Healing in Puerto Rico

I’m not good at expressing my emotions. I tend to hide them and continue with my life as if I have no worries without slowing down. The more distracted I am (I think) the better. But with every traumatic experience, one must come into terms with the process of becoming physically and mentally healthy again.

In January 2019, in Colombia, I had a miscarriage. While we enjoyed our time in Colombia, after a fun-filled day, I started to feel off. We contacted the hotel’s help desk, they called the paramedics and we were driven to a women’s health center.

I was overwhelmed and even more now to have a stranger examine me in another country. “El cérvix esta cerrado”, she said, that gave me hope, but I still had a whole week left in Colombia. While I enjoyed most of my trip, my body and soul were elsewhere and I wanted the trip to end.

I felt sad, confused, and sometimes numb. I landed in New York went to get re-examined and indeed the result was negative. I felt guilty, I thought was it the plane? the boat rides? was it my fault for still going on vacation knowing I was pregnant? The whole year became a mask. I didn’t share what happened, I kept my social life as it was and shortly realized I was at times still confused about it.

In June of last year, my body started to shut down, my menstrual was off and the doctors recommend examining my reproductive organ (scary thought). I was scared to discover what some women fear to know (can I not have kids?). As I proceeded, I was advised that I was healthy with a mild condition of thyroid hypersecretion that should be checked every year. Knowing this gave me hope, God and professionals in the field helped me realized it was up to me to treat my body with love and kindness so, after my trip to Puerto Rico, I vowed to take a break from drinking and eat clean.

So what does Puerto Rico have to do with all of this?

It was our last day in Puerto Rico (Sep’19), it was a day full of sun and love, we decided to finish off with a meditation on the beach. Nanie mi amiga del alma said, “Speak anything you want into existence…” so I prayed and said, “God, you know what I need.” On this date, almost one year had passed from my miscarriage and I found myself once again confused but hopeful. While the waters and sands of our ancestors rushed through us and we heard the sound – it was then when my healing process began.

As we returned to NY, I did everything to get my health, mind, and energy back. I was vegan for 4 weeks, stopped drinking, and took a break from the party scene. Taking control of my health helped me heal and feel better physically and mentally. I was even back on track and going to church and didn’t miss one Sunday that felt so good!

One month from our trip to PR I found out I was pregnant again. All I could think of was, God, was there on that day, on that beach, in that sunset en Puerto Rico. What are the odds that God gifts me what I dreamed of only one month from my prayer.

I will forever be grateful for that day at Ocean Park Beach.

Many of us go through experiences that others won’t understand and many of us have traveled to heal past traumatic experiences. This trip was a little different it was the start and the end of a Zeline most people loved, but now are re-learning her and her new beginnings.

Last year was rough even though I didn’t show it – but my biggest blessing came to my life despite it all, my son Landyn.

For everyone who has experienced a loss remember, no matter how along you are, your pregnancy and feelings are meaningful and valid.

Peace and love,


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Meet Stephanie Granados

Hola, I’m Stephanie Granados. I was born and raised in New York and I am a proud Colombian! So far I’ve traveled to over 20 countries and the majority of those trips have been as a solo traveler.

Morocco 2017

Photo: In 2017, I traveled solo to Morocco for 11 days. This was the first time I stayed with a local family during my trip and it was such an unforgettable experience.

I’m so grateful to say that travel has been part of my life thanks to my parents. Both of my parents come from very humble beginnings in Bogota, Colombia. They both were the first in their families to move to the United States to seek better opportunities. Once they met, dated, and eventually got married in New York, their goal was always to chase the “American Dream.” They certainly achieved that when they moved out of the Bronx, buying their first home in Yonkers and then moving into their second home in Hartsdale. My first international trip was as a one year old to Colombia to celebrate my first birthday. Later on, instead of having a traditional quinceañera party, I opted to go on a trip with my cousins to the Bahamas! 

