Once upon a time
I led an ordinary American life.
I worked three jobs yet always sought after more.
I lived in a beautiful apartment, filled with treasures I collected over the years, where I threw elaborate dinners, cocktail parties, and barbecues for the people I love.
I ran errands on weekends, shopped entirely too much, and agreed to obligations I had no desire to fulfill.
I thought about exercise often, but just couldn’t get my body to cooperate.
I dined in trendy restaurants, wore stilettos nearly every day, attended art openings, and drank cocktails I could hardly pronounce the names of.
I clung to relationships long past their expiration dates, channeled excessive energy into things I could not control, looked to others to fulfill my needs, and fought a constant battle with my own anxiety.
Then, one day, I ran away.
to a life where I opened coconuts on rocks in the jungle when I got thirsty
modeling my favorite characters on Lost… my only exposure to jungle living
where I rinsed dead mosquitoes off my “clean” dishes with a concerning lack of disgust
where my body produced enough sweat to fill a bathtub… if only I had one
where I found myself caught in tropical rainstorms on a typical Saturday night
I learned the hard way to not wear white
where my modes of transportation included my feet and legs or the occasional rusty bike
which on more than one occasion left me stranded with a flat tire
where my only bedmates were an incessant cockroach if I were lucky
millions of biting ants if I were less so
where trying to be chic was either a futile attempt – many, many environmental conditions working against me
or completely misunderstood – a day-glow tank with a beer brand logo would suffice
Somehow, in that life I found contentment.
Since then, I have held my breath through fourteen flights, silently bargaining with God during each bout of turbulence
taken more cold showers than I care to remember
navigated my way through three continents, eight countries, and countless cities
sold every belonging that wouldn’t fit in my backpack
and, most foreign of all, survived without reliable Internet or wireless communication.
Today, I write to you from a café with WiFi that comes and goes like a deadbeat Dad.
Reggae surrounds me but is conquered by the indie rock released through my headphones.
I gaze into the jungle as motorcycles, jeeps, and bikes precariously balancing newborn babies on their handlebars whizz by.
Dogs run wild in the street weaving through traffic unfazed.
This isn’t just any jungle, any road, any café.
This is the hideaway where my journey began.
The café that offered me solace, tofu, and reliable Internet in the enchanting but flawed town of Playa Chiquita in Puerto Viejo Talamanca, where I spent two months living in the jungle with my best friend.
Where, for the first time in my life, I felt present, centered, and at peace.
after descending into limestone caves in the Yucatan
snorkeling among sharks, manatees, and water eels in Belize
flying through trees five hundred feet above ground in Costa Rica
lazing on beaches in the Caribbean
dancing to Reggae in the streets of London
stuffing myself on tapas in Barcelona
scaling sandstone cliffs in the Algarve
sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert
and haggling with merchants in the souks of Morocco
I am back in the jungle with a new challenge:
To sustain a life where snorkeling, yoga, and dance parties comprise the daily itinerary, travel is adventurous and often, and my passion and ambition as a designer flourishes.
Sound possible? I hope so.
This is a forum to share my journey in finding balance between my two seemingly incongruous sides: the intensely driven designer and the adventure seeking beach bum and to offer my readers adventurous, practical, dreamy travel advice and inspiration.
Come along for the ride?