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July 31, 2018

REDONDO

As I write this post, I’m looking out onto Redondo Beach and feeling at home again. The ocean breeze, blue waters, and muted sun that is so familiar to me from my years living here are all so welcoming after being away for a year.

I am so thankful and fortunate that I’m getting closer to “normal” after the whirlwind travel I’ve had over the past months. The experience in Monte Sahaja, and some allergies I experienced in Boston (from my dear friend’s cats!) are all behind me and I’m thankful. Now that I’ve had the chance to eat all of my favorite foods that I could get on the island, I’m more motivated to regain my fitness haha After finding a great new gym, I feel that I’m on the right track ;)

But the best part of Cali has always been the people! So great to be back among my tribe and grateful to be surrounded by the love of friends and chosen family :) My nephew constantly gives me new life!

As I think back on all of my travels and the nomadic life I’ve lead for the past few years, I’m simply thankful. That I’ve been able to (safely) travel so freely around the world is an enormous blessing and I’m so grateful. Though I feel like the same person, I know that I am not. My view on life has been expanded and all I endeavor to do now is to have more faith. I know that I have a tendency to try to create my own reality…but I’ve come to learn that reality always creates itself. All I have to focus on is allowing myself to be open and continue to participate in the unfolding…knowing that everything is going to be alright.

Namaste.

 

Photo: Redondo Beach from my mobile phone.

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July 31, 2018

BOSTON

Soooo, while in Lisbon, I decided to travel to Boston to surprise my niece for her 17th birthday! She was at Harvard this summer to take classes (yes, she’s brilliant!) and my sister/brother-in-law traveled down to kindly take her and some of her friends to dinner. Under the rouse of arranging dessert for the dinner, I was able to get the details of the time and location from my unsuspecting sister haha Showing up at the dinner with my niece’s favorite dessert was such a happy moment! I am so glad that I was able to pull it off!! :)

Beyond the surprise, I’m fortunate to have great friends in Boston…and I was lucky enough to make some new ones! It was a fun, though brief, visit…and only strengthened my ideas about returning to America. Good friends and fun can do that! ;)

 

Photo: Exiting the train at Harvard station as I went to find an Italian bakery for my niece’s birthday surprise! <3 #July12

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July 31, 2018

AZORES

Before traveling back to the USA, I stopped over for a couple of days in the Azores Islands…on the island of Terceira.

It was a beautiful place, with lovely landscapes and a very small town feel. The island was neat and clean with the cutest houses! It was all very quaint…and the owners of the bed/breakfast quinta that I was staying at even kindly picked me up from the airport! The flight arrived two hours late and all of the restaurants were closed by then, but they took me to a food truck for dinner and it was great! It was a lovely welcome.

The quinta (the term used for the large house on a farm) was lovely and I took an early morning walk to see the area (the photo was taken looking out from the quinta).

I enjoyed my brief stay on the island and I’m thankful for the quiet, peaceful moments experienced between traveling from one large city (Lisbon) to another (Boston).

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July 31, 2018

MONTE SAHAJA

After spending almost a month back on my island, I traveled to Portugal (mid-June) to attend an advanced spiritual retreat with Zen Master Mooji.

I met Mooji for the first time in 2017 and was transformed by his teachings. His direct and accessible style, his sense of humor, his pointings and his PRESENCE were life altering. When the opportunity to attend this retreat came up, I hesitated at first but then decided to join the lottery. My hesitation was partially based on the “silent” aspect of the retreat. After spending almost eight months in a near-monastery state on my island, I was actually looking forward to human interaction haha!

However, once I was informed that I was selected in the lottery, I decided I must go. And so I went to his ashram (called Monte Sahaja) in the Alentejo region of Portugal (pictured).

The area was incredibly beautiful and the ashram is awesomely peaceful. The energy there is great and it is a special place in the world to get away from everything, including yourself ;)

I went to the retreat with a specific question…I wanted to know what place in the world I should go to next. What awesome freedom to even be able to ask this question! While I have enjoyed so much peace and freedom from being in Santo Antao, I always had an idea that I was not meant to stay there on a full time basis forever (especially considering my frequent travels). However, during the time that I was working on my second and third books, I couldn’t have been in a more perfect place!

But still, with that question in mind, I went to Monte Sahaja. After landing in Lisbon and staying in that area for a few days, I traveled by train to Alentejo. Even from the train, I could feel the temperatures climbing. Added to that, it was a very sunny day. But I was so excited to visit Mooji and attend the retreat that I did not focus on this. However, my subconscious did register some alarm.

After arriving at the retreat, I was taken to my luxury accommodations (a single person hut with a bed, shelf, window, and small trash can haha) and settled in. It was in the afternoon and almost 100 degrees outside and a headache started to build. Unfortunately there was no air conditioning…or even a fan…in the hut.

