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2017 Summary Part 1

AKA the hardest, most emotional year of my 24 years. When I envisioned the end of this year, I would have never guessed I would be where I am now. Lately I’ve caught myself laughing and saying, “thank God it’s almost over!” Sometimes I feel as if I am actually willing this year to finish faster. I replay the rough moments in my head not as a way to torture myself but as a way to reflect on what I am most proud of: that not only did I make it to the end of this year, but that my heart is intact and my spirit is alive. I am once again so cheerily hopeful about the future.

If you know me or have read some of my posts before then you know this is a big deal to me. I spent the first half of the year fighting to keep alive something that had no chance of recovery. The other chunk of time I spent in denial, feeding this toxicity as if an addiction. Then some other stuff happened like having to move out of my house and then breaking my wrist. Point is, emotionally this year was challenging. Mentally…it was devastating. Well, almost devastating. Because what I am trying to explain is that yes, this has been the hardest year of my life, but 1) I survived it and 2) in reality, a breakup (although as serious as thinking it was the “one”), being kicked out, and breaking a bone were my 2017 hardships. And I am lucky to say that. So if I’m being truthful, yes, this year sucked, but no, it wasn’t nearly as hard in retrospect as I truly thought it was while going through these things. At the time, everything was compromised: my body, my spirit, my health. So I have to ask myself: am I healthy right now as I type this? Yes. Am I whole right now as I type this? Yes. And am I constantly healing, even now as I type this? You’re darn sure I am.

So in a nutshell, it took me 12 months and a few days to finally realize and accept that not only did I survive this year, but I flourished. I am flourishing. I am stronger than ever before and that means all the crummy times in 2017 were somehow…worth it. So worth it.

So what have I learned this year? Well here are just a few things:

1) Date someone kind. Someone who remains kind over time. Someone with a kind heart. When they are no longer kind, leave. You deserve someone kind.

2) Never underestimate how important a good friend, a kickass, empowering movie, and venting are for the soul. (when I told Analeise about everything she took me to see Wonder Woman and it was the best thing for me)

3) As much as relationships are incredible, don’t lose yourself in them. Those goals you want to attain need to come first or you will always think, “what if?” The right person will help build you up and help you reach those goals. They need to be your number one fan, too.

4) When all else fails, get some perspective. For me it was snorkeling with manta rays in Tulum and hiking up mountains in Peru. You will see there is a world outside of heartache.

5) A support system will help move mountains. Trust in the process, trust in the Universe and that it knows what It’s doing, and trust in those around you. Don’t lose that trust that makes you kind.

6) Cry and scream if you need to, but never ever ever lose your faith, whatever it may be. This is all happening for a reason. (I truly believe this)

7) Move on when it’s time. Forgive, not for them, but for yourself, because you need it. Because it is what’s right.

8) One day, without even realizing it, you will be free again.

And you will care for someone again. And they will be kind. And you will once again be kind.

What I consider a really hell-ish year was made so much better because of people like my parents and sisters, Analeise, Edmar, Charlie, Kris, Laura, Sarah, Bubba, Brianda and everyone who let me vent, traveled with me, or just cheered my well-being on.

Like I said, a support system will move mountains and in 2017 it helped me move on from my biggest one.

Until next time, friends

(Which will be a lot happier of a post because it’s about my 2017 travels! Yay)

-Mary Anna

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From Go-Go to No-Go

23631954_10209781017193232_898772676819301510_oBefore I tripped and broke my wrist I was constant go-go-go. After Peru I went back to work for a couple weeks and the day I landed back in Houston I hurried to take off on another flight to St. Louis to attend a wedding and begin a Northeast road-trip. My apartment was an expensive storage unit, I hadn’t been home to South Texas since Easter, and I never really took any sort of breather from traveling. Now, that lifestyle may sound exciting and for some, desiring. I constantly hear from others how lucky I am to live a life where I get to travel for and outside of my job.. Trust me, I know and I thank goodness everyday because travel is a main priority in my life. But I didn’t realize how it suddenly was the only priority in my life until I tripped on a- would you believe it- surprise suitcase.

