Category Archives: Just Sayin’

SistaVoyage Vs The Caribbean Sea

staring

If you knew of a person who had 2 sets of private swim lessons PLUS a group swim lesson recently , wouldn’t you assume that person knew how to effectively swim? Probably so, right? Well, tell me what is MY problem, lol!  Apart from showering, brushing my teeth and taking baths, the water and I are not the best of friends. At the age of 25, I took my first set of private lessons (4 total) where I discovered if you give me a noodle and some fins, I could swim without stopping. On the flip side ,take away the noodle and the fins and it would be a DISASTUH.

The second set of lesson results (again 4 total) were a sad repeat of the first.  I was ready to practice my strokes, but I ended up nearly stroking due to the choking of water I seemed to always swallow. The only maneuver I could show off outside of the class was me pushing myself from the wall and swimming UNDER water. I couldn’t bring my head up for air to save my life!  While I didn’t give up, I left large quantities of la agua alone for a while. Then one day I got bold…kinda.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Well, it was just this year so it wasn’t much to remember, ha ha.

On Good Friday 2013 in Roatan, Honduras, me and two other ladies who were staying at the Roatan Backpacker’s Hostel decided to take a stroll to West End. We kept walking and walking and before we knew it, we were on West Bay Beach, where all of the action was happening. We noticed several people (mainly children and teens) jumping off of this wooden deck into the sea. ‘I want to jump in, but I can’t swim well,’ I announced to the ladies.  What did I do that for? ‘Well, I am going to dive in and I will help you out if you jump. I used to be a life guard,’ ‘J’ said to me.  I felt a mixture of nervous energy and curiosity throughout my body. She noticed my hesitance and started to mildly taunt me while mixing in a little encouragement. Nice.

So, did I suck up my sea fear or did I shrink back in it?  Well, I did a little bit of both, lol. See what actually happened in this short video clip below.

Related posts:

Volunteering in Belize: Holy Cross Anglican School

Banner at Holy Cross School in Belize
Banner at Holy Cross School in Belize

Traveling to Belize again (first time was on a cruise) was super exciting, but volunteering made it totally worthwhile and memorable.

My friend who was born and partially raised in Belize, created a daily itinerary for me and 6 other voyagers a month in advance of our trip. Not only did she schedule days of fellowship, fun and connecting with her family, she made sure to include volunteer work.  This would be my first time volunteering in another country and I was super excited, especially after speaking via email  with Lydia, the school’s volunteer  coordinator, about their needs and her expectation of us during our time there.

 

Me and Lydia
Me and Lydia

 

On the day of our visit, we gathered in the lobby of the hotel we were staying in and met our bus driver who transported us to the school.  Despite my hands being full with donations, my camera and oh yea, my umbrella thanks to the rain (read more about that here), I made it into the office accident free, ha ha.  Lydia warmly greeted us and began to explain the school’s history and concept while guiding us throughout the school.  Once the tour was over, we were able to interact with the children and assist the teachers accordingly. We were warmly greeted with hugs, requests to read books, chats, questions and the children were happy to pose for the camera!

Reading Time
Reading Time

holycross7holycross4

My Hair's Always a Hit!
My Hair’s Always a Hit!

We decided to leave right before school ended to avoid the ‘yay, we’re going home!’ rush and the children were not happy!!! They wanted us to stay and we wanted to stay longer too, but the bus was there to take us back to the hotel.

Honestly, I was not expecting the ‘noooo, please stay longer!!!’ reactions from the children at all. In my mind, I felt that our short amount of time there didn’t make that much of an impact, but it proved quality over quantity can be significantly meaningful. Since that day, I have kept in touch with Lydia because whenever I go back to Belize, I will spend more time at the school with the staff and children, helping out wherever I can. Matter of fact, I am making plans now to revisit. :)

*If you’d like to learn more about Holy Cross Anglican School in San Pedro, Belize, click the link here: http://holycrossbelize.org/  

To see more of the school in action, check out the video below:

 

Related posts:

What Do TripAdvisor, San Diego, Pizza and Sista Voyage have in Common?

wholepizza

Well, Trip Advisor crowned San Diego as the city with the best pizza and Sista Voyage got to taste a slice…or two… OKAY, half of a pie!

