Almost six years ago I left Pennsylvania behind in favor of new adventure, yearlong warm-ish weather, and a chance to start over. I had grown weary of Pennsylvania, disillusioned by the small-town mentality where I was living, the lack of decent jobs/wages, and a dating pool that I felt was more like a cesspool.
It’s taken me most of those years away to realize how much I love my home. Now I get increasingly excited to go back to Pennsylvania, no matter the time of year. I’ve missed the seasons, the feeling of familiarity, being close to friends and family, and all the back roads that lead to some of the coolest discoveries ever.
Curaçao is an island located in the Caribbean just outside of the hurricane belt, which makes it a great spot to visit year round. Situated just over 30 miles from the shore of Venezuela, this Dutch-influenced island provides an interesting mix of cultures. Our favorite aspect of the island, however, is the abundance of exciting activities throughout the island, and most of our favorites happen to be near the western side of the island. Here is a round up of five fun activities that Curaçao has to offer.
Curaçao is home to some of the best shore diving on earth, meaning that there are many thriving reefs right off shore, no boat required. There are also many unique reefs a little farther off shore, such as the Mushroom Forest, Tugboat, and Car Pile. Not certified to dive? No problem. Just sign up for a discovery dive course like we did and get a look into a world of underwater beauty. We took the diving course from Go West in the small town of Westpunt and felt we couldn’t have made a better choice. The Alice in Wonderland reef just off the shore was breathtaking and teeming with sea life–we even saw an octopus!
Let’s face it: bad shit happens. It can happen whether you’re in your hometown, or 3,000 miles away in a foreign country.
Before I went abroad for the first time, my dad’s reaction was priceless.
“Mae, I don’t feel comfortable with you going to Rome. Steve had his watch and wallet stolen on a street corner!”
“Dad, worse could happen to me walking across Millersville’s campus by myself.”
This is my typical response when people tell me that traveling is dangerous–horrible things happen in my own country all the time. Bombings, shootings, planes flown into buildings, other random acts of violence, etc.
And to be completely honest, walking around by myself at 3am in Rome that summer was less scary to me than walking around in Philadelphia alone at most times of the day. I may have been silly and naïve for doing it, but I survived.
The two most common occurrences I’ve encountered with regards to bad shit happening are sexual harassment and having things stolen.
I grew up in South Central Pennsylvania, where there’s an overabundance of what I refer to as pizza food–this would be things like pizza (duh), cheeseburger subs, tuna melts, and my favorite thing ever–cheese fries. In the area where I was raised, cheese fries are made by piling mounds of mozzarella on a plate of fries, and baking them until the cheese gets all melty and kind of crispy and burnt on the edges (read: f’ing amazing).
When I moved to Texas in 2007, I was fresh out of college and working a temporary receptionist job while looking for a “real” job. My days were long (in that they were boring), I was tied to my desk, and when the phones weren’t ringing I had nothing to do but surf the internet. Though I’d gone to school for English and art, my love for travel sparked an interest in international relations, and specifically concerning the Muslim world. I spent a lot of time at that job falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes reading about different countries, conflicts, etc., and contemplating a future (and grad school program) in that arena.
We all have some strange tales from our travels. I have a knack for meeting some of the weirdest people in the world, or finding myself in the strangest (and sometimes most uncomfortable) situations ever. From a cabbie in Philly telling me about spending years in jail for gang activity to three men surrounding me and putting their arms around me on the metro in Rome, I can’t seem to escape it.
So, with that in mind, here are the three most bizarre/uncomfortable things that I have ever encountered with regards to drivers. (Also, it might contain some offensive material. You’ve been forewarned.)
A woman pushes a cart of desserts and drinks down the aisle and stops at my seat. “Would you like something?” she asks in a broad Scottish accent. My eyes feast upon the entire cart of goodies before ultimately settling on a profiterole (creme puff) with a cuppa tea and a glass of white wine.
After spending a few jam-packed weeks traversing South Africa, I was looking forward to a stop in Durban, where I had a week to just kick back and relax in the lap of luxury.
Upon arrival in Durban, I found myself devouring the city with my eyes as the car bounded down each road on the way to the apartment. I wanted to take in as much as possible–make mental notes of the places and things I saw: a rundown clothing store with fluorescent-colored “evening wear”; men dressed in salwar kameez; people in business suits hurriedly headed to meetings or out to grab lunch.
Balkats, you know.. Balkans + cats. The Balkans are crawling with cats, and if you know me well, you know that means that I squealed and chased after them each time I saw one.
Let the controversy begin!
I ate whale.
Not an entire whale. Not even a whole whale steak. Just one bite. Just enough to taste and to form a “I like this” or “I hate this” opinion.