2015: In Review

2015 was an incredibly busy year full of ups and a couple of downs.  I traveled through eleven different countries and went on my first-ever cruise.  I met people from all around the world and made new friends.  I am so blessed to have the career I love and to be walking on this path that I call my life.

Uyuni Lagoon

I took this pic of one of the lagoons in the SW of Bolivia two days outside of the Salar de Uyuni

January:

I celebrated NYE in La Paz, Bolivia after exploring Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and crossing the border on foot into Bolivia.  I wasn’t a huge fan of La Paz, but if you want to party, the Adventure Brew Hostel is a great place to do it!

My favorite place in Bolivia is Sucre and I would really love to go back and study Spanish in intense one on one sessions like I saw a lot of other travelers doing.

The Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flats) were pretty memorable too. I am still in contact with a couple of the people I toured with!

February:

February was a restorative month of catch up and reflection. I celebrated carnival at La Hacienda La Concepcion with fitness activities, massages, and healthy eating.  Then I began thinking about Galapagos as a serious possibility for my December break.

March:

In March, I participated in my first ever Slice of Life Challenge and wrote a post a day! It was really challenging for me, and I hope I can do it again this year.  I reflected on my UNESCO sites that I’ve visited and plan on visiting, posted about my love of my backpack, and wrote my first (and SECOND) poem on the blog.

Bogota

I took this pic of the Bogota skyline from the fifth floor of the Library across from the Botero Museum

April:

In March, I was so excited to visit Colombia for my Spring Break!  I didn’t get to explore nearly as much of it as I wanted to, and only saw Cartagena and Bogota, but what I did see really made me want to live there one day.

I was especially happy to be able to hang out with my friend Rose and learn about her life as an international teacher in Bogota.  The most memorable thing for me in Colombia was the Bogota Graffiti Tour and playing in the mud volcano, both of which Rose recommended to me.

May:

I turned thirty in May.  I felt like it was a big deal at the time, but most people I meet think I am no older than 25 so I don’t mind!

I created my final itinerary for my month long European backpacking trip.  I spent most of the month daydreaming about what I would eat in each of the major cities I visited. I love food!

Then I wrote my annual post about my summer plans for Portland.  This summer the amount of time in Portland was very tight, but I still had great hopes for it.

Berlin Wall

Me at the last big stretch of the Berlin Wall aka the East Side Gallery

June:

It was this month that I finally wised up about saving money while I travel! I thought I was good at making wise travel decisions regarding money but I kept getting hit with these fees from my bank. I finally opened a Charles Schwab account when I got home to Portland. This allows me to take out money from any ATM in the world, and if I’m charged a fee, they will refund it! I also got the Capital One Quicksilver card which has no foreign transaction fees!

This month I also reflected on living five years as an expat. Wow, and I am already halfway through my sixth year now!

I also started my Europe trip this month with the intention of completing my 31X31 Goal.  When I first came up with the goal, I had just turned 29 and I was still at 18 countries so I had a lot of traveling to do!  I was especially lucky because I was able to travel for about a week with my dear friend Emily!

July:

I spent most of July hopping around Europe, but I didn’t write about it until August.  I did write a Best of Valencia, Venezuela post for those expats who are about to move to, or visit, Valencia.

The last two weeks of July I spent at home with family and friends.  I ate what has been the best meal of my life so far, at Le Pigeon in Portland.  I went with two of my best friends who just happen to love food as much as I do, and we ordered the Chef’s tasting menu with wine pairing.  Delicious! If you are ever in Portland and you feel like having a decadent meal, check it out.

Prague Skyline

The view from Prague Castle

August:

I started teaching for my fourth year in Venezuela and it was the smoothest beginning of the school year that I’ve ever had.  I began writing about my time in Europe:  Amsterdam, Bruges, Versailles, Paris.

This month I actually bought my flights to Ecuador!

September:

In September, I bought my spot on the cruise in the Galapagos (flights included).  I was so excited and relieved to have that out of the way.

I continued to post about my travels in Europe: Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Athens, and Santorini.  I think I will have to live in Greece one day because I absolutely loved it!

Athens Skyline

Athens Skyline

October:

I had a bit of bad luck this month when I broke a molar on a piece of popcorn.  It did give me the opportunity to check out the amazing dentist/orthodontist who happened to be a parent of one of my students from the previous year.

I was also very excited because I paid off one of my student loans (!!!) and was able to run (::cough, cough:: or …errrr jog/walk) at my school’s Charity Road Race.

Sadly, my MacBook Pro decided to die at this point.  I kinda started to let the blog run wild from here on out till the end of the year.

November:

In November my friends and I went to the beach towns, Choroni and Bahia de Cata, but I didn’t write about either of them this month.  Choroni has the better town, but I like the beach and the drive out to Cata better.

1517377_914595698593630_35442043_n

I absolutely loved the views from the New Cathedral in Cuenca too! 

December:

The first week of December was an election weekend so many of my friends and I went to Isla Margarita.  It is a fabulous island that feels very safe, has tons of water sports, and has gorgeous beaches.  I hope to be writing about it soon-ish.

One of my favorite travel highlights of my life happened this month: THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS!! I spent eight days cruising around to various islands and snorkel spots and I hope to start posting about those adventures next week.

I also explored other parts of Ecuador during the rest of my three week vacation using only my 46 liter backpack and a messenger bag (mostly for my DSLR & Kindle).  I certainly had the smallest bag out of everyone on my Galapagos cruise, but it was also pretty small compared to the other backpacks I saw in the hostel dorms. TIP: pack about a week of stuff and plan on washing it (or paying $3 to have someone else wash it).

I’m aiming to slow down a bit in 2016, but who knows if my itchy feet will let me! 

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