VIAJAR …TRAVEL …VIAGGIO… VOYAGER… VIAXE… REISE… ASAFAR
You know that Dr. Seuss book that many of us read as children, the one that told us we would go FAR and WIDE and that we would SEE GREAT SIGHTS, whether an inner journey or one that physically takes you places, being open to Change in your life is the first step to going places. 2016 was a YEAR FULL OF TRAVEL. . . and it wouldn’t have occurred if I hadn’t first accepted that the “C” word had set its sights on me. I used to fear it so much. I used to fight its timing in my life too. Who did he think he was anyway? CHANGE answers to no one. About 7 years ago, I attempted to apply to live a year in Spain teaching English (but I never finished the application). At the time, I had been feeling quite a nostalgia for Spain and wished to return to feel all those flutterings of heart and stomach, the same ones I had while living 6 months in Madrid in 2008, traveling often to new cities, experiencing new languages and countries in Europe and flying high on my gut feelings, going where I was meant to when I was meant to. That’s the best thing you can do when you travel and 2016 proved this for me.
It has been the GYPSIEST OF YEARS FOR ME;
OH THE PLACES I WENT IN 2016. . . almost never planning more than a day or 2 at a time, and asking often for guidance and to learn and love the most.
HERE’S A QUICK RECAP OF MY YEAR OF TRAVEL:
THIS YEAR I LIVED IN ESPAÑA and TRAVELED/VISITED 9 COUNTRIES (10 if you count a three hour layover in SWITZERLAND – I walked around Zurich after all and ate lots of chocolate; 7 new countries and 3 countries that I was ecstatic to revisit: a true blessing to have fulfilled my deepest desire to travel through more of Europe)
I SAW MANY NEW CITIES in the countries I revisited (Portugal, France & Italia). Whether in cities, in the mountains or by sea, I fell in love in Europe: Côte bretonne de France, cidades pequenos por tudo Portugal, e la costa del Lazio, la campagna dell’Umbria e le montagne della Toscana, just a few of Bella Italia’s gifts to me.
I TRAVELLED TO A NEW CONTINENT TOO: AFRICA! Traveling 2 weeks with my sister throughout MOROCCO was Universe’s gift to me at the end of all my summer adventures. This trip was an extremely bonding experience. I believe a lot of the magic we experienced here was in the unspoken moments. We are two sisters learning more and more about each other with every year, together we are yin and yang, capricorn and cancer, two sides of the same coin, women full of knowledge and love to share with the people we’ll meet in this life. But of course, we share with the world in our own unique ways and through our unique talents. I will wait for many more adventures with you Celi (ahem Fatima), Yalla Yalla!
I TRAVELED SOLA/ALONE THE MAJORITY OF MY SUMMER: #summerofAriana
Once you try traveling SOULA, knowing that there are endless possibilities and infinite guidance from both your own inner voice and the forces of the Universe, it’s not so scary. It’s thrilling. It’s uncertain. It’s empowering. It’s freeing. It’s enchanting. It’s your life, but blessed. I traveled mostly by public transport on trains and buses, took 3 flights, and paid for rideshares in 3 countries (Spain, France and Germany).
Some new experiences include but are not limited to:
- visiting my first Nude Beach in Galicia’s Islas Cíes
- bathing for days in a river in France for lack of a shower
- hitchhiking with other workawayers a short distance in the German countryside
- swimming naked in a river in Galicia
- riding the Ubahn in Berlin without paying
- eating amazing Mexican Food with my favorite Italian in Germany
- turning 29 under Bastille Day fireworks with friends in Bretagne
- being bathed by a woman in a traditional Hammam in Morocco
- practicing Kundalini Yoga outside for 2 hours a day with a group of gorgeous people I had just met
- riding a camel to sleep in a desert in Africa.
Not bad for 3 months of travel!!!
Selfies and such were my postcards from my Soula Travel (Traveling alone for the Soul’s Journey). I am grateful for all the people I met along the way that shared something with me: a meal, a conversation, some laughs, travel advice, life advice, love, joy, I could go on and on, so my deepest thanks.
NOW FOR SOME OF MY FAVORITES FROM THE YEAR 2016:
I couldn’t imagine a year without seeing my momma, so of course I cooked up a trip that involved a rental car, Momma-san and sister, & the beautiful sights and sounds of a country I was itching to revisit. Traveling just the del Río women, exploring and learning all along the way, we aren’t perfect but we had 2 weeks to master this road trip together.
Roadtrippin throughout Portugal
I planned a Roadtrip for us with lots of love and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. Without a doubt, traveling with these women by my side is one of my favorite things of 2016.
