainy season (Dec-April) like i did, chances are it will rain. a lot. on the plus side, it is the low season for trekking, and you may just have the entire canyon to yourself (well, and a couple hundred cows)
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through the rain and mist up to Punta Union!

  • hiking boots. i hiked the whole thing in a pair of Nike Free running shoes. was it a good idea? no. did i look like a badass in my neon shoes, skipping happily up the mountain? probably, but i would have spent a lot less time with soaking wet feet had i worn proper hiking shoes.
  • reusable water bottle- at night, you can fill it with hot water and tuck it into your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm (this SAVED MY LIFE the second night).
  • be prepared to not change your clothes pretty much the whole time. why bother? got a few cows to impress out there in the wilderness? might as well save the burros that will be carrying all your gear a few kilos and pack super light.. don’t you know dirt keeps you warm?
yup, i wore that the whole time.

yup, i wore that the whole time.

  • check with your trekking agency to see what gear they provide- some agencies will set you up with everything from boots to headlamps, and others charge extra. as of Feb 2014, the cost for the trip should be ~$120, not including your entry into Huascaran National Park (65 soles and valid for 21 days)
  • you can do this trek on your own, but i would recommend paying for the trip- it includes all your meals, your guide, water, and a trusty burro to carry your stuff! call me a princess, but i will gladly pay a little extra to have someone make me coca tea and scrambled eggs at 5 am in the middle of nowhere.
3rd day- heading towards Cashapampa

3rd day- heading towards Cashapampa

i got back to my hostel last night completely exhausted- 9 hours of sleep later and i feel like a new person.. so new, in fact, that i am headed out on another 14km hike tomorrow! Laguna 69, see ya in the morning.

one last photo- 3rd day, about 14 km outside of Cashapampa

one last photo- 3rd day, about 14 km outside of Cashapampa

the great unknown- amazon basin!

lately, I’ve been trying really hard to stop looking forward to things. this sounds absolutely ridiculous, so let me break it down for you. ever tried to live ‘in the moment’? in my mind, this means actively appreciating the experience of the now instead of dwelling on the exciting times to come.

first evening in the amazon

first evening in the amazon

if you KNOW that something super exciting is happening in 3 days, how much time do you spend thinking and talking about the anticipation of it? sometimes, its half the fun, right? the issue i have with the verbal and mental anticipation is that it draws you away from the appreciation of the now.

the problem is though (ESPECIALLY when you’re traveling) that everything seems so goddam exciting that even though you’re totally ‘living in the moment’ you are also totally ‘living for the future.’

why do i bring this up? well, i spent about 5 days in quito last week, and every 12 minutes or so, i just kept thinking about how excited i was to head into the amazon. oh, yeah about that. i just went to the AMAZON. parrots-tapirs-jungle-spiders- wild fruits-anaconda territory- indigenous peoples- bloody amazon!!!

we did a 4 day trip to the Guacamayo lodge in the Cuyabeno reserve in Ecuador. it was definitely an experience, thats for sure. so what was the jungle like? pretty much exactly what you dream the jungle will be like.

here’s where we stayed:

view from the bird watching platform

view from the bird watching platform

here’s what we travelled around the Cuyabeno reserve in:

canoes! super fun, even (sort of) in pouring rain

canoes! super fun, even (sort of) in pouring rain

our guide:

he's the one not dressed like a shaman

he’s the one not dressed like a shaman

side note about this guy- Naiser has been a guide in the amazon for the last 25 years. there were countless times in the 4 days we spent with him in which all of a sudden he would put his finger to his lips and scan the jungle for something, and immediately set up his giant telescope-y thing (<-technical term). little did we know, there were an entire pod of monkeys just over yonder, or a bird perched on a tree about 100 yards away. the guy had vampire senses, i swear.

so what did we do in the amazon?

the entire 4 days was an exercise in observation and alertness- animals are freaking FAST and usually don’t stick around when they hear the sound of a motor coming towards them. the key is to keep scanning- you never know when a cayman will poke its head out of the water, or a bunch of monkeys will start swinging around in a tree, or a giant (no joke, 4 inches long) spider will just be hangin out right above your head.

my favorite little jungle animals- owl monkeys (seen through our guide's binoculars)

my favorite little jungle animals- owl monkeys (seen through our guide’s binoculars)

our lodge was located about 2 hours down the river in a canoe (with motor, no paddling required), and each daily excursion required us to leave the lodge and head in one direction or another down the river. the amazon basin is basically a web of tributaries running through south eastern Colombia, eastern Ecuador and a lot of western Brazil, and the people that live there are somehow able to navigate this web flawlessly. to give you an idea- the entire amazon basin is about 7 MILLION square kilometers. thats a lot of space to potentially get lost in.

