Gloomy Curacao

I have had this post done for a long time (well the pictures and videos) but I kept coming back to edit the words because this time Curacao was different.

Rewind with me for a second; 2018 was one of the best years of my life. I was single for the first time in way too long and I took full advantage. I said yes to everything, traveled constantly, did things that wifed-up-me would never have done, made new life-long friendships – all in all I rediscovered how awesome and adventurous I am. I had a steady job and I decided that for all of 2018 I wasn’t going to worry about anything except living my life to the fullest.

As the new year approached I kept telling myself that it was gonna be all about my future and making big moves. So 2019 hit hard.

I kept giving myself unrealistic deadlines for decisions that would impact the rest of my life. I started to feel lonely and settled for companionship even when it wasn’t what I wanted… which lead to sticky situations and tremendous guilt.

In 2018, I learned how to be happy. 2019 came in hot with rejection and sadness.

Curacao colors were not as bright nor the ocean as tempting – I just wanted to go home. But I didn’t want to show that weakness to anyone. I just covered it up with a smile and told myself I was being crazy.

Which was a crazy thing to do – because my intuition is ALWAYS spot on. Five odd months later I am kicking myself in the ass because if I was just honest about how I was feeling and let myself be sad for a second I would have had a blast just like the first time.

Damn. Even just writing all that out made me feel so free.

Punda & Otrobanda

We did all the same things except this time I was 5th wheel. & Sad. When I am odd wheel out *& happy* I love it and theres no awkwardness and I’m running around living my best life… but sad me was glued to my phone.

You may be thinking “you’re a blogger\instagramer person thing, you must ALWAYS be glued to your phone.”

FALSE. Bears beating Battlestar Galactica type FALSE.

I am all about living in the moment. Yes, I do take pictures on pictures but I don’t post until there’s down time.

I was texting nonstop and going through social media as if my life depended on it. I needed constant stimulation so that my sad thoughts wouldn’t come out and wipe the smile off my face.

Sadness is exhausting.

Sail to Klein Curacao

I swam and walked Klein alone.

I could live in this lighthouse. This coral panel is to die for.

I am never sad in saltwater. Unfortunately, I had to dry off at some point.

The weather and landscape this time was much drier but we saw way more sea turtles. This a juvenile. I fixated the GoPro on him and only gave the slightest tap of my fin to follow without alarm. We hung out for quite some time actually.

I stared at him and his deformed shell wondering what happened. Maybe it was a birth defect. Maybe he, too, was sad – so sad that a part of his shell sunk.

He just kept eating. Occasionally he would peer up.

His judgmental little eyes saying “you’re so dramatic.”

…accurate.

Off-Roading

We went on another ATV excursion and before you continue to scroll through the pictures please watch this short ‘How-To’ video on coping with being the 5th wheel on a romantic ATV expedition on a tropical island paradise…

Do not try this at home… or anywhere

Most of my life I would just get angry instead of sad. Anger sucks. It makes everything worse. It’s an emotional wall we put up to protect ourselves that usually collapses on our own shoulders. After feeling true happiness for almost all of 2018 I couldn’t let myself go back.

Visited Family

Mitzi’s grandmother’s house has been the setting of all my day dreams since the first time I visited in October.

Yet not even this dreamy destination could I forget the weight of my heavy heart.

Jan Thiel Beach

We did all the same things we did on my first trip and it was all as gorgeous and breath taking as ever… despite what my gray tinted glasses lead me to believe.

FYI if any one of you is ever feeling sad or some kind of way please message me. I love helping people and all you guys have helped me so much… sometimes its good just to get it out. TBH best way to get ahold of me is Instagram. Just don’t be creepy.

Which I realize is a lot to ask for nowadays but like just try.

Shaking off this funk took forever. I failed a lot. Shut out the world constantly.

It took baby steps, like appreciating flowers again.

Spending time in nature and with animals always helps.

Eventually I stopped expecting so much of myself; Forgave myself for my failures and shortcomings.

In 2018 I learned to be happy. 2019 I learned how to be sad.

2020 will meet the best me there has been yet.

Good to be back!

Stay Fascinated.

Thank u, Breck

Since this is my first post since 2018 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Last year was amazing and I am so excited for a whole new spring, summer, & fall to adventure throughout. Winter however, I need a little more push to enjoy.

& no one pushes me like my two best friends. Particularly the one that never fails to beg me to move half way across the country with her.

So on the 10th day of 2019 I flew to Denver – again.

I have been there 3 times in the past 6 months so I guess I can officially add a 📍 to my Instagram profile with Denver next to it… right?

Probably not because I genuinely could not live there. Too cold. I sleep with a heated blanket IN MIAMI. EVERY.NIGHT.

So you can imagine how uneasy I was about coming to my third 📍 while the temperatures were approaching low 30s… OKAY Well now imagine that our plan was to spend two days/one night in the mountains – skiing &, you know, fighting death and frostbite for fUuUun…

You guys know I’m outdoorsy – but when its cold, I am pathetically IN-doorsy; but my Denver people are all killer snowboarders and Mitzi (my favorite travel buddy – I am sure you remember her screams from Curacao) is an excellent skier so I lied about my skiing abilities and somehow ended up on a ski lift going up Breckenridge Mountain. Sing it with me Ariana fans: thank u, Breck.

See what we did there?

Quick warning to anyone who has never been skiing: We spent three years getting our gear on once we got there. Thank God Mitzi rented everything ahead of time from Breeze Ski Rentals… all these layers, straps, and ties and poles LORD I almost ended it all right in that shop. Get to the mountain early – like we did… so you can drag your feet – like I did.

