Fear & Strangers 

Suddenly the silence because strangely quieter and something told me to get up and look out the living room window. This was a view that sloped down the driveway to the rusted double gates flanked on each side by overhanging trees.  The only illumination came from a streetlight down at the corner with a very dim bulb. So dim that you could barely make out the shadows from the overhanging branches swaying in the light island breeze. 

Although I had heard of men being the protectors, I never saw this play out in real life. As far as I was concerned women had to figure out a way to protect themselves, or survive whatever harm might come their way. 

Escape to the Botanical Gardens of SF

Spanning 55 acres, there is quiet space enough for everyone. I happened upon areas that looked like caves, thick trees and bushes huddled together and leaving room for an open space where one could walk through and stand, maybe even sit and contemplate the beauty of this world. 

Families with babies in strollers, couples holding hands walking, stopping to take pictures of their findings and of each other, tourists taking pictures of everything. It was at once lively and serene.

Thanksgiving in Lake Tahoe

It had been several years since i’ve seen fluffy white freshly fallen snow. Or felt that satisfying sensation of being warm, under layers and layers of clothing, the only giveaway of the extremely cold temperature being the tingling feeling in your face, as if your cheeks were being repeatedly pinched by an earnest grandmother. But I remembered my favorite part of the winter experience; the crunch crunch crunch sound of walking on freshly fallen snow, and the sense of accomplishment knowing you’re leaving snow-packed footprints in your wake.

Istanbul in a day

I arrived at Istanbul’s Atatürk airport the evening before and woke early to spend the day exploring a bit of the city. First, a visit to the grand bazaar where I walked for hours, through endless passageways, perusing booth upon booth of silks, cashmere, garments, wool rugs, leather goods, jewels, spices, you name it! I couldn’t believe a place like this existed.

Finding strength on Mt. Batur – Bali, Indonesia

I had to be ready at 2am for the pickup. It would be almost a 2 hour drive and we needed ample time to trek up the mountains and make it to the summit by sunrise. I didn’t have any idea what to expect –  a last minute decision I had no time for the usual google research prep. The only thing I anticipated was being cold. I did have one sweatshirt stuffed in my suitcase packed away after being worn just for the plane trip from LA. I retrieved it and pulled it on over my t-shirt, stuffed my cotton scarf, a bottle of water and a pack of cookies into my backpack and walked from my room into the dark and quiet night. Using the flashlight on my phone I made my way down the path to find my driver waiting for me at the gate with an actual flashlight and a smile . So the adventure began.

The Art of Eating Well in Lyon, France

After a few weeks in Paris, it was time to travel south and explore another part of France. Hailed as the gastronomic capital of the world Lyon is a city with endless charming personality and where I would enjoy some of the most memorable meals of my life. I spent 3 weeks there at the end of summer, the first week accompanied by my younger sister. 

We got to Paris’ Gare de Lyon that August morning

9 Mile hike through Cahuita National Park

I used to wonder how Disney and Pixar came up with inspiration for some of their animated films, like Avatar… did places like that actually exist? I knew that they did because i’ve been looking through National Geographic magazines since before I could even read, but i’d never seen them in person, dense lush, untouched and filled with life. I got my answer when I visited Costa Rica’s caribbean coast and hiked through Cahuita National Park.

The Ideal Holiday Length

Day 1-2: Official Walk of Shame. Especially if in a country where the language isn’t your first. Though you enjoy getting your bearings and wandering around lost, it takes a while to  remember verb conjugations and vocabulary other than the basics so when you interact with other people is tricky. Depending on where you are the locals might not be as accommodating and their impatience with you stumbling over your words could be a slight blow to self-esteem.

(mis)Adventure to Costa Rica’s Sloth Sanctuary

I knew I was in for an interesting day when my taxi driver who from the get go I suspected couldn’t be older than 16, confessed that he had no idea where I was trying to go but he could drop me at the bus stop. This came after I previously explained my destination, which he said he was familiar with and we settled on the fare. 

Though his baby face gave him away, my driver had the mannerisms of an young man,