Saturday, December 29, 2012

twenty-twelve

2012 was not at all what I expected.
honestly, when I look back on this year, i sometimes find myself muttering-
wtf
not in a bad way.
but, more in a did that really happen kind of way.

I marked the start of the year without my other half,
the fiance was in India and I was in California without any indication of when he would be back,
or, more importantly, when we would have a life together again.
I was in no way ok with this waiting game.
so, i went on my own adventure- to Germany.

I often reflect on this decision.
 and, if i'm being honest,  I am still in awe of myself.
To move to a new country and live with a family I had never met-
well, this is not something I imagined myself ever doing.
not because I wouldn't want to.
but because I never thought I would have the courage to do so.
I remember waiting for my plane to take off on March 23rd,
talking on the phone with Aaron and trying to hold the tears back.
trying to stay strong.
this was my decision, after all.

My life in Germany started off wonderfully.
Granted, life as an au pair was a little different than I had originally anticipated,
it forced me to suck up my pride, remain humble and focus on why I was there in the first place-
to do something exciting, entirely on my own.



Weeks turned in to months, and while I loved the travel opportunities and all the new experiences,
I still missed one very big thing-
my other half.
After a visit from him in June, life sorta fell in to place.
But, that didn't come without some big decisions.
to stay?
or to return home?
After lots of tears, I decided that my place was with him-
wherever that took me.
Life is short, my friends. 
solo adventures are fun for a while, but I knew this adventure had come to an end.

I returned to California on my 26th birthday,
July 22nd.
Although I was sad to say goodbye to my little German village, the bakeries, and the overall way of life in Germany,
I was even more excited to return home.

Within two weeks, Aaron and I found an apartment,
and resumed life-
this time, together.

Although India is still very much a part of our future,
and probably a large part of 2013,
this time will be different-
never again will the time apart be unknown.

Since resolutions never stick, I will enter 2013 with this in mind-
it's going to be a good one. I can feel it.
My one hope for this year is to start a family. 
The waiting game month after month for those two blue lines is quite literally driving me nuts.

Also, I promise to get through more of my travel with you all, since I still have several countries to cover. I also hope to share more recipes with you.


note: my decision to return to CA was not strictly due to missing Aaron.  While it was a large player, there are more complex reasons for my decision.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oahu: A Picnic, Snorkel, Waves, Dolphins and Sharks



Our third beautiful day in Hawaii was spent outside enjoying the ocean.
we snorkled,
ate food,
played among the waves,
and had a photoshoot on the beach that turned into one of the greatest laughs i've had in a long time.

Lucky for us, the waves were not overwhelming on the southwest part of the island.
Growing up 15 miles from Malibu, I have fond memories of beach days with my whole family in the summertime.
At the front of all these memories are the waves- and how I was always within them.
Playing alone, or with friends.
Jumping over, under, and straight through these natural forces of nature.

Because of this love affair of mine with the ocean and the waves,
I spent a lot of time taking pictures.
Picking my favorites was nearly impossible-
clearly...













On our final day Aaron and I were up bright and early for a trip to the fish auction.
I will be posting more about harmful fishing, and sustainable fishing, on a later post.
I will just say this-
seeing so many beautiful, dead fish sitting in front of me was horrifying.
The thought that they were swimming free just days, 
maybe even hours before, broke my heart.
The worst part was that so many of these fish were trapped and killed too early.
Many hadn't even had the opportunity to live a full life.

After the auction, we were on our way to the north shore of the island to swim with sharks.
Our friend took us to a spot 3 miles off shore where cages have been set up to chum and attract sharks for tourists to see.
We were tourists and wanted to see some sharks, too.
However, we would not be in any cages.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I've swam with sharks before, and was perfectly comfortable, but for some reason this did not calm my nerves.
Perhaps it was because we would also be chumming the water.
would this make them more aggressive? or, at the least, more curious?
I guess I would find out...

on our way, I spotted something in the distance.
to my delight, it was a pod of dolphins.
I nearly peed myself.
I pointed in the direction of the pod and was shouted at to get my mask and snorkle on.
instead, I froze.
in my overwhelming excitement, I lost all ability to think for myself.
Aaron looked at me, and told me to get ready!
within seconds we were among a pod of at least 50 spinner dolphins.
mammas and babies surrounded our small little boat.
Aaron quickly jumped in, and I followed.
The pod, while all around us, was very spread out.
I would see two here, and three there. Then they would disappear in the blue, just as quickly as they had appeared.
Out of nowhere, three dolphins came from behind me.
I saw them coming, and watched as they swam under me, looked up and watched me, wandering what and who I was.
I followed them for a while and admired these unbelievable animals-
animals more intelligent and sensitive than we'll every fully understand.