luckily, we did not get lost, but we did break down one day! one of the days of our trip, we spent time with a woman from one of the indigenous communities in the amazon basin, and then went down the river to meet a jungle shaman and learn a little about his rituals and daily life. about 5 minutes after leaving the shaman’s house, we hit something in the water, and our motor died. turns out, it wasn’t such an easy fix, but since we were only 100 meters down the river from our shaman buddy Tomas we just headed right back to his dock and loaded 17 people into a canoe (our 11 plus 6 of Tomas’s family) to head back down the river to our lodge… which was when we saw DOLPHINS. yes, the legendary pink dolphin of the amazon!!!

due to the low water levels, our guide had told us not to get our hopes up for a dolphin sighting, as most of them had headed to deeper water for the season. apparently, the universe rewarded all of us for keeping it together when our motor broke down (in the rain, did i mention that?) and we got to see a mama and baby dolphin!

we also got the chance to experience a tropical rainstorm- those guys mean business. it really makes you appreciate the value of a good poncho.

fuck raincoats, this is poncho weather

fuck raincoats, this is poncho weather

i know there are some of you out there that want every little detail about everything we did while we were there, but here are the highlights:

-anaconda hunting through a swamp. seen the never-ending story? ever wanted to go traipsing around in the swamp of despair? i did. and we didn’t lose a horse. or meet a giant turtle. but we DID find a 4 meter anaconda in a pond!

-heading into the indigenous community to learn how to make yucca bread. yucca is a staple of the amazon diet, can be grown with very little tending, and has the capacity to be made into anything from bread (only ingredient needed- shredded and drained yucca) to soup to chicha (fermented alcoholic drink)

this woman's machete yielding skills put guerrilla warriors everywhere to shame.

this woman’s machete yielding skills put guerrilla warriors everywhere to shame.

-hiking through the mud learning about jungle plants and animals- the amazon jungle is home to more species of flora and fauna than any other habitat in the world. did you know there is a type of ant that you can use as sutures for a wound? or that termites actually poop out cardboard? or that wild pigs leave behind pheromones that humans can actually smell hours later?

and what did i learn about life on this little excursion?

-i can fall asleep anywhere. seriously, i might have narcolepsy. i fell asleep wearing a poncho, holding my backpack on my lap, in a canoe speeding through the river basin, in a tropical rainstorm. booyah, babies everywhere. beat that.

-always check your boots. we went on a 4 hour hike into the jungle, through swamps, climbing over and under trees, avoiding spiders and poisonous ants.. and the minute i get back to the lodge and take my gum boots off a FROG jumps out of my left boot. i thought it felt a little funny.. poor little guy. at least i was wearing clean socks.

boot frog, its a new species, have you heard of it?

boot frog, its a new species, have you heard of it?

-a tropical rainstorm is no joke. were talking probably 3 inches of rain an hour. and thats in the dry season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

after a day in lago agrio and a night on a bus, i am here in baños ready to do some more outdoor adventuring! my plan tomorrow is to head up to la casa del arbol to check out a swing that apparently makes you feel like you’re swinging off a cliff!

Ecuador! and how to make friends

so, friends. i made it. to ecuador. i haven’t seen a whole lot yet since we just got here last night after almost an entire day of traveling, but the old town is absolutely beautiful by night, and i am sure even more so by day.

so where have i been so far? physically, i spent about a week in cali, in the south of colombia. it was a great mix of city life and some nature/outdoorsy stuff- but i gotta tell you… my mind is pulling me towards the beach! remember when i said i wanted christmas on the beach? well i probably won’t make it until about a week after new years. not a problem though, because new years will be spent here in quito with these travelin’ fools.IMG_3541

after that the plan is to head into the amazon for a few days to go practice swinging from vines and avoiding piranhas.. and then THE BEACH. seriously though, that has to come next.

so as i predicted, although i am technically traveling ‘alone,’ i have spent little time actually by myself, and literally zero time feeling lonely. it got me thinking about how we connect with people and how we, as adults, make new friends. after college it gets significantly more difficult to make new friends, and it seems like the ones that we are able to find tend to come from mutual connections or work.

las tascas in cali!

las tascas in cali!

when we travel though, all of the friend-making protocol seems to fly out the window. at home, would it be weird to meet someone and then half an hour later decide to go on a weekend trip or a 12 hour bus ride with them? hell yeah it would. traveling? not so much. since everyones lives are in somewhat of a state of flux during travel, all the small talk is just a waste of time. a typical conversation basically just goes straight to “where are you from, where did you just come from and where are you going next?” if those answers suffice, you speak a common language, and they include a smile or two, that person is now your friend.

so now, i present you with the travelers guide to making friends:

1. smile- duh. if you don’t do that one naturally, no one probably likes you anyways. exceptions are made for people with dengue fever, people who just got mugged, and people who just finished taking a shot of aguardiente.

