I’m in Love with Costa Rica

I have been to Costa Rica more times than any other country in the world. Why? Because I love Costa Rica! I was just on the border in Panama and had to stop in Costa Rica and explore Puerto Viejo. This is a fantastic little beach and surfer town and it was a fantastic way to end my trip.

Let me start by saying that I am not a surfer. I have been on a board and surfed a few times but would never consider myself a surfer. The hostel has a surf outing everyday where they give you a board and drive you to a surf spot. We were dropped off and told to have fun! The waves were not that big but they were big enough to give me a hard time so I sort of stuck to riding the white water.

I don’t know about you but I think sloth’s are adorable and I wanted to take them all home! This little guy was on the side of the road just trying to cross the street. He was totally lost! Fun fact, a sloth only comes out of a tree about once a week to use the restroom. I must have spotted this guy just after his weekly constitutional. A local finally stopped and grabbed him and put him back in a tree. I would have not been mad if he decided to attach to my back and come home with me! If you want to learn more about sloths I suggest watching the new season of Planet Earth on Netflix.

This sloth was just enjoying eating the fruit out of the tree and I honestly sat and watched him for like 30 minutes. He was just so happy in the tree!

Everywhere in Costa Rica you will hear people say Pura Vida. It is really a way of life and can be used as “hello” or “goodbye” or just “what’s up?” It started raining while I was on a walk and I thought it was the best time to stop and buy a hat and keep my head warm. Plus I absolutely love the idea behind the saying.

The rain. The rain. The rain. There is rain and then there is rain in Costa Rica or anywhere tropical. It can be a beautiful and sunny day and out of nowhere an incredible amount of rain dumps from the sky. Usually the rain only lasts about 20-30 minutes and you can move on with your day. This was not the case on this day and I was stuck at Tasty Waves for a few hours eating delicious tacos and drinking some beers.

Signage in the bathroom

Costa Rica has so much to offer and I only touched on a tiny part of you but you can go zip lining, white water rafting, hike a volcano, trek through the rainforest, rescue sea turtles and so so so much more! This absolutely will not be my last trip to this country!

Adding Another Country to the List…Panama

After 5 days on a boat around amazing and beautiful islands, I was sad and also excited to be on land. I didn’t get sea sick while on the boat but once I was on land, I had serious drunken sailors walk (I couldn’t get my equilibrium back on land). I had a feeling this would happen to me so I basically spent two days in Panama City relaxing and cooking. I booked a hostel with a pool thinking I could relax and read in there but just looking at the water made me feel a little woozy. #mybad

Fast forward to to 2 days later and I was on a flight to Bocas Del Toro. You would think that after the Rosario Islands and San Blas islands, I was done with islands, but this was not the case. I stayed on a little island just a quick boat taxi ride from the main island where there was an opportunity to participate in so many activities except for one problem…it was pouring rain!

Finally, after 2 days of rain, there was sun and time for an activity and I immediately decided that zip lining was in order! Let’s not forget that I was on an island in Central America surrounded by rainforest and water which means awesome animals!

This little guy popped in for breakfast

These guys are ALL over the island and super tiny. I wouldn’t pick one up but the guides did.

After so much rain I went back to the main island where my friend from high school had just recently opened a new bar called Tequila Republic. I spent the day hanging out with him and his wife and the locals and just catching up. If you are ever in Bocas Del Toro, this bar is literally walking distance from the airport and close to just about everything. It’s a must!

I did’t see much of Panama and would like to go back but like I do with many countries, I pop in to feel it out if it is on way to somewhere and then plan a longer trip for another time!

Five Days of Sailing? Why Not?

I was talking to a friend about traveling to Panama from Colombia and he said, “why don’t you sail here?” At first I thought he was crazy and then I actually looked into it and it seemed like the thing to do. So, I set off on a 43′ sailboat with 9 strangers and 3 crew from Cartagena to Panama City and I had the time of my life!

After what seemed like hours of research but was actually about 15 minutes, I decided to book my boat through Blue Sailing. They have tons of boats leaving throughout the week and were very easy to book with. I shot off an email with a few of the dates I was looking at and asked for a boat that was not usually the party boat. I ended up on Big Fish 2 with Captain Eliecer otherwise known as Capi or Original and 6 Dutch and 3 Germans.