We left Galicia (España) to cross over into the North of Portugal. We saw O’PORTO land of the the Port Wine, BALEAL a tucked away city on the Coast, LISBOA the capital and home of Fado, SINTRA with its colorful castles and breathtaking views, ÓBIDOS the walled city and home of Ginjinha, and had a quickie night/day in the GERÊS region/Natural Park/Springs. We covered the north and south, coast, big cities, and intimate towns. . . We drove through the wine region, the winding mountains, the tiny and impossible one way streets of the capital with a stick shift (thanks Momma for being la Capitana del viaje). We left PORTUGAL with full bellies and with beautiful memories to last for always. These are the moments I live for, to see my mom see the world more and more because TRAVEL knows no age and we all have adventures that await us. Travel with those you love. Travel with those that challenge your way of thinking. Travel to have your mind opened just a little bit more, and your heart too. Let’s see if 2017 has some more in store for us Momma.
You can read all about our Portugal Travels (just click it) or write me personally for advice or recommendations about traveling in this country.
I signed up for a membership this year hoping to gain some life experience, some work experience too, and surely to save money/expenses during two months of travel in the summer. My first two Workaway assignments were much more than I expected, having spent a week in the French then German countrysides. I was thrilled at the notion that there could be such a beautiful exchange with people around the world. A little work provided by you and you receive a place to stay, meals and the opportunity to make international friendships in exchange. I was ready for more. My third Workaway was painted as a “spiritual yoga retreat center” which you could enjoy after your labor hours on the current house renovation project, but in the end I’ll simply call it. . .
An Unexpected Workaway
I arrived to a busy house with 12 other workawayers (maybe more actually) and I was unsure of what type of environment this would turn out to be. I was hoping for a lot of OM moments here, incense, nature, and the like, you know the type of things you might associate with YOGA and SPIRITUAL RETREAT CENTER. Well there were Goodvibes coming from all the souls in that house, men and women hailing from Europe, Asia, and the Americas. There was Yoga too, led in the early mornings at 6am by a lovely woman named Lucia. Everyone was in a great groove when I arrived and I could tell immediately that there was a lot to learn from the people here, just not exactly from the Hosts in charge. The hosts showed up a few days later and began shitting all over our groove, our Goodvibes, and our natural OM moments. I couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden, it felt much more like a bootcamp lead by a self-righteous taskmaster. Scraping paint off old windows for hours on hours and doing other tasks relating to renovation was slowly becoming my nightmare because there was now someone constantly criticizing your speed, technique and even counting your break minutes and how many times you talked to the person standing next to you.
I don’t want to relive those moments again. Since I stand completely certain in my decision to leave this Workaway more than a week early, instead I would like to highlight the People who made that place and time memorable. The ladies from Barcelona and England who made me laugh and laugh, you are beautiful women from the inside out. Keep shining!! The men from Guatemala, Argentina and Donostia that I got to share space with, I hope life takes you where you are needed, our spiritual Yoga Goddess from Perú leading us every morning with her gift helping us feel like one family addicted to the hugs and good mornings after a 2 hour session, the italians who also shared life advice and a bit of themselves with me, and all the others who contributed in their way, baking fresh bread in the morning, or cooking a traditional dish for us. We were a little family in the middle of nowhere that August and I am grateful for all of those moments in Rathenow, Deutschland, some of my favorites in 2016.
There was nothing like it. There was no place I experienced this year with more depth, with more silent moments, with more connection to the past than here.
Experiencing the Natural Wonder of MERZOUGA, the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco
Those DUNES though!!! I have never experienced anything like the DESERT before. When you are used to being out in Nature, for example maybe you have seen jungle, forest, mountains, islands, seas… you’d think Desert would just be another beautiful natural phenomena, but it was so much more. SAHARA was like a language all its own. The Sahara sang with whipping winds at times, like a powerful opera singer creating tension and suspense with her voice. . . and during others was the most silent place on the planet connecting you with the very soul of Terra. Walking barefoot on the silky soft sands, connecting with the energy of this place, walking up and over the dunes with only the night’s sky (nearly full moon and stars in the millions, or is it billions?) to feel higher and higher, I will never forget my first experience in the Desert. I will never forget this language, this engaging part of the world that welcomed me and calls me to return sometimes in my dreams. I will see you again Desert, INSHA’ALLAH!!!
FAVORITE CANDID PHOTO: “MAN TAKES IN THE SEA” IN ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO
A man looking out to the waters in Essaouira was my favorite candid photo of the year. It was a windy afternoon, but I have a feeling that not much could have interrupted that moment for him, not even wind.
FAVORITE DESSERT: CAKE WITH BERRIES A LA MODE IN BREST, FRANCE
In Bretagne, the cuisine is excellent. I had a local’s insight during my week in the region and one day we were lucky to have eaten this outstanding dessert. I’m all about the sweets. If you can make my tastebuds dance you have my heart, and with this cake a la mode Bretagne has my heart. The perfect combination of sweet (whipped cream) and tart (berries), warm (cake) and cold (vanilla bean scoop of ice cream), all I can say is Oh là là!!
