Tranquilo in Catamarca

Catamarca, Argentina. Whenever I tell people where I am living, the general response is either, "Why?" or "Oh like Buenos Aires?".

 

No. Not like BA. Catamarca is in the north of Argentina, with a climate like Arizona. The city is small with 140k inhabitants and everything shuts down at siesta time, from 1pm-5pm. All cafes, grocery stores, bread shops, EVERYTHING. The heat is quite pleasant for most of the year until the summer (Dec-Feb) hits and then average temps are 34°C (93°F), which explains why siesta is almost a sacrament for Catamarqueños!

And the "Why?" Oh... LOVE. That's what brought me here. After 4 months of travel and long distance dating, I came here to be with my boyfriend. Holy mole... Life here has taken some adjustment for me! Learning another language is not a task for the faint-hearted, and via immersion is extra interesting, I have met 1 boy on exchange from Thailand, and now after 8 months of being here I met a fellow girl from the USA who leaves in 2 weeks. 

My boyfriend and I even posted our home (the one he so brilliantly designed! It's absolutely gorgeous, come visit!) on Airbnb in order to meet some more extranjeros on their way through, and it has been great. We have hosted people from The Netherlands, Germany, Chile, USA, and Argentina and it has helped to shake things up in the house!

From the tourist guide books, there is not much written about Catamarca, so unfortunately the city is often overlooked by tourists, but there are quite a few hidden gems I would like to share, so here is the list! Hopefully it helps convince you to experience this province!

FOOD IN CATAMARCA

VEGAN Lunch Option – Pachamama – Bº 50vv norte c/5 2º etapa
Have your lunch made to order at this family-run, vegan home, many veggies grown in their own garden!

Tapas – La Cueva Del Santo – Republica 1150
Spanish tapas restaurant, trendy vibe.

Fancy – La Guada – Ayacucho 769
Different specials each night: sushi, asado, pasta and more. Eat in the back on the picnic tables under the stars.

Cafe – Florentino – Esquiu 811
Great trendy café, wifi, tasty pastries & salads. Owned by a wonderful woman from Buenos Aires (she speaks English!). 

Local Pub – Oveja Negra Rock Bar – Nunez del Prado 898
Best lomitos in town (a vegetarian option that is so-so) loud music, good beer.

Cerveceria – Wakani – Calle Echeveria 1
Great craft beer selection, made in-house, try the plantain chips.

Pizza – Napoles – Av. Gdor. Francisco Galindez 599
Delicious brick oven pizza. Trendy vibe and strip of restaurants.

Local Vibe – La Guarda – Rivadavia 430
Empanadas, locro, wines, all things local. The front room is a complete wine shop, the back is a chill restaurant.

Tea House – Sabores Caseros – La Carrera
Off the beaten trail, cute tea house with amazing pastas and pastries.

Club/Bar – Jagger – Av. Pres. Arturo Illia
Late night club, all hour’s bar with great draft beers. OK snacks and food.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN CATAMARCA

Waterfall Hike
30 minutes from the city, a 5 hour round trip (medium intensity) hike into some amazing waterfalls.

El Portezuelo
A 45 minute drive into the clouds! Stop for a tea at the Casa de Te at the top!

El Rodeo
Take a drive into the countryside, just 50km from town! Don't miss the short hike to La Virgen.

Trekking Catamarca Tours
See what this group is up to when you are visiting!

YOGA IN CATAMARCA

Acro Yoga - Suasti Bienestar y Movimento Esquiú 969
Acro Yoga on Tuesday and Friday! Suggested donation, 50-100 pesos per class  

Classic Yoga - Casa Abierto 
Class schedule varies, 100 pesos per class! 

CULTURE IN CATAMARCA

Free walking tours – Free Tours Catamarca
Walk Catamarca, tour in Spanish. Right in El Centro in the main square.

Museo de la Virgen del valle – Republica 449
New museum in El Centro.

Museo Arqueologico Adan Quiroga – Sarmiento 450
Museum in El Centro, featuring a branch of the Incas, the Diaguitas.

Hello, it's me

Woah, that was a long stretch.

So why no blogging? There are a few reasons, but what it comes down to is that right now getting my thoughts out there takes a lot of energy, and I am really trying to use that energy to make some sort of impact with street dogs.

