[New Post] Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 1: The Way to Luxmore Hut

I had been staring at the triangular wooden ceiling of our A-Frame cabin for nearly 20 minutes, listening to the wind howl and willing the pressure in my bladder to ease off so I could steal just a little more rest. This would be my last night sharing a room with only my husband for a little while. We were set to head off on the Kepler Track – one of New Zealand’s incredible great walks – in just a few hours’ time. And while we carried our tents on our last great walk on the Abel Tasman, this time we would be spending our nights in the huts, sleeping in dormitories of dozens. We were in the Fiordlands now, and the scene could not have been more different than the white sand beaches of the Abel Tasman. The weather was much harsher in this southern corner of the southern island, and the topography a lot more extreme. Our walk was to take us along steep mountain ridges unsuitable for camping – hence the huts. And so here I was, treasuring what very well might be my last snorer-less sleep for a few nights. Besides, it was a long, dark walk to the toilets. And if the howl of the wind was any indication, it did not sound warm outside. Continue reading “[New Post] Hiking New Zealand’s Kepler Track, Part 1: The Way to Luxmore Hut”

Don’t Forget Nicaragua

I arrived in Granada, Nicaragua in September 2014 via chicken bus. Walking those beautiful, oppressively hot streets in the middle of the day with all of my worldly belongings on my back, I had a feeling this place would change me.

I can say with certainty now that it did. It was there that I met and fell in love with my now husband, and made friends that have become family. It was there that I grew confident in my practice of travel and teaching. It was there that I faced down some of the ugliest realities of white privilege and the legacy of colonization; where I had the experience of being the visible minority; where I fought tooth and nail with deeply ingrained and overt sexism, struggling with my place and role in it all.

It’s there that I first took the stance of activist teacher; and of the importance of instilling self-esteem in students; in helping them to know and understand that they have power and that they can make a difference.

So who would I be if I didn’t use what space I have to make you aware, single reader, that the city hall in Granada has burned down, that the country is in chaos, and that as a result, hundreds have lost their lives and tens of thousands have lost their jobs?

There are a lot of scary things happening in our world right now, but Nicaragua hasn’t received the international news coverage it deserves. To all those who followed my journey on this blog, who enjoyed my writing about my time in that beautiful place, I urge you – please don’t forget Nicaragua.

How we can help

I owe so much to this place, so this is my attempt at paying it back. I have started a GoFundMe page. The organization I moved to Granada to work with – La Esperanza Granada – will be the full beneficiary. They have lost nearly all of their volunteers and are low on funds. Yet their work is more important then ever. They are doing all they can to keep the learning centers they operate open for the children of Granada. Even better, they are attempting to put in place a program where adults who have lost their jobs due to this crisis can work in the learning centers in exchange for basic necessities. Please consider donating to and sharing the campaign. You can do so here.

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Granada as I knew it, in more peaceful times.

Our New Zealand Celebration

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Alright single reader, I promise this is the last wedding-related post!

The challenge of Tom and my relationship has always been and will always be the distance. Even now that we are together it is a test to decide how to use our hard-earned dollars and vacation time. Do we visit my family or his? Where do we settle? How do we find a compromise when our loved ones are so spread out across the world? Continue reading “Our New Zealand Celebration”

Hawaii Honeymoon Part 4: Ticking Off the Honolulu To-Do List

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Still high off of our wildlife viewing day on the water, Tom and I awoke early on day 5 of our honeymoon. We had read that Pearl Harbor limits the amount of visitors in a day, and had heard horror stories of tickets sold out before 10am. And so we set out not long after dawn for what we knew would be an emotional but important morning. Continue reading “Hawaii Honeymoon Part 4: Ticking Off the Honolulu To-Do List”

Hawaii Honeymoon Part 3: Swimming with Spinners

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After 2 jam-packed days on Oahu, we decided to take day 3 of our honeymoon as our official, much needed R&R day. We spent the morning on the beach, the afternoon in the spa, and the evening in the all-you-can eat buffet. It was all heavenly but ultimately… uninteresting to write about. I’ll leave it at this: the facilities at Aulani are truly first class. We were so happy to base our stay there and would HIGHLY recommend any adult doing the same to check out the spa – which features access to a private garden and many different soaking pools that are worth a visit all on their own.

By day 4 however, we were ready to move again. Continue reading “Hawaii Honeymoon Part 3: Swimming with Spinners”

Hawaii Honeymoon Part 2: Wave Watching on Oahu’s North Shore

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Views along the road to the North Shore

After our back-to-back crater climbs on that first day of our Honeymoon, Tom and I retreated to the beach to rest our shaky legs. Taking in the gorgeous scene from the comfort of my lounger, I overheard a couple nearby discussing the North Shore with some friends. They were saying the biggest waves of the year were predicted for the next day. We hadn’t thought much about how to spend our Sunday, but that eavesdropped conversation stuck with me. By dinner time we had decided the next day’s plan – we wanted to see the famous waves ourselves. Continue reading “Hawaii Honeymoon Part 2: Wave Watching on Oahu’s North Shore”

Hawaii Honeymoon Part 1: Ballistic Missiles, and Craters, and Panic Attacks – Oh my!

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Views from Diamond Head

I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. But to be honest, we landed on Hawaii as our honeymoon destination without too much thought. My parents gifted us use of their Disney Vacation Club points as a wedding gift, Disney has a resort in Hawaii, and Hawaii was (kind of) on the way back to Melbourne from Colorado. Tom and I briefly experimented with the idea of trying to add some sort of backpacking adventure in South East Asia to the trip, but it wasn’t feasible with the amount of leave we both had from work and the logistics of crossing an ocean with a giant wedding dress (my gown would be needed again for our reception in New Zealand a few months later). So just like that, Hawaii it was. And after saying goodbye to our family and friends who traveled from all over to meet us in Colorado, we packed up and headed towards the Pacific. Continue reading “Hawaii Honeymoon Part 1: Ballistic Missiles, and Craters, and Panic Attacks – Oh my!”

The Best Day of My Life: Our Winter Mountain Wedding

So, I have a confession.

I was one of those girls.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones with the secret Pinterest boards. The ones who binge watch all the wedding reality shows on TV. The ones who dream about their wedding – the dress, the setting, the ring, the guy – their whole lives.

I know it’s very cliche and unoriginal, but it was me. Continue reading “The Best Day of My Life: Our Winter Mountain Wedding”

Learning to Scuba Dive: My Solo Bachelorette in Bali

Kneeling on the ocean floor, my instructor gave me the signal. My stomach felt knotted and heavy. I lifted my hands to my mask, but couldn’t make them take any further action. I reached for the board and pen my instructor kept tied to his belt.

Nervous, I wrote. Continue reading “Learning to Scuba Dive: My Solo Bachelorette in Bali”

On Teaching and Travel

A lot of teachers travel. The best teachers love to learn. Travel draws those kinds of curious personalities.

It doesn’t hurt that a perk of the job is a few extra weeks off a year than most. I’m tempted to go on an aside here about how teachers earn more than those weeks off in overtime worked during the school year… but I’ll resist. Continue reading “On Teaching and Travel”