My moment with these dolphins was over in what felt like an instant.
I was in heaven, quite literally.
at least, this is what my heaven would be like (no fishing nets, slaughters, or ocean trash dumps included).
my nickname is dolphina for a reason.
these animals have always held a very special place in my heart.

but, we couldn't follow them forever.
I was not meant to spend this life among these animals, but who knows, maybe in my next life...

we were on our way to the sharks.
After several whale sightings, some near and some far, 
we made it to the cages.
Immediately, we started throwing in the dead fish pieces we brought with us, hoping to attract some hungry sharks too lazy to hunt for their own food.
we circled and circled, yet no sharks were spotted.
after an hour of chumming, a shark found us.
a beautiful Galapagos shark about 7 feet long,
and sadly wounded by a fishing hook and line that remained lodged in its mouth.

Despite chumming the water, this shark had little interest in getting close to us.
And, although this may be different if he had been a white shark, I am convinced that sharks are completely harmless.
yes, even the big guys like tigers and whites.
sharks do not hunt humans. 
and, they need our help. 
but, I've already posted about that in the past, and will spare you from another rant for today.

we headed back to shore.
although we had only seen one shark that day, I was over the moon.
Seeing and enjoying dolphins, whales, sharks and turtles in the ocean, free and wild, is probably number one on my list of things that make me very very happy.


Later that night, Aaron and I boarded a plane home, back to rainy California.
I wasn't ready to leave this beautiful island,
but, I know i'll be back.
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Superstition and thoughts on life, death, children and cheese

warning: this is post of ramblings.  the kind of things floating around in my head right now.

via

I'm a pretty superstitious person, unfortunately.
For a long time, I would avoid cracks in the sidewalk, 
and worry every time I would spill some salt.
I mean, my poor mother! And, really, I did not need years of bad luck.
don't even get me started on how many times i've "knocked on wood", 
or made a wish going through tunnels-
and, how can I fail to mention 11:11.
I can't help it, i'm a sucker for these wives (or is it wise?) tales.

You can imagine how I feel today,
the day before the Mayans predict the world would end.
For years, i've done a mental countdown to this very moment in time.
will the world actually end?
yes.
no.
who really knows.
or does someone know out there, but isn't sharing with the rest of us.

Either way, if tomorrow is the end, then so be it.
I feel I have lived a very blessed life.
I have seen, done, experienced, challenged, and adventured.
I am, however, interested and slightly horrified to see what the world will be like 100 years from now-
there already are 7.2 billion people,
and i've seen predictions that the population will reach between 10-15 billion my the end of the century.
All I will says about this is, scary-
yes for man, but more for nature.

To be super hypocritical, because I know, it is-
my biggest sadness should I die tomorrow, is not having children.
or, one child, since i'll probably stop at one and adopt the rest.
but honestly, to be a mom is what I was put on this earth to do.
To be taken before I can make this happen would just suck.

This, and, I hope it happens fast.  I mean, that would be ideal.
And, I would definitely regret spending so much of my life worrying about trivial things like weight.
how stupid.
If only I could remember this and carry it with me should my days continue past tomorrow.
Probably not.
But, I already plan on making my last supper one of my favorites, mac n cheese with a side of beets and asparagus.
ah, cheese.  I hope there is a lot of cheese wherever I go in the afterlife.

what are your thoughts on the predicted apocalypse?
What would you miss most?

For all of us, let's hope the Mayans were very very wrong.
with that said, however, we should also start to think of what we need to do to keep our World habitable for not just man, but all other creatures,
big and small.
what can we do to make Earth a better place for everything.

Honestly, I have no doubt that man will survive.
It is not man that I worry about, it is everything else.
sure, I don't like the prospect of death.
not because of death itself, but more the mystery of how and when I will go.
death is scary, ugly, mean, and sad.
but, I also know that everything will die eventually.

I guess what i'm trying to say is this-
death is a part of life.  there is no escaping it.
but while we are living, it is our duty to protect ALL living creatures.

I am going to end this tangent now,
mostly out of the fear that I offend someone, or that my words be twisted-
but, of course, interpret as you will.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oahu: a hike

Our second full day in Oahu was to be spent on our feet, hiking.
Despite the problems I always have with my feet, I was really really excited.
I love a good hike.
Especially one that gets me up high.
This hike did not disappoint.
In fact, it didn't take long to reach the clouds...














We knew that complete visibility would be unlikely once we reached the top.
However, we were not expecting complete cloud coverage on the other side.
It was almost as if, once reaching the lookout point,
we hit a wall.
A very cloudy, grey, chilly wall.
Although we had lovely views of Honolulu, the north shore of the island was invisible.

Rather than turn back, and walk down the way we came up,
we were told we would be hiking along the ridge of the mountain.
The ridge was narrow.
On our left side,
the cloud wall continued to keep the other side of the island out of sight.
The foggy clouds were so thick,
it was even hard to see that, on this same side the cliff, we were walking along a wall,
which fell straight down.
A fall in some parts of the ridge would almost guarantee death.



Fortunately, we did not fall.

And, I am more determined than ever to find proper hiking boots.
like every other time I hike,
my feet gave me problems.
I know my feet so well these days that I know when it's time to start heading back,
or suffer the consequence of big, oozy blisters.

