On May 7th 2017, at around 3:30 pm, I was assaulted with a weapon by a man while on a run in Barcelona.
“ Don’t look at me! Give me your phone! I said give me your phone!”
“ Run and don’t look back!”
I had plans to meet up with my friend * Jane for lunch later that day. I had just come back from a short trip to Paris where I met up with a friend from Los Angeles. I was eager to head to a nearby cafe with Jane and share my stories and pictures with another fellow traveler.
I had been living exactly one month in Barcelona when the assault happened. The city that opened its doors to me just 6 years ago as a young university student , now left me afraid and traumatized to leave my apartment.
Barcelona offered me the opportunity to experience a fresh new start. I wanted to live slower paced life and experience this city like a local. I was tired of the rat race in the U.S. I had for years put the wants and needs of others beyond my own personal pursuits and desires. It was not only a social and family pressure, I couldn’t wait any longer for “life” to happen. I knew that in years time, I would look back and regret having never made this leap of faith.
For the past year my mantra had become “ You can’t grow where you are comfortable”.
I booked a one-way ticket and I was gone.
I find myself now living my “dream”. I gave up a comfortable life back in Denver. I had decent corporate job, really great friends…but I wasn't fully satisfied with the direction of my life. In economics we learn about opportunity costs, what we can lose by choosing “X” over “Y”. In other words, I was experiencing FOMO as millennials would say—-Fear of Missing Out.
Traveling solo won’t always be everyone’s cup of tea. Travel is supposed to challenge us, but in my extreme case it shook me to my core. I was stripped of my control and well being in that instant. I tried as much as I could to hold back the tears and not book a ticket back home. For days I could hear this man’s voice in my head, his arms and hands around my neck and body, while holding that knife to my throat and yelling at me. I went through all the emotions of fear, anger, paranoia, shame. I was angry that as a women, I couldn't leave my house during the light of day without fear of someone endangering me. I was mad that I didn’t run faster that day. “ For heaven sakes…I ran a half marathon last year!” I though of countless scenarios of what I could have done differently that day. But the honest truth is there wasn't anything in my power I could have done differently. I did NOTHING wrong. It could have happened to anyone else like the women walking with her toddler that I deterred from danger.
I learned many valuable lessons that day. For one, I learned how much I do value my life, as mundane as it may be somedays, it’s still my life. Although I want to think of myself as invincible its important to be cautious of your surroundings no matter how “safe” a city can be, danger can lie anywhere and everywhere. Material possessions can be replaced but not your life.
Most importantly in times of danger its important to stay calm in times of trouble. If you need to take a few days to process what has happened, do it. Be loving, and forgiving to yourself. Do things that make you happy and try to surround yourself with good people, good music or things that will bring you peace.
Sometimes we have to “run and not look back”. Letting fear dictate your life is not living. There are still good people in the world. I've met them, I am one. I do believe that there are challenges that are placed in our lives that help prepare us to face other demons and without those experiences, we might not otherwise be prepared to fight the good fight.
To that man who turned my world upside down, I forgive you.
To God, I thank you for seeing after my health and wellbeing. To my friends and family, thank you for your words of encouragement.
To the free spirits, crazy ones and dreamers…I will see you back on the road!
*Name has been changed for privacy
When I was approached last May by Maria ( A Seat For One) I was thrilled! Thrilled to be apart of a collective story of women solo travelers. "Some of the best nights of my life were spent alone, in a new city. I met a lot of wonderful people on my travels. Surprising enough, every woman, who I met that was traveling on their own as well...I was always met with enthusiastic women who would ask me how my trip was going and just want to know more about me and my travel plans. Each woman I met, I would always wonder. “What was their story?” What made them decide to just leave their life behind at home, for however long their trip was. 2 weeks, 2 months, a year even, and experience traveling solo."
From there A Seat for One blossomed.
Read down below for my Interview with A Seat for One
Q: What made you want to travel on your own?