FAVORITE CUCINA: L’ITALIANA WITHOUT A DOUBT
You know when you know food is bite your tongue, lick your lips then your plate when you finish fantastic? When you don’t have time to take pictures of the CIBO DELIZIOSO in front of you. No time. It’s not even a thought really, because your eyes invite you to MANGIA MANGIA E GODI!! That’s Italia! No time for pictures. I spent more than a week eating all the classics, and these photos that you see are the only ones I took of food. I ate pizza al forno, pasta dishes to make the heavens jealous, and all the Gelato I wanted in Roma, and then went to Italian Vegan Heaven in Toscana’s Sassi to an amazing Italian family who cooked wonderfully healthy Organic and Vegan varieties with local ingredients. The fresh plums from their tree were an added bonus. Grazie Mille Italia!!!
FAVORITE DRINK: MANGO MARGARITAS IN BERLIN WITH MY FAVORITE ITALIAN
As a Mexican living in northern Spain, let’s just say I need a lotta Mexican in my life. . . I need the spicyness/necesito lo picante; I crave it daily. I would have never imagined that I would get my fix in Germany, of all places, but we found a little treasure there that satisfies all my needs. In summertime, we frequented this little Spot called Maria Bonita in Berlin (just click it) and I deem the Mango Margarita my Favorite drink of the year.
FAVORITE STREET ART: FROM LONDON’S EAST END
FAVORITE WHOOPS MOMENT/MY FAVORITE MISTAKE:
Abrasively questioning a guy (Christian, from the group of workawayers in Heuchlingen). . . “You don’t know where Dijon is? It’s a pretty important and well known region of France.” My Italian steps in to try to ease the conversation and defend Christian who I had just met an hour prior. . . “France is a big country.” The next day I hear Christian speaking German to our host Alex, and I was impressed. I tell him I heard his German, and say “you speak pretty good German for being French”. . . he surely thought I was crazy. I proceed to tell him that I’m completely jealous that he speaks 3 languages (I’m thinking English, French and German). He tells me he only speaks 2. I list the 3 languages and he says he doesn’t speak French. I swear he’s just joking, what a funny guy. And he tells me finally that he’s GERMAN!!!! So all this time I had believed he was French. Alex had told me Christian was driving from France to Germany when I was hoping to get a ride from the middle of France, so I had assumed he was French all along. The Lesson is, never assume someone in Europe is French just because they were traveling from France. And don’t badger them if they say they don’t know Dijon, because they probably don’t know it and you’ll end up feeling like an ASS.
FAVORITE ANIMAL ENCOUNTER: MONKEYS IN MOROCCO’S IFRANE PARK
FAVORITE SUNSET: ISLAS CÍES, GALICIA
FAVORITE DRIVE: CÔTE BRETONNE DE FRANCE
Driving throughout scenic Bretagne (northwestern France) with Alan and Morgan was my favorite drive of 2016. Alan treated me to a full blown tour of his region, including indulging in the culinary delights like the Crêpe (which originated in Brittany), impromptu French lessons and Alan sitting in as DJ playing all the hits like Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Michael Jackson and Cool & the Gang (to name just a few). The foods, the breathtaking sights, LE FROMAGE (yes French Cheese deserves it’s own acknowledgement!!), the beaches and the best company are forever in my heart. Loved Loved this Experience Alan!
FAVORITE PHRASES from each country:
France- oue (yea), oh-la-la, super (in my workaway host Marie’s voice)
Morocco- shwīya shwīya (little by little), Yalla Yalla (let’s go)
Deutschland- wish sister (and wish girlfriend), Guten Nackt (literally means ‘Good Naked’) I mispronounced Good Night (Guten Nacht) the first time I attempted it. . . by saying Good Naked and it stuck. . . I love it!
Italia- mamma mia, che cazzo (WTF!!), porcoddue
Galicia- tu eres la leech (‘you are the Milk’ in literal translation, but really it means you are the Shit, it’s a great compliment)
Danish- At rejse er at leve (To travel is to live)
Nederland- neuken in de keuken (fucking in the kitchen)
I wrote 30 Blog Posts this year about my Travels. If you haven’t read them all, you can definitely search by country or topic on the SEARCH tab on my site if interested about a specific place.
MY FAVORITE BLOG POST from this year is. . . couldn’t pick just one so instead chose my top 3:
Grateful and beyond for the year that 2016 was, and ready to continue living each day like the Goddess I am in 2017. . . Click the SUBSCRIBE TO QU-EEN button for MORE TRAVEL POSTS from Europe and possibly a new part of the world (for me) this new year!! I’ll end this post with some travel quotes that inspired me and hopefully will inspire you as well.