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Here is the beauty I found in between concrete and wild fruit. Here is a regal bit of my heart and upmost gratitude for the experience to travel and tell you about it.

Monkeys woke me up in the night and iguanas welcomed me to their island. Stray cats and dogs accompanied long and short walks down the beach. Mangos claimed our home, and taxi drivers returned untouched wallets. Salt met my mouth in high tide and around the rim of passion fruit margaritas in the taco fronted speak easy cloaking Americans playing trivia.

I breathed frankincense, stretched toward the Sun like I could touch it and cooled off at night in the rain.

I drank the water, spoke inaudible spanish and got food poisoning. I took my first bike ride after being patched into FWOD on a cruiser found at the Selina Hostel in Pedasi. Our efficient little GoPro perched tightly mounted to my wrist, under the water and above on the 40 minute boat ride off the coast when film or a DSLR seemed unfit.

I bloomed.

While backpacking, we found no illuminated marquee inside the transit terminal. There was no comfort zone nearing the equator, crossing the channel on a charter bus going 60 mph on wet roads in the middle of the night. I remember being relieved by the sound of a baby crying. The bus stops between the capital and Pedasi ranged from gas stations, unaccompanied benches and viaducts, but every arrival marked victory.

“Wherever you go, there you are,” no longer haunted me like arrogant men who once spoke them in my direction. There I was in my fullest being met by irreproachable beauty, nature, life and avid exploration.

Some rude awakening and self recognition came at the expense of an identity others already expected of me. I am no workweek; I have no salary. My white vest is ripped and stained with sweat.

The hospitable heat found in the photographs I took reminded me I am living a dream even if I feel I can’t hardly afford it.

Vacationing is not about the souvenirs you bring home. Travel is not about tourism. Leaving your home to exist elsewhere broadens the mind and nurtures the heart.

Discomfort calls for growth, and out of one chapter, I find myself writing the next, carrying $300 in my pocket on a magic school bus heading South.

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