Before the best pizza poll was announced, I took a mini voyage to San Diego, California to spend time with a good friend and her wonderful family.  She knew that I loved pizza, so she suggested dining at an Italian restaurant called Filippi’s Pizza Grotto in an area called ‘Little Italy.’ Parking was a pain, but that was a welcomed sign that the food was good!

littleitaly

sista
Me, so happy for pizza!
My friend
My friend

The menu selection was certainly grand, but being that I am a sucker for all things bread, cheese, and marinara, we ordered a pizza with her half as pepperoni (underneath the cheese) and my half as veggie. I know that pizza is fattening, but I trick my mind into believing that the elimination of meat and the substitution of veggies makes it less likely to clog the heart. Yeah…my mind works in mysterious ways, lol.

pizzasliceMy friend had such self control. She stopped eating before feeling full. Me on the other hand, when it comes to pizza, my brain sends a message to my gut to expand about 5 more inches to accommodate the fatty goodness it’s about to receive.

greasymouth

Yum!
Yum!
Yummy!!!
Yummy!!!

Clears Throat…Now For the Cheesy Controversy:
I will admit the pizza in San Diego was good, but saying this city has the ‘number one pizza in AMERICA???’ Ummm, no. One reason why I can’t crown it king is because I haven’t tasted EVERY pizza in America, but from my past experiences with this ooey, chewy goodness, Chicago’s deep dish and New York’s thin and big slices are definitely neck to neck for first place! Sorry San Diego pizza…I still love ya, though! 😉

What do you all think? Did the pollsters get it right or wrong? What city do YOU think has the best pizza? *Keep it clean, ha ha!*

See if your city ranked for best pizza here

 

 

Related posts:

My Doctor Said ‘Malaria.’

                                                      Source
Source

I can attest that being a pharmacist definitely has it perks and problems. One perk is the amount of knowledge I have when it comes to both prescription and nonprescription drugs. One MAJOR problem is I know TOO much to the point where I am a physician’s worst patient. While I’ll agree to testing and examinations recommended, I am not so willing to take pills. Imagine my resistance to my physician’s plea for me to not just consider, but to actually take ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pills for my 2 week stay in Honduras.

What are ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pills you ask? An example would be Doxycycline vs Malarone.  Doxycycline, an antibiotic, has several indications, ie, treating acne, skin infections, lyme disease in addition to preventing malaria. Malarone is used to treat AND prevent malaria, thus it’s a ‘for real for real’ antimalarial pill.

I’ve taken Doxycycline in the past for a previous trip to Honduras, but I was only there briefly. The instructions were for me to take it at least 2 days before arrival and continue for the next 28 days after departure, but like I said earlier, I don’t like taking pills. Right before I left the country, I stopped taking them. Plus the side effects, ie, sun burn, yeast infections, nausea/vomiting, etc were not what I wanted to deal with while away.

Staying for 2 weeks in a CDC-warned malaria area of Honduras was a bit more challenging, though. I had to look at the facts and totally ignore my feelings.

Fact one:   Mosquitoes love me.
Fact two:    I hate mosquitoes
Fact three: Mosquitoes love me despite my hate for them and this increased my chance of acquiring malaria.

Image courtesy of [SweetCrisis] http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of [SweetCrisis] http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

I had a choice to make- prevent malaria or possibly contract malaria. Facing reality and reading about victims of this disease, I decided, albeit reluctantly, to wave the white flag to my physician and fill her prescription of (my choice) Malarone. I figured that the inconvenience of taking a tablet at the same time daily with possible minor side effects here and there was definitely worth not hearing my doctor say ‘you have malaria,’ which can be fatal.

Have you taken anti-malarials in the past? Why or why not?

Are you planning a trip out of the U.S.? Unsure if you will be entering a high risk malarial country? Need help deciding which prophylaxis would be appropriate for you? Check out the links below so that you and your health care provider can make an informed decision about your health and well-being concerning this matter.

http://www.cdc.gov/MALARIA/

http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/malaria.aspx



Related posts:

How I Am Paying For My Voyages…Now

Financial Wisdom from Caye Caulker, Belize
Financial Wisdom from Caye Caulker, Belize

As I ponder on the $15,379.53 credit card debt I eliminated in June 2012, I can honestly conclude that 50% of it was due to my travels in and out of the country.  During my psycho spending days, I did waiver between the feelings of uneasiness for charging my trips to the mindset of ‘WHATEVER!!! I DESERVE this, no matter the cost.’ As I found out later, arrogance is costly…literally. Back in the day,  looking at my credit card balances would make me feel defeated even before charging so much on them.  My mentality then was ‘oh well, I already have $1,000 on the card, what’s $200 more?’
Well, those of you who are familiar with your own debt can predict what happens with that stinkin’ thinkin’- $200 turns into $250 which leads to $1,000 until finally, in my case $15,379.53.