The first day included a welcome session to familiarize all in attendance (from all over the world!) with the area and scheduling. And then Mooji came to welcome us, which was lovely. His smile and warm presence was transformative as ever, but still I realized my clothes were sticking to my body as we all left haha

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On the first day, the day-time temperatures climbed to over 100 degrees! I began feeling intense headaches and went to see the doctor on duty at the ashram. My vitals were good, but he recommended that I start taking ibuprofen three times a day to ease the painful symptoms. I don’t love taking medicine, but I followed his advice.

By the second day, I had the headaches plus the inside of my mouth felt inflamed and it hurt to eat food (a healer later told me that it was probably the heavy grain-based diet on the ashram that caused inflammation…I don’t normally eat grains). I went back to the doctor and asked if he had hydrogen peroxide for me to gargle lol. I was desperate and that seemed like a good idea. The doctor was kind and just recommended I wait it out. However, an hour later, I think he saw me struggling to eat in the dining area and he kindly brought me a bottle of hydrogen peroxide haha! It was a silent retreat, so I mouthed “thank you! to him haha I gargled, but it didn’t help much.

The night of the second day was hot and there was zero breeze in my hut. I felt myself going a little mad and sneaked a late night phone call to my sister (I know, I know haha). Wise, Iris advised that I leave haha Stubborn, I insisted on staying another day. I didn’t want to run away but I was feeling pretty awful. Iris’ point was that I might not be able to fully participate due to my discomfort, and she was right. After the third day, I realized it was time to go, and so I did.

Fortunately, I have dear friends in Portugal and I was able to rest and recover at their lovely home. The weather was thirty degrees cooler and I had access to great food and an awesome gym. The road to recovery was smooth at first, but then symptoms started to return and I decided to see a doctor. After many tests (and expense), they (fortunately!) did not find that anything was wrong. And, honestly, all I could think about at that time was getting back to America. I wanted to be in a familiar place with a culture, language, and medical system that I understood. And that was when I realized that my question was answered…I felt a pull to move back to America to live on a full-time basis again.

The experience reminded me that the answers to the questions we seek will often come to us in unexpected ways. Instead of worrying ourselves through problems, it is better to understand the guidance that the experiences are giving us. Though I did not have the opportunity to attend all of Mooji’s sessions, and though I fell ill, I am thankful for the experience. It gave me what I needed.

Namaste.

 

Photo: The view of the mountainside, just leaving Monte Sahaja in a taxi. Just before this photo was taken, I had a lovely conversation with a sweet woman and six year resident of the ashram named Amala. She came to speak with me about my early departure and make sure that everything was okay. Talking to her was one of the highlights of the visit…and I also realized that I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if I’d stayed at the silent retreat. That experience, too, was a gift.

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July 29, 2018

BACK TO PONTA DO SOL

After a full trip to Praia, Senegal, and The Gambia, returning to my island was so beautiful! Though I was challenged again with food options, it was such a restful and beautiful time.

I’m so thankful to have found the beautiful city of Ponta do Sol…and I’ll forever be thankful to the beautiful people of the city (and the island!) for adopting me! It’s another place in the world that feels like home…and it’s great to have a home base there. What a blessing it is to know that there is a beautiful and peaceful place in the world…off the grid from everything else…that I can also call home!

 

 

Picture: The shared ride van I took from Porto Novo (port city with ferry) back to my city of Ponta do Sol.

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July 29, 2018

THE GAMBIA

Similar to “The Bahamas,” I learned that Gambia is, in fact, correctly called “The Gambia.” It is a tiny sliver of a country that’s actually within Senegal geographically. While Senegal was colonized by France, The Gambia was colonized by Britain. As a result, the language there is English. However, the natives communicated in a version of Wolof that was actually different from the Senegalese version of the language.

Fortunately, Joli had friends who made the drive from The Gambia to Senegal to pick us up and show us around! They helped to smooth over every aspect of our visit and that was really lovely.

What I most remember about the journey to the Gambia was first that it took seven hours (we originally thought it would be 3). The car was without air conditioning…which was fine for the cooler areas. But when we hit warm, dusty patches of the drive, I was challenged haha Still, it was interesting to see the landscape and have a peak into the lives of some of the smaller, more rural, towns of Senegal.

Once in The Gambia, all I could think about was showing and getting a massage haha After learning that the hotel across the street from our original hotel had a spa, I was on a bit of a mission to transfer haha! Fortunately, Joli was on board with the move! What followed was a relaxing day for me on the beautiful hotel grounds…with lots of time spent at the spa! The massage was also great. Though our friends were lovely, and kindly took us around the city, the downtime and massage were what I really needed. Since we were only in The Gambia for a day, we also decided to fly back to Senegal haha! I think the journey is best told in pictures, so I’ll share some below ;)

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We had another night in Senegal before we left (the party night), and finished the trip with flair! Definitely a trip for the books! Special thanks to my bela Joli for letting me tag along and for putting up with my high maintenance requests haha! Every night, we laughed our way to tears as we recounted the adventures and wondered how in the world two America women like us who appreciate comfort and nice things ended up living in Africa of all places! haha! Many parts of developing countries do not have the “creature comforts”that we’re used to in the Western world, but the charm, beauty, and simplicity makes up for a lot of what one might feel is missing.

