Friday, February 5, 2016

Book it: Iceland

So initially, my best friend and I had a plan to book a flight to Peru sometime this year. But the universe works in crazy ways. Her car broke down and had to put her money towards her car and we were left with a maybe on Peru. Or a postponing of purchasing our airline tickets. Then the unthinkable happened. The travel gods delivered us a worthy alternative. Iceland! WOWair went viral with their new LAX destination to travel to Iceland starting at $99. I instantly booked it. A solo roundtrip. Sometimes(most of the time) I can be very impulsive, especially when it involves a good deal. A couple days later, my best friend purchased hers. We were both sort of speechless about our new adventure we will embark on together this winter. 

I guess seeing the Northern Lights has always been on my to do list but never really imagined it to be a possibility. I still am in disbelief that I did India last year. But when you want things to happen, you fucking make them happen. My friend and I said we wanted to take our adventures to the next level this year and agreed we would do an international destination. That's what we planned to do and are doing it. Every chance we get, we are obnoxiously saying "Oh we should get this for Iceland." We are constantly wanting to brag and let everyone know that we are going to Iceland. This is big for the both of us in many ways. We both lost someone who loved and lived for adventure. She lost her mother who is an inspiring past traveler and I lost my nephew who up until the age of 8, had lived and experienced more than I had when I lost him. Both adventurous spirits. So wherever we go, we know they are there with us, we carry them in our hearts and souls to any new travels we go on. 

We all have a story to tell on why we live our lives like this. Why we travel, why we adventure, why we get on the road or plane to explore the beyond. I have heard the most diverse and inspiring stories about peoples journeys and it brings a warmness to my heart and keeps me going on living this way. I'm starting to live a double life. I work a 9-6 salary job and on the weekends I'm off into another world. I giggle to myself at work because I don't think any of my coworkers or boss have any idea what life I live outside of the company. I like it that way though. To be climbing boulders in the desert and scraping my knees & picking up hitchhikers on a weekend and be back to work on time Monday morning and leave those things apart from the fashion work life. It makes it more exciting. 

Make your life exciting. Be impulsive. Book a flight without thinking it. Don't plan it, Just go. I never thought I would be saying this, but I'm going to Iceland. A beautiful wonderland that makes me jump with joy. The wondrous places just waiting to be seen. It's going to be a trip of a lifetime. My life is quickly becoming a magical ride and I don't ever want to get off. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Hidden LA: Explore It

Living in LA has it's fair share of gems. Just as exciting as it is to leave the city, sometimes it's just as exciting exploring your own backyard. I heard someone say once that the best part of living in LA is escaping it. The best part of living in LA is escaping it, but coming back and finding out why you live in this city in the first place.

Before you travel the world, it's always good to explore your own backyard. I visited my mom this weekend and she was telling me she wants to go back to her homeland, Bolivia. But actually go to places. She wants to explore her birth land like a tourist. And there's something exciting about that. To leave your home and come back and explore it. So as much as I love to leave the city, I have been taking the time to discover some hidden gems. I have gathered up a list of LA destinations that are in the city and close enough out of the city. I will reveal this fully researched list in my next post. I've had a lot of people reach out to me asking to join my trips, and most are doable for anyone in LA. That is why I decided to create a destination list categorized by distance and whether they are 1/2 day trips, day trips or weekend trips. I have sent out this list to several friends who have requested it and will release it to the res of you later next week with links and details to all the places that you may or may not have heard of yet. I strive to discover the new, so I hope the list is new adventure opportunities for all of you. 

In the meantime, enjoy the two hidden gems I have explored in the last two weeks. Both located in Los Angeles. The first is the Jim Morrison Cave/ Zen Circle in Corral Canyon. It is a hike, a beautiful and easy one. I've been doing hikes a lot more this year and the scenery at this Malibu hike did not let me down. Corral Canyon has a beautiful hike with little caves and the Jim Morrison cave. A little difficult to find, but we did it! You hike about a mile and the Jim Morrison Cave that is said to be the cave Jimmy himself came to write songs in. It is located through some bushes and you take a little walk down and enter the "birth canal" and the first thing you see is a cave covered in graffiti! with a pink backdrop. Urban art meets nature and music. An explosive combination of meaningful pieces of art and other young garbage doodles that take away from the cave as a whole. But I appreciated the experience from beginning to end. If you walk a little further you will reach the zen circle and boulders you can climb that have several small little caves. A natural playground for those that still have playful spirits. Me! 

