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Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
A trip around the world has always been on my bucket list. I still can’t believe that Jeff and I finally did it. We’ve just returned home to our sunny island home of Phuket, Thailand and finally have a moment to look back on our amazing journey around the world.
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Before we started this trip, I knew that we wouldn’t have the space in our luggage for souvenirs as we were going to nearly 30 different countries. Even though we have been told we packed light, I can assure you that our bags were anything but light. This inspired me to think a little outside the box for souvenir ideas.
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My favorite part about traveling is looking back on my photos long after the trip. It is a great way to put you right back to where you were and bring back memories you had long forgotten about. I wanted to do something fun and different with my photos. So I thought, “Why not bring a chalkboard?” I decided to have a photo taken of myself  holding a chalkboard with the name of the country I was in. I wanted a way to visually see each country while having a reminder of myself in that place during that time. Even if I may have been up all night, had not showered in days or was only in a country for a few hours, I wanted to remember all of it.
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Now, 28 images later, I have a fun collection of pictures that for me, sums up our 159 day, 32,281 mile trip around the world!
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
CANADA:
Even though Canada isn’t too far from my home county, it was still really exciting to go visit! Two days in Vancouver and I was in love! Canada is a great country and Vancouver is a beautiful city!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ENGLAND:
Since we only had two rainy days in London, and as it was my first time to England I knew I wanted the cliché photo with a red phone booth!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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BELGIUM:
Brussels was a beautiful city and I was surprised at how modern of a city it was. We had one of our favorite meals of the entire trip in Brussels, an absolutely amazing beef stew. This photo was taken at the bus station before we boarded to Amsterdam.
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Chalkboard around the world
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ISRAEL:
With so much history in Israel, I had a hard time deciding where would be best to take a photo here. While we were driving with a guide through the desert we went to this cliff where you could see a beautiful monastery in the hillside. I thought that this would be a great reflection of this historical importance of Israel.

 

Chalkboard around the world
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IRELAND:
Green! I knew I wanted this photo to be green, but I struck it rich when we just happened to get some sunshine since it was gloomy and raining during most of our stay. Ireland may have been our first stop, but it was also one of our favorites. Read our “Complete Guide to Ireland” for our best recommendations!
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Chalkboard around the world

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MOROCCO:
Oh Morocco! We were here for just a few hours while stopping during a cruise we took early in the year. I had always imaged Morocco as a colorful place, however Casablanca was not what I imaged. This is at the Hassan II Mosque which is the 7th largest mosque in the world.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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AUSTRIA:
Innsbruck, Austria is a beautiful little ski town nestled in the mountains. We were lucky enough to stay with some wonderful friends here for 2 weeks!
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Chalkboard around the world

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SPAIN:
We were lucky enough to be in Barcelona on my birthday in January! Once again, this was a quick stop during our cruise so I can’t wait to get back to explore more!
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Chalkboard around the world

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CZECH REPUBLIC:
We met some great friends in Prague and had an amazing time exploring this beautiful old city. While Europe has some of the best beer in the world, I’d bet most of it can be found in Prague, and at a cheap price too!
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Chalkboard around the world

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EGYPT:
Egypt just may have been my favorite place on this trip! Not only did I fulfill a childhood dream of visiting the pyramids, but we also got to spend great time with some new friends!
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Chalkboard around the world

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HUNGARY:
Budapest is one of the most enchanting cities in Europe. It is a great city where history meets a modern twist. I would live here in a heartbeat! This was the first time we have used AirBNB and found ourselves in this old apartment complex trying to find which apartment was ours!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:
Even though we spent most of our time in Dubai, we were still able to get out and see the beautiful desert! Jeff and I were both really impressed with Dubai and can’t wait to get back to explore more.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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ESTONIA:
Tallinn, Estonia is a quant little old city and has so much culture and lots to see. We were only here for one night but enjoyed walking around the old town watching the snow fall.
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Chalkboard around the world

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FINLAND:
Finland is also on the top of my favorite places we’ve been to this year! Helsinki is a great design oriented town that is hip and embraces its rich history, although I had to take this photo while up in Lapland exploring the arctic circle and seeing snow fall for the first time in my life!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ITALY:
We went to many places in Italy, but it was in Venice during Carnival that I wanted to take this photo. Carnival was such a unique and beautiful way to explore all that Venice has to offer.
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Chalkboard around the world
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NORTHERN IRELAND:
While in Dublin, we decided why not take the 3 hour drive with some friends up to Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway and while we got there right after sunset we were able to catch some light for this photo!
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Chalkboard around the world
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GERMANY:
Germany has always been on the top of my list of places to visit in Europe and this year it finally happened! Although we only had 2 days in Berlin, it was great to learn more about Germany’s vast history and how the city has transformed to a modern city with tons of artistic expression.
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Chalkboard around the world
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HOLLAND:
I didn’t know if I should write Holland or The Netherlands but in the end it didn’t matter since we had such a great time in Amsterdam exploring the canals!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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PORTUGAL:
This photo is in Lisbon near the port while it was pouring rain. We had to be quick since the rain just kept washing the chalk off the board, but it made for a fun experience!
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Chalkboard around the world

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TURKEY:
Although Istanbul has so much history and culture, it was this pop of color while walking around that caught my eye. I wanted to show a different side to such an old city.
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Chalkboard around the world

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SWEDEN:
Since we spent an entire night at the airport in Stockholm we though it would be fun to take photos in the nearly abandoned airport at 2 in the morning.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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VATICAN:
The Vatican is such a beautiful place and it was very surreal to see all the paintings and murals in the museum, but it was here that meant the most to me. It really is amazing to stand here and thing about all the people that come here to see the pope.
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Chalkboard around the world

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MALDIVES:
Holy blue ocean! The Maldives are such a beautiful place. There are 1,190 different islands so it is hard to pick just one. We stayed in Maafushi which is a local island, but as you can see we still had a resort like beach to spend our time.
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Chalkboard around the world
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FRANCE:
Paris is a place that every girl longs to go to at least once in her life and I was no exception, I absolutely fell in love with Paris. We had an amazing 5 days here with a good friend who was kind enough to show us around this memorizing city. I can’t wait to get back and eat some more macaroons!

Chalkboard around the world

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SINGAPORE:
While it was not my first time in Singapore, it was great to be back and see how much this city has grown. Singapore is a beautiful city which great people and beautiful architecture.
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Thailand
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THAILAND:
Phuket will always be a second home to me and it is where we began and ended our around the world trip. Living here has really opened my eyes and taking this photo was really important. This photo was taken in a little lagoon in Koh Phi Phi Ley near where the majestic beach from the movie The Beach was filmed. You can see another hidden beach in the background that we could swim to. Taking a long tail boat out to this preserved island and spending the day snorkeling and soaking up the sun is my favorite thing to do in Thailand.
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MEXICO:
Growing up, my family always spent at least once if not twice a year in Mexico. This year I was fortunate enough to get the change to travel to a new place in Baja called Loreto. It is a great little fishing town located right on the Sea of Cortez.
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SRI LANKA:
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation located just southeast of India and visiting was a great treat for me. There are many elephants, beautiful landscapes and beaches. If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful country, take it!
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Bio Photo Marina 150x150 My First Time: Taking a Cruise Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

Top 10 Things Americans have told me when I tell them I travel

Top 10 Things Americans Have Told Me When I Tell Them I Travel

 

As an American, I am often surprised at how ignorant some of my fellow Americans can be. We like to think that we are the best country in the world and that there is nothing to learn from other places. After traveling so much, I think I have a pretty educated opinion about how far from the truth this really is. Not to mention how unwilling Americans are to travel, so few in fact that only 36% of Americans even have a valid passport (which is a record high). That means that 64% can’t travel outside of the USA.

Over the years, I have heard some interesting comments about traveling. I’ve put together my top 10 favorites of what people have told me when I told them I was a traveler or about to travel so break out some popcorn and join me in some laughter.

 

 

  1. “Be careful in France, there are Muslims there.”

I could not hold back frustration and laughter when I was told this. Where do I even start? There are Muslims everywhere in the world even in our precious America. What this conversation escalated into was unbelievable. They proceeded to tell me that they were almost killed by Muslims and I proceeded to explain that someone who practices the Muslim religion is different than a terrorist. That is a huge problem here in the good old US of A. This is like saying don’t go to the south there are black people there. Okay, yes but how does that translate into danger? Go places and take in new cultures and new people, I promise it will make you a more educated individual.

 

  1. “You can’t go to Germany, ISIS is there looking to kill Americans.”

Haha! I can understand to an extent when someone tells me to be safe when I travel to a dangerous part of the world, not that it’ll stop me from going, however I am pretty sure that if ISIS really wanted to kill Americans, the first place they would look would be America, not Germany.

 

have told me when I tell them I travel

  1. “Don’t go there it isn’t safe.”

Is anywhere really safe? I’m from one of the largest cities in Southern California where we have major crime just like any other American metropolis. I am just as likely to be robbed where I grew up, as I am anywhere else in the world. But of course, I travel smart even at home. I’m not going to walk down a dark alley at night regardless of where I am. Traveling doesn’t mean you will be unsafe it just means that you should keep an extra eye out since you are not familiar with your surroundings, but you should do that anywhere.

 

  1. “Why would you leave the best country ever?”

Okay, assume that America IS the best country ever (oh and this does not make me unpatriotic). There are many countries that are amazing and even, get this, a few that could be perceived as better. For example, in Germany and Finland anyone, even a foreigner, can get a free education. They do this because they believe (and so do I) that in the long run those educated people will help their economy and community even if they do not decide to stay after their studies. They believe in the overall good of the people, regardless of where you are from. Don’t get me wrong, America is a great country and I will always be thankful to have been born and raised here, but we could learn a lot from other countries as well.

Leaving America to see a new place doesn’t take away from our pride. If anything you will return home having a new appreciated love for our country. After living in another country I came back home to the USA. I love it here and I believe that that life experience made me a stronger person. Just because you leave doesn’t mean you can’t come back.

 

  1. “Haven’t you seen the movie Taken? You shouldn’t travel.”

In all honestly I have not seen this movie, but I feel like I have because of how many people have told me about it. Yes, bad things happen but they can happen anywhere and it should not keep you from experiencing new places. This is also why Hollywood has way too much power on how we perceive the world. Just because you travel doesn’t mean you will find yourself in the middle of a Michael Bay movie. This is one hypothetical situation that some scriptwriter thought would bring in ticket sales. Come on now.

 

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  1. “Don’t go to Egypt, they had a revolution.”

Egypt has been on the top of my bucket list for well pretty much my whole life. I ended up going in 2014, which was 3 years after the revolution. So when I had the opportunity to go, I wasn’t going to hesitate. So many of my friends and family begged me not to go. I couldn’t understand why. Yes I do understand that some places have governments that are not as stable as we consider our own to be, yet that does not necessarily mean that the country is unsafe. Egypt has been going through many transitions but after talking to friends who live there and friends who had traveled there I was never concerned. And I was right. It was a great place to visit and I never felt unsafe. They are dying for tourism due to this this stigma and we were welcomed with open arms. If you ever get the chance it is a great place to visit with a vast history and great people.

 

  1. “You’re just leaving to avoid paying taxes.”

This was told to me when I first moved to Thailand. I ended up living there for two years and yes I paid taxes in the US for both of those years. The USA is only one of two countries that, if you are a citizen you must pay taxes, unless you are paying taxes in that country you live in and if US has an exemption with that country for otherwise. When I moved to Thailand I was ridiculed for abandoning my country to avoid paying taxes. I was living in Thailand legally and paying taxes in my home country that I didn’t live in. I would never try to avoid paying for my home country, however many Americans that are expats in a foreign country are denouncing their citizenship because of paying taxes that do not benefit them. In any other place (except the USA and one other country) you only pay taxes in the country you live in, regardless of where you are a citizen, which makes sense to me.

have told me when I tell them I travel 

  1. “You are unpatriotic if you leave America” 

Unpatriotic? Don’t get me wrong, I love my home country and I am very proud to be American, yet that doesn’t mean I have to stay here my whole life. If anything traveling has made me appreciate where I come from even more than I did before. Plus, we could all learn a lot by understanding and experiencing new cultures. Saying that someone is unpatriotic because they leave to go experience somewhere new is ignorant. We love to show off that we are “the freest country in the world” (which is not true), yet we are criticized if we leave? If I’m so free then why are my fellow Americans giving me shit for traveling?

 

  1. “You moved to Thailand? I give it two weeks before you’re a sex worker.”

Okay really? Are Americans that naive to think that anywhere that isn’t America is that evil? While yes, the sex industry is booming in Thailand it doesn’t mean that just because I go there I will be abducted. Or for that matter that I can’t pay my own way and would be forced into selling myself to make ends meet. Thailand is a beautiful country and while every country has problems with sex trafficking, it should never keep you from visiting. Plus you’d be surprised how much sex trafficking goes on in the USA, look it up, I dare you.

 

  1. “You are so lucky.”

This is the worst thing you could ever say to anyone that travels frequently. While yes, I am fortunate that I was raised in a family that encouraged me to follow my dreams, I did not win a golden ticket, no one handed me the life I live and no I am not rich and my family doesn’t not pay for my travel… I work. I work very hard in fact in order to travel. No one gave me this life, I fought for it thus I am not lucky. If it had been my dream to be an accountant and went to school and worked really hard for a good accounting job would you tell me I was lucky? I didn’t think so and my career choice is no different. Anyone can travel, however Americans choose not to. If you want to get out and see the world you can. Just find a way, book a ticket and do it!

 

 


 

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

 

 

 

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So… let me just be honest, I could write the best article in the world explaining to you why you should travel, but realistically, you’re still not going to. Since I am a photographer and a visual learner, I thought it would be best to show you why you should travel. In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter where you go, it’s the fact that you’re getting out in the world. There are millions of places that you can visit and it doesn’t even have to be far from home.

 

Here are 20 images that I hope will inspire you to get out and see some of the beautiful world we live in!

 

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Batu Caves, Malaysia

 

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Paris, France

 

Long An, Vietnam

 

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Cairo, Egypt

 

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Jerusalem, Israel

 

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

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Maafushi, Maldives

 

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Cairo, Egypt

 

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

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Berlin, Germany

 

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Salla, Finland

 

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates

 

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Budapest, Hungary

 

Ben San, Vietnam

 

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Istanbul, Turkey

 

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Jerusalem, Israel

 

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

 

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Prague, Czech Republic

 

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Malé, Maldives

 

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Phuket, Thailand

 

ALL IMAGES © MARINA DOMINGUEZ

IMAGES CANNOT BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT FROM PHOTOGRAPHER.

 


 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up

 

So here it goes again, that same familiar feeling that I crave yet despise. My bags are packed and I’m just counting down the minutes until I have to leave for yet another airport, but this time is different. This time I’m leaving heartbroken yet rejuvenated. This time I’m leaving to start my life, again. I came to Dubai to visit Jeff so we could go to a blogging conference in Sri Lanka. It was nothing like I though it would be. This trip, this adventure has been one of the most difficult I’ve had to date. It wasn’t hard because of the travel, but instead because of what I have learned and what I am now leaving.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up

Meeting all the other bloggers at the conference was eye opening. Here they are, the top travel bloggers in the world who are all coming together to share their stories and their insight and somehow, with our little blog, we were invited to join. There are a thousand things I learn logistically about running a blog; SEO, social media, but the most important thing that I learned was how to put myself into our stories. There is a lot about our story that we haven’t shared so for the first time this is me; honest, open and exposed.

“There is a lot about our story that we haven’t shared so for the first time this is me; honest, open and exposed.”

 

Our story started back in 2010. I was in photo school in California and meeting Jeff for the first time at a gallery opening for a project he had just completed. I was memorized, I was taken away by his stories of his travels, something I had never done before. We became inseparable, best friends. Everyone kept telling me that he wanted more, but I was too naive to listen. That friendship lasted even after college until we finally started dating. He became so much more than just my best friend and I was certain he was it for me. It wasn’t long after we got together that we decided to quit our jobs and travel the globe. We moved straight to the other side of the world and started our lives in Thailand together.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up
Jeff & Marina in college, one of the first photos of us ever.

The next year would be the most difficult for me. I left everything I ever knew, everyone I had ever met and was in a strange place, a place were I would grow to love but at the same time resent. I was scared and felt so alone, even though Jeff was by my side. We started the blog and things on the outside were picture perfect, but inside I was screaming to get out. I had everything most people wanted so why was I so depressed? I think for me I wasn’t ready to be everything to someone, I was still young and selfish and unconsciously grew to resent Jeff. He was so strong, he had it all figured out and it made me insane with jealousy. We did everything we could to make it through, but for me all I wanted was to go home. Even after traveling non-stop for 6 months together, a trip that was perfect, I just wanted to run away. I needed a break to figure myself out and emotionally get back on my feet. It’s ironic looking back now at how good Jeff and I were during this trip, when all we did was have the time of our lives.

 

When I got back home I jumped right into another relationship, a relationship that ended up hurting me in every way a person can be hurt. It wasn’t right and it was exactly what I needed to ignore the pain of the breakup with Jeff. That relationship ended badly to say the least. While I was home ignoring those feelings, Jeff was back in Thailand facing them head on. For me it was out of sight out of mind. Coming to Dubai to visit Jeff, where he was busy starting a new chapter, should be easy, I was moving on, I started seeing someone else, someone good and so was he. I thought it would be like before were we could just be best friends and hang out like old times.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up
Desert safari in Dubai

I arrived in Dubai to reunite with my best friend and yet my ex boyfriend. Everyone told me what it would be like, but I just shrugged it all off telling myself, “you’re over him.” Nothing prepared me for the rush of emotions I felt when I walked though that door. It was him, but he was different and he wasn’t alone. Since we had been friends for so long before and since he had taken the past six months to get over me, something I just ran away from, he treated me as one of the guys, but for me it was like he had just taken a hammer to my heart. I never expected to feel that way and didn’t know how to handle it. I played it cool. The three of us hung out all night, and they had no idea how much I was hurting on the inside. That night I cried myself to sleep, I couldn’t handle knowing he was in bed with another girl just on the other side of the wall from me.

 

When we went to the conference we were faced with the awkward conversations of explaining that although we had started a couples travel blog we were no longer a couple. Everyone had questions, “How?” “You guys get along and travel?” “Wait, you’re both seeing other people?” They had no idea how I was feeling on the inside. We hadn’t been together since we broke up, since he had moved on, since I thought I had but clearly hadn’t.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking UpIt wasn’t until we returned to Dubai that I completely fell apart. There is nothing more agonizing then the pain of getting over someone, yet doing it in front of them. Jeff did everything he could to still be my best friend and to be there for me, but there was nothing he could do. So now I’m back in that moment, waiting to leave for the airport to return back home. A part of me wishes that he would just ask me to stay, but I do know that there is a reason we fell apart in the first place and decided to end our relationship; those reasons haven’t changed. I’ve never felt this way before. On one hand, we still want the world and are so inspired to push the blog to the next level and travel full time, but on the other hand we’re both just trying to survive and live our lives. For me that means getting over the love of my life yet at the same time I’m about to board a flight to go back and tell the man I’ve been dating that I’m not over my ex, that I don’t know how to be with anyone right now. He’s a good man and deserves to know the truth. If I had known I felt this way I wouldn’t have started seeing him. I ‘m leaving one side of the world with a broken heart to go back to the other side to break someone else’s.

 

“We now have two different perspectives on the world and are lucky enough to

share them with you.”

Traveling has taught me so much about myself. It has made it so easy to run and hide from the things I am too scared to face, but now I welcome the challenge of new beginnings and the next chapter. .Jeff and I will always be the best of friends and we will always travel and I am thankful to have him in my life. Getting over the heartache and moving forward both as friends and as business partners will be the first step.

 

Confessions of an Ex-Expat: Breaking Up
Always celebrate the good times!

Life will always throw you curve balls but it’s when you come back a stronger person you realize why it was so difficult in the first place. Traveling has given me strength I never thought I had. Moving home has been anything but easy, but I have made some amazing friends who want to experience new places and start to travel. I’m thankful for these past few years and I am thankful for Jeff. He has inspired me to always be stronger and better. My life would never have been the same without him and although it is difficult for him not to be with me yet I am finally ready to move on and am looking forward to the next chapter.  I will never regret the choices that have lead me down this road. Jeff’s friendship has made me stronger and I’m so happy for him and his new life. He is doing incredible things and sharing this blog with him is a blessing. We now have two different perspectives on the world and are lucky enough to share them with you.

 


 

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Places To Visit in 2015

Top 10 Places To Visit in 2015

Need some help deciding where to travel to this year? We have put together a list of the top 10 places to visit in 2015 to help you out! So whether you want to go camping in a magical jungle or spend time in a thriving city, there is somewhere for everyone and we hope that you will experience some of these beautiful places if you haven’t already!

10. San Francisco, USA Belgrade, Serbia Matagalpa, Nicaragua Maafushi, Maldives Haida Gwaii, Canada Cape Town, South Africa Myanmar Helsinki, Finland Iceland Havana, Cuba

 


 

Photo Credits: 1. Jaume Escofet, 2. www.turnerfitch.com, 4. Staffan Scherz, 6. Sam Beebe, 8. Thomas Frost Jensen, 9. lab604 | All images have been altered


 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

Loreto Mexico Banner

Loreto, Mexico – The Undiscovered Gem of Mexico

Loreto, Mexico
View from our room at The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto.

 Growing up travel wasn’t something my family did, in fact no one in my family had a passport. We grew up just trying to get by, but since my grandfather grew up in Cuba and came to live in the United States when he was 17, he always took my dad and his siblings to Baja Mexico for family vacations. They always went down to San Felipe to camp on the beach and the tradition lived on. My dad’s family took our cousins and us down to the same little beach once or twice a year throughout our whole childhood. I know I said we didn’t travel, but when you live in Southern California, Mexico doesn’t feel like a new place. It was our weekend trips that we looked forward to all year.

Loreto, Mexico
Intersection in the downtown area of Loreto.

Because Baja was like a second home, I never felt the need to experience more of Mexico and to be honest; Mexico isn’t a place California’s prefer to go. As Americans, we seem to think that Mexico isn’t safe, however Mexico is a large country and there are so many beautiful and safe places to visit. So when I got the opportunity to go this year I was delighted. I was finally able to go experience a new side of Mexico and rediscover this stigmatized country and have the oppertunity to show you a beautiful place full of wonderful people. Once again I’d be traveling to Baja, but this time to Loreto, a small town in Baja California Sur.

Since I had always driven to Mexico as a kid, it was exciting to fly. Alaskan Airlines has a direct flight from LAX to Loreto, which was great. It was such a short flight, but the airline was so kind and efficient. Plus they had really taste craft beer on board from Portland, Oregon. The flight was only a few hours and we were there in no time! The tiny airport, which was clean and looked like it had a brand new terminal, was simple and everyone was friendly.

Loreto, Mexico
This is the small beach we spent the afternoon on to snorkel and enjoy the sun!

I was looking forward to this trip for a while, after traveling with Jeff for six months straight, I was excited to have a girls weekend in Mexico so I invited my friend Cris to come along with me. We didn’t want the summer to end so going down to Baja was perfect!

Loreto, Mexico
The Capital building.

Cris and I were so excited when we arrived. The weather was perfect and the water was so blue. As soon as we saw our resort we were both speechless, it was just too beautiful for words! We were staying at The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, which is quite the resort. Our one bedroom villa overlooked the whole resort and ocean. The great thing about The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is that every room faces the ocean. The buildings of rooms are all arranged to create a cove with the resort on the inside and the ocean as a prefect backdrop. There truly is no bad view. The other great thing is that there are no other resorts in site and you feel as though our on our own private island.

Loreto, Mexico
Just enjoying the view!
Loreto, Mexico
Loreto is a great place to Kayak!

Although we were mainly just at the resort there was so much to do! We could go hiking and do yoga over the beautiful ocean, go to the spa, swim in one of the many pools, go kayaking or paddle boarding and we could even go out and search for the famous chocolate clams! We even spend a day out in the water on a boat to go snorkeling and have lunch on a tiny little beach not too far from the hotel, it was a perfect day! If you’re interested in exploring the city, the hotel has a shuttle to get you into town. There is a lot to walk around and explore even though Loreto is a small city. It has a very small town charm and the people are so friendly and welcoming. There are many mom and pop shops to explore and buy some souvenirs.

There are many places in Baja that are perfect for a getaway, but in my opinion, Loreto was just perfect!  Whether you are looking for a couple’s getaway or a family vacation, The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is the perfect place to relax and have a great time.

Check out some more photos!

Loreto, Mexico
Beautiful souvenirs!
Loreto, Mexico
Downtown Loreto.
Loreto, Mexico
A Chef at The Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, prepares a fiery drink!
Loreto, Mexico
Waterfront in downtown Loreto.
Loreto, Mexico
Out on the boat enjoying to view.

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

Sri Lanka

20 Images That Will Make You Plan A Trip To Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a country I never really thought too much about, but now that I have been I cannot stop thinking about it! There was so much beauty we just had to share some of what this beautiful country has to offer! These 20 images will really make you plan your next vacation to Sri Lanka. There are gorgeous temples and lush countryside as well as breathtaking beaches and even elephants!

 

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Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

2014 Wrap Up

Latitude 34 Year End Wrap Up 2014

Now that it is 2015, we wanted to take a look back at this past year. In just 365 days we traveled to over 30 countries on four continents. Jeff and I also both moved from Thailand. In June I moved back home to California, while Jeff took a new job and relocated to Dubai.

2014 was an amazing year! We got to Climb to the top of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, I started my chalkboard photo series, we went off-roading in the Arabian Desert, we visited the Great Pyramids in Egypt, we went to the Maldives on a budget and got to ride in a sea plane, and we took a husky safari in Lapland, Finland!

We traveled over 32,281 miles around the world and had the time of our lives!

 

2014 Wrap Up

 

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

Hotel Review: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana

Hotel Review: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana

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Spread out over an amazingly beautiful 27 acres in the middle of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana is set amongst the lush greenery of Sri Lanka and provides a comfortable, luxurious and centrally located accommodation. Away from the noise of Columbo, the traffic and the hustle and bustle, Cinnamon Lodge Habarana allowed us to relax, recharge and revive our passion for travel before heading out to explore the country.

Small bungalow like rooms are spacious, nicely decorated and private feelings. The grounds are covered in beautiful gardens, green is everywhere with a perfect mix of flowers, plants and pathways seamlessly leading around the property. Warmly welcomed by the caring staff, guests are greeted with a welcome drink and flower before heading to their rooms.

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The restaurant and bar are open spaced, laid out by the pool on the vast green grounds. The food was maybe the best part about our entire stay at Habarana. A complete mix of local, western and Asian foods, there is something for everyone and no one will ever leave hungry. We enjoyed the open air eatery and especially the live music pouring over from the bar area.

Aside from the beautiful grounds at the hotel itself, there are endless activities close by including our favorite excursion in Sri Lanka, our elephant trek into the vast Kaudulla National Park where we finally, for the first time, saw a complete herd of wild elephants in their natural habitat, a truly stunning site to behold.

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We never expected to see such vast greenery in Sri Lanka, and while we should have expected all the natural beauty, it was amazing to explore and discovery the wonders that Sri Lanka had in store for us.

Warmly welcomed back to the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana we spent the evening around the bar, enjoying drinks with new friends and listening to the great live music.

The only downside of our experience was the wifi speed, which was sparse and slow at best and nonexistent at worse. Unfortunately we never came across perfect internet or wifi anywhere in Sri Lanka, so the internet at Habarana is no worse than anywhere else, but just know going in it will frustrate you. Luckily there is so much to do you shouldn’t be worrying about being connected anyway.

