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Puerto Rico

2015

My husband and I took a getaway to the amazing Island of Puerto Rico. When I say AMAZING, I mean wow… where do I even start! We stayed in a cute, old fashion hotel right on the beach with gorgeous views and the weather was perfect. We enjoyed the people as much as the beach and the view. The Puerto Rican people were very humble and friendly, everywhere reminded me of the people back home In Hawaii. We didn’t really have a plan where we were going for the first day, just to walk around and sight see. We began our journey in Old San Juan, we walked the cobblestone roads, shopped, ate great food, and drank some strong coffee. At one point, I was wondering why people were staring at us… like really staring!! My husband was wearing a shirt with big letters “MEXICO” on it, he tends to do this in every country we visit. This is probably why people always talk to us… which works in our favor. We chatted with a local who instructed us on how to catch the ferry to these remarkable islands, Vieques and Culebra. He told us that we must get there early to get in line and the ferry will run every two hours and don’t get stuck on the islands because the last ferry leaves at 8pm. The ferry ticket was a great price, it was only 2.50$, and the ride takes about 30 min. We caught a taxi and got in line and he was not playing when he told us it would be packed. We hopped on the ferry and everyone was calm and collected. They all had coolers, towels, umbrellas, food, etc… so I was assuming there was going to be no stores… I was right. When we got off the ferry I was a bit overwhelmed, people were yelling for us to rent this and that… and go here and go there. To be honest, I think that you or the person you are travelling with, should speak Spanish if you are visiting a country where Spanish is the the spoken language. If you don't speak the country's language, there is a chance that you could be scammed, confused or taken advantage of (in my opinion). Somehow, we ended up cruising on a moped, with a map in one hand and helmets in another. We had absolutely no idea where we were going. We decided to head to the most gorgeous beach I have ever seen… I know what you’re thinking “You are from Hawaii?”, yes but this beach was, wow!!!!  Playa Esperanza was the beach we stopped at first. Warm, clear water but the seashells were too easy not to collect. The sand was so clean and soft. We stayed for a few hours and headed back on the Harley. We were hungry, so we drove around looking for food. We ended up at a house…. A Puerto Rican lady turned her casa into a restaurant to feed the tourist… pretty smart if you ask me. The food we ate was delish and we back were on our way. We stopped at a few other places to sight see and then we headed back to the ferry. I was super paranoid about missing the darn thing. Now, the ferry ride back to the main island was a different scene from the morning. Everyone was drunk, it was loud, funny and reeking of alcohol, we were amused! The following day we visited the lush rainforests, historic sites, and the highlight for Ed, was the Bacardi Factory. We had a good time there. We partied at La Placita and danced the night away in salsa bars. Ed even made some new friends. Overall, this was one of my favorite places to travel, maybe because I met Erica Mena from the show, "Love and Hip Hop" in a random castle or maybe because the culture and the people in Puerto Rico are so enriched with love and Laughter “Mi Familia es tu Familia”

