Meet Sorangi

Here is a true travel story from the heart, Sorangi a daughter of two Dominican immigrants shares her upbringing and how travel has allowed her to enlighten her community – meet Sorangi and follow her @theglobalchica

My name is Sorangi. I am the daughter of Dominican immigrants. I grew up in a hood of Miami called Carol City. My father was that strict machista that kept me in the house with a ball and chain while my two older brothers got the liberty to do most of what they wanted. Growing up, it felt like everyone from the Dominican Republic stayed at our house when they visited the US. Of course, my room was the original AirBnb. At one point, when my family migrated to the states, we were eleven people living in a three bedroom home and I slept on the floor of my parent’s bedroom for years. We weren’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot.

One day, my father decided to move back to his motherland. I remember looking out of the window on the plane, with puddles in my eyes, until I couldn’t see Miami anymore. When we landed, a band playing perico ripiao greeted us as we entered the airport. That’s when it hit me that I would spend the next year of life fully immersed in Dominican culture. Of course, I made friends, got acclimated to going to school in Spanish (with no AC) and fell in love with the island. We took road trips that allowed me to see most of the country. I discovered my favorite beach in the world: Boca Chica. It was different than life in the states but I was privileged there; my mom didn’t have to work and we had a housekeeper. This is a real come up because before we left the US, my mom was a housekeeper! However, our time in DR was short lived as the economy suffered, government corruption increased and my father’s business encountered some failures causing him to take a hit financially so we ultimately moved back to the states. We found ourselves back in that same hood in Miami but now in a trailer park.

I’m the only person that I know that had to apply to college behind their father’s back. My father being the strict dictator he is, had plans for me already. His orders were that I would go to DR for college and when I begged him to let me go on a high school field trip to the University of Florida (UF), he let me go and said that when I got back I was to forget about UF because “tu mueres aqui”, while pointing to his chest. I cried almost every day of my senior year and threatened my mom that I would run away. He stifled my attempt to graduate first in my class because I wasn’t allowed to take dual enrollment classes and be on a college campus. I finished third in my class; both valedictorian and salutatorian took dual enrollment to boost my gpa. Thankfully, my good grades opened the door for me to go to UF with a generous scholarship and the situation in DR wasn’t favorable due to crime. My father had to reconsider.

When I arrived at UF, traveling and exploring the world was a far-fetched dream I couldn’t fathom being a reality. I associated it with something that only rich (and white) people could do. I was just a girl from Carol City and girls like me don’t get to travel the world like that. In 2011, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. I was enrolled in the combined degree program and started working on my Master’s while getting my Bachelors. When one of my friends in grad school decided to take a study abroad course, I did too. Studying abroad was a goal for me in undergrad, but I just couldn’t afford it. This time, I wasn’t afraid to take a student loan. I took my first trip to Europe! I spent 3 weeks in Germany and went to about 11 different cities. It was the most amazing experience and worth the extra couple of stacks of loans I took out! I was blown away by the differences; how they preserved their buildings, kept their country clean, prioritized recycling and I actually liked drinking their beer (coming from a girl who swears by Presidente). I saw amazing castles and more snow, up in the mountains, than I ever care to see again in life. I made many friends on the German side of the exchange program. I even met my best friend, Tine, in this program. Taking that trip was the best decision ever because it birthed in me a desire to see more of the world and nothing could take away my new found sense of freedom.

Caribana PicDuring this time, my career was also taking off. While in grad school, I got a job as a Human Resources Assistant at the UF Foundation. I had no idea that people worked to get private financial support so that the university could offer students the best resources. I thought it would be just a gig to get me through school but I was moved by the work they did and I ultimately worked my way up to become the Associate Director of Development for the College of Journalism and Communications by the age of 24! I thought it would be cool to get paid to travel and meet with alumni and friends of the university, cultivate relationships and ultimately, ask them for significant donations to move the vision and mission of the university and impact first-generation students like myself. My career goal was an uphill battle though! I spent three years applying for countless jobs as an internal candidate; I was always a finalist but never the finalist. I was working as a temporary employee and financially things were really tight. My dream was to be in a position where I was in the frontlines; not behind a desk. I wanted to meet with people face to face and ask for the big bucks. They finally granted me an Assistant Director title that was still behind a desk. Six months later, I saw someone get hired due to nepotism and land my dream job with no real experience. It broke my heart. My whole life I had heard that as a woman of color I would have to work twice as hard to get to the same level as my white counterpart. At that moment, I realized that I would work twice as hard and still not reach that level. I turned that hurt and anger into motivation and three months later I got my dream job. I began traveling around Florida and Georgia on behalf of the university. In the years following, my territory would expand to include travel just about everywhere in the US.

