Tag Archives: adventure

Fervor.

My true passion in life has always been traveling.

It doesn’t matter how small or large. A midnight roadtrip to see snow, a transatlantic to the Emerald Isle, an empty flight to see Mayan ruins.

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I’ve always had this intense feeling of wanderlust that I usually can’t put into words. It’s this pushing feeling against my chest screaming in the smallest voice, “Go. Be. Do.” At times this voice is a faint whisper and at times, like tonight, it’s this roaring and deafening battle cry. It’s my calling, truly and literally.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m only truly happy when I’m away. I’m constantly fighting the piece of me that feels like it’s too small for Florida. I sit in classrooms that teach me history of ancient lands and I’m chomping at the bit. I sit at tables and listen to stories of others who have gotten lost and I’m intrigued beyond recognition.

I’ve made plans as of late to fuel my fire.

I’m just recently went to Costa Rica with one of the girls I met in Belize. We were in the cloud forest, surrounded by volcanoes and jungle. It was paradise.

Also, my lead professor has offered me a spot on this year’s Belize trip again. And I’m seriously thinking of taking it. I’ve never pushed myself further out of my comfort zone than I did on that trip. God only knows how much more potential I can actualize while there a second time.

I know that I’m blessed for these opportunities. I know and I’m grateful.

I also know that if I don’t take these opportunities, someone else will. Someone else will get to to experience the passion and fervor and all consuming love I have for the world that we live in. And to be honest, that doesn’t really fly with me. I live for that feeling and I plan on taking it with me wherever I go.

People have told me that it’s too much.
People have said that I’m too lucky, I need to stay grounded.
People have whispered that I had too much fun for one lifetime, time to take a break.

To those people;

No.

It’s not too much. I’m exploring the world I was placed in. There are millions and millions of things and people and sights to be gazed upon. I plan on doing so.

I can’t be grounded. I was born to fly. I’ve always been a dreamer, sometimes too much of one. But my parents raised me right, they gave me the best gift of all; creativity, imagination, love, passion and drive. They pushed me out of the nest. They knew I could fly. And for that I can’t disappoint them.

And for those who said I had too much fun. Is there really such a thing? Imagine for a moment the happiest you’ve ever been. Emulsify that into a tangible object. Would you put that object on a shelf because it was good enough? Would you let it sit there and collect dust? I wouldn’t. If I’ve had “too much fun”, then there’s much more fun to be had.

I was in a relationship for years that stifled me. It sucked me dry. I lost my lust for life.
He hated to travel. He hated when I brought it up. He hated when I went on trips. And slowly, very slowly, I started hating myself.
Then one day, I broke free.
I can’t look back to that. I can’t be that girl who depended on someone else for my self worth. Because I’m better than that.
This world is far too grand and great to not be appreciated. That’s what I’m here for.

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The Best Places To Grab A Drink In Derry, Ireland

When one thinks of Ireland, they think of rolling green hills, beautiful music and drinking. Whether your poison be whiskey or a pint of your favorite brew; Ireland satisfies all. Derry, Ireland isn’t on the top of everyone’s must see list but it’s on mine.

It’s charm and appeal is second to its numerous options for drinks. Here’s a list of a few of my favorite places and why;

Paedar O’Donnell’s

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This was hands down my favorite spot and I went here at least three times a week. There is a full band every night that plays traditional Irish music and is adorned in flags from all over the world. It’s rustic oak pillars and line of Guinness’ waited to be topped off is a helpful and unnecessary reminder of where you are. You can expect to pay 3 Pounds for a pint of your choice and about 4 or 5 for mixed drinks. If you are going to go anywhere in Derry, go here.

Bound for Boston

For those who like to listen to live music while getting their drink on, this is the place to go. They have live bands every night playing everything from covers to original music by start up bands. Bound for Boston has an extensive selection of beer and the bartenders are more than willing to help you out. The atmosphere is laid back and the crowd is a younger bunch but it also has booths on either side offering a little more privacy if you’d rather enjoy your music alone.