Finally it was go time, and if you were there with me you would have had 0 clue that I was absolutely terrified. The last time I skied I was MAYBE 12 years old. Unfortunately for my nerves, my favorite thing to do is over-exaggerate my skills and “wing-it.” We (nauseatingly) skipped the bunny slope and went straight to greens. I should play poker.

Honestly, that first run I thought to myself – “wow! This is nice! I can do this.” Another perk of getting to the mountain early was that there were very few people in the morning. Mitzi and I skied down the green run with no incident.

Now, 100% confident in my abilities, I followed Mitzi right back onto the ski lift without question. We were hoping to meet up with the group as they made their first run down the same green slope.

About 15 minutes into our lift ride I said, “Mitzi, I think we are on a different lift.” She nervously laughed and replied, “yeah I noticed… I can’t even see were it ends.”

My knees went weak. I fantasized about a helicopter hovering over us and plucking me from the danger that approached.

When the landing point finally came into view we were mildly relieved it was a only a blue.

Guys, as someone who hates skiing, I can tell you: skiing is easy. What is hard is getting up. Trying to figure out how to get up is even harder. Remember – Mitzi is a pro. She couldn’t help me get up because she doesn’t fall. A kind instructor took pity on my absurd flailing gave me crash course before going on her way. Thanks to her, I understood the physics behind “getting up” – however it was the execution that defied my grasp.

My Miami Dolphin’s beanie was my savior. Everyone that skied passed us, loved it.

Guys would yell out: “Miamiiii” or “fins up” As they zoomed by. This adoration kept me going. It took us over 2 hours to get down that slope.
My ski fell off twice.

Both my knees twisted right to the verge of snapping.

My fingers were so cold my phone wouldn’t respond to their touch.

I forgot what warmth felt like.

Frostbite began to set in (probably).

After one particularly rough tumble, I decided I needed a break.

“5 minutes” I thought.

Before I could remember that I am Cuban and have no sense of time, some other Miami-enamored macho man shredded his way to my side and grabbed my legs and lifted me to my feet without saying a word.

I begrudgingly thanked him and peered over to Mitzi who was in a laughing fit – fully aware that I was trying to relax but didn’t want to hurt the pride of this handsome stranger. So the beanie had its negatives – but I got so much attention (from men & women alike) that I decided I wasn’t going to take it off the rest of the trip.

We went up the mountain early morning and by the time we made it down that blue slope everyone wanted to eat. My favorite part of the day… besides all the Miami love.

I did one more run after this and then decided that was it for me. I turned in my skies and explored Breckenridge Village on my own –

— until I found fire:

As you can imagine I made myself very much at home and welcomed the carousel of people that stopped through to warm their extremities and make small talk about the Dolphins. There were a surprising number of Miamians. One such character came over and interrogated me a bit about my background and my career; then promptly showed me pictures of his son and asked if I was interested. I can’t make this up.

I hate getting set-up so I politely pretended my phone was ringing and left to get hot chocolate.

Snow Babes

The boys dropped all us ladies off at our Airbnb then left to get pizza and alcohol.

We drank, played Cards Against Humanity, and roasted marshmallows until the wee hours of the morning.

Back home I wake up every morning and take my pups for a walk so I try to keep up the habit and do it while I am on vacation too… but in the snow I ran back inside after maybe 5 minutes.

Snowflakes are pretty though

Ashley, Mitzi, Vanessa, and I all wanted to do the Kylie Jenner bikini-in-the-snow pic.
What can I say? I’m a masochist.

Here is why the Kardashians couldn’t keep up with me: I fell in to snow up to my chest for these. Kyle falls in snow up to her chesticles she is going to have a team of people lifting her out while breathing hot air on to her until she was back insider her mansion. Nicole Jaimee does all her own stunts.

Once everyone got their pics we went to breakfast at the Gold Pan Saloon.

The food was so good we almost forgot to make reservations to go tubbing.

We killed an hour by walking around the adorable little colored village then filed into the cars to start towards Copper Mountain.

Tubing was much more enjoyable than skiing.
Even considering that my outer pants (I had three on) fell a little more with each step.

At the top of the hill, workers (I will refer to them from this point on as “throwers”) would fling you with all their might down which ever lane you chose.

Can you spot the Mitzi?

Note the beanie. The throwers loved it.

Upon request, throwers would fling & spin you so that you went down whirling completely out of control. We did this in twos, threes, fours, and at one point our entire group (8 in total) went screaming down the hill hooking our feet under the person in front of us’ shoulders.

By the time we got back to Denver we were beat. We power napped then got ready for Denver.

You might look at this outfit & think “how was she not freezing.”

FIRST of all the only thing you should look at is how smartly I tied this outfit with my Dolphin’s beanie.

It’s like chongy-chic

Second of all, as Nina explained to me on the phone the night I was packing, ‘you are only cold while you wait for the Uber. Once you get in to most places (the only places we went to) its warm.’

I was dressed perfectly. I, the peacock, and the beanie – my plumage.

We took obligatory flower shots at the Refinery (Mitzi was not a fan) and partied until all the bars closed.

The next day Mitzi, Nina and I went to brunch (still beanied) and then rode motorized Lyft scooters up and down 16th Street Mall. We got souvenirs for people back home then went back to Nina’s apartment to pack.

Good Bye Dinner was at Barcelona.

Yes, I wore my beanie.

At Barcelona, waiters will stand on a stool and pour wine into your mouth.

Ashley & Pat took the juice like champs.

Nina & Robby dropped us off at Union Station after dinner. I cried silently on the train. It’s so hard leaving Nina. It gets harder every time.
Maybe I am starting to love Denver as much as I love Nina & Ashley.

I drowned my heartache in Combos.

Stay Fascinated.

Dushi Curaçao

Relax. “Dushi” means sweet in Papimiento… ya’ pessimists. People there use it as a term of endearment like “sweetie.”