The fulfillment I got from my work was amazing. I helped create the first scholarship for black students, Hispanic students and for study abroad in the college I worked for! Second, the benefits were amazing. Twenty-two paid vacation days, plus 11 holidays a year! As you can tell, I’m that employee that uses all of those days! Not to mention, I travel for work and get to explore cities on my job’s dime too. The best part is that I am good at it! Alumni would pour out confirmations to me that I was exactly where I belonged.

No te equivoques, don’t get it twisted, this salaried job didn’t mean that I was ballin’! I had student loans, credit card debt (because I couldn’t call Mami and Papi for anything besides “La Bendicion” in college) and bills to cover. Even still, I was committed to saving money every year to travel the world with my friends. I didn’t have cable or wifi in my apartment. I paid my upstairs neighbors 1/3 of their bill for the code to the wifi. I used my cousin’s Netflix (confession: I still do that!). I drove my ’03 Sonata that made the highest pitched noises when I turned on the AC and led me to do a quick prayer every time I put the key in the ignition so that it would actually turn on. I didn’t go out on weekends to avoid spending money on bar tabs and the likes. I sacrificed what I could and started to look at every expense asking: how many flights could I purchase with this money? I saved half of my income tax refund for travel, and Tine and I soon began to plan our first major international trip together to Thailand and Cambodia. Tip: to save money, I chose a flight with a long layover in London. I recommend doing this to get a bonus trip out of the experience! I had 12 hours in London; enough time to leave the airport, take a tour and spend the day in the country.

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My love for travel only grew deeper! I always skip the tourist traps and immerse myself in authentic experiences. I interact with people and I try to learn important phrases in their language. I research the best experiences to have in order to experience their culture and practice responsible and respectful tourism as much as possible. You likely won’t catch me in that expensive 5-star hotel full of tourists! I want to stay and buy locally owned if possible to give my money to the people. When I went to Cuba, I hired underground taxis and bought my cigars from farmers in Viñales. I’ve had many life highlights abroad including going to Kenya and realizing that the music was familiar and the food tasted like what my mom always made me; it was definitely the birthplace of my Caribbean culture and being called Africana by the locals made me feel so connected to the motherland. I’ve made friends in almost every country I’ve visited that have offered me a place to stay for next time.

I got smarter and more stable with my finances as the years went by. I started to acquire a lot of hotels and car rental points through my work travel and used it for my personal travel. I also got the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and took point finessing to the next level. My work requires me to pay for my work expenses and then get reimbursed. The Chase card gives me 3x the points on any travel and dining related purchase. Ca-ching baby!

Soon, I realized that my travels weren’t just for me. I was inspiring others to feel like they too could explore their curiosities and travel. One year, three close friends told me that my travels inspired them to get a passport. I would be with two of them for their first stamps! My mom, who would worry and never understand why I had to choose locations to visit that were so far away, finally got a dose of travel when I brought her on a trip with me to Paris, Switzerland and a surprise stop in Rome. Now all she wants to do is travel every year; she’s caught the travel bug! I began sharing tips via my Instagram page under TheGlobalChica. My goal is simply to share my travels as an afrolatina exploring the world in hopes to inspire diversity in travel. I’ve been to 18 countries so far and I’ll keep traveling “hasta que se seque el malecon.” It turns out travel isn’t reserved for the white and the rich, and Dominican girls from Carol City can travel like that.