The second adventure we took needs to be made with an appointment. It is the grand and cute Mosaic Tile House on Venice. A gifted couple who has been making art together for over 20 years open up their home a couple days out of the week to give tours of their home and art studio. A true masterpiece and warming love story. I was in awe. The couple are the sweetest human beings who are incredibly gifted and have those brains that you just want to pick at. I kept asking questions, "Did you go to art school?" "what courses did you take?" "do you go to thrift stores for this?" the questions just kept coming out. I originally wanted to go to art school, so that was my dream fantasy life as a youngling. They had the most magnificent art studio that just inspired me. The entire house, life, artists inspired me. Made me feel like that kid again. I missed her. 

These two colorful destinations brightened my day. Nature meets art. Love meets art. Music meets art. It all intertwines when you want it to, and it always works. Art is a beautiful thing. I can't live without it. When you get a chance, put these on your list and explore them! 

Love Nessa

Friday, January 29, 2016

Traveling & Dating: Let It Go

"Don't date a girl who travels" has been a quote circulating in a lil group I'm in. A group titled "GIRLS LOVE TRAVEL" A group of over 20,000 women on Facebook sharing their love, experiences and tips for travel. Many of whom travel solo, and other who have found love through travel, and others who have ended relationships because they chose to explore the world. A group of empowering women with such different views on things of life but one secure commonality, the love for travel.

Dating and travel was never a combination I thought about. But last year I jumped 100% into both. I dated like a mad woman, and traveled like a carefree human being. The men I met were intrigued with my willingness to always explore. I'm many things. I work in fashion, so 7 inch heels & wacky outfits are casual comfy wear, but I am the first to be down to primitive camp and not shower for days just to be in nature. I'm a freak of nature, and I own it proudly. One fling I had was with a photographer who also loved to travel, we had a grand idea to collaborate and incorporate travel. It was a fantasy coming to life. But that never saw the light of day. As that past lover left my life, I felt more sad on that collaborative idea dying rather than him disappearing. The thought of him quickly died but the project lingered in my mind. I realized I yearned to mix my two loves, fashion and travel more than the idea of love.

As the year progressed, my travels piled up. Every month was somewhere new. As men asked to take me out, I had to frustratingly see if they could work with my sporadic schedule. I made it work for a while. Then I met a man who had a schedule as busy as mine. Someone who was at my level. He didn't have much flexibility and my schedule started to fill up towards the end of the year. So spontaneous dates between the two of us were the only way to do it. I would receive a text, "Are you free tonight?" with me responding, "only tonight, then I'm going out of town again tomorrow." And off we went into the night. He looked at my with childlike eyes and a lustful interest in my travel stories as we laid in bed. He said to me "I wish I could just drop everything and just go with you, just travel the world with you." I didn't know how to respond. I wasn't sure how I felt with someone traveling with me just to travel, with no creative incentive, just to experience life with me. But I opened up to it. He was a passionate human being, one who dreamt big, someone with an open mind and exciting soul. The last time we met I told him of my travels to India and he felt inspired. It was sort of a bit sad though. I could see his mind and heart fighting. "I want to be in a place where I can do that, but I'm not. I want to go and explore places with you." This time around, I said "I'll take you, I'm your girl, I'll show you exciting places." That was the last time I spoke to him about it. I left that morning and was off on another trip and when I got back to the city I ended things. Why?