Since May I’ve been channeling everything I’ve got into launching my new nonprofit, For the Love of Dogs. It's a registered 501c3 in the US and the current focus is unloved dogs in Argentina and Portugal! 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/274831

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/274831

I am sure it would be interesting to have been along for that ride with me (the highs, the lows, the I DON’T EFFING KNOWS!), but here is a brief summary of what my journey looks like, so far. I think it is similar to one of those entrepreneur graphs > 

What can I do to help?
Why can’t I find somewhere to volunteer?
Get. Me. Out. Of. Here.
But I love this guy.
Sweet! I can volunteer at a government sterilization center.
No one speaks English.
YAY! Day 1. OOPS, 2 cats escape (my fault), PHEW, caught them! Well that’s an infected hand, 20 punctures is definitely sexy.
I need to learn better Spanish.
Oh I can help write surgery notes.
And suture up ball sacks.
Ok sterilizations are key in helping dogs.
This place needs to be more efficient. Great idea! Make sterilizations more efficient!
Spanish, right, study.
How do I even start a nonprofit.
Ah that’s how.
Nope, this is.
I need to get my vet tech certification.
No, I am a marketer, I can find vets.
Paperwork. Legal Fees. 1 month waiting.
Dogs are so miserable in the streets here. And the world.
I cannot even understand anyone, how could I think I could run a nonprofit. I am lonely.
Who am I to even try?
I have my whole life to get this right. Relax.
Well at least Pato loves me regardless of how many dogs I save.
STUDY SPANISH YOU GODDAMN SLACKER. Ok, un poquito.
Wow I like what this brand is becoming.
Website. Logo. Content. Photos. I got this.
No. Logo. Is. Not. Right.
What even is a nonprofit? Haha, typical me, thinking I can do anything… Sigh.
I haven’t even helped one dog.
OMG we have a rescue dog. And I love her.
OMG more dogs, starving near our home.
I can speak with locals! I convinced them to sterilize the mamas!
This nonprofit is going to earn so much grant and fundraising dollars.
Still no final logo.
I am lonely AF. Why does the world have so many languages?
I hate to do this, but I need another version of that logo.
Ok, more sterilized dogs.
OMG no one will adopt this puppy. I will take care of him till he is better…
Amazing, a group I can volunteer in the streets with and find more in-need dogs.
My Spanish is better, a little.
I can’t put this puppy back on the street.
Headed to the US! Launching the nonprofit! I will be a great success!
And I will bring this puppy!
No one wants this puppy in the US.
OMG MOM WANTS THIS PUPPY.
How the hell does a puppy get into the US?
Get this website just right… And this fundraising campaign. It will be a wild success.
I don’t have the right paperwork.
HOORAH! The US with my little immigrant street dog!
Nonprofits are lots of work.
Ok LAUNCH!
Holy shit, fundraising is a lot of work. This is not EZ money.
Wow, so many people trusted me with their money. Now I have to do things.
22 dogs sterilized!
What do you mean the costs have increased?
I love my mission.
I will effect no change on this godforsaken earth and we will all die due to climate change.
Look what I can do. Save the dogs. Save the world.

it's all worth it to help these guys! thank you Mike Gelen!

it's all worth it to help these guys! thank you Mike Gelen!

You get it. Or maybe you don’t and you think I should be admitted into the psych ward. There are highs and there are lows, but I think that I’m living life with open arms. I’m building a new life with a really amazing guy (today is our 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY!) - 2 months of backpacker romance, to 2 months of separation (while I taught English in Colombia), to intensive, grown-up-style, living together. We’re being creative about what our dreams look like and how we can turn them into a reality. How lucky am I?!

Also, I am so very excited to be able to present the website that I designed for my new brand, For the Love of Dogs here and the first fundraising campaign I have ever launched, 101 Sterilizations. My goal is to make sterilization (spay / neuter) sexy! Yaaaaa! Let's get it!

Also, I definitely couldn't do any of this alone. I am so very thankful to my sweet and sexy boytoy, Pato. To both of my parents and both of their partners. To all of my friends who have been supporting me in my ups and downs and freak out phone calls. To Michael Gelen, for the wonderful logo. To Nikki, for the wise & fun counsel. And to all the dogs, just because. 

Non Zen AF

The last time I wrote I had just exited 10 days of silence and meditation. I am still meditating regularly, and you know what?

I am still the control freak, anxious ball of OCD emotions I always was.

Surprise, sur-fuckin-prise! I was definitely not expecting a metamorphosis from the experience though, and something the instructor said has really stuck with me:

on top of Swaziland

on top of Swaziland

You will still get angry. You will still experience emotions and exhibit bad behaviors, but what used to be 5 hours of anger might only be 3. Regular practice will slowly and consistently continue to improve this.

This was especially true on my Prodigal return to the United States (first time in 15 months) for Christmas. After so long away from one's family I think the traveler tends to romanticize them, idealizing them into a perfect clan - at least I did. Well when I got back, reality struck. I was sleeping on the couch and no one wanted to be my personal chauffeur. Not even for Epic Anderson Animal Rescue Road Trip 2016. 