I hope you catch my Travel Tuesday posts on IG @theglobalchica!Connect with Soragni via our Comunidad Viajerx! Follow her Travel Tuesday tips on her Instagram – @theglobalchica

Meet Joanna Lydia

1A story of travel, spirituality, and love of la cultura. Joanna Lydia is embracing her culture and traveling home to Puerto Rico has reconnected Joanna to her afro latinidad and ancestors – meet Joanna Founder + Host of the podcast @brujasofnyc

My name is Joanna Lydia, a Puertorriqueña from New York. I am an artist and lover of universe who has set out on a lifelong spiritual journey. At the age of 16, my tarot cards were read by a wise elderly Puerto Rican woman who told me I’d be “the voice of our people.” That reading manifested into a podcast 12 years later that I named “Brujas of NYC” to guide me on this spiritual journey to help people with my gifts, be a voice, spread knowledge about Latin Culture and Women Empowerment. ⁣⁣
The word Bruja was chosen to represent Strong, Powerful, Magical Women as I view myself and all women around me. Bruja is a term that I earned on this journey through experience, from my Afro-Latina culture, my Afro-Latina grandmother, her teachings and those of my ancestors.

Growing up 3rd generation Hispanic, unfortunately, it was difficult for me to learn about my culture because my parents were born in the United States. Turning to my grandmother was my only hope in staying connected with my heritage and calling. She spoke about the island and how beautiful it is. How you can feel the love of our ancestors in the air you breathe. It was something I dreamt about as a little girl, yearning to be with my island.

Setting out to Puerto Rico was long overdue, but life happens and the universe teaches us lessons, sometimes in really harsh ways. I woke up one morning still going through an emotional and rough path, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to go. I booked my flight that night along with an Airbnb and the rest is history.

The highlight of my trip was meditating in El Yunque Forest. Being one with nature, letting all the emotions that weighed me downpour out and feeling true peace for the first time. I felt the love and energy of all my ancestors around me and it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I connected with so many beautiful people, experienced all of where my family came from, learned more about my spirituality and of course all the questions I had about my culture were answered. My advice to anyone who has hopes and dreams of visiting a country, even if it’s not spiritual, is to stop making excuses and book the trip. The only thing holding you back is yourself.

Connect with Joanna Lydia via our Comunidad Viajerx! Follow her on the below accounts:Sunday’s on Apple Podcast + Spotify: Instagram + Twitter: @brujasofnycwww.linktr.ee/brujasofnyc

Cartagena, Colombia: Si Se Puede, Its Cheap!

Cartagena es un Sueno located in the northwestern parts of South America you can hardly go wrong with the weather. We flew in with Spirit Airlines and booked a package deal via Expedia. There are many hidden restaurants in Cartagena and numerous island to explore. If you ever say Colombia as a far fetch dream start reaching because this guide will take you there.

Farfetch? Why? Is it that you are too busy? Do you have children? Or traveling is too expensive? Let me tell you, you are making EXCUSES. I assume you want to travel so you found your way to this page because I titled this post with the word “Cheap” pues si, it is.

There are a lot of socio economic barriers between the Latinx and travel. Whether it was being raised in a low-income household or fighting for equal pay with our suppressor we can say travel might be difficult. For the most part, I try to pursue 3 trips a year where I can indulge and create connections, but most importantly foster hope. You are here because someone told you about this post, you saw it online, or you are one of my dearest friends and followers here is what I did in Cartagena where I went, my experiences, and how much we spent in total for a 6 day stay!

Pa La Cultura: For the most part Cartagena is safe, like many other countries and cities you will find areas that are scary and a bit sketchy. Don’t wear flashy things and don’t walk along el morro at dark. On our trip, we were advised to not walk around the walls of the old city because burglars would stand by waiting for their victims. In addition, you also want to be aware of tour companies who stand by the Historic Center hoping to scam you! Always research tour companies, book with your hotel or ask your hotel directly for reputable companies.

Movich Hotels and Casa Claver

We stumbled across Movich and Casa Claver on Expedia. My husband and I stayed in Movich Cartagena while our friends decided to stay in Casa Claver. The hotel has a great location in the middle of the historic town. The concierge service was amazing and the view from the rooftop pool and restaurant is breathtaking. We stayed in a standard room pretty tight but comfortable, our stay included breakfast which saved us a few dollars. For the flight and hotel, I paid $1,082.00 per person.

On our trip, we met Wilson, a front desk associate at Movich. Wilson was the friendliest person I have ever met. Colombia needs more people like him, he ensured my husband and I were comfortable and was very attentive to our needs. He was always there to help us with everything and assisted with the bookings of our tours and taxi. We hardly needed to do anything ourselves which was great especially when you want to be catered too.