Breaking my wrist hurt- obviously. However, the physical pain was manageable; it was the emotional struggle to adjust that was actually the most painful for me. You see, my life and my lifestyle is fueled by my want- my need– to travel, to keep moving, to explore further. I used to beg my parents to buy me maps, atlases, and National Geographic magazines every chance I could because in my mind, I was already somewhere else. I was already there (wherever there was). So for the past two and a half years of being a flight attendant I have been there many, many, many more times than I was here, in my own home, with my family, with my pets: Home. I know this is a part of growing up; you move away, you get busy, you take a break for the holidays, but I didn’t even spend time in my own apartment in Houston. I was just always gone.

Well, then I fell and instinctively tried to stop myself by placing out my arm. Here’s my most helpful tip to a fall- don’t do that. A couple of loud pops, a trip to the Urgent Care, and a cast later. I have officially been land stuck for six weeks. It doesn’t sound like much, but it has changed everything for me. I’ll briefly admit what the hardest parts have been: not being able to do my own hair, not being able to drive, not having public transportation/Ubers available in South Texas, having to ask for help with everything, and yes, not being able to travel like I used to. Now, instead of continuing to write about how this break was difficult, I’m going to write about how it is the best thing that could have happened. Because we all get it at this point: girl loves to travel, girl can’t travel, girl struggles to adjust, girl gets sad. But what I now focus on is so much sweeter and so much more positive.

I get to go to Church with my parents every Saturday at 4 o’clock where the Priest plays his country music and lets his dogs walk around during mass. I get to see Brianda for our traditional date of coffee/Wingstop and Target and we get to have serious conversations in person instead of just through text. I got the chance to celebrate my father’s birthday. I got to spend time in my own apartment where I finally put up the shelves that were sitting on my floor for weeks. I got to finally have a life in Houston for more than a day. And because I am a cat mom, I get the chance to actually be a cat mom again. Just today, which inspired me to take this post in this direction, I got to enjoy a delicious barbecue with my family in the chilly afternoon air as we talked about past family vacations and planned our next one. I got to witness a hummingbird hover nearby so close to me. I got to see my mom decorate the Christmas tree. There are so many truly beautiful moments that I have been fortunate to be apart of that I wouldn’t have been able to if it wasn’t for my broken wrist.

So yes, I could be grumpy about being hurt- I mean, rightfully so- it does hurt- but I can also be thankful that I now get to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, that I have a family that loves me, and that I have the resources to depend on during this time. I have to understand that the Universe intervened for some reason. Maybe something bad was going to happen to me, maybe the constant go-go-go was going to make me sick, maybe this is just the world saying that I needed to take a step back and reevaluate what’s truly important to me. Travel will be there for me when I recover, work will still be there for me, but what I blindly needed, was to be here. Here. 

From Go-Go to No-Go. As I continue to recover (I can finally type with both hands although painfully), I can almost be thankful for that surprise suitcase for giving me what I needed most in the world: the no-go for awhile.

But seriously, did the Universe have to intervene so painfully?!

See you soon, world.

-Mary Anna

Casty, aka Stumpy, aka Captain Hook- you will not be missed.

Free hands!

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Peru 8 Day Itinerary

IMG_4878Hello again, all!

I have been asked a few times for my Peru itinerary so below I have included all I could: costs, times, and some extra information for anyone that may not travel as often. When Analeise and I planned this trip, and as we went through it, we balanced out the cheaper “backpacking” lifestyle while allowing ourselves the occasional splurge for enjoyment. I included as close to the exact costs and conversions in soles as possible, but remember currency is constantly changing and, of course, often negotiable while traveling.

For starters, the biggest monetary savings that we accomplished was booking our round-trip tickets with United miles. It cost me 30K miles and $95 to go from Houston to Cusco (with a connection in Bogota) and back to Houston from Lima. Therefore, it was necessary to purchase an extra commuter flight from Cusco to Lima, which thankfully are frequent and affordable ($90).

Click the “Read More” for the complete itinerary!