We had a departure time of 8pm but didn’t actually leave until about 11pm or so as we were waiting on the captain. Right away I learned that we were all going to have to be very flexible with each other on this trip. Our luggage and shoes were collected and put in storage under the boat and only our little backpacks were allowed on board.

The trip includes all meals and water but any snacks or other beverages have to be brought on board. I decided a bottle of rum was the appropriate drink for my trip across the Caribbean.

Anyhow, the trip from Cartagena to San Blas (the gorgeous islands this trip is all about) is about 30-36 hours at open sea which means no getting off the boat. No showers. No hanging out on top of the boat. Just sitting around and taking in the open seas. I was lucky enough not to get sea sick and we had really good weather and pretty easy sailing. I can’t say that everyone felt as good as I did.

As soon as we were allowed to jump in the water, I was off the boat! I was able to shower (just means getting in the ocean and being rinsed with fresh water when you get back on the boat) and take in the beauty of what I would see for the next three days. The water is so clear and so calm so most of us swam to this little island. The captain paid our fee in leftover food and we spent the day lounging in paradise!

That is our boat in the distance. A fairly easy swim and after being on the boat for 30+ hours, it felt AMAZING to swim!

Most of the islands have a name and a family that live on them. They make their money selling beers and coconuts to the tourists and also exporting the coconuts.

This island is considered to have the “swimming pool” and the beach is shallow and calm and you can just sit in it forever. After a day of snorkeling and around the reef and three jelly fish stings, this was the perfect way to wind down and relax. They happen to sell Miller Lite which I thought was hilarious since I wold never drink this in the states. But, gotta support the local community!

The pictures just don’t do it justice for how clear and beautiful the water was. The only downfall was the amount of trash that would wash up or the trash that was stuck in the algae around the reef. This is a HUGE problem and really shows the importance of finding sustainable solutions to water bottles, straws, plastic bags, disposable cutlery and all other things that should be recycled. Okay, I will step off my soap box now.

Part of sailing is attempting to fish. Although we failed, we were able to buy some lobster from a local and actually have a bbq on one of the islands. Fresh lobster means fresh killing. The little guy in the video I named Eduardo and his sacrifice was greatly appreciated. Our captain had to ask the chief of the island for permission and we paid in some food and drinks and had a great night!

Finally it was time to go through customs and officially enter Panama. Once inside this little building I really started to understand what I was going to feel like on land after being at sea for 5 days.

This was such a magical and amazing experience and I cannot wait for my next adventure!

A Tour of Bogota Through Street Art

The trip to Bogota didn’t quite start off the best. We were delayed in the airport for about 4 hours which cut off one of our days in the city. Never fear, there is always a walking tour that helps show what the city is all about! You can read about my previous trip to Bogota here and here.

Everyone knows how much I love graffiti and so I jumped at the chance to go on the free walking tour again. Even though I went on this tour before, it was completely different since once a piece is on a wall, the artist no longer owns it and streets can change constantly. Of course there are some unwritten rules about respect and covering up pieces but that is neither here nor there at the moment.

The Candelaria area is where most of the street art is and the new mayor is working on covering up all the walls within the next 2 years. He wants to change the area and make it more upscale and not a backpackers area. So if you want to see of the best street artists work, you better get to Bogota soon!

I took so many pictures of many different artists and I don’t have a story or information about all of them. The best part about street art is that it looks different and tells a different story to everyone.

This piece was not even discussed on the tour. It just caught my eye.

DjLu uses real images to inspire his art and always has some sort of political statement to make.

The two pictures above connect to wrap around a corner.

This wall has a “tag resistant” paint on it so that if someone tags it, they can wash off just that part.

This piece was commissioned as part of a Bogota scavenger hunt to help promote the city.

The above 3 pictures are all from a family of artists. On my last tour the park looked different but has gone through a renovation and so all new walls mean all new art.

This building was bought by the government and is going to be high end apartments. The art is a protest against that. 

A new piece by Guache.

This artist was inspired by conversations he overheard as people walked by or the actual people themselves. He just let the piece develop.

Honestly, Bogota is probably my favorite city I have been to in Colombia and I know a lot of people will disagree with me. I just love that it has a pulse and an underlying amazing energy. It also seems much less touristy than the other places I have been in Colombia but there are many more to explore. Perhaps it is just my love of street art that makes me feel this way!