I’m so sorry for how cliché this is but this year, (cue valley-girl high-pitch voice… or Miami super chonga voice with thick brows and a Michael Kors bag [ie my regular voice]) I decided I was going to say yes to everything (except men). Curaçao has been my favorite yes so far.

My best friend is from the small Dutch Caribbean island and asked me if I would like to join her & her boyfriend for a visit. I bought the ticket before she did.

view of Curacao from airplace

Only slightly over 171 sq miles, we were able to see the whole thing from the plane. We glided onto the run away alongside deep blue waters. The airport was muggy. Mitzi warned us that most places on the island lacked a/c but I assumed a large commercial building such as an airport would not fall into that category. As a cold-blooded (yet loving) human-being this was of no concern to me…just surprising.

outside curaçao international airport

Luckily our rental car did have air conditioning. We drove about 30 minutes to Mitzi’s house and settled into our rooms. 

& discussed food

Obvio.

This lead us to Van Den Tweel. The local supermarket. Mitzi’s boyfriend, Ralph, and I wandered up and down the aisles looking for weird things to try. Mitzi proudly translated foreign words for us. Everyone on the island somewhat knows four languages (Papiamento, Dutch, English, and Spanish) and use them all interchangeably and sometimes all in the same sentence.-yet she complains when I use “jaja” instead of “haha”

Apparently they eat a lot of cheese here.

Cheese wheels

So I felt right at home.

Oh, do you not know of my cheese obsession?… well now you do.

cheese wheels

In true first-world fashion, we arrived home from the grocery, had 0 interest in cooking, and went to Mitzi’s favorite restaurant, Texas Alaparia.

There I tried funchi, a local staple. Funchi is the love child of polenta and arepas… its crispy yet soft and goes perfectly with shredded gouda. It was our appetizer before a huge plate of barbecued meats, fries, and pinda sauce… which is peanut sauce… No, not like the Asian peanut sauce… it is Dutch and tastes like salty, liquid peanut butter. Mitzi, Ralph and the whole Halley clan love it… but I just couldn’t hop on the band wagon. No matter how many times I tried it (which was daily because I’m a trooper). I don’t have a picture of it but just microwave a scoop of peanut butter with some water and you’ll get the full experience. 

Early Owl Gets the Mango

I’m an early owl (& if that’s not a thing it should be). I can stay out late and still be up with the sun in the morning. Mitzi, on the other hand, threatened me with death against waking her up before 9 am. So every morning I would quietly let myself out the front Dutch doors and better acquaint myself with the neighborhood. It was easy killing time in this small pocket of heaven, lush with flowers, mangos, and cats.

One morning, Mitzi’s father (who I affectionately call PapaMitzi) gave me a private tour of the area. He pridefully showed me all the work he has done in the neighborhood, named all the fruit trees as we passed them (most of which he had planted himself), and detailed all his plans for the future.

Cuban Coffee ingredients

I was always either too early or came back from my walk too late to eat breakfast with anyone – but I enjoyed it just the same… watching me eat mangos isn’t pretty anyway. 

This set up was usually laid out waiting for me. 

Curacao Pictures

We spent a whole day planning out our week. So while Mitzi negotiated with people in Papiamento, I ran around and took pictures. 

yellow submarine on land

funny beer diving sign

Punda

Downtown Curaçao is split into Punda and Otrobanda. Two mini cities connected by a colorful floating bridge. The Queen Emma bridge. As cruise ships come to port the pontoon bridge floats open and lets them pass. 

Dushi sign curaçao

Mitzi will want me to let you know that she got dressed first.

giant iguana statue
curacao sign

Punda is where you can get souvenirs, Americanized foods, and all the cliche pics.

We ate lunch at the Iguana Cafe watching the bridge swing open and closed for boat traffic.

The whole island is very colorful but downtown even more so. Alley ways are painted and artists set up shop all along the streets. 

Over the Bridge & Through the Mountains 

to grandmother’s house we went. 

Curacao Mountain

Dilapidated buildings turned into mountains as we crossed the island.

Curacao Mansion
Curacao Architecture

Their house is stunning. The couple designed it themselves to sit perfectly on the side of a mountain overlooking the bay. 

There are no words for it’s beauty.

Dutch family

Here we have Mitzi’s grandfather, Aunt Zunny, Mother (also named Mitzi), and grandmother. 

wise old woman

I spent as much time as possible talking to her grandmother and grandfather but couldn’t stop myself from repeatedly drifting outside.

I am Cuban. I grew up listening to my grandparents speak about Cuba’s majesty… how jungled mountains peer over it’s oceanic shores. This house took me to all those daydreams.

We watched the sunset and drove home in silence.

sunset over ocean

Curacao Buggy Tours

We spent half a day on a buggy tour around the West side of the island. We met with the group and drove through the city until we reached the dirt roads.

Our first stop was the rocky coast. 

PSA: MITZI IS SUPER DRAMATIC 

(birds of a feather)

She did not die.

After some *light* mudding, our guides had us line up our buggies in two files and we hiked into the Hato Caves. As soon as we hoisted ourselves through the mouth of the cave we were surrounded by bats overhead. Or as I like to call them, adorable flying teacup puppies. 

Our last stop was at the Ostrich Farm. Here we felt a bit mislead because we were not allowed to actually go see the ostriches (you would have had to come back and paid to take the Ostrich Farm tour)… but there were some other animals we were able to see.

Mambo Beach Party

mambo beach party

Although we went out for dinner a few times we only went out-out once. Every local I asked “what kind of nightlife is there on the island?” gave me the same answer: Mambo Wednesday nights. So I made Mitzi & Ralph take me to Mambo Wednesday night. It is really beautiful and definitely my kind of night out. Mambo is within a resort area and is just bar on a beach that plays music. 

couple kissing at night on beach
love birds 

It may relieve you to know: I enjoy being third wheel.

