My Guiding Principles…

As previously mentioned in another post, I believe that if you do not nourish your inner self with the things that make you happy and that you are truly passionate about, then it is nearly impossible to flourish or to feel whole.  For me, that meant, in part, letting go of expectations and other things holding me back. To keep my sanity, well what’s left of it anyway, I have learned to shake things up every so often.  When I do so, I elect to move away from my comfort zone and situations where I am no longer experiencing personal or professional growth. As the saying goes, the comfort zone is a nice place, but nothing ever grows there, does it?  

When I first left Abu Dhabi in February, 2018, I dropped my cats off with a cat sitter in NY and decided to spend a few months in Asia. Trust me, it was hard leaving my fur babies behind with complete strangers. It was expensive too. But, when my cat sitting plans fell through at the last minute, I had no choice. I will introduce you to Naya and Bitz. Both are faithful travel companions and have moved overseas with me.

I started my travels in Thailand.  I had been there several times before. Many airlines were hosting sales to Asia, so I purchased a one-way ticket to Thailand.  Bangkok and Ko Samui were my first stops. Bangkok is a big, chaotic city with lots of traffic, noise and bustling nightlife. Bangkok was merely my main point of entry and exit into Thailand.  I had no intention of staying in Bangkok long term. It’s just not for me.  I wanted to go to Phuket, which always been one of my favorite travel destinations.  However, given that is was February, hotel prices were extremely high. 

On a colleague’s recommendation, I decided to try Chiang Mai. His sister had been living there for a few years with her husband, and he highly recommended it.  Well, as it turned out, I loved Chiang Mai and spend the majority of my time in Asia exploring the city. I will write, in more detail, about my travels in Chiang Mai.  But, to sum it up, I simply loved the feel of Chiang Mai.  It seemed as if, after a few blocks, the neighborhoods transformed and changed into a completely different area. This left me feeling like I was on a completely new adventure. I started exploring Chiang Mai in the historical part of the Old City. I wanted to see the ancient temples and various cultural attractions located within the walls of the Old City. Slowly, I ventured out to other parts of the City. 

Since I was so close, I felt somewhat obligated to travel to Laos.  I don’t regret that decision either. I only spent a few days there but I able to witness some amazing traditions and sites.  One such experience, was participating in an early morning Alms Ceremony right outside my hotel. It’s a tradition whereby the local residents come out and pay homage to the local priests.  They do so with offerings which often include rice, flowers and other food to sustain the priests for the day/week.  It was a wonderful sight to witness up close and personal.  During the few months I spent in Asia, I also met up with a good friend of mine, from Dubai, in the Philippines.  It was my third time there. Such an amazing and beautiful country. It was never on my “to do” list but my friend had organized a birthday trip there about a year before. On my last trip, we met up in Boracay.  That was my first time in that part of the country.

After my stint in Asia, I returned to the US for a bit. Eventually, my father convinced me that I needed somewhere to temporarily call home.  Being unemployed, I was priced out of New York and New Jersey, so I decided to explore other options.  Since it was a midterm election year and there were three (3) black gubernatorial candidates running for office, I spent a year in Delray Beach, Florida. Yes, Florida and yes, I blame dad (just kidding).

Introducing myself as (voluntarily) unemployed and homeless was a great conversation starter.  People did not know what to make of the statement. While in Florida, I decided to do some grass roots and volunteer work.  I also worked on a few campaigns, including Andrew Gillum’s. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as I had hoped. We lost all three (3) major elections.  Although I learned a lot, I felt that much of that time in Florida was wasted. Delray simply was not for me. I found myself traveling as often as I could. I kept chasing new places and new adventures— I went snorkeling in the Cayman Islands. I learned to scuba dive and got certified as a diver in Roatan, Honduras. I went to Quito, Ecuador and spent a few weeks in the uniquely, amazing Galapagos Islands. I also spent a few days in Mexico and took my first trip to Havana, Cuba.

So, what motivated me to move to Colombia and to change course? There is not one single thing or event that triggered the move.  Many factors were relevant in my decision-making process. After suffering significant personal losses and setbacks in life, I have learned to embrace the following mantras in life (among others). These are guiding principles that I try to live by. Ultimately, they probably inspired my move to Medellin, Colombia, which is so full of life.  Understandably, and I am no exception, many of these principles are easy to forget when you are dealing with real life and everyday situations and stress.  However, if we try, each and every day, to make a conscious effort to stay focused, there is no telling what we can do or achieve. 

Here goes:

Make each and everyday matter in a way that’s meaningful to you.  

To the extent within your control, stop relying on others to determine your fate. I know from firsthand experience that you may try your best but, due to factors outside of your control, your best may never be considered good enough. Breathe a sigh of relief, let go and move on. Jump on a plane for goodness sake!

Take control of your life’s journey. Redefine what is possible.  Do not let fear, especially the fear of being alone, traveling or traveling alone, hold you back.  

Be your authentic self.  If people don’t love, respect and appreciate the real you, perhaps, it’s time to reflect on your relationships and to cut some ties.  

Lastly, things don’t always work out as expected or planned. That’s ok. Perhaps, that is divine intervention. My advice is to always have a back-up plan (well, maybe 2 or 3) to be on the safe side. If you don’t have one, make it up as you go along.  My plans rarely work out as intended anyway.
 
I relocated to Medellin, Colombia in July, 2019.  Initially, it was a toss-up between Cartagena and Medellin, but I will get into that later in more detail. Prior to moving to Medellin, I spent about 2 weeks out of every month, beginning in February, 2019, traveling to Colombia. I fell in love with Colombia after only a few days. There was something about the country and the people that naturally grabbed and held my attention. There are a lot of new and exciting things that I want to do and experience in Colombia. Learning to speak Spanish being one of them. As we begin the process of building MochaTravelInStyle, this website will focus on Medellin, Cartagena and my move to Colombia.  But, if you stay tuned, I promise to include some of my other travels, as well. 

Thank you for joining me on this exciting adventure! Welcome aboard.

MY ROOMATES AND TRAVEL COMPANIONS – NAYA AND BITZ