Tinney’s

Tinney’s will always hold a special place in my heart solely for the music. If you love Irish music or just want to hear a collection of locals playing the music they grew up hearing, come to Tinney’s on Tuesdays. The bar is downstairs and has a normal selection of beers and spirits with TV’s playing the football matches on repeat but head upstairs for the music. Starting at 7 they play music for a couple hours and if you’re lucky, other tourists will join in with songs from their country. I had the opportunity to hear a Japanese folk song, a Spanish lullaby and a Kenyan chant. Absolutely incredible.

Ice Wharf

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The Ice Wharf is where I went for a majority of my meals in Ireland; they were inexpensive,  had great food, and even better beer. You could get a hamburger and fries with a pint of Guinness for 3.99. Can’t beat it. They offer a wide selection of foods from the typical meat and potatoes and potatoes and more potatoes that so customary in Ireland to chicken tikka pizza. All of their meals are affordable and the drinks are the same. You can get fish bowls full of liquor for under $10 and pints for under $3.

On a final note, there isn’t really a bad place to get a drink in Ireland. The people are extremely friendly so when in doubt, ask a local.

A Brief Glimpse At Belfast

Belfast is a city that seems to bustle at every turn but walk into any pub and time has stopped. The dust that lines the top of the shelves is easily an inch thick and the wood has started to warp in places from use. The once shiny metal stools have been hardened into a matte black from so much use. The bartender knows everyone that walks in and has the eyes of someone who truly has seen it all. But walk back out those front doors again and you’re slapped with reality.

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My visit to Belfast was a short one, with short being an understatement. The majority of the 5 hours I was there was spent in the Titanic Museum, an ode to the tragic ship but beautifully displayed. It’s a 5 story tale from first drafts to it’s fate at the bottom of the ocean. With artifacts recovered from it’s watery grave and donated by it’s survivors it tells the stories that would have never otherwise been heard.

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Belfast was also my first experience with a double decker bus. I know, so touristy. But admit it, you had a moment too. But, my moment was disrupted by snickering locals who laughed at the American tourists. What can you do?

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Tikal, Guatemala

This ancient city juts out from the jungle like something from a sci-fi movie. It has been featured in Star Wars due to its almost otherworldy-ness. The striking temples peek from atop the canopy of the dense jungle. Walking up to each temple, you begin to feel absolutely insignificant, knowing of all the souls that have walked in your path before you. The magnitude of it all, it’s overwhelming and quieting at the same time.

I went with a group and we had a guide who was proud of his heritage and talked in depth about the past uses of each pyramid and temple. We sat in front of Temple V for about an hour and just reflected on its immense size and glory.

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The highlight of the tour was definitely climbing to the top of Temple III and gazed out at the wilderness below us. Nothing can make you feel stranger than standing atop a Mayan structure that was built thousands of years ago but is still taller and more sound than some of our modern buildings.

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We spent the entire day at Tikal and although it was a long day, it was well worth a visit. We stayed the night at Hotel Tikal Inn and travelers beware, the power shuts off at 10 pm so prepare for abrupt absolute darkness and still air while you’re sleeping. The upside to this sprawling campus though is the pool, it’s cooled year round so it’s always refreshing. I think I spent more time in the pool than in the room.

At night, we were able to hear two different howler monkey tribes calling to each other for a couple hours; it alarms you because the howler monkeys in the area have a very distinct call, it’s very guttural. I honestly thought there was a jaguar outside my room for the longest time. My mistake.

Tikal National Park by itself is absolutely stunning and there are local vendors that are more than willing to bargain for hand made souvenirs so definitely be on the lookout.

Overall, Tikal is a place of beauty and tranquility but pick your timing. The bigger monuments can become very crowded and it loses it’s appeal. They are much better appreciated in solace.

Around Belize In Two Weeks

Belize is a country of differences, culture, and deep-rooted beliefs that astound even the faintest believers. Arriving in Belize, I was a skeptic on many of the traditions practiced and found myself curious yet non-committal. Our first day consisted of visiting the Belize Zoo, which was an entity in of itself. The animals aren’t given cages that Americans are used to seeing  but rather wire wrapped into small squares that encircle their given space. The animals seemed to have all the behaviors recognized in zoo boredom but oddly enough, when viewing them, I seemed to think they were happier than some animals I have seen at American zoos.