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Mexico

2016

Mexico City! A dream come true for me. The flight was a skip, hop and jump(2 hour) flight. The ticket was roundtrip 350.00$, not bad at all. The airport was very crowded and I was a bit scared to be honest, maybe because they dumped all of our clothes out and rummaged threw it as if I was hiding illegal crap. We stayed in customs for about a hour, hopping in line after line. I was very annoyed and hungry by then. We finally arrived at our ARBNB and it was very nice but, we were so tired, we slept. The following day, we explored the historic city, just be prepared to pay to use the restroom and tissue paper as well. Mexico City is very historic so, we visited many museums, parks, lakes and my favorite, The Frida Khalo Museum, which was her home with Diego. I am obsessed with her and her incredible art! We also took an hour long bus drive to Teotihuacan, the Sun and Moon Pyramids built by the Aztecs. Mexico City is very diverse, I even saw a Japanese guy speaking perfect Spanish in their "China" town! The food was also amazing, we ate at a nice restaurant called CAFE de TACUBA, that I recommend going to if you are ever in the city. The eatery was beautiful, from the ceilings to the tiles on the floor, not to mention, the opera singer catches you by surprise. The Basilica de Guadalupe is a very important religious site that people from all over the world come for a pilgrimage, we visited to pay our respects and educate our kids. Another place we visited is Chapultepec, which is a canal that has been there for thousands of years. We took a boat ride and other boats sail next to you selling food, souvenirs and some even play mariachi for you, this was quite interesting. I am also a fan of lucha libre, if you don't know what that is, it's wrestling but with fancy looking mask and costumes! The Luchadores are amazing and it was very entertaining! Our taxi driver from earlier that day was a wrestler in the show that night... yes how weird? The matches are held on Tuesdays, Friday, and Sunday nights. You MUST be careful when headed to the arena, everyone advises you not to go alone and take a local with you, especially if you don't speak Spanish. Petty crime occurs frequently in that area. We visited a Orphanage while in Mexico City.
It was previously planned before we arrived to Mexico City.This is where Casa Cuna Orphanage made a imprint on my life even till now. We brought school supplies and clothes to the once was church turned into a safe place for abandoned children. The Orphanage is well ran by nuns and volunteers. After our tour and and talking with the director, I left crying and broken hearted in the taxi... and this is where the taxi driver- Lucha Libre part comes in. I guess he was trying to make me feel better and told me that he was a wrestler. The next day we met up with Ed's family to have our last dinner in Mexico City. We ate at a gorgeous spot and we had a balcony with a view looking out to the whole city. In the street, a protest was happening and were very consumed with watching until, my daughter whispers in my ear that she needed to throw up! We booked it to the far, very far bathroom and she threw up salad. I was a bit confused being she had just eaten the salad 20 minutes prior. When we returned to the table my 11 year old is pale as a piece of provolone cheese! She too is sick to her stomach. We head back to the Airbnb and they both started to throw up, like projectile throwing up. They were also crying... I was scared outta my mind. I knew that they had food poisoning. Ed went to the store down stairs and asked if they had anything for the girls, he came back with "pedialita". By then my girls were screaming and crying saying their stomachs were cramping. Long story short, our flight was at 8am and we needed to be at the airport by 6am. No one slept and as we were going threw customs, Ed mentions to us, "DO NOT SHOW YOU ARE SICK" "WE WON'T BE ABLE TO GET BACK INTO THE U.S.". My poor babies, pale and sick, sucked it up and kept it moving. If you are wondering what made them sick, it was the salad. After that trip we always travel with activated charcoal, which can be used for stomach aches or if you ate something bad. The girls say they would not want to go back to Mexico City because of that experience. Ed and I did end up going back alone years laters. Maybe they will change their minds when they get older. Shit happens... over all what we took home from that trip was worth it. The culture is so rich, the people are so hardworking, the experiences unforgotten, and the time we spend learning together is 
irreplaceable.
Vivir nuestras vidas juntos ~LIVE OUR LIVES TOGETHER

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Costa Rica

2018

We arrived to Costa Rica  with kids in tote, pretty exhausted but still excited. It was a really long flight, 8 hours total, we even had stopped in Florida for a layover. The airport was very laidback and it was easy to retrieve our bags. We took a long taxi ride, which was already set up before we got there. The ride to Jaco, took two hours give and take. We stopped to see crocodiles and got some snacks. Our Airbnb was nice, nothing fancy, we had a pool and beach in our back yard. No plans on the first day, just our usual exploring. We found a little store around the corner for little things we might need and of course the people we’re amazing. The school that we planned to visit and bring school supplies to was just down the street as well. We ate a delicioso meal and when we got back to the condo, Isabel was swollen like a puffer fish. We had discovered she is allergic to sea food.  We gave her Benadryl and called it a night, for the next day would be busy and full of excursions.  We took a cab to the car rental the next day and we realized there was no street signs anywhere just landmarks. That was a bit frustrating, but we found our way to the school. This was where I was in complete awe, the children were very happy. There were no plastic toys, fancy desk, pricy school supplies, or air conditioning. That experience was very humbling to the entire family. I gave the amazing teacher the supplies and chatted with her as she gave us a tour of the preschool. I made plans with her to return the next day to read to the kids. For those reading this and want to donate to a local school in Jaco, you must make arrangements prior to going there, they do not accept  random visitors. It’s always good to find out what the school is lacking and what they might want you to donate. Our Costa Rica trip was 8 days of fun filled, packed to rim experiences...  ziplining in rainforest, Starbucks coffee fields and factory visit, beaches and hikes, and shopping. One of my bucket list adventures was to ride horses on the beach up to a mountain. That was a dream come true. The food was good in Costa Rica, a lot of seafood. Fresh seafood!!!  The people were very nice and helpful.  There were a lot of Americans and Europeans living there and many American owned businesses. We did look at property there and it was fairly cheap. What we didn’t like was it was a bit pricy for souvenirs and groceries. We had a grocery store down the street that was similar to Walmart it was called “Maximos”, it was the closet thing to a American grocery store. The kids loved the surfing competitions  and the lush agriculture. I enjoyed the coffee and the laid back atmosphere. I loved the yoga class I took in a treehouse over looking the rainforest. Ed enjoyed it all and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, as well. We always travel to these countries with no expectations and with a open mind. We never stay at pricey hotels or even eat at pricey eateries. We always make sure we want to dive in to emerge ourselves into the local culture and what better way to do this than to actually be around the locals... not on a resort or in a fancy hotel. We want to teach our kids gratitude and we should be grateful for what we have at home. We don’t know how good you have it unless you see what others don’t have. 
The saying in Costa Rica is Pura Vida ~ Pure Life.

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