I’m back

20 March 2018

It is lunchtime on a Tuesday and as I sit here at Starbucks sipping a coffee with almond milk (because I took up coffee – particularly espresso – last year and haven’t been able to turn back), I can’t help but laugh a little. I thought it’d be wise to reflect a bit and put down some of my thoughts onto paper. Why? Well, my birthday is Thursday. Thursday, I will be 28 years old. It’s kind of a weird age I think because there is such a dichotomy in where people are in their lives at 28 years old. I’ve got friends from high school who are married, who have a child… or multiples, who have jobs they call their career. All of these things are great, but I also have friends who are still finding themselves, following their passions, and figuring out where they want to be. I think I somewhat fall into the gray area of this whole realm.

I have lived so many lives already; seen so many sunrises and sunsets from so many points on the globe. I’ve climbed mountains, swam oceans and rivers, done volunteer work in slums at the equator line in Africa, and splashed with penguin and dolphin near the Antarctic. Life has given me love – with family, with friends, and in the very few relationships I’ve opened myself to fully, it has given me love as well as heartbreak. It has taught me strength, perseverance, and acceptance. I am grateful, very grateful. Though I did not imagine I’d be sitting at Starbucks two days before my 28th birthday thinking about what to do next.

Let me preface, I finally started a job in November that I thought was THE job. I love the industry, I love the connections I was making, I love every aspect of what the job entailed. Despite the enormous good, it was not the right situation… I’ll leave it at that. Anywho, I follow a good amount of social media accounts that got me thinking. For years as I traveled (you’ll see old posts from when I initially started this blog site) people suggested I become a blogger – my passion for writing, for travel, and for adventure would be able to share middle ground. I never thought possible but now I think why not. Granted, I’m going to have to learn how to focus in more on specific topics or themes because I can have a tendency to cover too many bases.

To save you from my rambles any longer (for now), here it is. This is where I’m going get back to me; where I am going to share my travels in hopes they offer you insights, my adventures and swimming endeavors in hopes they offer you inspiration, and maybe some healthful posts including food or exercise as therein lies one of my other biggest passions. I hope you can appreciate that in revamping and recreating this site, I’m rediscovering myself. I know that each experience leads us to the next and there will always be more good to come. So I continue to take on the world, know that your follow is appreciated and welcomed. Also while you’re at it, follow me on IG: @dseacliff for more of the adventures.

Now don’t mind me, I’ll just be sitting here day dreaming of my next trip back to Hawaii…

Maui • March 2018

Two for One Bahamamamas

17 March 2016 Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Alright, so funny start to this trip. I’ll preface this with a little background, though. I arrived to Nassau just after noon today, a day earlier than my friends are due to arrive (cheaper today than tomorrow, from NY). Tonight I will be couch surfing with a man I’m sure will be a great host (let’s hope) named Eddie, then will be meeting my friends at Atlantis tomorrow for the remainder of the weekend.

I arrive to JFK in good time and with no issues, I clear security quickly, and I prepare for departure. My zone is called last – which I’m perfectly happy with, since it’s usually just a dash to hurry up and wait. When I get on the plane I find that I’m conveniently situated in a middle seat surrounded by two people who like to take advantage of both their arm rests, leaving me sans. The woman in the isle seat falls asleep instantly…elbows out, and all. And my television doesn’t work. Right after the seat belt sign was turned off, I head to the back to stretch my legs and hat with the flight attendants (one of my favorite ways to pass time on flights). In conversation I mentioned (not complaining…more jokingly than anything) my seat situation and they immediately were beyond kind and said there was another open seat they’d move me to. When I told them I was headed to the Bahamas for a bachelorette party weekend, they handed me a bottle of wine on the house, led me to the open seat, – a window with extra leg room and no one in the middle – and said have fun! Okay, okay. I can’t say this is the first time this has happened… And okay, maybe it does happen a fairly often. But still, super nice of them!


The flight was smooth. I smiled as we landed seeing that familiar blue water; my favorite shade of sea. Then it got a little funny. I did just a little reading before I came down for this trip – mind you, I generally prefer not to read up on the place I’m going so that I leave myself open to a complete local experience, upon making local friends. I’ve been to the Bahamas on multiple occasions and I know how the taxi system works here. They charge you nearly $40 to get from the airport to downtown. I have wondered about a bus but haven’t tried it yet – again, not a common thing from the airport, as they generally don’t make a stop at the airport. I figured out that if you take a little walk to the nearest Shell gas station, you can in fact grab a bus from there. So, as I was going through customs I mentioned this to the man checking my passport. Ready for this? Bet you’ve never had small talk with a customs agent that has led to him standing up, exiting his both, saying while signaling with his hands, “come over here,” to you. Well, it happened, and it was great. He smiled and asked how do you know about that (in reference to what I mentioned to him about the local means). He laughed and explained a little. He told me exactly where to go and what to do and wished me luck before heading back into his booth.

