Category Archives: Where I laid my sweet head

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.

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Why Did You Stay There? That Place Looked Expensive!

At The Phoenix Resort, Belize
At The Phoenix Resort, Belize

When people view my videos or pictures of my experiences overseas, a question I tend to answer a lot is why I chose to stay at a certain resort/hotel.  Right after I am asked this, the comment that typically follows is ‘that place looked expensive! I can’t afford that.’

Of course, expensive is relative as one person may believe $150.00 per night is a steal while another may view it as if their money’s being stolen. It all boils down to what are important preferences to you.

Sooo…Why Did I Stay There?

I visit www.tripadvisor.com to help me narrow my lodging options down based on user reviews, pictures, and videos.  I purposefully choose the top rated accommodations for my initial visits to a particular country and I try not to stay over a week. Once I become more acquainted with the area, I then scope out cheaper options for my future travels , making sure I don’t skimp on quality and safety. For example, for my first visit to Roatan, I stayed at a luxury resort called Barefoot Cay (read here). The next time I visited I opted for the cheaper accommodation of Roatan Backpacker’s Hostel (read here). By me preferring to travel alone, I believe this is a smart move on my part. On top of this, traveling’s a treat for me and where I choose to lie my head reflects this. After preparing for my voyage, flying hundreds of miles to my destination and braving customs (whew!) the last thing I need is the headache of canceling reservations on the spot and trying to figure out where else I could stay.

 Question: How do you choose your lodging options?

 

 

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So, How Did I Spend My 34th Birthday? (Plus Contest Winner Announcement!!!)

 

We Are Family!
We Are Family!

I went to Virginia and Washington to spend time with family and friends, as most of those who participated in my giveaway suggested. I was only there for a short time, but I definitely made the most of it!!!
The plan was hit up King’s Dominion Amusement Park during my visit, but the weather, TRAFFIC on I-95 North and South, my family’s work schedule and my friend’s sickness ruled in favor of ‘No.’ Nevertheless, I still had a blast because:

The flight attendant surprised me with my FAVORITE treat on my way there!!!
P1040116I met a new family member, Miss Shay!
P1040119I went to free, jazz event in Washington, D.C. (and you all know I LOVE jazz!!!)

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I saw an impressive building and I had to take pictures of it…with me in the pictures, of course :)
P1040136P1040139P1040142I wanted to visit the Washington Monument, but the walk was far and the air was HUMID! I decided this picture would suffice, lol.
P1040155

It was great seeing my family and friends again. I hope to make it sooner than later in the future. Plus, I am now considering a relocation to the North Virginia and Washington, D.C. area :)

NOW ONTO THE GOODY GOOD STUFF!
The winner of $50 E-Visa or Paypal Cash from the ‘Help Sista Decide’ contest is…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to all who participated. There will definitely be more giveaways here in the future!!!

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Sometimes, HOSTEL-ity is Necessary

When you come back here, think about staying at my hostel,’ Mel, the owner of Roatan Backpackers stated to me in 2011.

Wait.
Maybe I heard wrong.
Just maybe she flipped the letters ‘s’ and ‘l’ around and meant to say hotels.  I mean, didn’t she know anything about ‘Hostel,’ the movie? Absolute travel terror. I knew more about that movie than the actual hostel option itself. Heck to be honest, I thought the term was only made up for that movie.

While I replied with a smile, nod, and the most fake ‘okay’ to her suggestion, my brain was like ‘no way, Mel-A.’

Me and I in 2011 at Barefoot Cay Resort
Me and I in 2011 at Barefoot Cay Resort

Fast forward to 2012. I decided it was time to begin my travel fund so that my future voyages would be paid for with cash and not credit. I saved up enough to purchase a round trip flight back to Roatan in 2013 for Semana Santa, with the remaining balance planned to be used for lodging, spending money and other extras. Gold star for me!!! Next step on the list was choosing where I would stay.

My fantasy was to go back at Barefoot Cay or another resort/hotel on that same level, but my remaining travel fund balance quickly brought me back to reality. I will be honest with you, Good People. I was SO tempted to slip into my old charging habits, but thankfully, I overcame it!!! I contacted Mel and booked the one-bedroom apartment of her hostel for one week for only $220 and I still had money left over in my travel fund! I even extended my stay and assisted her with running the hostel. This gave me business experience in a foreign country and definitely challenged my pequeño knowledge of Spanish.

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Bathroom in one bedroom apartment
IMG-20130729-00140
Sitting area next to kitchen
Kitchen in one-bedroom apartment
Kitchen in one-bedroom apartment

I really appreciated the feel and location of the hostel. It’s close to a main road where tons of buses and taxis drive, close to tourist attractions, the beach, and locally owned restaurants and bodegas. Because it’s in a residential area, it was easy to convince myself that I actually lived there, lol.

From interacting with good people from all walks and purposes of life:

Hostel guests
Hostel guests

Mel assisting me with volunteering as a pharmacist at Clinica Esperanza:

Nurse Carla, me and Miss Peggy of Clinica Esperanza
Nurse Carla, me and Miss Peggy of Clinica Esperanza

and enjoying a fun dinner night with Mel’s family other guests:
foodnight

Mel and I in 2013
Mel and I in 2013

staying at Roatan Backpacker’s definitely provided me with more of an authentic Roatan experience than a high end resort ever could.  Plus, the cost was super light on my pockets. I am glad I was hostel with my lodging approach. Traveling mission accomplished. 😉

 

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