While Movich has the summer vibe cocktail rooftop vibe Casa Claver Loft Boutique Hotel is your cup of spring morning tea. In Casa Claver I experienced their rooftop. The rooftop does not have a bar but who cares with this view? The rooftop at Casa Claver is great for photos, videos, and relaxation. Casa Claver is one block away from Movich so it was easy to commute to our friends. It is also situated between the historic town. The suites are very spacious and breakfast was also included. You can visit Casa Claver with flight and hotel and for $1,088.00 per person.

Best Prices and Islands

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We experienced three beaches and a natural pool off the coast of Isla Rosario. The hotel booked all of our tours. For Taxi, Boat Rental, Gifts, Bars, Tip and food on the beach we spent roughly $202.00 (for two). While visiting the beach the waves might be rough! Make sure you hang on tight.

Isla Del Encanto: Isla del Encanto is located in the Rosario National Park. We booked a ferry and it’s a 45-minute ride. We spent one full day for about $75 with lunch included. Perfect day trip from Cartagena and kid-friendly.

Isla Agua Azul: Agua Azul was amazing, but stay away from the ceviche! It’s simply mayo and ketchup! Agua Azul was crowded by local vendors but who cares, we love sandy beaches the food here was not all that great. Bring goodies from your local pharmacy just in case!

Playa Blanca: Playa Blanca was amazing, while a little crowded and swamped by local vendors hoping to get your service it can be a little intimidating. We enjoyed this beauty. Its was definitely congested and soon as we got off the boat we were almost attacked by different sales reps and locals this wasn’t the best experience, but overall we enjoyed our time in the sun.

Restaurants in Cartagena

# 1 Mar y Hojas Cocina Vegana & Atleta Vegano – Cl. 38 #9 – 82, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

We landed and went straight to Mar y Hojas for lunch, there are only 3-4 dishes to choose from and while the options seem limited it is a great experience. They accommodated our party quickly and were attentive. We spent a total of $50 U.S. dollars for 4 meals roughly and soft drinks which is $12 dollars each.

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# 2 Restaurante Plaza Majagua Cl. 37 ##7-12, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Who would ever say no to Pizza? As you walk around the local areas you might come across Plaza Majagua. Here you may spend $5,000 – $320,000 pesos. Convert that to US dollars that’s less than $100.00. Here we spend a total of $48.00 for 4 meals soft drinks and beers.

# 3 Rosa Mezcal – Taqueria Mexicana a 36-174 36-2, Cra. 5, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Tacos, shots, and more! We were treated so well here! I definitely felt welcomed. This restaurant is a great place for a quick bite! The food was done fast and very tasty. Our total bill for four was roughly $80 dollars (for 4 people) it was the most expensive on the trip – reason – who would say no to tequila!

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# 4 Di Silvio Trattoria – Cl. 29 #9A-08, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Amo il Cibo Italiano! If you can not get enough of pesto and pasta you should definitely visit and enjoy Di Silvio Trattoria in the area of Getsemani. We spend about 10 dollars each for a full course meal and cocktails. (photo from google)

# 5 Torre Fuerte Cra. 7 #34-66, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia

Last but not least whats travel without local food? Quiero Bandeja Paisa! Owned by locals Torre Fuerte is the most affordable restaurant I have been to! We enjoyed dinner we all ordered a Bandeja Paisa and spent around 10 dollars each.

If you are booking a hotel and flight together give yourself 5 months booking span. You want to be able to save for any additional cost!! Make sure to bring your sunblock and positive vibes!

Bali, Indonesia: A Toast to The Good Life

Experiencing the Balinese Hindu-Buddhist culture and customs has impacted my life in so many positives ways. Bali’s simplest lifestyle and their care for nature have opened my eyes to love my surroundings more than I already do. As humans, we need to love our surroundings and planet, live life through pure love, and communicate with one another for a constructive conversation that will allow us to grow. At times it is hard for others to understand a culture and religion that is not their own – but if we stray away from thinking what religion is better we learn and accept that a good life can be found in any religion as long as it brings happiness, good health, and love.

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Through this trip, I learned to take my life one day at a time, to take a deep breath and just love the skin I am in and love my personality.

The temples we visited allowed me to do just that and if you are someone hoping to build your connection with yourself through self, love the Balinese Hindu-Buddhist culture will help you meditate and love everything about what makes you, you.
First, you need to love and have care for others, their religion, and customs. Sometimes people assume admiring another religion will stray them away from their own religion, however, the truth is if your connection with your God is large no one can take anything about your religion way from you — but you can see and explore the similarities and visualize how in history we are all the same. Secondly, and most importantly make sure you want to learn, if you lack the care of learning then you will not experience what the culture of any place you visit is. So with that being said here is How The Goa Gajah and Gunung Kawi Temple impacted my life and soul.

Our Stay in Bali Natya Ubud
Bali is an Indonesian Island known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches, and coral reefs. The island is home to religious sites such as Cliffside Uluwatu Temple. To the south, the beachside city of Kuta has lively bars, while Seminyak, Sanur, and Nusa Dua are popular resort towns. The island is also known for its yoga and meditation retreats.

Location: Southeast AsiaLanguage: IndonesianReligion: Balinese HinduismCurrency: RupiahWeather: 80-90FElectrical Outlet: In Bali the electrical outlet is similar to ones used in Europe.

The Goa Gajah Temple

I walked into the Goa Gajah Temple and instantly felt an unexplainable presence. Small, but spiritual the smell of incense, its mystery, and carvings provided an emotional and spiritual feeling that I wouldn’t know how to explain. The carvings in the Goa Gajah were astonishing and breathtaking! Also known as the Elephant Cave the Goa Gajah Temple was built in the ninth century as a sanctuary and place of worship. The Goa Gajah was also the home of mediation and inner connection with yourself and your mind, no wonder it was a great inner reflective experience!

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From a distance you can see the temple, its stones and the smell of relaxation, yes you can actually smell it. As you breathe the green leaves around the temple as well as the incense and burning offerings, it inspires you to relax and take your days one day at a time. The Goa Gajah allowed me to connect with my mind and nature.

Gunung Kawi Temple

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The Canang Sari is an offering with meaningful colors that represent the offer of peace. Balinese women are known to prepare the Canang Sari with love for the Balinese Gods. At the Gunung Kawi Temple, we spotted a man preparing the Canang Sari. The smell was amazing and the craft was art. Built in the eleventh century the Gunung Kawi Temple is the home of many temples in one. Three hundred steps down lies a temple alongside the Pakerisan River.

I really enjoyed walking through the Gunung Kawi Temple primary because it felt as if I were walking through a garden, like those that are full of life. When I travel I reflect on many things; my past, my father, people, friends who come and go and I do this because it is reflective to my soul and allows me to grow. The Gunung Kawi temple allowed me to connect with the inner soul, I learned that everyone has a battle to fight, one that others are not to blame for. My trip to Bali was at a perfect timing in my life — it allowed me to reflect on myself and revisit my soul and my personality.

Our Top 4 Favorites Things to Do in Bali

ea4d36_0276f44f0efa43aeacb88971b79c9dcc~mv2# 1 The Monkey ForestThe Monkey Forest is near the city of Ubud. It is the sanctuary of the Balinese Monkey and for me the scariest tour in Bali lol. It will be a scary experience especially when the monkeys are chasing you for food or your belongings but the experiences were memorable. Will not do it again!

# 2 Coffee PlantationThe Segara Windhu Coffee Plantation was amazing. Coffee lovers, this is your spot. You will be toured around the plantation and you will taste some fine Coffee and tea. It is known to be the biggest coffee plantation in Tampaksiring, Bali and have the best Luwak coffee -Balinese coffee.

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# 3 Nia UbudI found Nia Ubud on TripAdvisor. The pictures sold me! The food was amazing, my husband and I loved it! Nia Ubud is known for their authentic and traditional Balinese Cuisine a must go!

# 4 Bali SwingI’m sure you have seen many travel bloggers swinging in the air over what it seems to be the skies, trees, and oceans. What’s best of the experience is that it’s actually not all that scary. There are 12 single swings in Bali Swing so if you are scared you can start off on the smallest swing. Its 100 percent safe and you can tell your tour guide not to push you too hard if that’s a major concern for you. Lastly, get the wallets ready, it’s a bit overpriced!!!!