As I walked out of the customs terminal are, I purchased a bottle of water so that I’d have change to properly pay my bus fare. This is when I got my second laugh. The woman behind the counter chuckled when I asked for quarters so I could pay for the bus. She said wished me luck as she told me it was a long walk. I walked out of the airport and headed down the road taxis use to exit the airport grounds (thank goodness I’m a light packer). As I’m walking down the side of the road in the bit of grass along the side, a man honks. He yells, “taxi?” And I proceed to tell him I don’t more than eight dollars on me (I didn’t want to break a bigger bill and had just broken the ten for water and cab fare). We spoke across the road to one another for a few moments then after a millisecond of debate in his head, he then told me to hop in and that he would take me to the bus stop because it was on his way anyway. Relax, he was legit. I know the routine…he really was a cab driver, I wasn’t being naive.

Joe was his name. What a sweet man, he was. He drove me a good 15 minutes from the airport to a bus stop that was just about half way to where I was going and didn’t ask for anything. I gave him the remaining change I had – keeping just enough to pay the bus fare, and took his card so I could call him if my friends and I decide to stray from Atlantis over the weekend. Anyway, Joe told me about his upbringing and different cultural aspects of growing up in the Bahamas. I love taxi talk.


I hopped out of Joe’s taxi and into a passing bus, and instantly felt like I was back riding in a Matatu in Kenya (Google it – even Google won’t do that experience justice, though). Me and the locals and few in between. I love that. I got off in downtown and found a neat little bar where I met some great people, some traveling by cruise others who had flown down for a little stay. Side note: I got pooped on by a bird on my way to the bar. This happens to me far too often, but they say it’s good luck so j guess I can’t complain?! Anywho, Gary and Donna from Philly, Lauren from Atlanta, Justin & co. from CT, and all the others (did you know I like making friends?) were great company.

Iceland Day Five; We Meant To Do That

31 March 2015

“That” being sleep an hour and a half past our alarm then drive an additional eight hours than intended (kind of) today. 

Let’s start with how last night ended – frozen hair in the hot tub and discussing the Northen Lights with our new friends from London. We saw one while we were all getting to know each other, though it’s probably debatable as it also may have just been a cloud. It was another beautiful night regardless. The man at the desk told us all he would give us a wake up call if the lights danced in the sky through the night but we never got that call. 

So as I mentioned we got moving a little late, we hit the road by 7:45. Our planned direction this morning initially was supposed to bring us back up a bit North of Reykavik but multiple people told us that making that extra stretch east along the southern coast toward Jökulsarlon to see the Glaciers was worth it sk that’s what we did. The driving was insane at points along the road – super strong winds and covered in ice. Alex maneuvered the speaker system and set up our iPhones with Bluetooth so we could jam out…to Christmas music. Ha. Anywho, check out this drive – we saw some glaciers along the way too: 

   

 

Baby volcano.

   

Glaciers we are going to be climbing Saturday.         

My new friend with four legs. 

This view from our guesthouse tonight is beautiful. Like everything else. Even if we did drive past the street three times. 

           

Iceland Day Three

29 March 2015

Happy Birthday to one of my very best friends! Alexa, I hope you had the most wonderful day x

We slept so well last night! I don’t think we budged an inch till the second the alarm went off…ten and a half hours later. Our intention this morning after breakfast was to meet in the city to go off on our glacier climbing adventure! But it didn’t work out that way. Alex booked the tour for us last week back in NY but slightly misread the transportation situation so we didn’t have the means of getting to the glacier, ha. Fret not, my friends! Today worked out for the better. We came back to the hostel, showered, rearranged our weeks schedule, then booked and made our plans for the rest of the week – which still include glacier climbing, amongst Rift Valley snorkeling between the tectonic plates (!!!), lava cave tube climbing, and fjord exploring. Yup, be jealous. Iceland is pretty neat & I’m still glad I’m here rather than Miami (sorry, ekk).

  

Did I mention we woke up to fresh snow? Iceland is a lot Ike Florida. Okay, that sounds bizarre. What I mean by that is that we woke up to snow, then walked for a while and put on sun glasses and took off our rain coats, then at one point we walked in to a store and it started raining, then we walked out of said store to hail. Then the sun shone once again. And then it hailed with the sunshine, for three minutes. It’s basically the same as Florida…except cold. 

We walked all over downtown Reykavik and booked a few more nights at a backpackers hostel and the popular Kex hostel (where DM told me Mumford & Sons has played!). Check out this view near the Cathedral:  

 and the Cathedral:  

  

  

  

 

Mom, I thought of you when I saw this bar stool. How neat is this!  

 We stumbled upon some live local (religious?) music in the flea market.  