There were many reasons why. Some that were just an excuse to blur the truth. The thought of ending a good relationship never kept me from sleeping at night. The idea of not living fully, and letting societal responsibilities or ideas of a "normal" life is what kept me up at night. I saw my entire year flash before my eyes. I let dating and lovers sway me. My free time was spent with them when I could have been doing other things. This isn't bad for everyone, it's just not a positive habit for me. My entire life has always been fulfilling my career goals, hard work, dreams first. Love never came first, love has never been in the picture. And I started a new year, and so peacefully accepted that I've finally fallen in love. Not with a man, but with the world. They say never date a girl who travels, this is why. The exhilaration of being in a different culture, jumping off cliffs into a warm ocean,  watching the sunset and sunrise in different places around the world, meeting strangers, roughing it up, feeling the wind against your skin on a long ride to the desert. All of those feelings to some is far more rich than the feeling of falling love with a human being. We fall in love with The Mother, the world that delivers us different views and textures, tastes and smells. People go through life thinking the greatest thing one can do is fall in love, but who ever said it had to be with a human being? It's an empowering and freeing experience to come to terms that you are comfortable and confident enough to do this. For the time being, I do this as a single woman, which is comforting. But if the opporunity arises and a man meets me at the same wave length, I am open arms to explore together. But as I progress and evolve this year, I stop for no one. I refuse to miss a heartbeat with this pressured culture to be with someone and be in a relationship. If a man decides to keep at my pace, by all means, come on board and enjoy these experiences with me. Some will never understand, and others feel this so deeply. 

This video below shows just that. Maybe this 2 minute video can show you why we do this. Why us traveling souls don't stop or pause for things like dating, or responsibilities or security. It's a way of life that not many can follow, but once you get a taste for it and like it, it's hard to let go of that rush that runs through your blood, skin, hair. It's electrifying. There's a line in the video that says "If you fall in love with one, let her go." A warning but also a challenge, maybe once you fall in love with one, don't let her go but go with her!

Don't Date a Girl Who Travels from Jonathan Wallace on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

California: Land of the Unknown

I have fallen in love with California more than ever recently. Yes, I do crave to travel the world, become a globe trotting jet setter. But before I do that, I want to explore all of California! It has so much to offer me. I've already started setting up a categorized list of easy travel destinations around California. From distances of 1-2hr day trips from Los Angeles, to then 3hr-5hr road trips that would be best spent on a weekend and then there is the 3hr-9hr road trips to different states close by to California. I've spent the last couple of months exploring more and more and realizing that there are so many things left unknown. Little hidden gems that a small group of people have managed to discover. Before I start exploring the world, I want to explore my own backyard.

I've camped in Yosemite, in Sequioa, explored Bodie, lounged in at hot springs overlooking the Sierras, played in snow at Mammoth, climbed Salvation Mountain, visited the Dinosaurs, shopped in Palm Springs, found peace in several Hindu Temples, drove along the coast, drove through Route 66 to run around Bottle Tree Ranch. But one of the places that I keep going back to, that seems to be a new experience every time is Joshua Tree National Park. The first time I went was years ago. The next time was spent in decked out 1970s style trailers, the time after that was camped out in the hot summer night between the boulders and my last time was spent doing physical exploring.

I love Joshua Tree. It caters to all types. There's a cute town with kind locals, there is Pioneertown for some nightlife fun and then there is the park itself. Massive and ready to explore with so much! You can boulder, rock climb, freehand climb, hike, run around naked. This last trip I made I drove out by myself to meet a friend. We ended up meeting a lot of locals, and picked up a hitchhiker named Greg. He guided us on the best places to check out. His popular name was #HOBOGREG. He was informative, smart beyond his years, had kind eyes and a fanny pack filled with goods and business cards. We explored a little dam, climbed the boulders, climbed to the Arch Rock, photographed the night stars, checked out Skull Rock, and went to the highest part of the park to watch the sunset. Joshua Tree is a magical place. A new experience every time I go. There is something about the desert that makes you surrender to the world, makes you surrender to nature. To the Mother. 