I broke the news to the group,
and we headed down a different way than originally planned.
I was less than thrilled to be that person.
but, I know how awful blisters can be, and it wasn't worth it to keep going.






After a quick shower and a short rest,
we went surfing.
This was my very first time surfing,
on an actual surf board.
I had no idea what I was doing.
Fortunately, the waves were gentle,
and I managed to paddle out with little difficulty.
I did not, however, actually try to catch a wave.
I decided this for several reasons-
1.  It was nearly dark. The sun had already set behind the water.
2.  Aaron is an incredibly show paddler.  I was alone and wanted to wait for him.
3. I had no idea what I was doing.

So, I hung out for a bit, enjoying the sunset.
For just a few minutes, I sat on my board, alone, and enjoyed the silence of the ocean.

Then, I quickly began my paddle back to shore.

We managed to make it out for karaoke later that night.
karaoke is big in Honolulu.
For everyone's sake, I did not sing.
My voice was not made for singing.


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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oahu: A morning stroll and shore dive


The fiance and I arrived in Honolulu late Thursday night. 
Our first flight departed at 10am, 
arrived in LA at noon,
was followed by a 5 1/2 hour layover,
and finally the final 6 hour flight.
Compared to past travels, this was a piece of cake.
Besides, most airports now have free wifi and outlets set up throughout the airport.
in case you were wondering, this is absolutely necessary.

Andrew, our friend from college, picked us up,
and we headed to a little housewarming party, 
which also happened to be for a friend from college.
After about 30 seconds I felt like I had time traveled 5 years into the past.
Several familiar faces, and an equal number of new.

Since it was so late, we didn't stay long.
We headed to our home for the next four nights, and went to sleep.
Early the next morning, we were woken by a knock on the door.
It was still dark out, with no sign of the sun.
"wanna go surfing?"

I'll admit, I was tempted to stay in bed.
but, I knew better.

Although I didn't surf this first morning,
I did take a nice stroll along the beach-
admiring all the early risers for their dedication and devotion to their morning workout routines.
I've never been a morning person myself, and have always envied those who are.








Later that afternoon, Stacy, Andrew's girlfriend, decided we would go diving.
It has been over a year since our last dive,
and while Aaron could hardly contain his excitement,
I was nervous.
I haven't shared my Indonesian adventure on this blog yet,
but whenever I do, you'll understand.
For now, let's just say I had a couple episodes 30 meters under the sea when I first started diving.
It could have ended badly.

Refusing to let fear hold be back, I put it out of my mind.
We picked up the necessary diving gear and were on our way.
Arriving at the dive location, I knew this would be the most challenging dive entry to date.
We were to enter here...



I've dove approximately 50 times, and still consider myself a new diver.
Although Indonesia presented us with challenging currents,
we were spoiled with all boat dives- 
not once having to battle the shore waves and surges.
If you have never been scuba diving, it's amazing and you should definitely do it.
 But, the gear is heavy, and a total pain in the ass until you are completely submerged under water.
jumping into the surf,
surrounded by rocks, was not what I anticipated.

but, again, I knew fear would get me no where.
after all, i'm terrified of flying.  If I let this hold me back I would never have left home.

So, I zipped up my wet suit,
put on my BCD, fins, and mask,
said a little prayer,
and jumped.

chaos. waves. crashing.

but, I did it and that's all that mattered
...or so I thought.
Less than a minute in the water, my fin breaks off in the water.
Normally, you could see far enough in the water, and get it back.
but, the water was so rough, I could see nothing but white.

no fin. no dive.

after a panicked call to Stacy and Aaron,
we had to turn back and battle our way in.
It was work, and completely crazy in my mind.
but, apparently this site was not unpopular for diving.

After some persuasion, Aaron and Stacy jumped back in to do the dive.
I waited for them on the rocks.
happily.







One day, i'll make it back to this dive site and give it another shot.
If they can do it, so can I.


if you read this entire post, i'm impressed.
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oahu, Hawaii // Overview of an amazing weekend!

Last week the fiance and I decided we needed a little trip away.
Lucky for us, we had unused reward miles and know several friends living in Oahu, Hawaii.
For several months we talked about making a trip out to visit them, 
but dates and reward travel tickets never seemed to line up.
Thankfully, last week was different- plenty of flights on just the right dates.


In the 4 days we had on this beautiful island, we:

went surfing twice (aka paddled out to the waves)
went scuba diving and lost a fin
ate several home cooked sunset dinners
hiked one of the ridges overlooking the entire island
went to a karaoke bar
experienced the popular electric beach
ate laulau
had a picnic/photoshoot on the beach (photoshoot not my idea)
experienced the fish auction
and, went snorkling with turtles, sharks, AND a pod of dolphins.

I'm still having withdrawls.
Although I have been to different Hawaiian islands several times,
this trip was different.
As a result, I have fallen in love with Hawaii.

I feel so lucky to have friends over there- 
without them this awesome trip would not have been possible.
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