 And found an Irish pub down the road from some graffiti.   

  

  

Alex found a great new outfit & I found a great way to prioritize time. 😉 (I did NOT purchase this, to be clear.)

  

 The views along the water are incredible. 

   

We stopped at the hostel to drop our stuff and change before heading out for dinner and drinks. We settled on Indian food – cannot believe Alex has never had Indian before, so what better place than in Iceland to try it (I had my favorite Indian food ever in Luxembourg) – then walked around till we came across a great little Irish pub. Side note: why is it so hard to find people in Reykjavik when the population is 208,752?! Our New friend pointed out it was a Sunday. Oops. We listened to Irish Folk music and sipped our Icelandic Einstök white ale until the third Einar we met decided there was no better topic than American Politics to discuss with us. Learned a lot about sensorship and the figure head that is the Icelandic president. Interesting is an understatement. This bar was pretty cool though, it was a whiskey bar. Alex and I had the feeling it was definitely the type of place our swim friend Ed R. would have loved. 

    (Einstök: Thinking you you, Brian!)

     

 

Alex had the yummiest alcoholic ginger beer with lime. Need this is the US!

  

The Indian restaurant had the best poster in their bathroom: 

 

And how great is this miserable statue near the city center?!

 

 

Love the street art. 

  

Driving to a geyser tomorrow. Woohoo!  By the way, have I mentioned how I won’t miss the smell of sulfur in the water? Bleh. Night!

  

Iceland Day Two

28 March 2015

I’m not really sure if this is a post about a new day or if I should consider it just a continuation of yesterday since we haven’t really slept at all yet. The flight was good but relatively short so we only slept about an hour maybe max. When we landed around 7 am local time, we scarfed down a plethora of cruciferous yummies… Anyone who knows me knows I love my veg, so I had packed a bag of lettuce, roasted asparagus & broccoli, and raw beets chopped and ready to nibble. Alex had a few apples with her. Usually you’re not allowed to bring produce in to a country but apparently Iceland isn’t too strict with their customs clearance. We didn’t want to waste the veg so we stood at baggage inside customs and ate all of it (breakfast…3 am NY time, ha). After finishing up, we proceeded to walk through customs which consisted of no line and not much of a check. Man, that would have been good later in the day. 

We hopped the bus from the airport to the Blue Lagoon, as the BL is sort of on the way or at least closer to the airport so we figured we’d knock out or first day there. Once we checked in and got our baggage we realized that was one of the greatest 35€ ever spent. The Blue Lagoon is incredible. It was so soothing and cleansing and relaxing – nothing could have been better after flying. There was a natural steam room and sauna, and the most magical silica mud to rub all over your face and body. We came out pruned all over but feeling like a million bucks! 

 

 

   

  

        

   

  

 Four hours later of well spent time in the sauna, steam room, showers, and lagoon baths we packed up and headed to Reykjavik. Alex and I both passed out of the bus in to the city. Very necessary. We checked in to our guesthouse room (hotel/hostel ish, very neat and super friendly), unpacked a little, made some plans for the next few days, then headed to the store to grab some groceries for dinner. I’m starting to get very vague in my descriptions now as our day came to an end because we are so tired. Can’t. Keep. Eyes. Open. Made an awesome dinner, chatted with the owner, booked a hostel for Monday night, and now we must sleep! Tomorrow is ice climbing and glacier hiking! Stoked. 

  

   

Oh, by the way we saw a little bit of the Northern Lights on our flight. It was incredible! We happened to be sitting next to an air pollution / ecosystem scientist for Cornell who was a really neat person with whom to share the experience. Okay, bed time! 

An Unfortunate Goodbye

Saturday, 15 November 2014

I think I’ve always had this sort of semi-acceptance of death. I don’t tend to be the crier in the room, as long as I can see each situation as a passing after a well lived life. Mind you, I’ve only ever been to three funerals/wakes in my life that I can remember.

The first was when a childhood friend’s father passed away when I was maybe seven years old. I vaguely recollect walking in to the room and seeing the casket, but I don’t believe I knew or fully comprehended death at that time. Now growing up I had many pets which equates to many pet funerals – those I remember, so I must have had at least a basic understanding.

My grandfather passed away when I was nine, but he lived in NY and I was in Florida. This death I understood and was surely impactful, yet still I believe I rode the fine line of not fully understanding/not fully knowing to what extent sadness should exist or longer.

Then my grandmother passed away when I was twenty-two years old. Between those years, I only experienced animal passings. This loss was greater to me because I saw and experienced and felt the process of death. As I sat by my grandmothers bedside with my dad and many aunts and uncles, I accepted that it was her time to move on. I saw in that very room the beauty she had created and the blessings she was leaving behind. It was time for her to join Rafa because like he said, “finally, it is a matter of love.” I loved my grandmother and wouldn’t have wished for an end, yet I found my acceptance in knowing that her life was incredibly well lived.