It takes all the worries away and makes you realize how vast the universe is. That night sky filled with stars always gives me shivers. The desert has the best to show for the night sky. When I go, I've noticed it is mostly to escape. It's not too long of a drive from LA. So it's easy and transformative. You're transported to a different world. This last time I went, I put everything into perspective. What I was doing with my life, and just being there with an old friend made me feel more at ease. I've grown a liking to exploring and traveling, who hasn't? It's that feeling you get. That desire, that eagerness, that curiosity. I crave it everyday, that feeling to feel free, free of worries, free of drama. Just you and nature.

First images taken by my talented amiga Emily Prado check her out at EMILLYPRADO.COM


Thursday, January 7, 2016

India: The long distance relationship

When I was a little girl, I watched The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and The Jungle Book on a constant basis. India played a big and small part in all those movies. That's the common ground that kept me obsessed with them. There was something fantasy like, something that was out of this world in the stories told about India. I dreamt of going there one day as a little girl. That yearning stuck with me my entire life. Most people overly romanticize India, the culture, the temples etc. That's only the exterior of it though. While most people fantasize the idea of India and eliminate the cruel truth, I delved deep into not just the culture but everything else that came with it. I always loved India as a whole and always had hope that there would be progress and improvement.  

When I was in high school, that love grew to other lengths. I decided to one day to go to India, live there and help the women. Educate, assist, guide. The issues towards women in India is still a progressing one, and the 16 year old me wanted to help, because India was a part of me since childhood. India had this unexplainable pull towards me. Fast forward to the 25 year old me, sitting alone in my cluttered room with the perfect amount of finances to purchase a plane ticket to India. Click! The ticket was purchased and I began to cry. I was so happy and proud. I was making my dream come true. As a first gen kid of immigrant parents, it's soul enriching to make a dream come true, with your own money. Little accomplishments like this are different for me. My family never traveled anywhere else, the only money we spent to travel was to visit family in my parents homeland of Bolivia. Exploring the world was only a distant dream and I somehow made it a reality. A couple of weeks after turning 26 I was finally boarding my flight to India with a surprise last minute travel companion, my father. A dream that he never would have believed would happen to him either.

Day 1-2: New Delhi
New Delhi was a crowded and chaotic city. If I were to be honest, it was my least favorite. I didn't want to be in a city, I wanted rural India. But it was on my tour package. We spent most of the time stuck in claustrophobic traffic and to our luck, we experienced a massive earthquake while eating lunch. But through the chaos, we arrived to the largest Muslim Mosque in India open to both Men and Women. Beautiful Architecture and children running around the courtyard with nothing but smiles. There was a peace where the people prayed and there was a freedom and cheerful energy out in the courtyard. I remember the sun beaming behind the Mosque and the shapes and silhouette of the Architecture was highlighted so beautifully and all I could do was just stand still and appreciate. Then we proceeded to Ghandi's Tomb, something of a surprise to me. I didn't read it on my tour itinerary but was so grateful to have had the chance to see and learn more of this great individual. Delhi was all about learning. We later went to a Sikh temple and were educated on Sikhism by a professor while we drank the traditional Chai Tea. Delhi was all about learning and on we went to the next adventure.

Day 3-4: Agra
We arrived late at night. In an empty hotel with no free wifi. My nightmare. But we were drained from the 6 hour drive. So we slept. We had to get up at the crack of dawn to head over to the big reveal! The Taj Mahal. A love gesture. The greatest love gesture in history. As we approached the entrance there were monkeys scattered all over. Jumping on trees, hanging around with us. Tourists all around us. When you're surrounded by so many other eager souls, the anticipation is infectious. And also you come to know other traveling souls, from around the world. All giggling with excitement. You are all gathered to witness a masterpiece of architecture. Man made beauty. As I approached it, it all seemed impossible. That I had reached this part of my life. To see one of the wonders of the world, the chaos around me stood still, the people went blurry and it was just me and this extravagant proof of what the ultimate foolish love could be. I couldn't wait to get closer. Once I actually stepped foot on the marble floor, it was magnificent. I was there, it was there. In all it's glory. The craftsmanship, the gems carved in, the glitters. When you go at sunrise, which we did, the white marble actually shimmers with the reflection of the sun and it's just this magical sight that you wouldn't believe. As I wandered off like a curious child, I appreciated the people around. Everyone was there, had their own story. Their own love story and people lounged on the large domes, couples, children running around, tour guides sharing the history of this place. I never wanted to leave. But eventually we had to. And we had a jampacked day of seeing other things. A fort, The Mini Taj Mahal. And through this all, we met other traveling souls. From Peru, my own backyard of Los Angeles, Londoners, Mexicans. People from all over. But as I was starting to get comfortable, we were already back on the road to the next city.