While I knew I wasn’t going to stop traveling, I also knew I had to be smarter about my financial decisions before and ESPECIALLY during my voyages. So, I decided to implement these two simple techniques and I must say, my budget has definitely benefited from them both!

-The Travel Fund Fund
Gone are the days of my mind deceivingly convincing me to rely solely on my ‘weak willpower’ to set aside funds from my paycheck for my travels. That deceit ran its course after seeing my credit card balances! I now have my employer deposit a set amount every pay period into a bank account I call ‘The Travel Fund’ Fund. Flights, lodging options, and spending money comes strictly out of it. It truly determines if I stay home or go on.

-The Envelope Method
Those of you who are familiar with financial no-nonsense guru Dave Ramsey probably practice this method or know someone who does. I decided to extend this technique from my everyday spending to my travels. The pictures of the envelopes below are from my voyage to Belize. I stashed money into each of these envelopes based on what I planned on doing while there. I even took it a bit further and estimated how much I could spend on transportation, food, and even tips while there. It really kept me financially focused from overspending and relying on credit.

moneyplan
So tell me, what financially savvy techniques to do you follow when paying for your trips?


Related posts:

Llueve, Llueve Go Away!!! Come Back to Belize Some Other Day!!!

rainyKnowledge trinket for the day: Llueve is rain in Spanish

I knew that ‘rainy season’ in Belize started from June to mid-November,  but all I could focus on was finally revisiting the country that caused me to start pondering about relocating from the U.S. in the future. Plus, I’ve visited other countries during their supposed ‘rainy season’ and the worst that happened was a downpour spurt. Nothing that caused me to seek shelter, at least not for the entire day. Definitely nothing that caused me to reschedule and cancel planned excursions . Based on this history, I just knew Mama Nature would look out for her special one (ME!) and hold back her crocodile tears during my one week stay in San Pedro in June.

She quickly drenched my ego.

*random convo alert*

Mama Nature, I thought we were cool. I recycle (when I remember) and I don’t litter (well, yesterday I didn’t). Doesn’t this count for something? Why did you cry so much during my stay in Belize???

Her response? Silence. Absolute silence. Her actions spoke louder than words by showing me no llueve leniency.

It rained on day one,
It rained on day two.
I had to cancel several excursions,
Oh, Mama Nature, what did I do to you?
-SistaVoyage

So, no, I didn’t explore the Mayan Temples. I didn’t visit the zoo nor Belmopan, the capital of Belize. I didn’t snorkel, scuba, snuba, zip line, kite surf, go cave tubing…

I bet you are wondering, ‘well dang SistaVoyage, what DID you do?’ I am glad you asked.  Although my main plans didn’t go as planned, I did:

Sail the blue Caribbean Sea on a catamaran

sailing
setsail

Eat great grub!
stewchicken

Encounter interesting non-humans
what is thisherelizardMeet good people

Annie from Annie's Pastries in San Pedro
Annie from Annie’s Pastries in San Pedro

fire

Witness the chicken Drop

chickendropchickendrop1

Tour San Pedro and Caye Caulker

sanpedro

Get a great massage at a great deal.

massage copy

Volunteer

holycross

The latter made up for all of plans I had to cancel due to the weather :)

Question: Have you ever had to reschedule or cancel plans for your trip during your visit due to weather? If not for weather, what was the reason? How did you handle the disappointment?


Related posts:

Semana Santa in Roatan, Honduras

Semana Santa AKA Holy Week-  A week of religious celebration that leads up to Easter Sunday.

Two years had passed since my first solo trip to the island and in between that time, I went through what I label ‘Roatan Withdrawal.’ Maintaining contact with those that I met in 2011 during my stay and being asked the question ‘when are you coming back to see us?’ only intensified the withdrawal symptoms. While the desire was always in my heart to revisit, my debt to income ratio and getting approved time off from work kept me from returning sooner.

I heard about Semana Santa previously and decided this would be a great time to kick the hiatus in the nads and GO! I envisioned the week as being ‘one big island block party’ engulfed with tons of cultural festivities for all to enjoy. I daydreamed about people verbally and physically proclaiming their love for this week throughout the streets of Roatan. I could ‘see’ churches extending their hours to the public, welcoming all to come in, hear sermons and sing songs about the significance of Semana Santa.