A:To challenge myself and to prove to myself that I could actually do it on my own. I grew up in a very strict and traditional gender role household.” A women should never be alone, she needs to be taken care of by a man, etc. ” The rebel that I am I said NO WAY! I’ve always been very independent and outspoken. Travel has allowed me to be who I am.You can be whomever you want to be! Often times, we hold ourselves back from doing what we want to do. We say one day I will do this or I wish I had enough courage to be like this! When you are traveling on your own, no one knows you! No one sees the insecurities you think they do. Myself included tend to take more risks, eating exotic foods, flirt away with boys that back home I would think would be WAY out of my league. Solo travel allows you try new things and makes you realize life is fantastic and that there is a whole world out there ready to be yours for the taking.
Q: What are the places you have been to? Where to next?
A: I’ve been to many of the major cities/states across the US. I’ve traveled to all of Central America, Mexico, Europe, Spain, Italy and France, Vatican City. My next travels plans would include the Middle East and Asia.
Q: What is/was the biggest change you've seen in yourself, or in your life since you returned from your travels or started traveling?
A: I would say that I have a grown to love people and myself. Also that I want to continue searching for more. I’ve really learned to love people, for their differences, for how similar we all are. We are all God’s children and we all face some hard times. I’ve met some great friends along the way, that because of travel, it has literally saved their life. People are also so open to helping you and have kind hearts. I have a running joke that I have to get out to see something at least every 6 months. It’s an addiction and when I don’t get my fix I become depressed, true story!
Q: Any advice for women who may be hesitant on solo travel?
A: DO IT! Stop making excuses and just go. You don’t have to take an international trip right away. Heck, even go to the closest nearby city and do a mini-staycation. Look, we all came to this earth alone, we will all leave this earth alone. Why not take the time to learn about yourself. You are your own best friend. At some point you may be married off have kids or maybe not. Take the time to be a little selfish. Go explore a new world, eat delicious food. This world was meant to be explored!
To read more about Maria and other stories collective travel stories, visit A Seat for One
Early on I’ve been taught to Love thy neighbor as thyself. Being taught to be open and loving towards others is something truly necessary. It's sometimes it’s easier said than done. I understand that people all over the world continue to be hated and persecuted because of their religion, language, culture, etc. I am sure we all at some point have felt hurt by others because of their ignorance or intolerance towards us. Or we have been on the opposite end and our actions have hurt someone else. Despite all of this however, it has not deterred me to try to find the good in everything. I know that I was born with this innate nature for traveling and more importantly very curious and intrigued with the world around me.
I've never been to a mosque and knew nothing more about Islam than what my friends would share with me. I've come to know that Muslims believe in being generous, loving and devoted people to their God. I had been curiously engaged to learn more about the religions, in particular Ramada.
I found an organization called : Meet the Middle East, a non-profit organization, who fosters relationship with the US and the Middle East. They were inviting non-Muslims in the community to break the fast. I quickly sent a texts to one of my friend’s Moath, who is now back home in Saudi Arabia, what I should do or expect. He simply said, “Enjoy it and be observant”.
We broke the fast around 8:30 pm that night, by tradition with plentiful dates. The men and women praying invited an atmosphere of peace and reverence. It was also a lovely sight to see children join in prayer with their fathers. I admired them for their dedication to their faith in God. A thought occurred to me as I was observing their prayer. I began to think about my own personal relationship to God. It was a testament to me that there are good people, who love God. Their example strengthened my own testimony of Christ, God and the gospel. It made me reflect on my own prayers. My prayers could be a little longer, and they could be more sincere.
A friend that attended the dinner with me was impressed by a woman and her husband that night. The woman she spoke to held a Ph.D. and had written several books. Her husband was also one of the men in charge of a local mosque in Denver. We met many accomplished individuals and devoted loving husband and wives.
