The year 2015 was full of travel, change, and growth, but I should also add – full of anxiety and uncertainty. Even though I finally pursued my dream of travel by taking a road trip down to Costa Rica and allowed myself to open to creativity along the way, I continued to face fears and struggled with opening up to others.
This year has taught me so much and I feel that I am in a better place than before. Remembering back to January, I was a complete stress ball, worried about driving through Mexico and Central America, expecting the worst. Yet here I am, the end of the year, back in the US.
I am grateful for the opportunity I had to travel with my partner and for all that has happened, all the places I visited, and for all those I met. But most importantly, I am incredibly grateful for the loved ones in my life – family and friends. Without them nothing would have been possible. Family and friends saw us off in the beginning of the year with words of well-wishes and they took me back in when I returned with nothing to my name but the three bags I carried. This year I learned how much family means to me and how amazing all the members of my family are. They cared for me, supported me, and took me in when I needed it most. And I can’t forget those friends who cheered me on, read my blog posts, and kept in touch even when I was thousands of miles away.
2015 was a life changing journey and that was because I allowed myself to follow my dream, faced fears, and embraced the support of family and friends.
On that journey I lived in many places. Embarking from Santa Cruz, to a month and a half in San Diego, to three weeks in Mexico, to a week traveling through Central America, a full six months of living in Costa Rica; back again to San Diego, then a month stint in Hollister and a few weeks in Boulder Creek before finding my way to my new home in the Bay Area. I can’t believe all the places I lived and the nomadic lifestyle I embodied.
The following photos are my memories of 2015, all the places I lived, traveled to, and had the privilege to explore. As the year comes to an end, I think back to where I’ve been as I also look forward to the new year and all the promise that is holds, new places to explore, and adventures waiting to happen.
In the beginning of the year, from the end of January to mid March, we lived in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego as we prepared for our final departure. This picture was taken on a late afternoon walk, overlooking downtown San Diego.
Before officially crossing the border into Mexico we spent the night in an Arizona border town. While driving through the desert our van got a flat tire, setting us back three hours and delaying our departure out of the country.
Our first night in Mexico was spent in the historic town of Alamos. A Friday night, we were kept up till the wee hours of the morning from sounds of music and revelers. With a long day of driving ahead of us we awoke at 7am to explore the town before continuing on our way.
Next we stopped for the night in Mazatlan. Where we encountered El Diablo’s cave and our van was broken into in the middle of the night. Luckily only a bag containing shampoo and kleenex was stolen.
Driving six to eight hours per day, we eventually made it to Guadalajara, a sprawling city that only a few weeks later hit the news headlines. Havoc in the city was released when a local crime group shot a police helicopter from the sky and created road blocks with burning trucks.
We stayed with family in Metepec for two weeks as our van window was repaired and we explored the surrounding area. A whirlwind tour commenced with day trips to Mexico City, caves, mountain resorts, and ancient pyramids.
Ending our Mexico excursion in Palenque, we visited the ancient ruins and explored nearby Agua Azul and waterfalls. This stop was added to our itinerary last-minute when I learned my mom visited in the late 70s.
After leaving Mexico we spent three nights in Guatemala, staying the most time in Antigua, full of colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. However, leaving Guatemala ended up being a memorable experience. We got lost in Guatemala City for three hours, fruitlessly looking for the Panamerica Highway among a jumble of city streets with no names. Eventually we paid a taxi driver $10 to lead us out.
After Guatemala was a quick tour of Central America with the goal to get to the tropics of Costa Rica as soon as possible. We spent one night in San Salvador, El Salvador before a grueling twelve-hour drive through El Salvador and Honduras to reach Leon, Nicaragua. Exhausted we
immediately went to sleep and took no time to take photos of this part of our trip except for a few shoots while driving. The drive through Honduras was only two hours, but here is where we encountered our first attempt at bribing. At a military stop point the guard spoke in perfect English, jokingly asking us for money, which we replied lightheartedly that we had none!
Arrival! We made it to Costa Rica after a full month of traveling. Our eyes and hearts soared with the lush jungle scenery. Costa Rica became our home for the next six months with several weeks in Manuel Antonio and Dominical before settling in Tres Rios de Coronado.
After three months in Costa Rica it was time to renew our Visa. We spent three days in Boquete, Panama, a magical and unexpected place. Breezes from the many rivers criss-crossing the town cooled the warm and floral scented air. Flowers were everywhere. We enjoyed hiking the surrounding mountain range and relished their inexpensive food.
This trip was everything and nothing that I expected. 2015 will forever remain the time of growth and challenge. The time when I followed my dreams and took big risks. Thank you 2015 for all that you have taught me.