If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while or are one of my close friends, you know that my desire to see Pakistan has been unquelled for the past few years.
So, it’s with a heavy heart and much sadness that I write this: I was rejected for a tourist Visa to Pakistan without reason.
found on Wikipedia
This is my first Visa rejection and the process has offered a glimpse into how difficult it must be for people from non-Western countries to secure Visas for travel. As an American, I often take for granted how powerful my passport is and how it allows me absolute entry into almost every country–something for which I’ve always been grateful (and a bit guilty).
When my friend Sara Beth and I spotted dirt-cheap flights to Bogota, we knew it was time for us to finally adventure to South America for the first time ever! We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into, hardly planning much before going because we were both so busy with work, but it ended up being awesome.
Before going, we looked at Cartagena, Bogota, and Medellin before ultimately settling on Bogota. While I’d read that it wasn’t a very touristy destination and more of a business city, we still found loads of things to see and do while there, and I’d go back again!
The people were friendly and happy, the weather (while drizzly) was nice and cool, the Andes surrounding the city made for a gorgeous backdrop, the food was delicious, and I loved all the street art.
I’ve taken two trips to India in the past year and have yet to write much on my blog about either of the trips. India is one of those countries that’s so difficult to actually describe, but is so amazing that you want to tell everyone about it.
I was just answering a few questions on my favorite place in the world for another blogger and without hesitation, I picked a place–and not one that I thought I would’ve chosen: Varanasi.
Varanasi is the holiest place for Hindus—both life and death can be found along the ghats the Ganges. It was a place I knew I had to visit when going to India, but is surprisingly not terribly touristy (as compared to places like Agra). It was the last place I visited on my first trip to India. I was tired both physically and mentally; in mid-May it had become exceedingly hot and humid, draining me all of my energy. I was sick of the food; sick of the honking of horns; tired of touts chasing me to sell everything from useless toys to finger paints. But something about that city completely re-energized me.
I have something to admit: for a long time, I’ve been very anti-Mexico. It’s not that I’ve had an issue with the country itself, it’s been more about the people who go there–mainly to the resort areas. I’ve always hated the idea of resort-going, until I recently tried it and realized it has its place. But it’s always left a bad taste in my mouth when people go on and on about Mexico when really all they’ve seen is the beaches at their private resort. You didn’t see the real Mexico. (Whoa, showing a bit of my pretentious side, I guess!)
Before traveling to Turkey, a lot of my friends and family thought I was insane for deciding to go to a country that borders Syria when thousands of people are fleeing there every day. Their fears mimicked those of the news and of what my government feels. Not long before I left, a statement was released urging those who were planning trips to Turkey to cancel due to danger.
When I traveled to India recently, the magnitude of the poverty I witnessed was both astonishing and overwhelming. I was constantly slapped in the face with it and left there feeling heartbroken and helpless. I wanted nothing more than to rescue all those children and bring them home with me to nourish their lives in every way possible (I mostly wanted to read them books, hug them, and tuck them into warm beds). But obviously I couldn’t do that. While I spend my full-time workdays in the US indirectly contributing to helping millions of Americans receive the benefits they need in order to live a happier and healthier life, I cannot do the same for all the children of the world no matter how badly I want to.
Over 20% of India’s population, or roughly 179 million of India’s 1.2 billion people live below the poverty line of just $1.25 American a day. Compound that with the fact that schools are expensive and you see the number of uneducated people in the country sky-rocket.
A couple of weeks ago I was having a Twitter conversation with a personal friend about travel when she caught me off-guard: she thought I was still traveling full-time and writing freelance to fund my travels. While that was the case not so long ago, I have been working full-time again for longer than I’d like to acknowledge and doing freelance to pull in some extra cash on the side. Despite the fact that I work at a pretty demanding company and work roughly 45 hours a week, I still manage to squeeze in a ton of travel.
In fact, this year alone I’ve been to Florida twice, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and India. (Oh, and I moved to a totally new state–Georgia!) And I have plans for Vermont and the Bahamas coming up later this year, along with a few other trips in the works. It’s not impossible to maintain a full-time job and to still squeeze in a lot of travel–some of that international!
Before I left for India, I scoured the internet trying to find anything I could get my hands on regarding what to wear. I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, but I also didn’t want to totally change up my style and pack things I wouldn’t be comfortable in for several weeks of travel.
Here’s what I knew: India is hot. Hot hot hot in April in the northern part of the country (Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur, Agra, etc.). And India is conservative: no shoulders or knees can be shown.
I thought long and hard about what to wear and settled on the following: lightweight and breathable fabrics. Short sleeves, long skirts, and ankle/capri pants. Turns out, it was perfect.
Located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Ooty is one of the most famous hill stations in India and is situated amidst the blue misty mountains of the Nilgiris. The hill town was known to be the dwelling place of the pastoral community of the Todas, but was captured by the British East India Company by the later 18th century. The British officers were enchanted by the surroundings and the cooler climate and developed it into a colonial summer retreat for the Madras presidency. The architecture of the buildings was more of a recreation of the buildings in old England and provided a pleasant escape from the tropical heat of Southern India. Today, Ooty remains as a highly frequented hill station and has several attractions that make your trip a memorable one. Let us take a look at some of the best attractions that Ooty has to offer.
I just finished reading Lost Girls, a tale of three women who quit their jobs to set off on a round-the-world trip for a year, and much like What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, parts of it struck so close to home that I felt that I had written them myself. In one of the last chapters, I found myself:
“I hadn’t acknowledged my feelings until now, but they hit me full force: I was ready for something more than just a job. I wanted what most women secretly (or not so secretly) want deep down–to fall in love, to be a girlfriend or a wife, to come home to someone who wanted to come home to me. I’d never really made much space in my life or my heart for these things before.”