Traveling to mainland Africa was an experience…and it definitely made me appreciate my beautiful little island of Santo Antao even more! The beauty, peace, and simplicity of the island definitely fits my chill vibe. But, perhaps since I am a Gemini, I do appreciate the upbeat city life from time to time as well ;)

 

Main photo: Walking down to the beach from the spa at the resort in The Gambia (Coco Ocean Resort and Spa).

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July 29, 2018

SOUTHERN SENEGAL

After several busy days in Senegal, Joli and I stayed for one night at a resort in Somone, Senegal. It was a beautiful town and reminded me of the beauty of Africa that so often does not get captured by the media. There are endless beaches and beautiful nature throughout the continent!

Somone is also known for its fruit, so we enjoyed that! I especially remember how good the watermelon was! :)

Though our stay at the resort was short, it was nice to have a little down time in a beautiful and restful place before our journey to The Gambia. Had we known how long that journey was going to take, we might have stayed at this resort haha!

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July 29, 2018

DAKAR

Traveling to Dakar, Senegal from Praia was only about a one hour flight. However, to prepare for the trip, Joli and I had to get Yellow Fever shots (though our Yellow Fever card was never checked…coming or going!), and we had to take malaria pills. Somehow, we managed to do both before the trip.

I found Dakar to be a vibrant…and exhausting city haha! Probably due to extended living on my quiet island, I felt the frenetic energy, traffic, sounds, and chaotic order more vividly. Negotiating everything was a bit exhausting, and I found the prevalence of skin bleaching (especially among women, with billboards everywhere) to be very disheartening. I was saddened that such beautiful people would be unable to see their own beauty. (Though this product was not used by everyone, statistics suggest that 70% of Senegal’s population does. Skin bleaching is a multi-billion dollar industry.)  The hope in my heart is that we (all people) would help others to love themselves exactly as they are.

Just after I had those thoughts, I met wonderful friends of Joli’s who live in Dakar and the two children I met restored all of my hope! I had the best time with the Abbott boys and happily chose them over shopping in a market haha! Both of the boys were still in grade school and old enough to know a bit about the world, but young enough to have no fear and see endless possibilities. It was such a joy to be around them and be reminded of these powerful feelings that we too often lose track of in adulthood.

Joli and I also made time to hop hotels every night and spend our last night partying…arriving at the airport for our morning flight after a night of no sleep! It was a time that I will always remember :) <3

 

Photo: Image taken on a highway in Senegal on my mobile phone! I thought it captured the strength and the resilience of the people <3 Namaste.

Praia Friends
July 29, 2018

PRAIA

My visit to Praia (on the main island of Santiago) was all about PEOPLE! Well, and food haha!

It was so wonderful to be with my incredible friends and recharge on good food and frequent visits to my favorite gym there! it was the first time in a long time that I felt full. I mean that mostly in a nutritional way (I was definitely low on vitamins!), but being around great people also recharged my batteries.

I also had a the wonderful opportunity to speak to two English classes in Praia! It was such a pleasure to share my books with these awesome groups and have a vibrant Zen discussion! What a treat!

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I’m so thankful for that trip and my wonderful friends who made it extra special! I traveled to Praia on the first of May, and the big dinner with friends (pictured) definitely felt like my birthday present! ;) <3 So much love and appreciation to everyone who made this trip amazing!

Ponta do Sol
July 29, 2018

SANTO ANTAO

I have been meaning to post updates to the page with recent travels, but I fell really behind. Instead of real-time thoughts from the trips, I thought I’d just include simple posts with key memories from the trips, along with lessons/lingering thoughts that I’ve had as a result.

So…from October to April, I was on my island (Santo Antao) working almost nonstop to convert my typed notebooks into a proper book. Though I was in a peaceful and beautiful place, the lack of rain that the island received in 2017 really started to become apparent around the start of Spring. I struggled with finding a good selection of vegetables, but I soldiered on, determined to get my book to a place that felt complete.

However, around the end of April, I had a bit of a breakdown haha By the end of the month, I was ready to buy a ticket to anywhere to get off of my island! haha The combination of solitude and limited food got me to a place of needing proper nutrition and socialization. It just so happens that my dear friend, Joli, on the main island of Cabo Verde responded first haha So, within days, I took a car to a ferry to a plane to get to the capital city of Praia to see her and other friends! I also offered to join Joli on her upcoming trip to mainland Africa..and she excitedly agreed!

So, in a matter of days, I was launched from my quiet life in Ponta do Sol to the bustling town of Praia…and the even more hectic city life in Senegal and The Gambia! Posts about those cities are up next ;)

My lesson from that moment is to follow your intuition and know when it’s time to go…and then go! ;)

Namaste.

 

Photo: Ponta do Sol, Cabo Verde from my mobile phone ;)

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