Despite some letdowns, I was home. And my perfectly imperfect family was there for me, and I for them. Catching up in person was delicious, under-cooked brownie delicious. And the 6 days flew! 

I had dreams...!

This time at home was supposed to be about ridding myself of 80% of my belongings and making travel money from them. Well that sure as hell was not possible, here is why:

  • 6 days (including Christmas) is not long enough to list and sell something online then ship it
  • I am never going to host a garage sale
  • It does not make sense to donate / sell an item that I will end up re-buying in the future
  • Furthermore - as wonderful as Minimalism feels, the concept of un-weighting myself is potentially a burden to the environment if the secondhand shop cannot sell it, thus adding to landfills

So instead, I reduced 8 bins to 4. Then donated a truck full of bags to AMVETS. 

Dreams do come true...

  • I got a new 52 page passport while in Buffalo, they turned it around in 24 hours. This was obviously necessary for my last minute, financially irresponsible jaunt to Zanzibar
  • I thought I needed surgery on my ever-exciting reproductive system - but while in Bogota the doctor was unable to locate any issues via ultrasound! WHATTTTT?! IZ I NORMALZ?
  •  I had thoughts of South America and learning Spanish, and here I sit in Yopal, Colombia typing away. A volunteer opportunity came up teaching kids English and I took it. Teaching is hard. Spanish is hard. Missing someone is hard. And I don't regret the decision for 1 second
  • ❤ I'm in stupid, crazy, last-minute-flight-booking, move-down-to-Argentina-for-you L O V E... Yes. Me. ❤ Headed South in 23 days!

I keep reminding myself of the note in my phone: If I step outside my comfort zone today, then I will grow.

Not all dreams though. Yet.

I haven't started the dog sterilization non-profit yet. I guess we will call this the *leisurely information gathering* phase of my life.

Zen AF

2 weeks ago the longest I had meditated was for about 20 minutes. And by meditation, I mean... If I had an itch or a limb fell asleep, I dealt with it! So perhaps it was a little presumptuous to assume I would be an All Star Meditator for 10 days of silence at Vipassana...

the backdrop for noble silence

the backdrop for noble silence

But here I was. Technology free, meditating for 10+ hours each day and cutoff from all things civilization with 30 others, our teacher from India and a handful of volunteers. Not allowed? Speaking, except to the teacher in regards to meditation. Writing materials. Killing. Stealing. Lies. Intoxicants. Yoga. And Sexual Activity, which I took to mean also with one's self. I adhered to all of the rules. Kinda.

Cast of Notable Characters

  • Charlotte (#1-4): My roommates with 8 legs, constantly watching me, specifically in the bathroom. Remember, no killing...
  • Rat 1 & 2: Female students who I had an unsavory feeling towards. I was trying not to have aversions to both and ironically they were friends from beforehand, something I was unaware of whilst naming them
  • Thomas the Tank Engine: Male student who graced us with a hefty yoga breath every 5-10 minutes in the meditation hall
  • New Bestie: Another female student was totally amazing. I could sense her wildness and energy bursting thru the seams of her fancy maxi dresses and shimmery hair wraps, even in the silence. I knew we must be friends

Buzzwords

Noble Silence: Silence of body, speech and mind - no forms of communication, not even writing notes or gestures
Aversions: Things you are keen to avoid in life and during meditation, examples include thoughts of certain Rats or a throbbing numbness in your hip. The idea is, by thinking of these things you give them power to take over a larger part of your brain and experience, ultimately leading to greater misery
Cravings: The flip side of Aversions. Things you relish in and give great attachment and positive feelings to in your brain. By holding onto these, you also set yourself up for misery because in their absence you will be miserable
Sankaras: The best example for this is seen when the black hornet-like swarm explodes out of the big guy's mouth in The Green Mile. Sankaras are the source of misery in a person - each one is created when we have an Aversion or a Craving for something and we don't remain equanimous (calm and impartial) about it. If we allow it to take root it settles in and sets us up for future miseries, ultimately multiplying as more and more Sankaras are let in. The beauty though, is that through meditation we can start letting go of old Sankaras that have hijacked the ship

elephant-capetown-street-art-blog-meditate

My Brain On Noble Silence

Remember, for the duration you're not allowed contact with the outside world nor are you allowed to document your thoughts. This creates a certain brand of freak-out in one's brain that one might lose these Very Important thoughts and that they might be lost Forever. Another thing to realize is that when you give yourself this degree of silence and space, powerful memories are allowed to resurface as well as details you haven't experienced in decades... Like the name of the kid next to you in 2nd grade and his haircut (hi Jeremy Andrzejewski, nice lightning bolt fade). As it turns out, some of my experience was not lost Forever. Here you go:

Days 1-3: Ow. This position does not work. My legs asleep. My muscles in between my ribs are having shooting pains. On the left. On the right. Ok, more cushions. Hm. More pain. Hold still, no moving. There is a spider on me. Oh shit I just scratched it, there was no spider. Nice, the pain is numb I am bored. This is only the beginning? I wonder if I will make it. I wonder if anyone is thinking of me? What happens if someone dies? I hope they don't tell me til the end. I'm pretty sure self pleasures are not allowed, right? The landscape is goddamn beautiful. Seriously, my hip is on fire. That girl is unfortunately so Rat-like that I can't name her anything else, I'll do it with love. Rats aren't so bad.

Day 4: OMG. Full body scans. Are. Amazing. And they're umm, intimate? You can pinpoint every single sensation from top to bottom and back up in your body. It's like ___ is here with me. Holy. Wow. This wooden stool. Is hard. And amazing. I can feel the pain in my hips oozing out as I hold still on the plank. This hurts. Not thinking about it hurts. But it's getting better. Rat just spoke to me, I smiled, don't talk to me bitch. I'm in Noble Silence. That other girl, she is so rat-like as well, Rat 2 is thee. I haven't had my period in 2 months. Stupid polyp on my uterus. Maybe I can meditate it away or at least meditate my period to come. Beautiful, wonderful, fertile and luscious uterus you willllllll bleed and it will be magical.

Day 5: Holy. Fucking. Shit. My period came. I have magical thinking. No really. My brain is magic and I am making things happen with it. Rat 1 & Rat 2 just freaked out over lactose in some food thing and THEY LEFT! Additionally, I am pretty sure I willed this chickpea curry dish to appear, I envisioned it yesterday at lunch and it is here. I am magic. I am dying. I have the worst cramps in the entire world, why oh why did I will my period to come, oh god, I can't sit this way anymore and I am dying, I am grimacing, how many Sankaras am I building, but this is real physical pain. Alright, body scanning to other areas makes it a tiny better. No it doesn't I'm dead. [8 hours later] I am a lioness and I want to roar to the moon right now. I can do anything. ROAAARRR!

Day 6: I am in less pain. I am magical. I am tired. What's the point in this? I am bored and ineffective. My body scans aren't as intimate anymore. I am creating Sankaras with all that craving, time to scan these atomic bodies with equanimity. Borrrriiinnnggg. I've worn flat patches into my ass from this wooden plank. Ah well persist on. I wonder if anyone is thinking of me.

Day 7: Full body scans have become less sensational now that I am not feeling every tingle. Ah well, time to settle into monk-dom. "Control yourself - take only what you need from it - a family of trees wanting to be haunted" - could be a worse song in my head. I love this song. Everyone I know needs to do Vipassana. I don't think I could possibly ever convince my dad... 

Day 9: Did I just time travel? I had this same sensation when I was 8, like I am incredibly heavy and immobile, and floating inside myself with really loud voices coming through the loudspeaker that I can't understand. Shit. I am those loud voices. I am with myself back then right now. "It's going to be OK Lu, you are so good and it will all be so beautiful even though there are some really tough things, but you will get through them, you are so very loved." Holy shit. I am crying and I love myself. Fuck.

Day 10: "Why were you crying so much?" My teacher asked me this when I was about to leave on the final day. There were only two instances of this. Once when I was dealing with my magical period and the obscene cramps and the other when I time traveled. I let him know and he clarified for me. When we are young, typically under 9 years old, we are able to sense past lives and have almost a 6th sense that we tune out as we get older. The 8 year old experience could have been this, in turn, meditating in silence was able to bring me back to past experiences with powerful clarity. I buy it. 

Upon Reflection...

Hm. The world moves seamlessly when I'm not in it. Like, it's actually totally fine. I hope I can remember to play my part in it a little more slowly. The day after we finished I could feel the change. I work with more focus and clarity and I'm taking note of my negative emotions and watching them pass rather than getting sucked into their vortex.

I met with New Bestie and New Bestie 2 (another beautiful, peaceful soul from the course), we had margaritas and buried ourselves in blankets in the sand for sunset and laughed for hours about our shared greatest Sankara, boys. I am so loved. I love so much. 