So in December 2012, I purchased a flight specifically for the week of March 25 to March 31, 2013.

Super excited about what I was going to experience, I emailed a friend who has lived in Roatan for over 12 years to inquire about the cultural festivities that would be happening during that time. Her email reply had me scratching my chin:

‘There are not many cultural activities here during Semana Santa, people basically celebrate by drinking a lot on West Bay beach.’

Fa Real?? But wait, this is HOLY WEEK!!!!

She also explained that it is usually very crowded, businesses close early during the week, and many people spend time with their families.

Wha??? Are you sure? Say wha ‘na?

The fantasy bubble of the ‘huge block party celebration’ burst and turned into mental droplets of a bunch of people hanging around getting drunk, me pushing my way through rowdy crowds, traffic being backed up for miles, and grocery stores being closed for several days.

Oh and guess what else? I completely forgot that since this was a holiday week, hostels, resorts, and hotels charged almost DOUBLE what they normally request.

Dangit!

I wanted to cancel this trip, but I didn’t. I decided to extend my stay so that I could experience the wildness of that week then the calm once it’s over. I am so glad I did because…

Neither extreme I envisioned  about Semana Santa in Roatan was true.

Yes, West Bay Beach was crowded on Good Friday, but it wasn’t unbearable:
westbay
Yes, people were drinking and partying in West End and West Bay:
jumppartytime

But there were moments of peace, too:
baysittingYes, some businesses did close, but if you needed essentials, you could still purchase them somewhere else.

Remember!!! 20 Lempiras (L. 20) equals $1!!!
Remember!!! 20 Lempiras (L. 20) equals $1!!!

What was DEFINITELY true about this holiday week was the family aspect. While walking around, I saw a family singing hymns and reading from Bibles in front of their home in celebration of Semana Santa. I witnessed families enjoying each other on beaches. Several people went to other cities in Honduras and to other countries to spend quality time with their loved ones and vice versa.

For me, while I didn’t have family there before, I certainly do now! One family I’d NEVER MET BEFORE in my life treated me like their long, lost,  loved relative to the extent of welcoming me into their home for conversation and good home cooking!!!

This:

Fresh Queenfish!
Fresh Queenfish!

Plus This:

beansricebanana
Beans, Rice and a Boiled Banana

Resulted in This!

gone!

Semana Santa in Roatan, you are alright with Sista :) ¡Me gusta usted mucho y le veré en el futuro!

 

 

 

Related posts:

How to Get over Your Fear of Traveling Solo

stood up lady
Image courtesy of [ambro] FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you:

  • find yourself jaded when plans with others go sour,  keep reading.
  • end up staying home if everyone else cancels because you just can’t fathom going out alone, keep on reading.
  • have been curious about traveling, but you don’t think you will be safe or have fun by yourself, keep on, keep on what? That’s right, keep reading.

Listen, I totally understand the natural apprehension surrounding solo travel, but the key is conquering it by not allowing the ‘yays’ or ‘nays’ of others to dictate your actions. So, are you ready to overcome your fears of solo travel, but you just don’t know exactly how to do it? Well, keep reading because I have a few ‘Sista Says’ tips for ya!

Start Going out with YOU!!!
First you must get over your LOCAL fear of going out alone. Tempted to dine at that new, sexy sushi restaurant in your city, but it seems it’s a couples only haven? So what? Go eat alone and  pick up a tempura roll for me, while you’re there, lol.

 

Me and Tempura
Me and Tempura

Travel alone within the US
While you’re there, revisit tip the first tip!!!

Go on a cruise
This may seem like a daunting step, but it really is not, I promise. Think about it-  you will be surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other people! You get to mingle on a large scale then retreat to the comforts of YOU. Win win!!!

Go abroad with specialized, touring groups
While you may arrive alone, touring groups provide you with mingling conditions similar to a cruise, only in a smaller capacity. To find out more information on these specialized tours, visit either  cosmos.com or timetravelplans.com .

The last tip: NOW GO SOLO!!!
You can do it, Bobbina/Bobbie Boucher, you can do it!!! Remember, you only get to live this one and only life to its highest extent…ONCE! Research your destination in advance and when you arrive there, leave Timid Tim/Tina at the baggage claim area and exude Fearless Frank/Farrah!

jump

 

 


Related posts: