Category Archives: travel

Living Like a Local: Aftermath of Huracán Patricia

Saludos de Agua Caliente Nueva! It’s been about five days since I arrived in Mexico and I’m still getting adjusted to the suuuuper hot weather that is present even in the early AM. I am currently staying with a host family in Agua Caliente Nueva, an ejido in La Huerta in the state Jalisco. This pueblo was victim to huracán “Patricia” in October 2015, ripping away the roofs of many houses, including the one I’m staying in. My host mother showed me some of the photos after the hurricane and explained to me that it only took a matter of hours on one afternoon for this Category 5 hurricane with 150 mph wind speed to cause so much destruction within their town. Families stood within their living rooms or bedrooms in the photos with nothing covering the tops of their houses because their roofs had blown away from the strong winds and rain.

IMG_8167.JPG

This is a photo I took from the outside terrace/patio they have. Through the window, you can see the techo covering the carpentry shed. This was recently built after the hurricane!

My host family explained to me that their shed that housed my host father’s carpentry business had been destroyed and whisked away swiftly during the hurricane, and all of his materials and machines had been exposed to the elements and needed to be replaced. Other families’ roofs covered essential items, such as beds and other appliances, all of which had to be tossed and replaced. I can observe that this town’s residents are not affluent and this must have been detrimental to their livelihoods to have to replace all of their necessary furniture 😦 It’s been almost two years since the hurricane, and from my morning walks, I can see that all of the roofs have been replaced, but there is still much that needs to recover. Many fruit trees that were abundant in the region were uprooted and died in the process, and there are many empty pieces of land (but this could be an erroneous assumption since this could have been empty to begin with).

When I volunteered in Ecuador with UBELONG back in 2012, I had stayed with a host family for the first time and experienced a fraction of the hardships that people in developing countries face. In many parts of Latin America, there is no potable water to drink, and it must either be purchased by the barrel, or be boiled for consumption. My host mother in Ecuador typically spent every morning boiling large vats of water for us to drink for the day, which was in and of itself an inconvenient routine that she had become accustomed to. In contrast, my host family here in Mexico has the means to purchase about four barrels of potable water at a time for the family to drink, a luxury that other families in Mexico may not be able to afford.

Luckily for my host family’s business in carpentry, they’re finally able to start working on the roof of the house! They had reinforced the roof for the carpentry shed, but still needed to reinforce the roof that covers my room and other parts of the second floor. Right now, it’s only made of madera (wood) and some metal material, possibly aluminum that was nailed down. As a safety precaution and to prepare for any future hurricanes, my host father decided to make it his project to fix the roof this week while the weather is supposed to be good, since he has to pour cement on the roof to make it more durable. Unfortunately and fortunately for me, I get to experience what it’s like living as a local and going through the motions of what it takes to recover from the effects of a hurricane.

If I didn’t have allergies before coming here, I sure do have them now for dust! There is no amount of getting used to the ever-present thin film of dust that lingers on my desk space even after wiping it down five times, or needing to wash my covers three times a day because I can’t time the laundry with when they decide to work on my portion of the roof haha. At one point, someone’s foot went through the roof, leaving a gaping hole for any flying creatures to enter my humble abode (not fun, considering I really detest bugs and would not be pleased if a bird happened to fly in!!)

Being the clean, hygienic fanatic that I am (despite my mishap with eating contaminated food, hah!) it’s been quite an adjustment to the little creepy crawlies that visit me every now and then… imagine waking up to a tiny little beetle dropping onto your leg and starting to crawl, and then imagine me leaping with great agility to brush it off me and then immediately crush it so it doesn’t return 😐 I do miss my clean kitchen and bathroom, for we apparently have lizards that hide behind the picture frames and mirrors in the house, but they are utterly useless in eating the insects and mosquitoes and only leave little droppings as regalos by my bathroom sink -sigh-

Hope you enjoyed reading and stay tuned for my next post!

 

 

Tips: Packing Light

Packing Essentials for Your Carry-on Luggage

Hey everyone! Summer is already here, I can feel it! My WordPress has been kind of wonky these past couple of weeks and I wasn’t able to save or post anything–even trying to log on to post on the forums for help didn’t work! I finally managed to take back my website and I’m here to share with you some tips for packing light when you go on trips 🙂

Whenever I travel with my family, I always have the habit of over-packing and then having to sit on my luggage to get it to close. However, since I watch so many minimalist bloggers share their advice on living in a tiny house, or zero waste, or traveling with minimal items, I decided to give it a try and share with you what I packed for my trip to Mexico! I’m currently in the state of Jalisco in a little town south of Puerto Vallarta. My host family is already so warm and welcoming and I think I am going to like it here very much.

**DISCLAIMER: this is a post about packing a carry-on luggage and backpack! I also packed a checked luggage for a two-month stay in Mexico. This may seem like a lot, but let’s just say that when I’ve lived abroad for three weeks at a time, I had TWO checked luggages and one carry-on, AND one backpack, so I’ve really downsized with my items even though I’m staying for more than twice as long as I had in the past.**

Backpack Items: These are items that I find are essential to have on hand. If you need to whip out your passport or driver’s license, it seems much simpler to open your backpack than to sift through the contents of your carry-on. Here’s a list of items I packed in my backpack:

  • laptop and charger: since I am here in Mexico to do fieldwork for my grad school requirement, I needed to bring this, otherwise I’ll usually leave it at home if I’m traveling for leisure.
  • Kindle and charger: I absolutely love to read, and although the feeling of holding a physical book is preferable, using a Kindle or other e-reader can save so much space and allow you to read as many books as you can save on your device.
  • portable battery pack for your electronics
  • phone charger
  • headphones
  • plug adapters: depending on your destination, you may need a plug adapter if for example you’re from the US and are traveling to Europe.
  • toiletries: if you need to freshen up after an overnight flight, you might want to pack a toothbrush, travel-size toothpaste, wet wipes, and deodorant.
  • passport and/or driver’s license
  • printed copies of your boarding pass, itinerary, travel insurance, etc. — this is optional, but recommended in my opinion!
  • wallet and keys: make sure you don’t have any sharp items on your keychain because it will get tossed!
  • empty water bottle: I can’t stress this enough, guys! It’ll cost you an arm and a leg to buy a measly plastic water bottle when you can easily BYOB (haha, get it? Bring Your Own Bottle!). You will save yourself money, and also not contribute to the massive number of plastic bottles that are littered throughout the world.
  • some warm article of clothing: you never know when you’ll get cold, so bring a scarf or a super-light article of clothing you can fold up and stuff in your luggage.
  • tissues: hey, a sudden onset of the sniffles or a nosebleed from the high altitudes are always possibilities, so better safe than sorry!
  • snacks: if you’re perpetually hungry like I am, I recommend you pack some snacks, especially if you’re on an airline that’s too cheap to give you a bag of peanuts or pretzels!
  • eye mask and earplugs: some airlines will offer this to you, but you’d be better off bringing your own.
  • translation dictionary: I packed this in my carry-on this time around, but I usually pack it in my backpack for quick access.
  • OPTIONAL but recommended: one set of clothes (a top, bottom, underwear) in case your luggage is forced to be checked in and *knock on wood* gets lost and you are in need of a change of clothes.

 

magneticallyaesthetic.wordpress.com.png

Carry-On Items: These are items that you want to prioritize and keep an eye on since you never know if your checked luggage is going to get lost in the airport system forever…

Before I begin, I just want to give a shout-out to the person who invented luggage packing cubes. These are SO useful when you want to pack your stuff and I was a skeptic, but it really saves space when I pack my clothes 😀

magneticallyaesthetic.wordpress.com (2).png

 

  • extra money: find some inconspicuous places to hide your extra cash, and don’t keep them all in one spot! You never know if the place you’re staying will have a thief so you don’t want them to take your entire stash.
  • clothing:
    • 3 shirts
    • 1 cardigan
    • 1 button-down shirt
    • 1 pair of shorts
    • 1 pair of pants or leggings
    • 1 bathing suit
    • 1 dress or skirt
    • 1 set of PJs
    • 1 pair of socks (you will be wearing the other pair)
    • 3 sets of underwear
    • 1 pair of flip flops
    • 1 pair of sneakers or boots (to wear on plane)
    • 1 hat/cap (and sunglasses)
  • power strip: your room may not have many outlets, so it’s wise to carry a power strip to plug in all of your electronics with little hassle.
  • toiletries:
    • shampoo bar: I’m sure many stores sell these nowadays, but I purchased mine from LUSH Cosmetics. Depending how long you’ll be traveling, I would pack one bar for every 2-3 months you’re away. I’m gonna do a review on them soon!
    • travel-size body wash*
    • travel-size lotion*
    • travel-size face wash
    • travel-size toothpaste
    • travel-size sunscreen
    • toothbrush
    • razor*
    • deodorant
    • toilet paper roll: this is particularly important if you’re going to a developing country that may not have the most accommodating bathroom facilities. I think it’s better to carry a roll with you at all times than to have an emergency situation and nothing to wipe yourself with, right? :X
    • hair ties and bobby pins
    • pads/tampons
    • Q-tips
    • nail clipper and filer
    • tweezers
    • extra pair of contact lens, lens case, and solution (if you wear contacts)
    • glasses and case (if you wear glasses)
    • OPTIONAL: makeup — remember you’re going on a trip to experience your surroundings, you don’t need to pack your entire life’s supply of makeup! Just pack what you NEED on a daily basis and call it a day.
  • medicines: in some countries, it is really difficult to get medicine without a prescription, even if you’re just looking for ibuprofen for a headache. I advise you to carry headache medicine, anti-diarrheals, laxatives, pepto bismol, allergy, and probiotics if you want to stay regular!
  • batteries and a flashlight
  • umbrella
  • tote bag
  • OPTIONAL: journal (I started journaling in Mexico and hope to continue to do it since I’ve been more forgetful when I don’t write things down, so let’s see how that goes :))

magneticallyaesthetic.wordpress.com (1).png

Visit Madrid

Hi everyone, I’m back! The next few posts will feature photos from my recent trip to Europe 🙂

My first stop was in Madrid, Spain. The weather was a solid 100~ degrees Fahrenheit the two days I was there, something I’ve never experienced before in the US. The people there are so nice, and I was amazed and impressed that I was able to get by with my middle school and high school level Spanish and speak with the locals! I loved how nearly every city I visited had community trash bins for regular, recycle, and compost trash to encourage proper sanitation. Flowers were in bloom and families were all out enjoying the fantastic weather at El Retiro Park and Mercado de San Miguel! So excited to be sharing some photos from this fabulous city here:

IMG_3747

There were beautiful arches everywhere we went, this was just one of them

IMG_3750

I absolutely love taking photos of the streets in each city I visited!

IMG_3760

People could go boating in El Retiro Park and watch the ducks and the fish in the water

IMG_3765

Paella is a must-have when you visit Spain. This was super yummy, I can’t wait to make my own version one day~

IMG_3774

Super fresh and delicious looking seafood in Mercado de San Miguel

IMG_3779

Charcuterie stores and cured meat were everywhere we went

IMG_3785

Olives seem to be a big thing in Madrid; they’re super popular, but so salty!

ALL PHOTOS ARE ©magnetically aesthetic. Please do not steal, edit, or use these pictures in any way without my permission. Thank you!

Stay connected with me: Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter  ❤

Hello From Europe!

Hey everyone! I apologize for the lack of posts recently, for I am currently in Naples, Italy 😮 Originally I was going to get back to NYC Wednesday evening but unfortunately there is a strike with the airline that I booked with -sigh- my luck!

I’m excited to share some photos of my trip with you all when I return, so stay tuned! (I attempted to attach some photos of Pompeii and Herculaneum ruins but my WiFi is too slow to load the photos :()

Visit Toronto

How was everyone’s July 4th weekend? Little did I know, I was traveling to Canada right after their national holiday, Canada Day! We had stumbled across the amazing Toronto CityPass that allowed us to visit 5 out of 6 top tourist attractions in Toronto. I encourage anyone who is planning a visit to this beautiful city to purchase this CityPass and take advantage of going to as many of these attractions as possible!

We allotted 3 days for 5 attractions, and if I could change anything, I wish I could’ve spent more time at the Royal Ontario Museum, with everything under the moon and stars that would interest every individual that enters their doors! We missed the Chihuly and Tattoo Exhibits that were on temporary display and I sooo wish for you to go visit so I can live vicariously through you all! (@Samantha, your son would love the Earth’s Treasures exhibit full of many beautiful rocks and minerals!)

Here are my recommendations based on the places we went to:

  • Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – 2-3 hours, depending on how quickly you read through descriptions
  • Toronto Zoo – at least 6 hours, and go early in the morning to see the giant panda babies since the wait can be more than an hour long, even if you arrive at 10 in the morning!
  • CN Tower – make a reservation for dinner beforehand for around 7pm, so you can skip the line to go up; then you can view the floors at your leisure when you’re done (and watch the sunset!)
  • Royal Ontario Museum – at least 4-5 hours, maybe more (we gave ourselves less than 3 since we were going to Casa Loma and had to drive to an Airbnb by Niagara Falls that afternoon)
  • Casa Loma – 2-3 hours, preferably in the morning since their parking lot fills up quickly and the place gets PACKED! And go when it’s warm 🙂

ALL PHOTOS ARE ©magnetically aesthetic. Please do not steal, edit, or use these pictures in any way without my permission. Thank you!

Stay connected with me: Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter  ❤

Image

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This past weekend’s weather in NYC makes me miss my vacation in the Dominican Republic. Warm, sunny, 85-degree weather… I can’t wait til spring and summer arrive!

10356407_2656801343236_8327998790581108338_n10422008_2656804143306_7202237368620185444_n10441246_2650262779776_1864586730036378735_n

ALL PHOTOS ARE ©magnetically aesthetic. Please do not steal, edit, or use these pictures in any way without my permission. Thank you!

WHY WE QUIT OUR JOBS IN ADVERTISING TO SCRUB TOILETS (Reblog)

Every day it feels like I see someone or couples quitting their 9-5 jobs and traveling the world and I feel almost envious of their new lifestyles. I would think, “how do they do it? Are they just loaded with money and can afford to country hop for the rest of their lives?”

I came across this blog post about a couple that was one of the pioneers for dropping their stagnant jobs to see the world. This particular post takes off the rose tint from our perception of these happy-go-lucky travelers and shows us another side of this new lifestyle. I’m glad this puts things in perspective and presents the other truth in their travel adventures!

(originally discovered this blog through this Buzzfeed post!)

How Far From Home

After being gone exactly 6 months, I feel it necessary we share the uglier side of our trip. Browsing through our blog posts and Instagram feed, it seems like we’re having the time of our lives. And don’t get me wrong – we are. It’s bloody amazing. But it’s not all ice-creams in the sun and pretty landscapes. Noooooo. So far, I think we’ve tallied 135 toilets scrubbed, 250 kilos of cow dung spread, 2 tons of rocks shovelled, 60 metres of pathway laid, 57 beds made, and I cannot even remember how many wine glasses we’ve polished.

You see, to come from the luxuries we left behind in Johannesburg, to the brutal truth of volunteer work, we are now on the opposite end of the scale. We’re toilet cleaners, dog poop scoopers, grocery store merchandisers, and rock shovelers.

It’s painstakingly hard and dirty work.

And although the last few…

View original post 427 more words