Airport Confessions

camel-taghazout-morocco-animal-cruelty

Vegan

In college my first Official Boyfriend was a liberal (nearly socialist) guy that had strong political views. He wasn't afraid to jump into debate with any right wingers and always had the perfect fact, figure or quote to fuel his points. In turn, I also became fairly politically active, protesting the US involvement in Iraq and Bush's quest for WMDs. I didn't feel like an impostor, because standing up for truth felt right, however I never felt like I quite belonged because I wasn't a great debater. I think this also disappointed then boyfriend, that and the fact that I wasn't Russian nor did I look like Heidi Klum. 

I'm vegan now. And there are so many reasons why, but I don't feel like arguing with you about them. I think one of the most beautiful things I've ever done is to stop seeing animals as mine to use and I hope to inspire by example and to use my energy on making things better for them. 

Bed Bugs

However, I still don't see bed bugs as valuable in the same way they see me. Thanks to that I am sitting at the airport in Doha with a new outbreak (yes a 2nd one) of 7 hives from Moroccan bugs. Spectacular. Can we please bring back DDT? No not really. But maybe... These itches.

Diving Deep

clouds-ryan-air-blog-barcelona

Tomorrow, right around the time the US announces the new President, I will be checking in for 10 days of Vipassana in South Africa. Silent meditation and no technology. Quite frankly, I'm scared as fuck. There is a part of one's self that modern distractions conveniently help us avoid - work, friends, social media, dilly-dallying, the works. Strip those away and you are forced to have all the conversations with no real reprieve. I don't have any expectations for myself or the 10 days but I know I'll be swimming in some deep, potentially shark-infested waters. 

2017...

OMG I am going to be in the USA in 35 days, a grand total of 425 days out of the country! My passport needs more pages (I am down to 4) and I don't have any flights booked yet once I'm "home" in Buffalo. It can be a complete and utter recharge to take in what I've learned and where I want to go. I've already got Epic Anderson Animal Rescue Road Trip planned with my brother down the east coast, a surgery on my ever-exciting reproductive system, and a purge of 80% of my belongings planned! Ah yes, I also want to start a nonprofit funding dog sterilization around the world, no biggie... 

Travel Log Day 348: Nomad Update

coffeeshop-albania-juice-travel-blog

Last Thursday I stayed in bed all day and watched The Blacklist on Netflix. I ate vegan, had 3 cups of tea and did about 25 billable minutes of work (14 minutes of which were a phone call). I booked a flight to Morocco and researched Cape Town. I meditated for 14 minutes and made plans to do yoga, pushups, social media work, blogging and head to the beach - none of the latter was accomplished. 

Marketing schemes that romanticize the digital nomad life are everywhere nowadays. I have to admit, the experience is unreal. It's the sort of solo experience everyone owes themselves for at least 1 month:

  • Research a country
  • Book a ticket
  • Book a non-luxury place to stay for the first few nights
  • Figure it out as you go

But there are some downsides that are often brushed aside and more and more nomads have been blogging about these. Not until you actually experience them does the sting settle in. A year ago I read these lists and brushed them aside, "Pfft I can handle that, I'm the greatest." Well I can say for a fact now that these are all components that I take into account when deciding how long I plan to pursue this lifestyle. Accordingly, here is MY list of downsides - however, I end each on a positive note, because perspective is everything. 

Digital Nomad • Loneliness

As an introvert I avoid over-committing myself socially, and can't do more than a week in hostel dorm rooms. When I do make a friend, we usually have a weekend to get to know one another and then one of us is moving on. Twice now I've used Tinder as a means for meeting people, but there is an implied layer of sex when you meet someone on there - also, it limits the connections to the opposite sex (I don't misrepresent myself as a lesbian). POSITIVE: Being outside of my comfort zone forces me to change for the best. I can't use my introversion as a crutch to stay in a few stale friendships, but instead I am opened up to new and more rewarding connections - should I choose to embrace the challenge. 

Nomad • Drinking

The communal language of bonding is drinking here on planet earth. I've cut down on that (1-2 drinks one day each week) to such a degree that going to a bar to "see what happens" just isn't a thing for me anymore. Believe me, some rich and exotic tales have spun from those nights, but as a solo chick in the Balkans I think it might attract the wrong attention. POSITIVE: I'm drinking less and finding more interesting things to be the basis of new relations - animal rights, minimalism, veganism, travel... Conversations about your new handbag? BYE.