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Peru- Peru Rail and Salineras de Maras

IMG_5044-RecoveredAlas, everyone! The third post of my Peru series. I would like to blame this ridiculous delay on my current one hand situation I seem to be in. About two weeks ago I fell and broke my wrist in two places and have been on the mend ever since. Pretty much that means I’m slow to accomplish anything from things like washing my fair to typing on the computer. I apologize for any typos I don’t catch, as typing with one hand isn’t very easy and I keep making tons of mistakes.

But here I am! Alive and intact (for the most part) and ready to share with you the last huge chuck of my Peru trip. Warning: this post is very long.

After our fears of a rainy Machu Picchu came true we stayed one more night at EcoPackers ($14). What I forgot to mention on my last post of Aguascalientes is that both Analeise and I found our llama sweaters here! Success! It is so cozy and I will always cherish it! The next morning we gathered our small packs and made our way to the train station. Somehow in the process of getting to the station I managed to lose my phone without my knowledge until I was sitting at the station. After checking the restrooms and asking around I stormed off back to the only stop we made: a small currency exchange that Analeise bought water and I bought a magnet in. Would you believe it but right on the counter where I left it was my phone, in plain daylight, with no one around. Grabbing it, I bolted off once again in fear of missing my train. The thing is, I’m already out of shape and running at that altitude (Google says it’s 6,693 feet) was no easy task. I arrived huffing and puffing but successfully holding my phone with time to spare.

Analeise and I both feel we had the perfect amount of both money-pinching and splurging on this trip. After the hydroelectrica trek and mountain hike, we were so excited to sit comfortably on Peru Rail for a couple of hours. The train ride was remarkable: free snacks and beverages and the beautiful Peruvian countryside. My favorite part of the journey was seeing this very old lady standing outside the train tracks waving to us as it went by. It helped me be reminded that simple friendliness goes a long, long way.

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IMG_4742Hello, all!

After the difficult hike up to Humantay Lake, we had to make the decision on how we would reach AguasCalientes. Originally we were determined to complete the entire process on our own with only means of transportation being collectivos and a lot of walking. After the first hike kicked our bus we settled on a decision to compromise: we would take a bus to Hydroelectica and then hike to AguasCalientes. Through our hostel (Pariwana Hostel) we booked the shuttle ($15), rode for 5 hours over the steep cliffs along the Urubamba river, ate lunch, and then began the hike along the train track and river for 3 hours with a group of Mexican girls and one French girl. Remember it is an active train track so don’t get too close to it as it passes by (as Analeise learned when she tried taking a photo of the train and it briefly missed her). By the end of it, Analeise, Ana (the French girl), and myself were the only ones left after taking our time, stopping for snack and water breaks, and taking so many photos.

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Peru- Hidroelectrica Trek and Machu Picchu

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IMG_4695Peru, Peru, Peru. I am not sure how I’m going to explain this trip. Sure, I can write out the details: the places we went, the things I saw, so on, so forth. But how do I begin to explain what it meant to me? I’ve decided to break this trip up to several parts- trying to cram it all into one post would get extremely lengthy and we would all lose focus halfway through. Somehow I’ll try to fit into words how awing this time was for me. And if in the scenario I do not fulfill that duty then I hope my photos will. Continue reading

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Peru- Cusco and Humantay Lake

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Travel

Malaysia!

Hello, all!

As I am preparing for my backpacking trip that officially begins tonight (!!!!), I decided to finally post the photos from my surprising layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! Another stamp in the passport (two more pages until its full!)! This layover left me with renewed invigoration, refocused determination to explore this world further, and a whole ton of money photos on my IPhone.

The crew and I, of course, visited the Batu Caves. The world’s tallest statue of Murugan was phenomenal to witness on the journey up the stairs (which honestly winded me) to the entrance of the caves. However, honestly, the interior was a bit disappointing as there was quite  a bit of construction going on. I understand all about making a tourist destination more tourist-friendly (and profit-making), but I am concerned about the impact it will all have on the limestone and bats that live among it. I suppose, as with many things, time will tell.

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