Although my parents gave us an upbringing they didn’t have, they always reminded us about their struggles and to always appreciate what we have. As we traveled once a year thanks to their timeshare at that time, my parents would always make it a point that to whatever destination we visit, to go and see how locals live. If we stayed in a nice hotel/resort, they would make it part of the itinerary to take a day trip to learn about the culture and history of that destination, try local cuisine, buy from local markets, and just explore outside of developed areas. I truly appreciate looking back on those trips because it’s influenced how I like to travel. My favorite trips have always included deep-diving into the culture, forming friendships with locals, shopping at local markets, and trying all the different cuisines.

Once my parents divorced all those family trips stopped. On paper, you may think my upbringing was all rainbows and butterflies but I struggled with many things. As a first-generation kid, I always struggled with not being “American” enough nor being “Latina” enough. I think many first-generation kids feel like an in-betweener when growing up within two different cultures. My home life was very toxic, I witnessed domestic violence countless times. I had to call the police many times and just having to be around negative energy the majority of the time was not fun. Once my parents divorced was finalized, soon after my mom had to sell the house we grew up in. She could no longer afford the mortgage on her own. Having so-called “everything” to then go to nothing was such an eye-opener and that changed everything for me. I don’t hold value in material things anymore because that can be taken away at any time. I now find value in experiences because you will always have that no matter what.

Barcelona 2015

Photo: In 2015, this was taken during my one month European adventure. This was in Barcelona, Spain in Parc Guell.

A few years down the line, I felt like something was missing in my life. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was but I was craving travel again. I haven’t traveled at all for many years at this point. I wanted to go to Europe and was planning a trip with my best friend. After many failed attempts on coordinating dates, figuring out schedules, and planning this itinerary that never was finalized, I realized this trip is never going to happen. I’ve always been into watching YouTube videos, I used to make beauty tutorials back in the day. I was all about makeup back then, but I somehow stumbled upon a few YouTubers on a trip in Europe and all of them were uploading daily videos of their experience. I was so intrigued and fell down this rabbit hole of searching travel videos. I started to research the company these YouTubers used for their trips and found out this company did group tours all over the world. After researching for months I pulled the plug and booked a MONTH LONG TRIP to Europe without telling anyone. I asked myself, Why am I waiting around for someone to go on this trip with me? Why am I depending on someone else’s schedule? What’s the point of planning a trip with someone if they eventually are not going to make it happen? So that’s when I decided to go by myself. This would be my first ever trip with no family or friends. 

Once I told my family and friends, literally no one believed I was going to go through with it. No one I knew has ever gone to Europe before. It was always a far-out thought of actually traveling to Europe because everyone always said it’s expensive. As the trip was getting closer and closer, people were trying to discourage me from going on this trip. Saying it’s too dangerous for girls, you shouldn’t travel alone, you’re not going to have a good time, and so forth. My anxiety hit me the day of my trip and I was freaking out before heading to the airport. I was thinking, what did I get myself into? I got on the plane and jetted off to Europe for a month and it truly changed my life. I met so many amazing people, had the time of my life, and it just made my wanderlust explode because I caught the travel bug. I grew so much from that experience that it also changed my perspective on my life.

Bali 2016

Photo: In 2016, I visited Bali Indonesia and spent two weeks exploring the gorgeous island. This location was taken in Ubud, in the middle of a rice field.

Since returning from that trip, I have continued to travel solo. No one was going to hold me back from seeing the world. If people wanted to join me, great. If not, I was going to make those trips happen regardless. I started my blog, Youtube channel, and Instagram, Wanderlust Beauty Dreams, to share my adventures, give travel tips, and inspire those who want to see the world. At the time I noticed that the travel blogging world lacked diversity. There wasn’t much representation especially when it came to Latinx travelers. I think overall our community has a mindset of following one straight path in life. It’s okay to venture off and follow a new path, we all have different journeys. As a first-generation college graduate, I’ve broken the barriers my family fought for when coming to the United States. I hope to continue to break barriers wherever life takes me and hope to bring my family along for the ride. I want to encourage more of the Latinx community to travel more and be that representation. Our travel dollars matter and needs more recognition within the travel industry. 

Russia 2018

Photo: In 2018, I went to the FIFA World Cup in Russia to watch three live games in support of the Colombian Soccer team.