A Quick Stop in Medellin

Just a quick flight from Cartagena to Medellin and we were in an entirely different climate and different part of the country. We had 1.5 days to explore Medellin which was not nearly enough! We got to our hotel and we were able to have an early check in which is always nice. We dropped off our stuff and walked around the neighborhood to try to figure out what was around. It turns out it was hot and we didn’t really know where we were so back to the hotel we went for some relaxation and napping. The adventure was going to have to wait until the next day!

I decided to take the 4 hour free walking tour from Real City Tours and I am glad I did! Our guide was called Monsa and she was a super enthusiastic Paisa with personal stories to share at every stop.

The history of Medellin starts well before the written history but since there are no records, people don’t know much about it. Because of the location of Medellin, the people were cut off from the rest of Colombia until the train tracks opened up. Basically they are a mix of the Basque and Jewish people that all came together and were “discovered’ by Christopher Columbus and that is how you get the Paisa people from Medellin.

Unfortunately many people associate Medellin with Pablo Escobar or Narcos and we think that what we see on Narcos is the truth. Medellin is very conflicted with Escobar and find that it is a generational thing for the feelings towards Escobar. The younger generation looks up to him while the generation that lived through his reign, think he is absolutely awful. Then there are those who are in between about their feelings for him because even though he murdered lots of people, he built houses and gave back to the community. So how many houses allow you to atone for one murder?

Anyhow, Medellin was once the most dangerous city in the world and they have worked very hard to clean up and change their image. Although the government was in charge, Escobar really ran the city and you either took his bribe or you were killed.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton and President Andres Pastrana signed a bill called Plan Colombia. Basically this was foreign aid we were giving to Colombia to help clean up the cartels and the left-wing insurgent groups that were reigning over Medellin. While this seemed like a great idea, the government was paying people per insurgent killed and some of the less honest people were murdering innocent people and dressing them in insurgent clothing to collect the money. Nothing is ever a perfect system.

While the cartels have moved out of the city and Medellin is working to turn once dangerous areas into beautiful parks and hangouts, there is still a lot to be done!

For example, this church is a common hangout for prostitutes. There are a lot of hotels around the area that are rented by the hour and after the men have sinned, they come to church and confess and all is forgiven. You have to love how forgiving religion can be. 😀

at are these large out of proportion statues? Artist Fernando Botero donated these and many more to Medellin in an effort to show how Medellin is changing. It is said that each statue is worth $2.2 million USD. You can tell where people like to touch the statues because of the difference in color. Apparently, no one ever actually grows up!

e tour was over but a few of us were not ready to leave. Out guide took us to a little local bar and we all chatted and listened to music being played from vinyl and enjoyed a few beers. It was a great end to a very long day of history.


I was in Cartagena a few times throughout my trip to Colombia and each experience was totally different from another. We decided to spend the days leading up to New Years Eve as well as New Years eve in Cartagena. We went in with zero expectations and no plans!

Our original hotel cancelled our reservation the day before we were going to arrive! Best believe that we scrambled to find something that was not completely overpriced since it was New Years Eve! After about 15 minutes of seeing what was available, this new hotel called Hotel D Beach popped up on the screen and we decided to book it. We were a little confused when we arrived because it looked like the building was still under construction. Turns out, the hotel opened the day we arrived and we were one of very few rooms that were staying there! We were upgraded to a suite and set out to live our life of luxury for the next few nights.

Let’s be honest. After spending 6 days on some islands at the beach, we spent most of our time in this amazing pool overlooking the ocean. There were no complaints from me!

The advantage of our location was that right next door was a restaurant with typical Colombian food. As much as we walked around to find other places to eat, we always seemed to find ourselves here. Good food and good wine!

New Years Eve was spent sitting at the pool and watching the fireworks over the ocean. I also decided to strip down to my skivvies and jump in the pool just after midnight! I thought it was a great way to start the New Year. The rest of the night was spent sitting with a family and trying to speak Spanish as only one girl spoke English. All and all, it was a fantastic night!

After some adventures to Medellin and Bogota with I will write about later, I had one more night in Cartagena before I set off to sail to Panama. This time I stayed in the old town and was on my own for the first time on the trip. I wandered the streets and came across some live music that was absolutely fantastic! The energy of the city is pretty amazing and the streets are exactly what I think of when I think about Colombia. If I ever come back to Cartagena, I will absolutely stay in the old town.