So me & my new favorite beer, Amstel Light, had a fantastic evening:

girl drinking at beach bar

We hung out for a bit and left early… well at midnight. Which is early for a Miamian. 

Klein Curaçao

catamaran sailing into bay

Klein Curaçao (which translates to “Little Curaçao”) was once a bountiful island used as a breeding ground by seabirds and landing point for monk seals. Unfortunately, it was discovered by humans (gag reflex), ravaged by farmers and their goats (preventing the birds from returning), it’s monk seal population was completely wiped out by hunters, then the island was mined down to sea level as a result of Europeans harvesting all it’s phosphorus reserves (from the bird poop), and eventually used as a quarantine place for sick and dying slaves that were being transported from Africa… such a rich history. It’s one point of revenge was all the ship’s that wrecked there since it is so flat and hard to spot – no for sure one of my many souvenirs from Curaçao is an African slave ghost and his headless monk seal ghost buddy & talking sea bird ghost pet. Not a third wheel after all #ghostboyfriend 

It was a slow 1.5 hours sail to the island me laying on hull netting between my Curaçao adoptive parents (Mitzi & Ralph). You could never tell the island’s dark past pulling into it’s sapphire blue waters and white sand beaches.

I was calm and slow moving the whole ride there but as soon as I could see the highlighter-blue water and anchored boats I worked myself into a frenzy. I have a hard time staying out of the water. I am sure reading this you think it’s cute but Mitzi (and my mother) will attest to it not being so. As I hastily put on my mask & ranas Mitzi only barely held my attention long enough to ask me what should be done with my travel pack.

The water was crystal clear and I got some amazing shots to share with you guys.

& videos:

Caribbean Blue Tang, Smooth Trunkfish, Needle Fish, Doctorfish, Jack
Bonefish School
Striped & Spotlight Parrotfish, more trunkfish, gobies, grunt, squirrelfish, butterflyfish, sergeant major  
Peacock Flounder
Goldentail Eel

However, my lack of technological know-how combined with my even worse lack of patience meant I had to make due without the dive-housing for my GoPro.
Whoops.
Long story short: I didn’t realize you had to pop off the square outter lense of the GoPro to get it to fit into the dive housing (WHICH IS IDIOTIC GOPRO DESIGNERS FYI). So, I assumed I bought the wrong thing and dove in without it. It wasn’t a problem close to shore but once I hit about 30\40 ft… my poor little GoPro would beep frantically and shut off resulting in a lot of videos like this:

GoPro goes too deep

Super anticlimactic – Insanely frustrating. 

Especially since I can’t judge distance to save my life so it happened a lot. 

The entire island is surrounded by a steep ~90 ft drop where the neon water turns royal blue. Diving on this edge I saw massive barracuda, a multitude of different fish, and a group of sea turtles. But I can’t prove it because I had to leave the GoPro floating on the surface for these long dives. The barracuda were some of the fattest I’ve seen and would follow just beyond the reach of my fins during my ascend… but this didn’t stop me. Alone and far from rescue, I (dramatically) decided in the event that these ‘cuda do frenzy and attack, that I had lived an amazing life and that it would be okay to die here doing what I love. At the jaws of some of my favorite fish so, you know ~whatever~ just happy to be apart of the circle (of life – you uncultured swine). 

On the other side of this coral reef mountain is the drop. The base of it (I learned through trial and error) was the GoPro’s max depth. FRUSTRATION

I ignored it as long as I could but at one point I made eye contact with a VERY cute white-bikini-wearing little dot frantically trying to get my attention from shore. Which I knew could only be my favorite Curaçao Princess.

She was calling me in for lunch which was included on our excursion with Blue Finn Charters. The spread was bountiful but I just had a few chicken wings and was right back on my way. Max dive time.

I swam around and waited for my buddies to finish eating so I could pester them into exploring the land with me. No rest for the – any one that is with me pretty much anywhere. sorrynotsorry

The only animals on land were these whiptail lizards that would eat the purple sea purslane flowers which are the succulent looking plants that cover much of the Klein Curaçao the way grass normally would. The muddy areas near the beach were pink and red and anything else was washed up coral.

Blue tail lizard Klein Curacao

Can you hear the sass when she says “the lizard?” The “IDIOT” was silent.

 TBH I was powerwalking because I wanted to get the land stuff over with so I could get back in the water… and also DID YOU HEAR THE SASS IN THE PREVIOUS VIDEO? That was just a small snippet. Mitzi is that “ride or die” kind of friend that has A LOT of questions… & all the snarky commentary.

I seriously love her ❤ 

Directly on the other side of these shipwrecks is an abandoned light house.

We climbed to the very top of the light house on the world’s steepest stairs and made it back down in one piece… well kinda.

Mitzi & Ralph very adorably BOTH got leg cramps as we were leaving the lighthouse. Relationship goals.
I laughed my ass off but kept walking because I wanted some more dive time. Had the roles been reversed I promise they would have done the same. There’s a lot of savagery in my friend group. 

The sail back was a party.

Dutch dance music blasted and alcohol was delivered on demand.  I chugged rum punch and made friends with the captain while occasionally breaking up Mitzi & Ralph’s super adorable little love fest. My ghost-boyfriend wasn’t giving me enough attention.

Jan thiel Beach 

As is customary for last days, it was bittersweet. I was excited to get home to see my family and friends but Curaçao tugged my heart strings more than most places usually do. 