2. speak english- i kind of feel weird adding this one, but the truth is that english is often the common language between travelers and locals.

3. stay in hostels, preferably ones with a common area and dorms. statistically speaking, the more people you are surrounded by, the higher your chances are of becoming friends with them. hostels are hands-down the best way i have found to meet other like-minded travelers.

wouldn't have found this beauty without the help of some friends!

wouldn’t have found this beauty without the help of some friends!

4. share- whether it is your plans for the day, a beer, or some shampoo- share with other travelers. there is no way to earn a place in someones heart (or instagram feed) like offering to share something. if you are looking to create a connection with other travelers, talk to them about what they hold most dear to their hearts- their experiences. heading into the amazon on friday, i would never have had any idea which lodge to pick if i didn’t talk to other travelers about their experiences. yeah, i could just read lonely planet, but thats nowhere near as fun.

i am sure there are many other ways to make friends, such as just giving people money, hypnotizing them, or holding their families hostage, but these tips are probably easier, less expensive and less illegal.

how to get out of your comfort zone

when i was 5, my family went to puerto vallarta- mom, dad, baby brother and dads parents. a couple fun things happened while we were there. one: my grandma paid me $5 to correctly spell the world ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and two: i wandered off while my family was spending time around the pool, and apparently (i don’t remember this) was found hanging out in the resort restaurant chowing down on a hamburger. clearly the wandering spirit lives on.

last year, i was stuck in a rut. 9-5 job, great apartment, good friends, workout routine, etc, but i was bored… life was getting pretty monotonous, and i felt a little stagnant.

baby bro riding the bike that started it all.

baby bro riding the bike that started it all.

at the end of 2012, i realized that a lot of that was due to the fact that there were a lot of things i wanted to do that i never actually took action on. its a lot easier to make excuses than it is to do something about it, thats for sure.

so what did i do about it? i signed up for an improv class, started watching TV less and reading books/listening to podcasts more, climbing rocks, riding my bike everywhere, buying a bunch of concert tickets, and stopped letting the ‘i have to wake up early’ excuse keep me from gettin’ down on school nights (not that kind of down, perv).

AND IT WAS AWESOME.

for a lot of us, its not that easy. forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and into new situations can be terrifying! i am not just talking about wild adventures, but even just every day stuff like looking for an apartment, taking a class, trying a new dry cleaners, or making new friends. this is also why there are so many unfinished bucket lists out there- its a lot easier to float through life not trying to ruffle any feathers, including your own. but for those of you that would like to figure out how to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, here are some tips.

this weather is out of my comfort zone. so I'm gonna go spend christmas on the beach.

this weather is out of my comfort zone. so I’m gonna go spend christmas on the beach.

1. say yes: get invited to something? don’t think of an excuse. just go. especially if its free. its easy to come up with a reason NOT to attend a cool event, concert or party.. but why would you? if it sucks, go home.

2. explore your interests: do you like cooking? interested in acting? trying to get into a workout routine? want to build a terrarium? make a list of a bunch of things that seem interesting to you. take a look at meet up groups (meetup), event calendars online and bulletin boards at coffee shops- especially if you live in a city, there are a TON of cool events that are often free or super cheap.. and if you go and don’t like it.. LEAVE.

3. talk to people: every time i go into a bookstore, you can guarantee that i am going to ask the person working there for book suggestions. talk to people about your interests- not just your friends,but people in line at the grocery store and the guy typing away on his mac next to you at the coffee shop. you never know who will be able to connect you to what you want to do. example- i want to volunteer, and yesterday i filled out the beginning of the application to become a ‘big sister.’ turns out i have a friend that is already in the program, and can help me out with how to get in. if i didn’t mention my interest to her, i would never have known she was already involved!

4. ask for support: so i know everyone out there thinks i come up with this shit on my own, but i gotta be honest. when i decided to quit my job, there was no way in hell i was going to go through with it unless my dad thought it was a good idea. i needed that support in order to feel at peace with my decision. and that is TOTALLY OK. the people you love and love you should want to support you any way they can- don’t forget that. your friends and/or family can be your biggest cheerleaders if you let them.

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i used to be scared of cycling. because cars.

5. do something about it: actually sign up for that class you’ve been wanting to take, rent a bike to see if you even like riding around, book that plane ticket, or put on your shoes and go for a run. if it seems a little too much to go alone at first, recruit a friend. start small, build up to big. think about the last time you tried a food that you didn’t think you liked and it ended up being delicious. same idea.

ultimately, if you dont want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, don’t. but be honest with yourself about why that is. a lot of the time fear is the biggest reason for paralysis.. but it can also be the biggest motivator. use it. 

want some more ideas of how to break out of your comfort zone? check these links out

Lifehacker

Thought Catalog: 20 ways to get out of your comfort zone