Nik + me hiking in Kotor

Nik + me hiking in Kotor

Nomading • The Whole Enchilada

Opportunities like Remote Year combat loneliness by pairing a group for a month in each location around the globe. Resulting experiences are often very positive, but you're buying in for $2000 per month or more (not including food, alcohol or flights to and from the experience). My daily average for ALL expenses since November is averaging $34 per day ($1020 monthly), half the cost and including everything. I do often arrange trade situations (like my current at Playworking) and that has defrayed a lot on the spending end of things so I am on the low end of cost, but DIY is absolutely less expensive. These experiences simplify finding housing, coworking spaces, friends, events and excursions - but figuring those things out is half the fun and experience of nomading. They're like the cruise ship of nomad life... The Disney cruise ship... POSITIVE: The more people attracted to this sorta life expands global compassion and understanding of other cultures, regardless of how the experience has been packaged. I'd love if these companies could incorporate an eco/humanitarian component to the experiences... (Ok new brainstorm is starting in my head ATM... Adding volunteer opportunities like dog shelters into the experience where nomads walk dogs/assist shelters and donate some $). Speaking of, I convinced the owner of my coliving/coworking space to let me foster a local pup - he said no. And now I have a foster named Nik for 4 weeks... ;)

Digital • Romance

I'm always the one leaving. Or we are both leaving. Yes, there is a romantical component of my brain that loves the idea of getting swept away by a fellow nomad and then pursuing the adventures of the world together, but the more common reality of the situation is that you either meet a fellow traveler and then stay in touch less and less as the miles between you grow OR you meet someone who lives in a place as you pass through and they scheme up ideas of how they also want to travel the world and do things, and then you leave, and then they stay. Relationships are not impossible to find, but are certainly less promising than when you've got roots planted in a location. POSITIVE: Traveling with someone speeds up the getting to know you process. Knowing there is an end date makes it easier to be open and honest about intentions. It's a lot less likely that you'll hold onto someone out of convenience, which in turn leaves you open for the extraordinary - if you believe in those sorts of things ;)

Digital Nomad • Stability

Being on the go all the time precludes you from easily having a pet, a fridge full of your favorite foods, your own space where everything has its own place, exercise rituals. These are things that make me happy! I miss them! POSITIVE: These things and others are not impossible on the road, just harder. By staying 1-2 months in a few places I've been able to get my fix of all these things, but it's an exercise in patience and letting go. I'm an impatient, OCD, occasional control freak, so that's probably a good thing to learn.

NET POSITIVE:

I still get Netflix and chill days where I encounter no other human life forms, but despite those, my brain is constantly igniting with ideas, dreams and schemes. I broke out of a materialistic rut that had sucked my soul for the past decade. I'm creating a life I love on my own terms, and after stripping away the bullshit, I'm learning what I want to add back in. 

Improvements

I said I could drive. I never said I drove well.

my handiwork

my handiwork

Accordingly, within 3 days of arriving here in Montenegro I drove the jumper van off the road. In the middle of the night. On a mountain. Alone. 

My lack of depth perception has resulted in similar scenarios in the past: off the side of a cliff, hitting a house, and bashing into the cement pillar at the Walden Galleria (and that was just my first year driving. Curious? Read about it here).

Driving vs. Dating

As it turns out, there are quite a few parallels between my driving and dating styles. I can't really see where I'm going, avoid it when possible, but when I start, am fully committed, even though I can't really see where the edge is. This has led to some dramatic and cataclysmic breakups. The good news is that I might be improving at one of these - and it isn't driving. 

lulakilla-old-logo-blogger-travel.png

Back in February I co-branded this blog with my then-boyfriend of military background, hence the old grenade logo.  But I think it's pretty apparent that my "killa" side has almost nothing to do with violence, and not for lack of trying. I stabbed a tarantula to death in the Philippines with a machete, yet to this day, feel bad about it. I've gone vegetarian, and am debating doing the vegan thing. And oh, the dogs. In Portugal I volunteered 4 days a week at sanctuaries and found an endless supply of love. So goodbye grenade logo and hello perfect, new design, crafted by the oh-so-talented Maggie based on my tattoo that Nini @ NINja Ink created (pictured below, in case you have forgotten what my ass looks like). 

Maybe most important, in a recent relationship, I opened myself up to be honest and vulnerable. When incompatibilities came up I didn't lash out, get nasty or run to another guy as a quick fix. And do you know what? I'm beginning to think my small heart grew three sizes.

Minimalist

Money was a major theme when I kicked off this blog (33% of dickz, dollarz & killin it), but aside from tracking my expenses in this sheet, I haven't been writing all that much about it. 
I attribute this to 2 things:

  1. After paying off my college loans and credit card debt in October 2015, I quit my job and have been making more than enough to survive as I've been traveling - I just don't think about it as much now that the burden is gone
  2. Living out of a 50L bag reduces the chance that I'm going to buy shit. If I buy something I usually have to get rid of something - the Sophie's Choice of consumer manufactured products
must love salt water

must love salt water

Last week, on the shared Kindle account I have with my mom, I found The Minimalists. As a result, I am fully engrossed in re-visiting my thoughts on possessions. The read was also timely because part of why I'm in Montenegro is to work on an app that focuses on people's unused clutter with a charitable component. As a result I've been thinking a lot about possessions and why people (me) have attachment to those things. 