We spent the morning and early afternoon at Jan Thiel Beach which was only a 5 minute drive from Mitzi’s house. Her father would tell you it’s a five minute walk… that he did through snow and high winds… but I assure you it would take us a day to walk there. Not even accounting for us inevitably getting lost. Or kidnaped… because we are ~like~ really cute. 

two girls laughing with flowers
I’d kidnap us ❤

The first thing we did was take pics. You’ve seen some of these on my instagram… but in the name of transparency I wanted to show you the bloopers. So you’ll see my insta worthy-shots, sitting atop their equal and opposite counterparts – i.e. me yelling or making weird faces.

& again:

~FYI – if you haven’t already – you can go check out my
Instagram page to see my Curaçao highlight~

My plan was to just lay on the beach and relax for a change so I left my mask & ranas in the car. I should have known myself better. There was a floating platform just beyond the shore that we wanted to take pictures at… so I walked my happy ass to the car and got my mask – because well what if theres some cool fishies to take pics of?

Janthiel Beach bay

 

Girl swimming underwater

Being a tomboy who always wants to look fabulous is tough work.

Exhibit A: me on the way to take cute pics at the floating dock with gold hoop earrings and aviators. The struggle is very real.

 

girl climbing ladder from ocean

It struck me here that I had no interest in relaxing… so once we were done I walked my scowling-muttering-to-myself-what-an-idiot-I-am ass to the car AGAIN to get my ranas…

Worth it.

The tent figure in the first picture above is Janthiel beach where I left Mitzi & Ralph while I explored the ocean bay. As I approached the opposite shore the waves tossed me around and I found a lot of upturned coral heads… so I flipped them back over and that’s how I spent most of my time. 

I came across a ship wreck on the swim back to Jan Thiel. 

I was able to take these two videos before Mitzi called me from shore… time to head home.

How deep was it? 5 ft? 30 ft? 10? I have no clue. 

0 spacial awareness… if you have an idea from the videos please feel free to let me know how deep you think that was because people keep asking me…

sunken shipwreck

It was a nice parting gift to come upon this wreck but I do wish I had more time to explore it. 

We all quickly showered and sat down to one last meal in Curaçao. The muggy airport was packed with people but we managed to all sit together. The nice thing about being third wheel in a plane is that you always get the window seat. WINNING

I love these two so much. I am so grateful to Mitzi and her family, as always, for opening up their homes to me and putting up with my madness. 

girl going down ladder into water blowing kiss

Th-th-that’s all folks ❤


Stay fascinated!

Dying Stars

These are relatively health coral heads:

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(That clearly do more squats than me)

DCIM100GOPRO

They are starlet corals.

Growing up I would stand on the rails of the boat with my eyes squinted looking into the blue horizon as my dad drove the boat. Each of us waiting for a signal from the other. We were looking for these massive heads. Sometimes we would be fishing, sometimes lobstering, most times just wanting to be surrounded by the animals we love. Starlet corals such as these provide homes for many marine species just as most corals do.

The ones in the pictures above were enormous and gorgeous.

The ones below are also enormous and gorgeous… but dying. They are a short swim away from the ones above but just that small change in depth (and therefore temperature) makes all the difference for these sedentary creatures.

DCIM100GOPRO

This is the first in what I sure will become a whole series of posts about coral bleaching. It is short because I don’t want to overwhelm you with facts. Growing up in Miami… or probably near any coast, we hear it all the time. We learn about coral bleaching in school, hear about it in the news, well here is my first hand account of coral bleaching.

DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO

As coral polyps overheat they expel colorful algae that live in their tissues which changes them from the orange brown, to this light purple, and eventually their transparent tissue reveals the white skeleton beneath. Death and decay follow soon after.

DCIM100GOPRO

Beauty in death?

 

 

Stay fascinated.

Icy Love

I would go to the ends of the world for my best friend, so I don’t bat an eye to fly to Denver.

… but to be completely honest with you all, it wasn’t just Nina that lured me here this time. I met someone. I met what I feel like could have been the love of my life – five days before he moved to Colorado. Please kill me. We spent 5 days together, we meant to just be friends but from the first night neither of us could deny that something greater was at play. Timing is a bitch.

I walked outside the terminal, gasped for humidity, and searched for Nina’s dusty new car. Kylo, her golden retriever pup, escaped the hatchback in excitement when he saw his madrina (me) at the airport. We really don’t deserve dogs.

I didn’t plan on seeing this guy. I was oddly content being near him. Nina convinced me to reach out so I texted him a day or so later then deleted the conversation. I wanted to focus on what little time I had with her and just let myself be surprised if he decided to answer. I know I’m crazy, OKAY? Passion is equally a bitch.

Having Nina in Denver is a strange feeling because I arrive at this extremely foreign place and then there’s this very human piece of home everywhere I go. It is like walking through China but every time you turn around the door to your house is right behind you. And it also makes you go out… and buys you drinks… and demands you make brownies.

I told her we didn’t have to do anything crazy every day I was there. I would have gladly made the trip to just curl up on the couch with her and watch movies. She is the only human that can mute my pain.

But we did go hiking…

Hike

When in Rome

When in Rome

I don’t usually do this unless I’m drunk or I’m high but I was both all trip sooo: forgive me for the sappy story I have intertwined with this post but I have this boulder sitting on my heart and I am hoping writing about it will help me bare the load. I may never certainly know if our connection was love but I really do love Denver – despite the lack of saltwater and fresh fish.

Mountains take my breath away as much as the ocean gives it to me.

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Pain makes us stronger, it is why I am not afraid to tell anyone how I feel. Friend, lover, or foe. I am tactful… or as tactful as my heart allows. Sometimes you have to just jump.

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And then you immediately regret everything because you didn’t put two & two together that you were jumping into GLACIER run off water.

Swimming back to shore felt like treading through dark chocolate syrup that was slowly freezing. I stared at Ashley (Nina’s little sister & another life long friend of mine that moved to Denver… again please kill me) to try to tell her with my eyes that I was drowning.