We live in an age of total access to information and resources. There are so many ways to achieve all your goals and dreams. If you want to travel to be part of your lifestyle, it’s possible. Instead of buying designer items, going out to eat/drink every weekend, or having the latest gadgets, cut back on those costs for a couple of months. Pick up another job on the weekends to save up more money if you have to. There are many ways to achieve that extra cash flow to go on these trips. Also researching locations that can stretch your dollar for a longer period, staying in hostels, and traveling on the offseason. Finding ways to get to your goals is what makes you more of a proactive person as opposed to someone who just talks about one day going on these trips. It’s just up to you to make it happen at the end of the day!

Meet Alyssa

My name is Alyssa creator of ojosextranjeros. I was born in Tunisia to a Cuban mother but raised in Queens, NY after my mom left my birth country with me as a baby. Despite being born in one place and raised in another, I have always identified as Cubana. My family fled Cuba in the ’70s and like many other Cuban-Americans forced to flee, they have a love-hate relationship with the island. Once a Cuban left the island, it was usually for good. That’s why it was a very big deal when I decided to visit Cuba, being the first in my family to do so since they left.

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In 2017, I got the opportunity to visit Cuba and travel around the island. Needless to say, it caused a lot of discomfort with my family. My grandmother was upset and called me a communist for wanting to support Cuba by giving the government my money. My mother was heartbroken that she could not go. She left Cuba as a young girl, and she barely remembers her homeland. This trip was not only for me to connect with Cuba, but also to be a lifeline between my family and our ancestral home. I took this trip for my mother who never returned, my grandmother who left so much behind, and our family who we lost contact with.

I remember landing in Jose Marti Airport in La Habana and heard the unmistakable Cuban accent, feeling like I was home. My family sent me to the island with a list of places and people to connect with, to find long lost primos and find my family’s old home. No pressure, right? I started my journey in la Habana and made the most of it. I was able to track down some primos who have a very well known and successful restaurant in Chinatown, Los 3 Chinitos. I heard stories of my grandfather who had passed and my uncles when they were younger. I remember crying so much that day because we never thought we would meet. While it was my first time in Cuba, there was no doubt in my mind that I had come home. 

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I made it a point to not spend my money in certain areas. Not because they would be giving the money to the government, but because they were complete Americanized tourist traps. I tried to spend my money in smaller, family establishments vs. El Floridita for example. I understand certain areas of Cuba are “must-see” places (Bodeguita del Medio, Ambos Mundos, etc) but this is not the real Cuba. I would be doing my family a disservice if these were the places I decided to spend my time. Instead, I walked around and got lost in la Habana Vieja, Chinatown, and el Centro and I would recommend anyone do the same. I imagined my mother walking down these same streets, and photographed everything for her.

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 2.13.02 PMMy aventura took me around the island, a blessing that I did not take for granted. I visited more places than my mother, and even grandmother have been to. After la Habana I visited the musical streets of Cienfuegos, I swam in posadas in El Niche National Park, I walked the cobblestone streets of Trinidad (Cuba’s oldest town) and eventually made my way to where my grandmother was born, Camaguey. Here, I saw her childhood home and reconnected with family members that hadn’t heard from my grandmother in over 40 years. This visit was especially hard because I met my grandmother’s cousin, who she lived with and they were raised like siblings. He was 91 and every time he looked at me he thought I was her and would call me my grandmother’s name. It was heartbreaking to me, to know what my grandmother left behind and the fact she would never come back.

I am extremely blessed to have visited the island, and that I’ve had the opportunity to return. While I am the only one in my family who has continued to return, it has been a healing experience for us all. My mother, aunt, and grandmother reminisced on their old life over my photos. I have been able to be the messenger between our life in the States and our loved ones on the island. And now, thanks to social media, I was able to connect my grandmother to some of our family on the island. While my family was initially torn about my trip to Cuba, they eventually came around. My family has been more open with their memories on the island, and my uncles are trying to apply for their visas to return. You see, Americans do not need to apply ahead for a visa to Cuba. However, if you were born on the island and left before December 31, 1970, you need either a Cuban passport or a HE-11 visa. I am so eternally grateful that my trip has inspired my family members to try and go back to their homeland.