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Many choose to travel around the world and stay in luxury hotels in major cities, rarely venturing into the heart of the countries they are visiting. Take the chance, leave the comfort of the cities and travel into the sole of the country you are visiting. Cinnamon Lodge Habarana provides all the comforts of home, the kindness you long for while away from home and experiences you never could have imagined.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

Do Not Miss Climbing Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

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Marina and I were recently lucky enough to jump over to Sri Lanka to attend TBC Asia, the first ever travel blogging conference in Asia. What was even more exciting was being able to arrive four days before the conference and travel around seeing all that we could of this beautiful country in the short time that we had. Easily one of our favorite experiences of our time in Sri Lanka was hiking up to the top of Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, located in the town of Dambulla, in the Central Province.

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We arrive early, maybe before 7am, and the heat was already turning up quickly. Chosen by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) as the location of his capital, the grounds are covered in ancient walls, structures and ponds as the location of his palace was at the base of this magnificent rock structure. Walking towards this massive rock I felt a bit like I was walking through the grounds of Angkor Wat as the vastness of ruins reminded me of the similar layout of the Cambodian temples.

Sri Lanka is one of the greenest countries we have ever visited and while it is also extremely humid for much of the year, it is a small price to pay for the beautiful scenery the wet climate produces. Approaching the first stairs at the base of the rock, we passed one of the funniest signs we have ever seen, a bit intimidating huh? Luckily we kept our cool and didn’t get attacked.

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Approaching the rock itself we started to climb small stone steps leading to the sheer, flat side of the stone. Watch your step, as the stones are often wet and extremely slippery. Word of caution, if you are afraid of heights, have anxiety or are easily scared, think twice about doing this hike as most of the journey is up somewhat rattling metal stairs, bolted directly into the stone face. You will no doubt be fine and will feel like Indian Jones the whole way, but just know its a bit of a thrill.

About half way up the rock face there is a small cave which is still filled with some of the amazing paintings from centuries ago. Take a minute to check out these beautiful frescos, delicately preserved and still just as colorful as when they were painted.

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For those who do not want to go all the way to the summit (but you totally should, the view is amazing!) you can stop about half way up on a plateau where you can see the ancient remnants of the lion massive lion statue which was built into the side of the rock. Only the feet remain, but you get an amazing idea of the insane size this statue must have been.

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Continuing on we started our ascent up the winding walkways, again built into the side of the rock, slowly, as we approached the summit. Once on top we were greeted with a truly magnificent view. The early morning sun had filled the valley below and the glistening mountain tops in the far distance were covered in perfect clouds. The shimmering ponds below reflected the perfect blue morning sky and we sat in awe for a good 30 minutes before beginning our decent down to the base.

The hike down is equally exciting so remember to go slow, take your time and enjoy the view. While we might not either be morning hiker people we would both do this amazing climb over again in a heartbeat – just one more thing that makes Sri Lanka such an amazing destination to visit.

Today Sigiriya is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and is the single most visited historical site in the entire country.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

Preserving Mexico's Ancient Music

Preserving Mexico’s Ancient Music

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One of the greatest joys of traveling the world for Marina and I is discovering ancient cultures we never have even heard of. While we hope to discover all these great cultures all over the world, we realize this is a somewhat impossible task, and thats when we turn to our friends! Marina and I were very lucky to go to film school with some amazing filmmaking friends and are always excited to see the great projects they are working on all over the world.

Recently, our good friend Cole embarked on a very ambitious project “Sanctuary of Butterflies“, but one well worth the time and energy, to preserve and protect the ancient music of Mexico with Luis Perez, one of the last musicians truly working to preserve this ancient art form. We recently spoke to Cole and Luis to learn more about their project and the amazing history of the music they are dedicated to preserve.

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Preserving Mexico's Ancient Music

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What’s the film about?

Sanctuary of Butterflies is about the need for preservation of cultural traditions throughout Mexico and the impact of such traditions in contemporary urban societies. Music and dance are important forms of expression rooted in thousands of years of traditions, but they are now threatened due to the voracity of modern societies represented by corporate greed and corruption in a globalized world out of balance. Luis Perez-Ixoneztli takes us on a journey across Mexico to experience and learn from a wide variety of unique cultures while they still exist.

Check out the trailer to their amazing project!

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Sanctuary of Butterflies Promo from Gravity Free Productions on Vimeo.

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Help these guys meet their Kickstarter goal so they can make this amazing film – because we really want to watch it!

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Who is Luis Perez-Ixoneztli?