He never answered me since I know you are wondering. How could my heart have lead me so astray

My regret was fleeting. I re-watch these videos and wish I had jumped from the higher ledge. Or at least more than once.

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Puppies were my only source of warmth & luckily they were abundant:

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With so many millennials moving to the area, Denver’s nightlife is akin to Miami’s. Most of it all reminds me of Wynwood.  Artsy and hipster with plenty of intermingling. Denver exemplifies the best of my generation: unity. No matter what you look like, how you dress, or how you talk – everyone is welcomed.

Blue MexicanMargaritasAt night

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Finns Mannorfinns manor1

Brunch

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Music pulsed like the chuff of a lion. Strange but comforting:

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Our last night alone together we sat and spoke about the parallels in our lives. Family, intensity, goals… around 6:00 am he nervously asked me if I would move with him. I knew he meant it equally as much as he did not.

I told him no. “You’ll be back” I said confidently. 

He stayed quiet.

I can’t live without the ocean… but he feels like an ocean.

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I’d tell you more… but I am not ready to give away much else.

Did you know that when you remember something you aren’t actually remembering what happened? You are remembering the last time you recalled what happened. So, the less I recall, the more accurately I remember & the more I write, the more I can let go.

Denver took good care of me. I ate, drank, and hiked my problems away. I think we have multiple loves of our lives. Some make us feel vulnerable;

& others invincible

Invincible

Both are equally important.

Now if only the bars stayed open later and the city could somehow migrate about 2,000 miles south east…

Stay Fascinated

Rainy Labor

I judge people based on how they feel about rain. Everyone likes sunshine and tan-lines. *hard eye-roll* Let’s hear it for raindrops and muddy feet !

JK I don’t judge anyone (or I try not to #2016Resolution)

This past Labor Day weekend was a rainy one. These are some of my normal rainy day activities:

  1. I walk my dogs.

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Indiana Jones (Indie) on the port, Bongo on the star.

Yeah… I don’t know my rights and lefts. So my blog, my rules we use port & starboard here.

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Collectively, I call them the Titi’s. (tea-teas) Or The Tiis (teas).

A single Indie is ‘The Ti’ or the ‘El Titi’; while a single Bongo is ‘A Ti.’

One day I’ll give you the etymology of the Titi’s but this is a short post and it’s a long story. I make up words. You like it.

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Unleashed once the kayakers passed… ^

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The Ti ^

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A Ti ^

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If you ever catch me walking the Tiis… DO NOT APPROACH. Indie will have none of another human coming near me when we are walking alone and Bongo only looks derpy.  If I am in a large group… you’re straight.

2. I act like I’m 12 with my brothers.

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& usually regret it ^ (he wouldn’t let me out… and kept crashing me into things. Note the seriousness in my face)

But I don’t really regret anything ❤

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He wears it every day to school now.

3. I explore the shore.

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Tide pools = ❤

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I love seeing tiny fish dart away and streams of water rushing to and fro.

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Idk why I bring my shoes mostly anywhere. #PiedritaFeet (‘little rock’ feet)

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Not a lot of wildlife since the wind, current, and rain was ripping but this guy was looking for a fight. CRABS amirite? Why don’t lobster stand their ground like this?

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He kinda calmed down and started blow bubbles. He cute…

I love him.

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^^^ See ladies? Angles are everything. Found the exact perfect shot to make it look like it was a beautiful day.

Beyond the scope of my lens: darkness and rainfall.

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The hut I will *happily* live in if this blog doesn’t work out and all goes to shit.

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So I basically walk around the shore for as long as I can keep myself out of the water… then just find a good tide pool and submit to my urges. #cantkeepmeoutofthewater

Don’t tell my abuela I was sitting in the water… in the rain. It’s a sin.

4. I go in the pool.

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… & drink…

don’t tell my abuela

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Quick with that trigger finger getting those rain drops.

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Which one do I look scarier? That one ^

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or this one ^ ?

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Honestly I just go down and snap a million times and look at footage later. I live my life and just kinda hope the camera catches some of it…

LMK if there is a better way to live.

But don’t because there’s not ❤

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Indie loves the rain too… Bongo, however, remains outside out of obligation. He stays under cover and squishes himself as much as he can to the door. It’s adorable.

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Moral of the story: enjoy the rain guys.

Stay Fascinated.

I Found a Pole

If you read my about me you know that I “[find] wonder in the ordinarily mundane” (#wordmagic) and this post & pole will serve as proof.

I found a pole in the ocean and I loved it.

Two poles to be precise. All ocean-goers know the excitement of finding any big structures in open water. It means marine life will flock to it… just as we do. Guess we aren’t so different from animals after all.. ARE WE???

Swimming next to them made me feel so small. Here’s my tail for scale:

Sirenas(Spanish for mermaids) are actually very real and have legs and elongated carbon fiber fins… as seen here. In this picture. Of me. Specifically of my legs\tail.

Look I’m a mermaid. So whatever I am is what a mermaid is. That logic is sound and if you can’t follow I can’t help you.

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Young bar jacks and a few sergeant majors circumnavigated the pole top to bottom the entire time I was near, picking off little morsels and staying just a few cautious feet away.

At one point I took note of this big snook and chased him around… snapping pics with crossed fingers. I got a few good ones.

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See him down there? ^

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Is a pole on the ground still a pole? Yes, obvío.

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Inside of dead pole:

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Up & back down again following my little blue bar buds.

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Hiding under the big pole were some parrotfish and a cute pork fish.

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I hear parrots are delicious but you shouldn’t eat them… Does anyone know whyyyy?

I’ll give you the time it takes to admire and scroll past this pic to think about it.

