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

Iceland Day Four; Not Lost in Iceland

30 March 2015

The alarm went off and we hit snooze. 6:30 felt too early, so we decided 7:30 would feel better. It did. After breakfast we said goodbye to Ingi, our Igdlo host who was beyond hospitable. The car rental facility picked us up and we got our wheels for the week.

 

 I’m very purple today. Bye, Reykavik!

  

We hit the road toward PING PARK and got lost in the frozen tundra… but not really. It was breath taking – reminded me of a road trip I took out in the Western US with my grandfather and his older brother when I was in high school. Alex and I were warned about the winds on Golden Circle road but only realized just what everyone meant when we made our first stop. 

     

The map nearly flew out the window. We drove in a bit further and found a beautiful lake. Of course, my immediate reaction was how I wanted to jump in. Then I got out of the car. Brr!!!

   

         

 

As we continued down the road through the park to the town of Geysir to see one of the largest natural geysers in the world, we had the parking karma gods in our favor (this a very busy site), we rushed out of the car to catch a glimpse. Wow! How neat. Alex has seen geysers before and being that she is a earth science teacher, she taught me about the pressure build up under the very thin crust. A handy travel companion in a place like this 🙂 

   

      

I have some awesome photos on my camera of this, but since I’m doing this blog 100% from my phone you’ll have to know me to see those back home. You need to see this. All of you! You must see Iceland. 

We followed the one main road and a whole bunch of roundabouts to a small town called Hella where we are staying for the night – we splurged, $40 each for a hotel instead of a hostel. Man oh man was this worth it! Stracta Hotel is insanely fresh. That’s a good thing. It opened last summer so everything still feels new and smells of fresh wood (again, it’s a good thing). We ate a quick snack of cheese and crackers then headed in to their hot tub and sauna for the evening. 

   

        

Check out our view from this place, just a few volcanoes. One ready to erupt any day now. No big deal. 

   

  

Oh, and our room number matched my swim cap I packed. Meant to be. 

 

Alex had a yummy fish soup for dinner (her second fish of the day) made with fish caught across the street. I had a bar and a gerber sweet  potato squeeze. Well balanced meals, ha. The wonderful woman who works here gave us a little treat sampler. Wish we knew her name but when Alex asked she said its a typical Icelandic name that’s too hard to pronounce. 

 

Hot tub again now, then bed. Early up to explore the icebergs! 🙂 

SCUBA Honduras, Day Six

30 June 2014

Today was fantastic. It was my first day of fun dives and I got to do it with my favorite guys, Andrew, Kevin, Pascal, Tyler, Magellan, Ed, and a few other great people. I’m officially SCUBA Open Water certified! Woohoo… Now I can cruise above and below the surface of our beautiful seas. Stoked. We saw a Moray Eel today too, which was incredible. And when we got back to UDC there was a baby octopus that was living on a small rock on the confined water tarp that I snorkeled around it with Chad.

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We all relaxed in the afternoon and readied ourselves for a long (and my last) night. There was a booze cruise around the bay from one of the other dive centers. I went with guys and two other girls from UDC, Brooke and Bea. It was packed! One of my favorite photos from the trip was taken on that little boat ride but isn’t funny how the world works… It accidentally got deleted off my camera later that night. It’s better to have the memory then the proof I guess, huh?

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After the booze cruise, the group of us went for Mexican for dinner and Larson, one of the boat captains joined us. He is such a lively person; such great company. There was a huge beach party tonight so we stopped at UDC for a drink with Mary, one of the instructors (who couldn’t be sweeter). The guys didn’t join at UDC – my main guys, Andrew, Kevin, and Pascal – they wanted a little nap before the beach party. On my walk back to the apartment from the dive shop, I made new friends. Now, to give you a bit of perspective, when walking to our little apartment hut you pass a few other homes, essentially walking up and down their driveways and “yards” to weave to ours. Our neighbors toward the front of that walk happened to be outside on my way back. So, naturally while the guys napped, I hung out with those friendly neighbors/locals. They introduced themselves: Mayo, Mason, and the ass hole. Their choice of name, not my dub! And there were a few other nice men there.