One month later, my great grandmother (on the other side of the family) passed away. Vovo was something else, at 102 years old she would have me bring my laptop over to show her photos of what I’ve been up to. She knew more about what was going on with everyone than anyone else in the family – and I say this with emphasis on the everyone because she created an empire. I cherish the fond memories I have in Vovo’s apartment growing up with all my many aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and all those other distant lineage paths that I can’t quite definite yet I know I’m related to. Though I unfortunately was unable to attend this funeral, this loss too was something I felt more able to accept because I knew her life was incredible; I knew she lived.

IMG_9278.JPG

The third funeral/wake I attended was for the friend of my high school best friend’s mother. I went to support those I cared deeply for, and I watched people around me with tear filled eyes.

It’s a funny emotion that most experience after a loss – that empty sadness that really does not ultimately do anything physically to make a situation better. Tears offer comfort but they cannot change the outcome. I don’t know how or why I developed a slightly detached perspective on death… Maybe it is because I have experienced so few in my life, and because those few were substantially lived lives. Who knows.

One thing I do know is that never in my life have I felt so devastated as to the loss I experienced today. Today one of my best friends passed away. She was a friend, a sister, a mentor, a source of encouragement, a role model, an absolutely all around amazing person both inside and out. Heidi left a mark on me, among many others, that will remain forever. Twenty nine years old with dreams and ambitions and dedication and heart and passion and drive. She was incredible.

I remember the first time I met Heidi. I was new to rock climbing and had seen her the few times I’d gone. She was hard to miss as her passion for everything was so blatant and her grace on the walls was something to admire. I’m not sure if she offered pointers as she saw me struggle on a climb, or if we simply exchanged hellos as we climbed near one another but it was her genuine personality that I instantly clung to and we became friends instantly. Heidi was a phenomenal climber and had been for years and years beginning in her hometown of Patagonia. Despite my new basic level abilities, she would always offer to climb together – granted she would do tough routes I still am unable to complete, she never made me feel insecure she would just give me tips or cheer me on.

Looking back on these past few short years of knowing Heidi, I will forever cherish our memories because each moment spent with her was valuable, productive, and truly unforgettable. I could go on and on with my stories and memories, and for that I am grateful. I am so grateful to have had her in my life and so lucky to have been a part of hers.

To leave this world at such a young age and with such incredible potential for a long, successful life is an honest tragedy. In my few experiences, I can’t say that I’ve ever been as emotional over death as I am in this moment. But Heidi lived. She loved travel and education and family and friends and laughing and helping people and exploring and daring. She accomplished great things and strived to do so much more.

Tears to me seem silly sometimes. I am only seldom a crier, yet for Heidi I can’t seem to stop. I know I share this emotion with an amazing amount of people because I know she touched a lot of lives beyond my own. Today was a breathtakingly beautiful late fall day and Heidi went climbing like she does nearly every single weekend, but today Heidi didn’t come home. She left us all doing what she loved most.

Heidi, a part of me is gone with you. I will forever cherish the bond we shared, the stories we told, the unproductive climb time gabbing we did, the photos we exchanged, and the friendship and sisterhood you gave to me with that big smile on your face. I love you and miss you tons already, but I know you’ll always be smiling down. RIP Heidi ❤

IMG_0869.JPG

The Game of Life

3 October 2014

Have you ever experienced that feeling that the way things play out in life, though far from what you had planned, are in fact the way they were meant to be all along? I feel that way recently.

I had plans. Well, I had a plan. A plan to move, to set out on a new adventure in a new town with new people and new experiences. It is amazing how quickly things can turn around and stray so far from the set path. The change I experienced was for the better though, it was a final hour quick decision to make but I believe it’s really been for the best. I canceled my plans to move and accepted a full time position in a field of my interest.

My life has taken a quick 360, as my good friend pointed out to me the other night over dinner. As have many others. It’s a 360 that I know will be for the best in my future, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I was handed.

Frank Turner – a British singer – has a song called Photosynthesis. It begins like this:

Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won’t pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortgages and pension plans
And it’s obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I’m happy and I’m settled in the person I’ve become
But that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things may stay the same

I feel he just puts it in to perspective so perfectly. Photosynthesis is undeniable with time, yet despite the changes one can always retain their original self. I’ve made fast new changes recently in my life but my photosynthesis is forever ongoing and I treasure that trait within myself.

Funny what life does to a person. It will always offer the good as long as one is willing to embrace the change that it may cause. I have pure gratitude for the people in my life, the experiences I’ve had, and the bumps in the road along the beginning of a much longer ride.

Take a chance. Embrace change. Appreciate the good in your life. & Love. Sweet dreams, world!