Day 4-6: Jaipur
I stayed up most of the drive for this one. Got to see the rural side of India. You know how you see in movies, that warm sunset. That Indian sunset? Foggy-ness, warm, rich and bloody sun? Well I witnessed that Indian sunset, and as much as I wanted to capture it, it wasn't meant for a photo. It was just for me to remember, as my dad slept in the backseat. Our driver was the best though and we got to meet his gran uncle when we made a little detour. He spoke no english, but that part of India, right outside of Jaipur was the realness I wanted to see. The non romanticized side of it. But on we went, and arrived in Jaipur. Our driver took us to get henna late at night. And the person who gave us the henna was a transperson. Charged us lower because women tend to do henna in India, it's a womanly trade I suppose, but they were kind and free-styled on my dad. Jaipur is known for the honest community. Good hearted, not a big city, but still has it's beauty. Jaipur was by far my favorite. The culture is more colorful. Jaipur women are known for their BRIGHT, bold, neon Sarees and darker skin. And of course it was the jewelry and textile district of India! My cup of tea. Everything was beautiful and I had more connection to the people in Jaipur. This is where I made my connection to the land, the people, the culture, the animals. Everything. I can speak for days and days. But all I can say is that I was transported into a stage of peace. I was told what I needed to hear, by a stranger no less. "You are an individual that needs and wants to be her own boss. You will achieve your career goals in 2 years time. A man is in love with you back home. And remember the sun, the sun is where you need to recharge for your energy."
These people didn't know me. They were strangers, yet they felt familiar. A precious energy. They said things to me that seemed so genuine, intuitive, important. I had to travel a days away from my homeland to be told life changing things by strangers. I really try to be a good person in life. I like to surround myself with good souls, be as kind as I can. And when someone from a foreign country, who doesn't know you, touches you, and looks straight into your eyes and says "you are a kind soul. I see you. You have a good energy. I see you and you are good." You can't help but just cry. I was inside a praying room in a temple and this was told to me. I had many bad things happen in the recent years, and I needed to hear that. Because when bad things happen to you, you begin to question yourself. You begin to believe that maybe you deserve these things, cause maybe you're a bad person. But it isn't that way, and it took a bit for me to accept that.

India touched me, in a way that is still unfinished. It was most definitely a rushed trip. But it was the start of a growing journey. My heart, body and soul needed the first taste. I personally had no bad experience, I traveled with one backpack and comfy clothes. I went there for soul enriching memories, for a dream that didn't need material baggage. All this trip needed was me. Me and this country to finally meet. And we fell in love with each other, just as I had hoped. I intend to return, I left something behind. I left a part of me there. This isn't the end of our relationship. India and I just had to meet. The first step of a blossoming relationship. It's weird to say, but I feel that I had lived in India in another life. It was like I came back home after being gone for so long. And the crazy thing, everyone thought I was Indian. Men stared as my dad joked and teased me cause he called me the princess who had finally come out of the royal palace, and these men just couldn't look away. That's my dad for you. But from the people, to the land, to the culture. It all felt right. I felt right. Because that pull it had on me as a child was there for a reason. Of course, the journey isn't over. It shall continue. And I will be back to share the rest of the developing love relationship between India and I.

As I boarded the plane back to America. I smiled with happiness. I grew as a person. Spiritually. Take note. Before you visit India, please research. Before you visit ANY foreign country. Educate yourself on the culture, norms, religions and also animal cruelty. Tourism has an ugly side to it. So keep an open mind and willingness to be educated. Safe travels.