Parrotfish are ravenous. They eat a lot of algae… and yes they eat coral too but the benefits outweigh the costs… they basically clean up reefs. When a rock (or coral skeleton) is covered in algae, coral polyps (baby coral) cannot grow on it. So these parrots basically demolish algae and provide safe landing for highly endangered coral pups. Actually, some studies show that overfishing of parrotfish has been more detrimental to corals than climate change. In Florida, I am pretty sure it is illegal to eat them\kill them.. I know for certain that you cannot spear them but I couldn’t find anything about fishing for them. However, people with proper licenses can collect them for aquariums but just because something is legal doesn’t make it right… RIGHT? Right. How scientific do you want me to get on this blog? Because…

*wipes nonexistent dirt off shoulder* I can get real scientific ❤

There was a hog too. Chased her around for a bit.

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Question. Hogfish are more closely related to which of the following:

A) Wild Hog (lechón)

B) Snapper

C) Parrotfish

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Yes, we call them hog “snapper” but hogfish are actually wrasses which make them most closely related to wild hogs like the ones out in Africa.

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JUST KIDDING… just wanted to make sure you were awake. Wrasses are very closely related to parrotfish ❤ They both are very colorful groups of fish and honestly do look alike.

The give away is that parrots have those big buck teeth to scrape up coral and algae while wrasses have something a little different going on. You know that saying thick lips sink ships? It’s was about wrasses… probably not but let me live my life. Their lips are thiiiiick…  because they have protractile jaws which allow them to very quickly extend their mouth outward to snap up prey. Thick lips kill fish more like it. #science

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This is just height of “me-time.” Me & Bullet taking pics and chasing fish.

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Those orange patterns of life are made up of sponges, fire coral, Christmas tree worms, and other such sedentary cuties. Yes, fire coral is cute… and ANNOYING.

SUPER IN THE WAY.

LEAVES SCARS FOR DAYS

But cuuute.

I imagine my future husband will describe me similarly.

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The patches remind me of that perfect crispy layer on the top of homemade brownies… umff. Hay hambre (= “there is hunger” in Spanish)… (= send me brownies)… I make some bombass brownies guys… *currently thinking if I have all the ingredients to make some real quick*

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Alas, no. I do not. I push forward devoid of chocolatey satisfaction.

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Isn’t life stunning?

If you aren’t convinced yet check out these two they’re my favorite from this dive:

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Try to tell me there isn’t magic there.

I’ll tell you to go see a therapist…

 

(which is what I call boat dealers)

 

 

Stay Fascinated.

Atlanta, Ooh na na

When people ask me if I like to travel I usually give them the same response “I’m not #wanderlust but I’ll travel if presented with the opportunity.” No, I don’t mean a great deal on an all-expense paid trip to Italy, I mean real spontaneity with good people and loose plans. That’s my kind of travel… Likely because if I had to plan ahead for a vacation I would always pick my ocean first. There’s no place like home and with a 9 to 5 land job I am not home nearly enough.

Look this is weird for me too… another travel post while I have three unfinished ocean posts in queue… ANALYSIS PARALYSIS

Here goes nothing:

How’s this for spontaneous – I met this awesome tiny human (Allie) at my other fabulous friend’s pool party (Kelly, she was also with me for Denver) & we vibed. When you know, you know.

Alas, our drinks saw us end the pool party in opposite localities before we could even exchange numbers.

Fast forward a month later to last Monday and my tiny meatball soulmate slides into my DMs on Instagram asking if I wanted to go to Atlanta that same weekend.

Hard yes. Bought the ticket an hour later.

Atlanta Bound

Landed Friday and went straight to the Georgia Aquarium. Duh. I think this was my fourth time there. It is one of my favorite places in the world.

 

 

I love jellies they’re so pretty but its cool getting so close to them without worrying a wave is about to knocked those pretty stingers right into you.

Walking next to fish is the weirdest feeling. I don’t think I will ever get over it. It’s a trippy sensation… kind of what I imagine sea sickness feels like… sans nausea.

But who doesn’t love a good trip sometimes?

There’s a penguin exhibit you can crawl into and at least feel like your are right next to them. Smells like feet and fish… worth it.

Kelly Nicole Penguins

Everyone’s favorite exhibit is one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums:

 

^Don’t tell Jerry… that grouper means nothing to me! (not true I love all animals equally but yeah Jerry strikes me as the jealous type)

Obviously, I am all about the animals but what really gets me about aquariums, zoos, and the like is watching people fall in love with what I love. What I consider to be the most precious thing in the world:  animals, & the environment. Honestly, I get high watching people get hype about animals.

Double Whale Shark Trouble

 

You know that step brother’s meme that’s like “DID WE JUST BECOME BEST FRIENDS?!” That is how I feel about every human having a good time at these places. I love you fellow hyped humans. Take all the selfies, stare at all the things, & love all the animals.

Aquariums are so important – not just for the vital research they conduct – but to spark that passion within humans who may never have the chance to experience these animals in the wild. People only save what they love and they only love what they know… 

We left the aquarium and walked aimlessly through Olympic park…

Olympic Photo Opp

It was too hot and we were too famished to pose but there’s your photo opp.

Our hunger lead us to Twin Smoker’s BBQ where we debated sharing an entrée… but then each got our own.

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As a Cuban, my eyes always find lechón(pork) in a crowded menu…

Then we headed to an area heavily recommended called Buckhead… specifically the Buckhead Saloon. We had a few drinks and watched the place get crowded… well what we assumed people outside of Miami considered crowded.

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The USA in me always finds the whiskey…

 

Around 1.00 am we found a hotel that wasn’t booked. It was the Sheraton in downtown right next to the aquarium.

The rooms were super dark and I slept in together with the other girls until about 10.00 am. This is late for me. I am a morning person. We explored the hotel in the daylight – gorgeous – and hit the Jacuzzi before leaving to look for breakfast…

 

…Which we never found because by then it was the afternoon and no one wanted to give us waffles. Rude.