Luis Perez-Ixoneztli has contributed to the world of Mexican music by incorporating native musical instruments into a contemporary musical language, while paving a unique path for new generations of musicians. He believes that the most important part of his musical contribution is bringing back attention to the sheer wealth of native Mexican musical instruments. His first work, En el Ombligo de la Luna, perhaps the ultimate fusion involving Pre-Columbian instruments and electronics, has recently been recognized after 33 years as a pioneering musical work and has been inducted into the National Archives of Mexican Music. In addition, the National Institute of Anthropology and History will be publishing his book next year on the methods involved in constructing instruments native to Mexico, specifically Pre-Columbian clay percussion and winds.

Luis’ vast array of archaeological artifacts, some dating over 3000 years old, and ethnographic instruments, still in use by numerous diverse ethnic communities, have been displayed in various museums in both Mexico and the United States.

In his youth, Luis went on a series of trips very similar to the one we have planned. Over the course of those trips, he traded songs, learned dances, collected ethnographic as well as ancient Pre-Columbian instruments, and was inspired by the cultures he encountered to the point of changing his life’s musical direction.

Instruments

Luis’ collection of native Mexican instruments includes archaeological artifacts representative of the different cultural regions in the area known as Mesoamerica. Some of the instruments date back more than 3000 years and are preserved in excellent condition. Found in archaeological excavations, these instruments were once used in the ancient past by ministers of music as vehicles of communication between the material and the spiritual realms. They were buried to prevent their destruction from invaders and have remained silent for thousands of years until it was time for them to rise and, through the breath of a musician, speak again. Luis regularly uses these instruments in his recordings and lectures.

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Preserving Mexico's Ancient Music

Photos copyright Oscar Colorado Nates and Cole Smothers.

6 Things Never to Take on Vacation

6 Things Never to Take on Vacation

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You’ll find plenty of suggestions for what to take on vacation, the latest gadgets that will supposedly make traveling easier, and other tips on packing (like rolling instead of folding clothes). However, if you really want to make the most of your next trip, focus more on what not to bring. By literally lightening your load, you can enjoy the time, money and effort you put in to designing the ultimate getaway. Isn’t that what holidays are supposed to be about?

First, start by assessing what you’re “addicted” to and challenge yourself to go without it. This might mean coffee as soon as you wake up in the morning, checking your Facebook (at all) and sneaking in those work emails. If you have certain habits or vices that tend to dominate your life, they have no place on your vacation.

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6 Things Never to Take on Vacation

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Here are a few ideas of what to ditch before your next flight:

 

1. Your “work” laptop

Ideally, you wont’ take a laptop, tablet or other major device like this at all. There are some exceptions, such as if you’re required to at least check your work email every other day. However, having your usual work laptop or computer handy will tempt you to try to squeeze in a little daily grind. It’s important for your health and relationships that you truly go on vacation from time to time—work can wait.

 

2. Your smartest phone

Do you really need your phone when you’re traveling around Italy or bumming it on a Mexican beach for a few days? Probably not. Instead, for safety, pick up a local pay as you go phone and make sure family and friends back home have your number. This will let you call cabs, make reservations at local restaurants, etc. but will keep you from browsing Facebook, checking in and basically not being present during your trip. Pack an old school camera instead for snapping pictures.

 

3. A negative mindset

Traveling can be stressful, especially when things go wrong (as they often will). Do you best to flex your optimist muscles and remember that it’s about the adventure, not getting the smoothest check-in possible. It’s a lot easier to embrace your positive side when you’re completely checked out from work and other responsibilities.

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6 Things Never to Take on Vacation

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4. Unreasonable, unbroken-in shoes

Both men and women should pack one pair of dress shoes and be done with it. Otherwise, you’re going to be playing tourist or relaxing and there’s no room for uncomfortable or new shoes. For dress shoes, choose a neutral pair that you know are comfortable. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enjoy your getaway when you’re dealing with blisters non-stop.

 

5. Packed to the brim suitcases

Leave some room—and maybe even an entire bag—for purchases you’ll be making on vacation. This is an often overlooked problem, and the last thing you want is paying for overweight or extra bags on your return flight.

 

6. Your entire makeup bag

For women (and some men), it’s tempting to just toss your entire makeup bag in the suitcase. Instead, have a smaller, travel-sized bag for toiletries and take only the essentials you know you’ll be using everyday and a couple of pieces for dressing up. It’ll be a costly lessons if all your makeup gets lost or broken, and it takes up space that’s better used elsewhere.

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6 Things Never to Take on Vacation

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 When it comes to packing, aim for light and versatile. You don’t really need a brand new outfit for every day you’re on vacation, especially when you’re going somewhere tropical and a swimsuit with a couple of coverups will do.

 

Jenna is a freelance writer who loves the outdoors, fashion, and relaxing with her family. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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