I live out of a 50L bag, yes, but I still have 8 bins of clothing and shit stored at my dads. For the most part this stuff is out of sight, out of mind, yet somehow I still feel tethered by it. The Minimalists have connected me to many great blog reads and ideas (like the Project 333 clothing challenge, relevant once I'm past the bag lady phase of life). Accordingly, I'm pivoting in their direction with the following:

  1. When home for Christmas I'll try to sell 80% of my possessions (Poshmark, eBay, not a garage sale, etc.). What I can't sell in that time will be donated
  2. I'm going to limit my purchases to things that are necessary to make me more efficient in my work (digital marketing freelance and kayak/SUP/bike tours). Wishlist includes: contact lenses, polarized sunglasses, a charging brick and potentially a new laptop if my $350 Thailand-bought Acer shits the bed (but does I really NEEDZ a shiny new Mac, precioussssss-s-s?) 

Oh yeah, Montenegro! I lead some kayak and SUP tours, live in a coworking-hostel, work a bit of freelance and am kicking off the app. A few months ago I saw a Facebook post on a digital nomad group recommending the space and Montenegro for travelers who've maxed out their 3 months in the EU.  With no other promising options on my plate I emailed the owner to see if he'd be up for a trade. He was, so I booked a flight to this country and am yet again, winging it! So far, so good!

Ow My Ovary

looking up with dad

looking up with dad

Last week I was informed that my notions are too romantic.

Let me back up. I have one ovary. In 2010 the gynecologist found an ovarian cyst the size of a softball resting comfortably on my left ovary. Said cyst had suffocated the ovary and its eggs had died. Aka half of my half babies (are you following me?). 

Instead of rushing down the altar and into motherhood, my thoughts about dating and life evolved. Maybe I won't be able to have kids once I'm ready. And maybe I'm open to finding a man who already has kids of his own so as to take some of the pressure off of me. And that man I am suited to be with, he will love me if I can have kids or not, because it will be us first.

That right there is my too romantic notion. I'm not so sure though. We're all just bunches of atoms configured together in a majestic pattern that has somehow lucked out and received this dope, unique soul. For me, a successful life is going to be without misery and avoidable physical pain, plus adventure and a lot of people (and animals!) around me that want the best for me (and vice versa). I think it would be great if that group of people involved my own spawn, but I can't consider it a failure if my remaining eggs don't cooperate.

A friend and I even brainstormed a Kickstarter campaign to fund the freezing of a couple eggs. The play would be that I spend a ton of time volunteering, US insurance is a joke, I'd like to slow down my biological clock, and (most obviously) my genetic makeup MUST be replicated. But asking for money is not an option for 3 reasons:

  • Old-school Irish pride
  • I don't like getting all science-y about something so natural as getting knocked up
  • And to mom's point: 
Right now, the life you are living is one of beauty, travel, independence and freedom (from debt, obligations, a relationship, a reg job). That is a wonderful and enviable thing. For any number of reasons, you did not choose the June Cleaver, Leave It To Beaver life—more Jack Kerouac hits the road. And that carries natural consequences.

Asking for money to fund your eventual/potential/maybe and never-before-expressed desire to have a child (even to me) while you are living in paradise might strike some as disingenuous, whimsical, an afterthought, and even irresponsible. Like: Why doesn’t she settle down like the rest of us schlumps and marry good-enough, boring Joe and get knocked-up the regular way while she still can?
— Mom
romantically inclined.

romantically inclined.

So for now, I'm going to be a little more romantic than usual and take my time. If it's meant to be then it will all come together... 

Am I Crazy

I am crazy. Fact.

I am crazy. Fact.

The title of this post is a rhetorical question. Hence the lack of a question mark. I already know I'm crazy. Take a peek into my unedited brain. I've attempted to write an authentic Stream of Consciousness. It goes in order of my thoughts as they popped up tonight (Saturday), post yoga, post a half-assed meditation, while dinner cooks on the stove.