We were laughing but it was out of delirium…

So, we settled for Braves All Star Grill where the servers were very attentive and the food was A1.

Ran around Peachtree street trying to find our Uber. The Uber situation in Atlanta is a problem. All the drivers are very nice and gave us awesome recommendations but we didn’t have one ride where it was an issue finding our driver.

Found the car and were whisked away to the High Museum of Art. It was really cool.

They had a Winnie the Pooh exhibit which was interesting… even though I read an article on Digg (it’s an app I use that is just a feed of cool or interesting articles) about how the family behind the Winnie the Pooh stories was actually torn apart by the story books… it occasionally put a damper on things but our own battles with anxiety and bouts with depression let us see the humor in it all.  YAY for emotional instability ❤

My favorite pieces were by John B. Flannagan who was an American sculpture that preferred field stones to naturally and “intuitively” carve rock. So basically he carved with his heart. I feels that:

On the left the Dragon and on the right Jonah and the Whale: Rebirth Motif. Loveee

I love anything with that animal/nature vibe:

 

Yes, we were initially drawn to this because it was huge and we could take cool pics in front of it but I really did like it. It was a piece commissioned by the museum from Molly Hatch and was called Physic Garden.

After the museum we drifted around midtown for a bit while simultaneously looking up other cool things to do in the area.

& discovered Krog Street Tunnel online. Which is basically just Wynwood if Wynwood was a tiny tunnel packed with cars. It’s right next to a mini mall called Krog Street Market. How good any of these are we could never tell you because as soon as we arrived it started pouring…

Allie and I are all about a good roll in the rain but Kelly is not. Her species of Cuban is the one where two drops of rain water can and will kill you. “Oh, look we can just drive through it” she rejoiced when we realized it was just a tunnel to drive through… the insta pics would have been phenomenal. #RIP

Changed our destination to the hotel.

We found this meme on the ride

Take One for the Team

It’s really hard to write about an inside joke. My abs are still hurting for the laughing seizure we had.

All you need to know is that this meme set the tone for the rest of the trip because Allie and I are complete problems and God bless the men he has assigned to us…

probably from years of not keeping our goblins in check… However, Kelly didn’t get the meme because she is too much of a catch. #goals

Although Kelly was craving chocolate ice cream we convinced her all desserts had to be Atlanta-y so we got peach cobbler from the hotel bar for the room:

After some R&R we went to eat at an Irish pub called Meehan’s. Good food, good times.

I thought the waiter said Nipple when he handed me the check (instead of Nicole) another three-person strong laughing fit. I swear we are adults with adult responsibilities and fulltime adult jobs.

On the way back, we stopped at a liquor store across from the hotel. It was weird. All the liquor was behind the counter and we couldn’t grab our own bottle… which FYI is bad luck… maybe not but I make up superstitions daily and this felt like one.

Lemon drops at the Crazy

Crazy Atlanta Travel Bar was directly across the street from our hotel… we were told it
would be crazy… but we were literally the only people in the venue besides the bartender… so we took shots and ordered an Uber. Woop.

The Dark Horse Tavern was our next stop. It was pretty slammed with patrons, mostly guys, and no cover fee. We walked back and forth and ordered drinks. The Dark Horse is where some petty ladies tried to get us kicked out??? We were in the bathroom hyping ourselves talking about how good we looked (not sorry) and some girls went and told the bouncers we were talking trash and making them feel bad… the bouncer laughed with us when he told us. It’s sad that girls can’t just stick together. In Miami, the bathroom is where girls make lifelong friendships. So this hostility was foreign to us. But sweat no bitch right?

We made friends with two guys whose names I will never remember and followed them to the next bar. Much more poppin. This is where we stayed most of the night but we continued to explore the whole area.

We painted the town neon pink & blue in our matching black rompers… but were too busy enjoying the night to get one good picture of all of us… so here are some blurry ones and a boomerang.

 

 

We took selfies & shots and ended the night by fending off thirsty dudes from getting into our Uber… #truestory

Day 3 –  the promise of brunch got us up and ready. There was a full day of drinking ahead of us. We Ubered to The Warren and realized it was the same poppin’ bar we spent most of the previous night at.

What was a slightly raunchy outdoor area at night became a gorgeous upstairs patio during the day. My exact personality.

Bottomless mimosas for the win. They have a bunch of flavors but my favorite is pineapple. We stayed here for maybe three hours… gotta take advantage of the bottomless mimosas. Also the lighting was phenomenal..

 

Then we walked (me in a dress in heels #trooper) a mile up the road to little five points. The area was super cool and filled with bars.

We met up with Kelly’s friend Matt.

Chugged a fish bowl.

Fish Bowl

And played darts. Allie & I were team meatball.

Back to the hotel again. But just to change outfits (something more conducive to running all over the city) and down the rest of our vodka.

Our intoxicated halves said screw trying new things and marched us to Hooters. Where things got… weird.

 

 

I am going to be very candid with you all. We got drunk. Responsibly drunk. But drunk.

Matt was an awesome chaperon and lead us to different bars, a pool table, took pictures of us:

& made sure we made it safe to the hotel. We high key battled the previous night to keep creepy guys away from us but he kept the them at bay.

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Also, he calls butts “poopers.” Irrelevant but worth the mention.

Somehow woke up early enough to make my 6.30 am flight back to Miami… with everything except two nails… RIP

Honestly my Instagram stories are just a never-ending saga of a tomboy sirena(mermaid in Spanish) trying to keep her nails nice. & failing.

Atlanta was a blast and we didn’t even get to all the places we had planned to. We will definitely do an Atlanta part 2 trip to hit the rest of list… and obviously go to the aquarium again. Whoop whoop

Stay fascinated.