From One Island to Another

The Rosario Islands are really known for the day trip crowds to Baru from Cartagena. We chose to spend three nights on Baru and experience the best part of it! We took a crazy little boat ride to our island and started our new adventure!


So what does one do on an island with just a beautiful ocean? Wake up at sunrise and go for swims and then swim some more!

If I was to only experience the island as a day trip, I would think it was crowded and full of vendors pushing something on you to buy. But really that is only form 10-3 and before or after that the island is nearly empty! Limited to no Wifi! No ATM! Nowhere to go except in the water or down the beach! Just pure relaxation. I finished my book so luckily there was a library just down the beach where I was also able to buy some books in english.

This was truly another amazing few day getawat!

How I Spent Christmas 2017

There tends to be a lot of pressure that happens around the holidays to attend every party and try to see all one’s friends and family. I personally don’t feel that pressure and chose to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas on an island in Colombia.

After our boat adventure and arrival to Isla Grande, we weren’t quite sure what we were in for. It turns out we had three days of delicious meals being cooked for us and ultimate relaxation in our room and at the pool or beach. This is the type of place where you go to bed shortly after sunset and wake up with the sunrise and it feels amazing!

The first day was truly a day of relaxing but we opted for some snorkeling the next day. The islands are surrounded by a huge coral reef and I was hoping to see a turtle (no luck). I did however step on a dead piece of coral as I was getting out of the ocean and have a nice puncture on the bottom of my foot. That stuff is no joke!

Christmas Eve dinner was served family style with the other 12 people staying at the hotel. They even splurged and brought us champagne (Andre Rosé and it was awful) but I know it’s the thought that counts.

Christmas Day was a repeat of the day before laying buy the pool and reading and relaxing. It was absolute perfection and made me so happy!

It was finally time to leave after 3 days in paradise but never fear, we are off to experience another island for another 3 days!

The Journey to Rosario Islands

There is only one way to get to Isla Grande from Cartagena and that is by boat! You can reach the island of Baru by bus but you would still have to take a boat to Isla Grande. We ventured down to the port to buy our ticket for 40,000 COP with a 15,500 COP park tax (total $18.77 USD). There are tons of people trying to sell you tickets on the street but official booths line the path and that is the best place to buy the ticket to ensure the best pricing. All the boats leave by 10:30am so get there early unless you want to pay for a private speed boat. Be warned, these rides are not for the faint of heart as they fly through the water and throw you around a bit. Anyhow, after being told our boat would leave around 8:30 or 9:00, we were finally packed onto and ready for our hour boat ride!

Our boat was driving a little funny and making some weird noises but I didn’t think anything of since this is what they do for a living daily. I was wrong! The engine was failing and we had to slowly make our way to a random island and disembark and wait for two other boats to come and get us. No one cared and we just laid under the cabanas and others splashed around in the ocean. There are worse places to be stuck.

Once we finally arrived to our hotel it was like arriving to paradise! They only have 8-10 rooms (can’t quite figure it out) and the room rate includes all meals! Many people make the trip for the day so from 10-3 the place is packed but other than that, it’s like a ghost town. Absolute perfection!

For the next three days I will be on this island relaxing and through Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Back to Colombia

First off, recovering from 16 hours of jet lag is no joke! I landed on Thursday morning and had to unpack and do laundry and repack to catch a flight on Saturday to LA and spend an early anniversary with my boyfriend! But you can’t keep me in the country for long when I have the travel bug and on Wednesday, I took off for Colombia still unsure of which time zone I was sleeping in!

I have only been to Bogota in Colombia so this time I am meeting a friend to celebrate the holidays and traveling to Cartagena, Rosario Islands, Medellin and Bogota. It all started with two days in Cartagena to try to normalize my sleep and acclimate to the blistering heat!

I was very lucky to land in Cartagena and have an early checkin to my hotel. I had almost no sleep on the overnight flight and was in need of a shower! I met up with my friend Lisa from Manchester who I met in Rome (this is why I travel) and grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the room to take a nap. My nap turned into almost 10 hours of sleep where I then was awake from 11pm-5am to wake up again around 8:30am. Once again, lovely jet lag.

Attempting to see a bit more of Cartagena than the inside of my hotel room, we decided to explore the inside of the walled city. Finally, I started to feel like I was in Colombia! We have 4 days in Cartagena over the new year so there will be a lot more in depth exploring, but it was nice to get a feel for the city before our next adventure!