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Look at these beautiful faces of the guys I live with:

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The beach party was such a good time. I introduced myself to a wonderful Canadian that I’d seen the whole week beginning at the Houston airport, but never spoken to. The night never ended – I didn’t go to sleep, rather went directly to the early ferry (with a quick stop to grab my bags from the apartment and to say goodbye to the guys) and had the most delightful company and conversation with Magellan the whole way. We parted ways and I made my way to the second ferry and eventually to the aero puerto.

I made so many amazing friends and have more memories than I could imagine from such a short stay on this eclectic paradise island.

Off to Mississippi to spend a week and a half with my dear friend, Stephanie!

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Get out there, world!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Five

27 June 2014

What a day. Last night was a long night. Lots of wonderful new friends on this island & lots of memories constantly being made! Another bar challenge took place last night; another four shots but no running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The night came to an end with an Irish man singing Gaelic folk songs. Typical.

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This morning – though exhausted – was great! I went out with my fellow open water course buddies and we did our dives 3 & 4 on the North side of the island, which has tons of beautiful scuba spots! {side note: our neighbor DJ just started blasting Backstreet Boys as I lay in bed typing this. Excellent. Almost as excellent as Spice Girls in karaoke last night! Ha.} Anywho, so we saw some neat little fish today including a massive tarpon! We thought it might be a shark when we first saw it from a distance. It wasn’t 😦 but still so cool!

The rest of the afternoon was pretty mellow. Has a cerveza and homemade donut (in competition for our MINOWS secret pizza donut cafe homemade donuts) on the top dock. Perfection!

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Andrew and I had dinner at what is apparently the best restaurant on the island – a Chinese/Thai style food. It was worth the 45+ minute wait (not for a table, for the actual food after ordering).

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Just kidding. We got more than white rice. It was sooo good (I say that as a relative term)!

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So wiped & diving early tomorrow for my two fun dives! Can’t wait. Hoping to see a whale shark. Or at least a sea turtle. Well, long day tomorrow too being that it’s my last day! Sad to go but I know tomorrow will be great. Good night!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Four

26 June 2014

It’s amazing. You set an alarm for 6 am and you wake up at 5 am because of the sunshine and music. Our power went out last night (happens a lot) so we woke up to no power or water or anything. Thank goodness for our breeze!

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Kevin and I walked over to UDC around 6:45 to get ready to go for our dive. He led a bit of our open water group. Diving in the OW was sooo much more exciting! I didn’t bring my camera out for the first dive but we saw a spotted eagle ray, a lobster, a trumpet fish, an octopus, Sargent Majors, and so many more fun things! We came back to the boat to switch tanks etc and then went out for a second dive, during which we practiced a lot more drills. We saw a squid on the second drive! Amongst other neat little sea creatures. Just, awesome.

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I took a little siesta in the afternoon and the guys were just hanging while Andrew was diving… When all of a sudden I awoke to the word fresh cookies! The little shop at the end of our side “rode” to our house had fresh out of the oven dulce de leche cookies with a heavenly filling. Mom – we must imitate this recipe! Yum.

(PHOTO – quote & sign)

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The Mango Inn has a sweet little restaurant owned by a man named Brad. He’s from Minneapolis and bought the Mango in March, fixed it up a bunch, and created a wonderful spot with good food, good music, and great people! I highly recommend if you come to Utila.

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That’s Brad. And this is a disco cat wanderer.

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Time for karaoke at UDC. And another T-Shirt challenge. And an incredible night with tons of new friends.

Good night!

Good night, friends!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Two

24 June 2014

Six am wake up to a sun as bright as mid day, and to the sound of… I’m not really sure what classification of music it would be actually… but our own personal DJ in one of the shacks across Garbage Lake (I just named it that). Here is our humble abode, home to Andrew, Kevin, Pascal, and myself. It’s nice. I stayed here last night with them & will again tonight but may go to the hostel some nights to meet people. We’ll see. Here is the apartment and our incredible view (even better on the other side where there is half a boat and a collapsed “house”):

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Andrew and Kevin (from NJ) went on the morning dive so I took a walk to the end of the main road on the island, or at least in this area. There is one main road that goes through the island. I came to the little beach and turned after I took it in for a few minutes. Along the walk I found a wall that said “gaviota,” which some of you know to be my favorite Spanish word. It means seagull though, so I’m not sure why there is a marlin mosaic picture near the word.

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When I got back, Pascal and I went for breakfast. We made friends with a cat and enjoyed delicious fresh fruit smoothies.