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My new goal is to take my younger brother, my younger cousins, and my son to Cuba. I especially want my younger family members to understand where our parents came from and the life they left behind. I think it is extremely important for Cuban-Americans to return to Cuba to heal some of the generational trauma that came with the exile of Cubans after the revolution. It is also important for Cubans to understand the island is not as backward as American media, or their own biases, have depicted. I also want my son to grow up knowing his ancestral home. I never had that opportunity as a child to visit my homeland, as many of my peers did during summer vacations. I want my son to know where we come from, and how lucky we are to live the life we do.


Meet Cynthia!

I have been on a plane since I was three months old. Growing up with a single mother, she always made an effort to show me where our family was from, La Isla del Encanto, specifically, Barrio Tejas, Humacao, Puerto Rico. My mother, grandmother, and I visited the island at least once or twice a year. Therefore, airports, planes, and airplane food always seem to excite me. However, traveling to other places than Puerto Rico and Florida never came to mind.

IMG_5341Fast forward when it was time to select a college, the idea of a traditional campus life with a dorm at a forty thousand dollar a year university was a fantasy but not my reality. I decided on a less expensive college in Manhattan instead of committing to years of debt. John Jay College of Criminal Justice was not exactly what I wanted but I later came to appreciate every second of it. I knew I was not going to get the college experience many of my catholic high school peers decided on, but I was going to obtain my degree and study abroad. Study abroad was the only experience I looked forward too. As a freshman, I applied and I was accepted to a study abroad program in Greece. Sadly, I decided not to go. I felt it was too early in my college career to attend and the finances were not there yet.

Junior year was the year. I received an email from a new study abroad program in Genoa, Italy and I applied. I knew it was time to adventure out of my shell, but little did I know getting my first passport would guide me to see the world. Thanks to my part time job at Bloomingdale’s and a scholarship, I went to Italy. The study abroad program consisted of two sociology classes at the University of Genoa, unless pizza, pasta and gelato, free time to visit cities like Florence, Milan, Rome, and the meeting of the fabulous founder of Sueños De Una Viajera, Zeline.

After the program ended, I was grateful for the experience and the new friends I made. Italy was exposure to the old world, a culture shock and lastly, an experience I would recommend to any college student. Nonetheless, I had my senior year of college to complete and decided to pursue my Masters in Public Administration. In other words, life was continuing and traveling abroad was not in the plan.

Shortly after completing my masters, I got my first real job. I never thought in a million years my new coworkers would be my travel buddies. We started with a road trip to Niagara Falls to then a quick trip to New Orleans to then seeing the world. In addition, getting my first car allowed me to travel to neighboring states such as Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Five years later, I have had the pleasure of visiting 14 states, 14 countries and 6 continents. I have been blessed with the funds, couponing and saving skills, the vacation time, and friends/travel buddies to see so much of this beautiful world.


I never thought I would be able to say I have been to South Africa, Australia or even Argentina but I have. So never say never. My single parent household upbringing in NYCHA in a borough that is constantly belittled did not define my life or my travels. My name is Cynthia. I am a 5’1 little lady from El Bronx traveling the world, one country at a time.

Zeline Santana – Founder of Suenos De Una Viajera

My name is Zeline, I am the founder of Sueños De Una Viajera. I’m Dominican American born into the struggle of assimilation. For the first five years of my life, my family lived with relatives and friends, it was rough. We didn’t gain financial freedom easily but my mother found what she saw as an opportunity as a housekeeper. Something is something?

Growing up, I struggled with my identity. I went through a lot of phases in search of who I was. The in-betweens were rough emotionally. I didn’t have a clear understanding of who I was or who I was meant to be in life. I went through a few heartbreaks, but somehow gracefully smiled regardless of the pain and discomfort. Educationally, I have accomplished a lot, but at times I feel unaccomplished. I went through hell in the educational system and while most thought I was smart, many said I wasn’t, well talk about that later.

My father and I don’t have the greatest relationship even though we do talk, It’s like we got to talk, no? He’s my dad. My dad once told that I shouldn’t go to college, que machista! I should stay home and do what women do, while he is proud now (of course, momma did all the work), what he doesn’t know is that marked me for the rest of my life because my life became a competition with everything and at times that was rough and its not good for your inner being.