I paid money to get the opportunity to feed a jaguar, which was such an extravagant experience but one that I was a little heartbroken about. The jaguar was so tame that it knew how to somersault and would allow multiple humans to pet it. In my opinion, wild animals should be just that, wild and free to roam. We finished our animal experiences at the zoo and headed for our home for the next five days, Crystal Paradise. I was taken aback by the setting in which we were surrounded; the lush landscape, the selfless family, the river that seemed to wander in its glory, and the leaf cutter ants in abundance. I situated myself in my room, one with a loft, and explored the grounds with a wild curiosity that seemingly came out of nowhere. As a group, we made our way down to the river to cool off after a day of traveling and it was an experience that brought everyone together. We bonded as a group and tentatively asked the questions we were dying to know about each other.

The next few days seem to blur together, not because they were boring or not filled with enough activities to make any particular one memorable, but rather because there was so much done in those few days that it literally runs together in my mind. I have to say with brutal honesty that one of my favorite experiences on the trip was the Offering Cave. I’ve never done anything remotely close to that in any way, shape or form. But what truly astounded me in the social psychology aspect was the way in which the group bonded and helped each other through even the hardest moments. We became a unit and acted as such, helping people rappel, carrying someone across a ledge, pushing someone to go even further when they thought they couldn’t give anymore.

Aside from how we acted, the cave itself was something of mysterious wonder. As we reached the sacrifice stone, the presence of those who had passed was almost palpable. We all turned off our headlamps and completely immersed ourselves in darkness. Nothing can truly compare to the silence and calm that ensued, the darkness seemed to lovingly embrace you in the way that only family can do and the quiet was beckoning you to listen closely, as if it had something to say. We all seemed to be completely content in the pit of that cave, as if we had all belonged there. Even as we pushed further into the darkness, we became comfortable with turning our lights off at random just to feel what was so readily available.

We visited many bodies of water such as the Rio Frio Pools, the Five Lady Falls, the Macal River, and the other side of the Gulf of Mexico. What I didn’t expect to happen was the ease in which we were able to navigate through the waters, the way we all wanted to try new things and push ourselves even further out of our comfort zone. We jumped off of 2 story tall cliffs, we scooted down little waterfalls, we climbed higher and higher looking for that new adventure that seemed to greet us at every turn.

What was truly unexpected though was the way in which the culture embraced us. We were tourists, but we were welcome, we were accepted, and we were asked questions. The best example I can give is the home stay. I stayed with the Tzib family that consisted of 11 people in the main house and 5 in the smaller house. What made the experience something I will honestly never forget was they way they conducted their lives, the way they treated me like royalty while maintaining their pride and dignity. What I consider poverty would be a lavish lifestyle for them but they were truly happy in their culture and their town. They chose to live like that because anything more would be wasted.

I know I’ve talked consistently about the family and the experience I had with them but I speak of them so feverishly because I don’t ever want to forget their faces, their characteristics, their family and their absolute kindness in the rawest form. I see them as something of a novelty, a family submerged in a culture that values men, subjugates women, and thrives off of the land but they navigate their lives to accommodate every person’s need, no matter how small.

The matriarch, Christina, was something out of fiction. She truly cared for everyone but herself; watching all of the children while everyone else went away to work, slaving over the kitchen, washing the children, making beds, and laughing at even the most terrible jokes I made. She asked me about my travels and when I returned to ask her, the furthest she had traveled was to the next town over, but she seemed to be completely content with that. I told her about the magic of Ireland, the mystique of Scotland and the beaches in Florida but nothing seemed to impress her. She was impressed by my thoughts about her land, though. She wanted to listen for hours about the way I talked about the ruins and the jungle and all things Belize.

Looking back on the experience, I am thankful. Not only for all of the things I am able to come home to, but also the people I met along the way in this journey called life. I took away so much from the trip as a whole but mostly from little moments along the way that truly made the trip worthwhile; looking out over Guatemala on top of an ancient temple surrounded by howler monkeys, night hikes where I could distinctly see the Milky Way, and the people who participated in this trip with me.

I will always remember my time in Belize to be something of a distant memory, a fast and furious two weeks filled with laughter, bumpy roads, and the most incredible people in a land that knows no bounds. Belize will always be close to my heart forever on.