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Go to Bali with a open heart and mind!

Love, Life, Fear: My Dubai Experience

Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates is known for its luxury and tall buildings. The architecture in Dubai is outstanding and nightlife is pretty vibrant in some locations. I visited the Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, which showcases the Dubai skyline. I also walked around the Dubai Fountain, visited the Atlantis, The Palm, and dune bashing all around the Dubai Desert. If you are choosing Dubai for your next vacation here are some things you should know and how Dubai changed my life!

Location: Southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, Middle East.

Language: Arabic

Religion: Islam

Currency: Dirham

Weather: 85-102F

Electrical Outlet: The electrical current in Dubai is 220/240 V, 50 Hz AC. British-style 3-pin electrical plugs are used.

Pa La Cultura: Dubai is very tough on drugs; you won’t find a lounge that will host events with liquor. For me that wasn’t a bummer, I mean – I can definitely live without liquor but for you, if you are looking for a place to wild out visible intoxication in the streets won’t be nice or safe. Tourists can get in trouble for drinking alcohol outside so be aware. Other things we took into consideration was not showing your significant other love or affection on the streets. Even a small decision as drinking a glass of wine on a plane can lead to jail.

Check this article where a woman was detained for drinking on her way to Dubai !

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Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers:

Located in the heart of Dubai for 4 nights we experienced the condominium style of living. The Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers is located near Dubai Business District and its rooms are to die for. While there is not much to do inside the hotel our stay included breakfast (and all tours, flight booked separately). The towers also have apartments where local Businessmen and women stay and live. It almost seemed surreal, definitely a luxurious experience. Our stay and all tours were booked as low as 789 US dollars flights booked separately. My go-to is google flights!

Best Places & Tours to Visit in Dubai:

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We booked Dubai with a vendor who included our stay and tours in one price and booked our flights separately. Our trip included The Burj Khalifa, Dune Bashing in Dubai Desert, and Visiting the Dubai Museum and Mosque. Each location was an amazing highlight, however, we were disappointed to reach the Mosque only to hear it was closed. I recommend you ensure all mosques are open before your visit. Dune Bashing was an experience I wouldn’t revisit, it was overwhelming and if you get car sick easily like me it won’t be a great ride.

Aside from the sites included we also walked around the Jumeirah Lakes and Local Beach Lounge and rented a yacht to explore the nightly views. If you are in a group (we met cool people on this trip!), I recommend that all groups rent a yacht at the Dubai Marina. We were able to book a yacht for our party for about 40 US dollars each.

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It’s simple. Respect the Islamic culture. There are tourists that will dress inappropriate so don’t follow the crowd! Be considerate to the Islamic Culture wear long pants and shirts when visiting a mosque, ensure you do the same for the desert – trust me it’s not too hot, don’t forget your outlet converter and bring your most comfortable shoes there is so much to see!

I’m Engaged! Was the text message I sent to all my family and friends! It was October 21, 2016. We flew 15 hours to Dubai, landed unpacked, and enjoyed our 1st day by the Jumeirah Lake. We walked around Jumeirah Lake overseeing the high skyscrapers and admiring the city. We walked so much the sun started to set and the buildings started to shine as the lights flickered on. We walked around the lake and ended back to our starting point. My legs started to hurt a bit – I just didn’t understand all the walking, but I simply continued and admired the sites. When we were back to point A there was no one around but the few tourists walking up the lake, John (my now husband!) turned quickly grabbed my hands and starting rocking them back and forth. Just like that with a few loving words I got engaged to my best friend! If you are hoping to choose a destination to propose to your significant other choose Dubai!

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Click here for our feature on HowTheyAsked so you know it’s #real!

Yes, our engagement set the tone for our trip. I started to think about my future and what I would love to teach my children. I started to blog about my travel experiences because it is something I grew a passion for. I want to be able to show my family how to remain passionate about what they believe in. I travel PT, work FT, I’m looking for entrepreneurial opportunities all while having so much fear of failing. Yes, I fear that, but I have to set the tone, for you and everyone who believes that we can live our dreams as women, as a Latina, as a black Latina. Dubai was that trip that turned my life upside down in so many positive ways. While the Dubai Desert car ride experience was not the best for me, the view was my token to combat fear!

