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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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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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Bernkastel, Germany

Holy smokes what a day!

Hello, all! I hope everyone is doing really well! Today has been a ridiculously long day. It started out at 4AM German time to intense wind crashing against my window and snow/sleet falling. After breakfast, Laura, Per, and Teryn, my crewmembers and friends, decided to go for a little walk. To my surprise it was a walk down snow covered vineyards to the nearby quaint village of Bernkastel. The town is very popular in the summer for its many vineyards and boat cruises on the Middle Mosel river. Cobble streets are filled with tiny boutiques and cafés. The buildings are really quite old, one from 1490 to be exact. Try and picture that! As Laura said, Bernkastel is exactly how you would picture a German town to be, especially down to the decorum. The town has a huge down period in the winter so we basically had the entire center to ourselves. It was a pleasant afternoon walk full of much needed fresh air with wonderful friends. Continue reading

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Osaka, Japan

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Hello all!

Here are a few snapshots of a wonderful layover in Osaka, Japan. Cass, Alyssa, and I started the day early and eager to explore as much as we could. All we really knew was the general destination as we purchased our tickets from the train station with the help of a friendly clerk. In fact, every single person we interacted with was incredibly nice and helpful, even those in the train station.

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