La Campana National Park, Chile

La Campana National Park is located in Olmué, Chile. Charles Darwin actually hiked here after his visit to the Galápagos Islands. It’s a must-see if you’re in the area!

Juan and I hiked the 7-kilometer trail, but only made it to the 5-kilometer mark since it was the most difficult path. Going uphill was incredibly difficult and put my physical and mental stamina to the test. With that said, however, going downhill was even worse on my hips, knees and ankles.

The hike itself provided Juan and I with a modest 6.5-mile exercise! In total, we walked 12.4 miles yesterday, and boy am I feeling it today…

Pro tip: don’t go hiking if you have the flu. This made my hike much more intolerable than it needed to be!

Pro tip #2: go hiking with someJuan special. It’ll be double the fun! 🙂

Thermal Spa in Cuenca, Ecuador

Tuesday afternoon my husband surprised me with a trip to Piedra de Agua, a thermal spa in Cuenca, Ecuador. I’ve never been to a spa back home, which made our afternoon together even more special (I don’t even get my hair or nails done)!

First, we had a private experience in different underground pools. The pools are very popular because Piedra de Agua is built on a volcano! We started in a hot pool with red clay, then moved into a warm pool with blue mud (Juan was daring enough to put this in his hair)! In between we washed off in the most amazing shower I’ve ever seen and exfoliated with salt and coffee.

The next part was probably my favorite (mainly because I was entertained by my husband’s fear of cold water)! We spent ten minutes in a hot bath, then spent one minute in a cold pool. Juan was so cold that I spent over two minutes in the freezing water, because she started timing once he fully submerged his shoulders. We repeated this process again, and of course Juan acted tougher the second time. My husband often acts really tough, but when it comes to handling sickness, pain and the cold, I always win!

We ended our day of relaxation in a sauna and Japanese cleansing pools. I would 10/10 recommend Piedra de Agua if you’re in Cuenca!

Longing for “Moher” (April 14, 2016)

Exactly three years ago today, I was galavanting around Ireland with two good friends. The beauty of these cliffs is insurmountable and sometimes on the windiest of days, I feel like I’m sitting right where I was on this day in 2016.

Thank you, Kaila

Kaila’s message arrived when I needed it most…

My family drama is so bad that I’ve been losing sleep over it for weeks.

My job and responsibilities are constantly changing against my will.

Many friendships that I thought would last a lifetime are ending right before my eyes.

I’ve been living day-by-day, going through the motions all while hiding my hurt. Reading Kaila’s letter taught me that I do have great friends around the world, even though we may not speak or see each other often. Her kind words showed me that no matter what I’m going through personally, I’ll always have support from my truest friends!

Seeing this picture of us together took me back to that weekend in Chiang Rai. I have never felt better about myself or where I was going in life; I was confident, passionate and carefree.

I hope I can find her again…

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today’s post is for some of my favorite women that I’ve either met abroad or are from another country (or both)!  People are the reason why I love travel as much as I do; it’s about immersing yourself in new cultures and creating strong friendships along the way.  In case you’re reading this, thank you for all of the fond memories, laughs and sharing once-in-a-lifetime experiences with me 🙂

Saskia – friends since 2011 (met through foreign exchange)

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Hamburg, Germany – 2012
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Hamburg, Germany – 2016

Carolyn – friends since 2014 (met as roommates in France)

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Aix-en-Provence, France – 2014

Anwar – friends since 2015 (met as coworkers at our SVSU Writing Center)

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Saginaw Valley State University – 2015

Bethany – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

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Chicago – 2018

Jacomijne – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

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Arctic Circle, Sweden – 2016

Gloria, Jagoda & Hui Jun – friends since 2016 (met as exchange students in Sweden)

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Lund, Sweden – 2016

Kaila – friends since 2017 (met as volunteers in Chiang Rai, Thailand)

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Bangkok – 2017

Why I Left Social Media (Part I)

Those of you who know me outside of WordPress know that I LOVED Instagram! It was my favorite social media platform and it’s the only one that had remained with me (I’ve kissed Facebook and Snapchat goodbye years ago)! With that said, however, there are loads of issues I encountered with Instagram.

Despite the fact that traveling is and always will be a huge part of my life, it isn’t for a lot of my Instagram friends (who are also my friends in life – I only added people I knew). In fact, one of my best friends on this earth has never been on a plane! That’s the beauty of my closest friends: we are so different yet so similar. Instead of sharing about myself, I want to hear about my friends and their successes (their schooling, careers, relationships, etc.).

In a roundabout way, I’m trying to say this: this blog is a community where we all love traveling. We can all share our experiences without envy, without bragging… it’s storytelling and an exchange of memories. Instagram has become a bragging mechanism, which will I expand on in part two, and I don’t want any part of it!

I want to leave travel stories here, not Instagram. And if my best friends ask about my travels, I can share photos and stories in person as opposed to social media (and vice versa).

One positive thing about Instagram is that it made me love WordPress even more! It’s true. I love chatting with bloggers from all over the world, sharing travel adventures, hearing about others’ goals and what we’ve overcome. I absolutely love my blog and it’s definitely here to stay 🙂

Throughout this post, I included some of my favorite photos from my now-deactivated Instagram account. I hope you enjoy; thank you for reading!