I started to travel to forget words of impact. Words I heard my mother and dad say to each other as a child, words from men who claimed they loved me, and situations with friends that went sour, so basically everything that happens in life. I have traveled to 19 countries and approximately 9 states in the search of my purposes and I quickly learned that travel was a new found cultural experience that broke barriers for me, financially and spiritually, so why not share it with my community. With Sueños De Una Viajera I am cultivating our story and our fun travel experiences, our personal and spiritual growth through travel, and everything in between. While you may travel for fun, I wish my insight will open your perspective and reflect on how you got where you are or how can we help you get there.

While traveling to Panama, I connected with my spirituality and learned about the socio-economic struggle many Panamanians go through in the inner city. I’m also learning how to manage my personal life, work, travel, and getting out of my comfort zone. While I save for travel, I have my own financial struggles because I think we can agree that New York City is not cheap! I work full-time, I am a wife, a sister, a best friend, tia, and who knows could eventually be a mother. With our community page, I would like to change the narrative in travel and guide young Latinx to travel.

Connect with me and the ladies who have shared these stories via La Comunidad Viajerx! Follow @suenosdeunaviajera

Meet Ruth

The only thing you buy that makes you richer! Just like Ruth, most of the Latinx travel stories start in our many trips to our native lands – meet Ruth and her experiences in Costa Rica.


Travel has always been such a big part of my life. At an early age, I remember traveling to South America to visit family (aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents). When my parents moved to The United States from Paraguay – they left behind memories, loved ones, their homes, and dreams. No matter how far away we were from their “home”, we made sure to build and maintain relationships with their roots. I always felt Paraguayan even though I was born and raised in New Jersey. I grew up eating Paraguayan food, listening to Spanish music, and speaking Spanglish on the regular. Summer and Christmas vacations overseas were part of our yearly routines. My siblings and I looked forward to spending our summers with our grandparents – eating home-cooked meals, walking around barefoot in the mud, and being submerged in the culture.

When my husband and I started dating – I understood that traveling would remain a big part of my life. After all, his immediate family (parents and siblings) was still overseas in Costa Rica. Over the past couple of years, we have traveled multiple times to Costa Rica – and I can honestly say I am completely in love with their culture, cuisine, and way of life. We daydream of raising our children with the same lifestyle I had – summers and winters with Abuelo and Abuela.

PoasVolcano2This year, we flew my entire family to Costa Rica so they too could experience Pura Vida. Almost instantly, my parents began to fall in love with my husband’s home, their food, the Costa Rican people, their kindness, and lingo. It meant the world to me – to have our two families together. It was amazing to watch our two cultures blend together.

Our almost three-week trip included hiking in the mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, tours of coffee reservoirs, swimming in the ocean, and a wedding (our second wedding, this time in the church)! With every trip we take to Costa Rica, we always try to visit new places and make new memories. The small country has so many treasures to discover.Here are my top recommendations:

Playa Flamingo: If you love clear water and white sand, you won’t want to miss this beach. The best part yet, it’s neighboring beaches offer nightlife and beautiful scenery as well. You won’t regret this trip!

Playa Tamarindo: Another must-see beach in Costa Rica. Here, you’ll be greeted by many English speaking tourists and feel right at home. The nightlife is the best in the area – so bring comfy dancing shoes.

Poas Volcano: I’ve been here twice and have loved both trips. This active volcanic park includes a quick hike to the top of the volcano. On a clear day, you can see the center of the volcano!

Hacienda Alsacia: Are you a #coffeelover? This is Starbucks with a view. We took my entire wedding party here, and they fell in love. What is better than freshly brewed coffee in the mountains?

San Jose: Costa Rica’s biggest city has so much history to offer. The shopping malls are to die for and don’t even get me started on the food options. If you have time, check out the National Theater for a quick tour/story.

If you haven’t already planned a trip to Costa Rica, it’s time to start looking! Any questions/recommendations feel free to reach out and follow my instablog to continue to watch as our multi-cultural family unfolds: @heyruthg.

Connect with Ruth via our Comunidad Viajerx! Follow her via @heyruthg

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