Ok. My pointer finger knuckle hurts. Pretty sure it's arthritis. 
Not exactly insured. Now it's a pre-existing condiiton.
Should stir the curry.
Curry stirred. The electric range is supposedly fancy, yet trying to get it to work started this joint pain.
Am I actually thinking something more important now? 
Not really no.
I want to bike to the beach tomorrow, but not bring my laptop. I really don't want to work tomorrow. 
Yet that requires me to work for 90 minutes tonight.... It's 8:47. Ok, I can work.
I don't get paid enough to work on a Saturday night.
Tonight's dinner is vegan. I'm not getting skinnier.
Oh yeah, alcohol.
What am I thinking? Not much. I like the silence - in my head and this apartment.
Yoga will be good for me tomorrow. If I can find it. I know I will be a rushing anxious mess bc the train arrives at 7:59.
Setting myself up for anxiety. Cool.
Does my internal monologue sound whiny?
Am I mentally healthy?
Will I ever find someone who loves me 100% including the craziness?
Am I actually really normal and just like to think I am crazy to seem interesting?
No. I am crazy.
I think not in a diagnosable way - just like a little OCD and anxious.
Ha when ____ flipped out because I chucked the shampoo bottle and shattered it. He was a little scary then.
Not scary to me in general.
Why do I get myself into those messes?
Dinner smells good. 
Stop trying to force thoughts into your stream of consciousness to seem more interesting.
Seriously. This is a learning exercise.
I wonder if this is boring to read?
Oooh. I seriously don't give a fuck about ______. Maybe I should just ____. So close to zero fucks.
Is a vegan Vietnamese themed dog rescue cafe really my dream? 
A lot of times when you get what you want it isn't what it was cracked up to be. 
I should hustle some more and put money into savings. Paradoxically, people live on so little and are happier. So maybe "should" is really relative.
Money absolutely has almost zero correlation with happiness.
_____ are pretty miserable. 
Toys are nice though. White Vespa and white Specialized bike.
Why white? 
Because it's trendy or because I like it? Also, a Fiat.
Those things cost money. I don't have money.
Well some. 
Where do I want to go next? Do I even care to get to Africa? 
It's scary. But scary things are what help you grow.
Maybe I am done growing.
I like being alone. 
Banana pancakes for breakfast. I should try and meditate again now. 
I wonder if other people think I go off on ranting tangents when I talk to them. Sometimes I see people's eyes glazing over. I talk less now.
That's sad.
__ used to say I had melancholera. A disease of unhappiness. Maybe it was because I was dating him.
Or maybe I am just bound to be unhappy with whoever I am with.
Or maybe I just need to find the right person.
Maybe I need to be the right person.
I wonder if my list is too specific. Tony Robbins thinks no. He and his wife seem happy. 
"Seem" so many smoke and mirror shows.
Who really is happy?
WTF is happiness?
Why couldn't I get out of bed this morning? 
I need to figure my shit out. 
Or don't I?
No one saves anyone. 
I want to find that thing that makes my soul expand. 
It's out there I think.
I have almost traveled all the way around the world. In December I will have done it, plus 400 miles.
Where will I end upppp? Fuck.
My contacts are dry.
It's 9pm. I should probably work.
I should do whatever the fuck I want.
I don't really want to drink. Drinking alone is pointless. 
Hm, Does drinking ever have a point?
I drank too much Thursday. I don't like how that feels.
My stomach looks fat. Maybe another month off the sauce.
I want to travel. But from this as my home base.
A few plans already.
Maybe re-downloading Snapchat was a mistake. Too many channels to get worn thin on.
Another social media cleanse?
I should blog more.
When I die will I look back on my life and think "I should have blogged more"? No. Shut up.
Dinner is probably ready. I didn't make rice. On purpose.
I hope I don't go blind.
Why did I cry?
"I am not empty I am open" - remember that horoscope. 
Am I boring now?
I want a hug. Now I am sad. Fuck I sound like a crazy person. 
Well mom said it was brave to do an unedited stream of conscience. Is it conscious?
Sadness passed.
Numb now. 
Definitely crazy. 
I probably have a layer of thoughts I am not tuning into, maybe they are more interesting than this layer. 
I wonder if she will be mad if I _____.
Some things are too personal to type out.
I want to be off computers and phones and technology 100% for a while. I won't be able to work though. Maybe I should WWOOF. Will I write postcards?
I want Frank's phone number. Not to get an inheritance. Because I miss him. I will bet that's why that bitch wouldn't give me his number. I will just write him a postcard. I have been planning on doing that for 8 months. Why did I delete his number? Oh right. I am crazy. 
I blocked a lot of people and deleted a lot of numbers through the years. I wonder if I owe anyone an apology. Yes. I do. I wonder who the most? Probably _____. Or __. Or _____? Oh I apologized to him already.
Emotional warfare. But not intentional. 
Oh or _____. He hates me.
No comment. 

I live here.

I live here.