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I hung on the end of the dock at UDC to wait for the group to get back.

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There’s a great little coffee shop next to UDC where we relaxed in for a bit. I jumped off the dock, Andrew studied, and a guy named JD from Fla played some guitar. The proceeds of the shop go to promoting education along the rio coco river. Pretty neat.

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I read that Utila has an iguana rescue/research center so myself, Andrew, and Pascal went on a little hike to check that out. Andrew and I both got in one of the cages to feed him hibiscus.

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(A photo of a photo.)

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We also went just a bit further and found one of the highest points on the island with an incredible view.

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I finally got started on my dive theory course – watching a movie, reviewing the manual, and answering questions. Andrew, Kevin, Pascal, and I then grabbed a crepe on our way to a bar called Skid Row. Skid Row offers a challenge for a free t-shirt. The challenge consists of four shots of guifity (a traditional homemade rum brew made of twigs and foliage. Each guifity has a different taste based on the area you have it because not all land tastes the same. Anywho, you take three shots consecutively, then spin around in circles ten times, then take a fourth shot, then run around the pool table ten times. So worth the t-shirt! 😉

We got home and had a little grilled queso blanco (YUM) and fresh piña. Then the power went out for like twenty minutes – thank goodness for phones and our headlamps. And so it goes…. Bed time!

Another wonderful day. Goodnight!

SCUBA Honduras, Day One

23 June 2014

Okay, so I love Delta and that’s where all my miles are, but man is United on point with something’s. Outlets; wonderful. TVs; I’m indifferent but it’s cool. Gate organization; perfection! Thanks for making my connection the same gate as my arrival flight. Prime.

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Last year when I came to Honduras I had an entire row to myself for the flight down. I lucked out again! Slept nearly the entire way on both flights.

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We passed over Belize and I got a glimpse of the one of the top ten most famous diving spots: the big blue hole! You should look it up if you have a second. It’s incredible. http://www.belize.com/belize-blue-hole
And if you’re really interested you should watch the documentary Breathe. It’s about free diver William Trubridge and his incredible feats in a blue hole in the Bahamas. Such a fantastic insight in to a means of pushing ones body and mind… Those of you who know me know how much I love that stuff.

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Andrew is on Isla Utilia, that’s where I’m going to meet him and where we’ll be diving. http://www.utiladivecenter.com/en
It’s a bit of a ways to get there. I flew in to Roatan, took a taxi to a ferry, the ferry took me to La Ceiba, then I grabbed another ferry to Utila. Utila is 18 miles of the coast.

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I am thrilled to be spending the next week in this paradise. And I can’t wait to eat all the yummy fruits Honduras has to offer. (Side note: I will have pizza soon upon my US return.)

The rock of the first ferry through the waves nearly put me to sleep again. Okay, it did put me to sleep… not almost. But only a little dozing. I glanced behind me and apparently the waves had that effect on everyone 😴

The second ferry was wild. It reminded me of the ferry across Gibraltar Strait except a lot smaller, a lot faster, but equally as rough. Good times! I made friends with a great girl named Emily from Illinois. Her and I had great traveler talk. That’s one of my absolute favorite things about travel – finding these awesome like minded people. It only got better once I got to Utila. Andrew met me at the dock and walked me back to the dive shop (photos tomorrow), which is a perfect island style utopia. It’s a place of living within your means. There is a dock to jump off, a bar, and tons of dive equipment with wonderful happy people all around. And happy dogs. And cheap beer. And again, happy people. Obviously. Anyway! I’m so glad to have this reminder and realty check right now. I realize for most of you reading this a “reality check” might not be how you look at me being on a small island off the coast of Honduras with a bunch of people most of whom are not working but rather just traveling and enjoying LIFE, but for me it is grounding. It reminds me not to settle; it reminds me to avoid and oh or the influence of societal pressures with which I do not agree; it reminds me how little desire I have to go back and get a desk job.

Life is so good. I could not imagine myself with out these experiences. Hope you read this and are inspired to take the plunge. I’ve never been disappointed in a trip I’ve taken, be it planned in advance or spontaneous like this trip in Honduras. Go buy a ticket and LIVE.

Anywho, we sang happy birthday to one of the divers and had a delicious banana bread cake for him. A little queso blanco for dinner & e-mail updates in the living room in Andrew’s apartment. Adventures tomorrow! Good night, friends.

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