 

Koh Yao Yai, Thailand: What You Need To Know!

Koh Yao Yai is an island located in the Andaman Sea and part of Thailand, it’ about 30-40 minutes away from the Phuket Marina and Airport. We choose to stay in Koh Yao Yai because the island is captivating and known for its beaches, mangroves, and villages.

Koh Yao Yai es un Sueño

Location: Andaman Sea, Thailand

Language: Thai and Arabic

Religion: While Buddhism is the prevalent religion in Thailand, in Koh Yao Yai we experienced the Muslim faith.

Currency: Thai Baht

Weather: 79-90F

Electrical Outlet: Most of Thailand uses 220V AC. The outlets are two-prong round or flat sockets. I one the multi country converter, you can shop for my converter below!

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Santhiya Koh Yao Yai

I stayed at the Santhiya Resort and Spa for 5 nights and it was breathtaking! Our room was the Ocean View Pool Villa. The rooms at Santhiya are beautiful, very affordable, and exactly as photographed on their website. All rooms contained everything needed to stay comfortably such as shampoo, conditioner, soaps, towels, lotions, etc. The resort is located on top of a small mountain top. To get around it can be pretty rough. If you would like to explore the island renting a motorcycle is an option for you. The resort also requires a lot of walking so to avoid the long walks in the resort, there are shuttle buses that run every 10 mins, at times the buses are over their capacity, so make sure to wear comfy shoes or sandals, and have the itinerary and schedule for the bus. If you need accommodation ASK! You can request a room near the resort amenities or pool, if that is not possible, enjoy the ride! It’s so relaxing!

Santhiya Koh Yao Yai and Restaurants

The property has about 12 ways of dining and 6 restaurants, all are very inexpensive and very accommodating. A language barrier did exist at times but all staff was very helpful, sweet, and caring – our favorites were the Chantara Restaurant, By the Sea Restaurant and Bar, The Titan Girl, Saaitara Restaurant and Khantok Cuisine (you will need reservations for all restaurants). We also scheduled our own private dinner on the beach which was amazing! Please note you can pay in cash for all restaurants or charge to your room. All were very inexpensive ranging between $43-60 U.S. dollars for a party of 4. Breakfast on the lower level is not free, however, at Saairara Restaurant breakfast is buffet style and free between 6 am and 10 am. We did not understand why breakfast was charged in certain locations of the resort and do feel that should change and should be entirely free. As I mentioned the resort was located on a mountain top and is very secluded, the resort, however, did provide everything we needed to stay comfortably such as shop and drug supplies.

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Best Places and Tours in Visit in Koh Yao Yai:

# 1 James Bond Island and Beach Tour

# 2 Koh Yao Yai ATV Tour The Koh Yao Yai ATV tour took us on a unique tour off-road winding through the countryside, jungle and rubber plantations we also visited a pristine hideaway beach known locally as Nok Ok.

# 3 Visiting a Local School and Natural Pool Cave

It’s time to plan your own Sueño!

Organization here is key! Aside from all the other goodies, you will normally take to a tropical island you want to remember to have your adventure gear such as sneakers to walk around the island, plantation, and jungle, major takeaway is to definitely have your outlet converter and ensure you are open to a new experience in Koh Yao Yai.

 

Cuando La Amistad y El Amor Se Encuentran: Mexico, Playa Del Carmen y Tulum

Playa del Carmen is known for its sandy beaches and as one of the most luxurious coastal resort town in Mexico. It is famously known for its Quinta Avenida where restaurants and nightspots meet and perfect for a wedding. My best friend’s destination wedding was hosted by Paradisus Playa Del Carmen located in Calle Quinta Avenida. Here love and friendship met and my experiences traveling as a Latina definitely was found living vicariously through my friends.

Not so long ago I wrote a short passage for the New York Immigration Coalition, the message read:

ea4d36_62008467404b42a3af42c2c50eb1b066~mv2“I was born in Brooklyn, New York, so therefore, I am not an immigrant. I want to share my story because being raised by immigrant parents, in my opinion, does have an effect on your struggle and your identity. Growing up I never identified as an American. I was and am Dominican and while I may have some type of privilege for being born in the U.S., my family has always felt marginalized by the American society. I am still proud to be Dominican and that I have roots in immigration and will stand for those in search of their identity.”

The “American Dream” is defined as the idea that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. When you picture this (in my experiences) you picture having a good job, a single family home in which you own, and prosperity that others won’t try to take away from you.

I was born in America and never lived the “American Dream

In Mexico, I learned that my American Dream was travel. My dream was and is to see my friends travel. Traveling is my encouragement and I know that I will be discriminated against when I travel because who said Latinas can travel?
I know I will be told that I can not travel, that I am part of the minority group that will not have the socioeconomic means to be exposed to other lands and cultures. Here in Mexico my friends and I, all first-generation Americans, students, and travelers are defining our own American dream.

Places Close to Playa Del Carmen: Like in many islands around the Caribbean you will experience the sexy blue Caribbean Sea, good music, and views. Here are some things we enjoyed on our trip to Mexico.

Quinta Avenida

Also known as the Five Avenue, this location is one of the busiest streets in Mexico good for Shopping, Bar hopping and late night tacos.

Tulum Ruins

Tulum Ruins contains a 13th-century, walled Mayan archaeological empire! Definitely a must see!

Cancun Blue Flag Beach

Blue flag beach was amazing! and the local ceviche was the best I have ever had. Our trip was short and sweet but fun. Check out my husband video, hope you enjoy!

Saint Martin, Anguilla, St. Barts

Sint Maarten is a country on the southern part of a Caribbean island. It’s shared with Saint Martin, the “French Side”. The island it’s known for its lagoons and beaches. Saint Martin is a boat ride away from Anguilla and St. Barthelemy which allowed us to have the best three-country tour in just 6 days. The capital of the island is Philipsburg.

Where We Stayed

We went to St. Martin to celebrate my sister’s engagement. We stayed at the Hotel Riu Palace St Martin (Now Closed) for 6 nights! It was an all inclusive package booked with cheap caribbean (pay as you go). There are many hotels in St. Martin aside from having an all-inclusive package the best part of the trip was being able to explore other countries. Hotel Riu Palace St Martin is located in Rue de l’anse Marcel, Anse Marcel 97056, St Martin which is 30 mins from the Caribbean Dream Charter a boat rental services. There are also many excursion which will take you on a catamaran to the islands. We entered Anguilla on a wonderful catamaran and visited St. Barts through a ferry ride with locals.

How to get around St. Martin (French) and St. Maarten (Dutch)

The best way to get around St. Martin and St. Maarten is in a rental car. We did not rent a car because the driver’s seat is on the opposite side of the U.S so it can be a bit confusing. St. Martin is located on the mountie side of the island so it can also be a little scary because the streets are very narrow. I don’t recommend walking unless you love to hike. To get around we used a taxi, it was easy and affordable. You will run into Traffic on both sides so plan accordingly. There are buses near the capital which I highly recommended to use, we used Taxi services!

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How to get to Anguilla and St. Barts from St. Martin

You can rent a boat, book a tour excursion, or go on a ferry. For Anguilla, we booked a catamaran tour through our hotel. Anguilla is a British island in the Caribbean and about 25 minutes by boat from Saint Martin. The island is 16 miles in length and 3 miles wide. We explored Shoal Bay which is east of the island. It is one of the most beautiful islands and beaches I have EVER visited, it’s great for scuba diving, and some fun in the sun

For our trip to Saint Barthelemy, we did not book a tour. Saint Barthelemy, a French-speaking Caribbean island is known for its white-sand beaches we explored the local area of Gustavia, the popular Shell Beach and even window-shopped by in the high end stores in Gustavia. We booked a ferry and stayed one day exploring on our own. For both islands please take your passport for entry. There are many ferries you can take from St. Martin. Make sure you talk to your hotel or local guide regarding which ferry to take departure time and the best days to visit. You can also book a ferry in advance and receive e-tickets depending on which service/ boat ferry you choose.

Some tips!

Bring extra cash for transportation, if your renting a car make sure your hotel has parking, be friendly to the iguanas, bring lots of bathing suits, tanning oil, and room for relaxation! Take your passport everywhere you go, don’t forget to buy a travel converter for each island.