There was a special spirit that was felt there that night.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, one of basic principles to our belief is this: If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things
This however is an open invitation to anyone , to strive as people to be more loving and kind neighbors to one another. As I've been taught "When you are in services of your fellow beings you are in the service of God".
Hello my fashion forward travel addicts! This weekend I had the opportunity to catch up with some of Denver's best and local fashion, travel and food bloggers. This event Diamonds in the daytime was put together by Denver Style Magazine and Capitol Hill Mansion and Molly Brown House.
Our first stop was brunch at Capitol Hill Mansion B&B, and boy was it fantastic! Carl and his staff arranged a lovely brunch for the hungry fashionistas last Saturday morning. Their food was absolutely savory , they featured beautiful Polish and Portuguese dish-ware and silverware ! Carl and his daughter kept the drinks and laughs coming! They also keep their room themed as you can see in some of my pictures. I felt like a princess in their Shooting Star Room. After we fueled up we were off to the Molly Brown house .
Our tour operation at the Molly Brown house was so precious and she told us the many secrets of the fashion forward Ms. Margareta Brown aka Molly Brown. She is better yet know as being one the survivors from The Titanic. Just outside we were in modern Denver, inside we were transported into Ms . Brown's time. Miss Brown kept an array of beautiful original pieces from the Victoria era to early 1920's flapper style. We learned that Molly Brown was ahead of her time not only in fashion, but in other aspects of her life. While it was unusual for women to be outside of their homes without their husbands you would see her without her beau. She was also a well traveled woman and could tell by the collection of pieces she collected from around the world She was heavily involved in charity events , hosted Governors' and Mayors' to her home and was an ambassador for the Women's Suffrage movement.
What a badass lady, I vote Molly Brown for President!
Take a life lesson from Molly Brown and step out of your comfort zone. Be the change you want to see in the world. Who knows when they'll make a museum out of you and pay tribute! #lifegoals
You don't have to travel all the way around the world to make a difference in your community and save a life! I had the opportunity to attend Brides Against Breast Cancer this weekend hosted by mywedding.com with fellow travel and fashion blogger, Jetsetheart.com. Who can pass up such a great event for a good cause? You donate your wedding dress to help raise funds to cancer research. Purchases of these wedding gowns go toward services such as therapy, nutrition and education . Its almost too easy! From braid and brow bars, tons of gourmet food and a live fashion show, this event was a huge success! We left the night with major eye candy , and I was chocolate wasted towards the end. All for a good cause right?
Much love my wanderlusters
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“If we were in Madrid, I would drive you home myself," he said as we walked down the street hands interlaced.
I was too busy trying to remember the look in his eyes, his long brown hair, the curves of his mouth and that voice that made me melt.
My taxi had arrived. I said good-bye knowing this might be the last night I would ever see him again. Our paths may never cross again.
I never meant to fall in love.
But I did.
Traveling solo as a woman is still a very ‘unique’ concept that people have a hard time understanding in many parts of the world. Although it is becoming more popular it can still be somewhat of a challenge to break the stereotype. But I owe it to myself. This is the time I have to be selfish and squeeze all that I can out of life. I don't want to live my life wishing that I had more time to do what I desired. Why put off that amazing trip . Why stop yourself from telling that boy you met just some days ago that he’s just the kind of boy you’d date back home? (Even though you wouldn’t have the courage to do so back home!).
I was tired of sitting back and playing it safe. Mexico brought out the free spirit in me that I knew I always was. I learned that love played a great role during my trip. To those travelers who’ve decided to keep their stories in their journals, here is mine.
Just like in Eat, Pray, Love, falling in love abroad can happen. And it happens all too often… but it's one of many tales that travelers often leave for the pages of their travel journals. People think we are well…crazy and or hopeless romantics. Perhaps we are!
Whenever I am planning my next adventure, I always make check lists. Although this time around, I don't recall adding in: 'Remember to meet a fun, care-free Mardrileno, hold hands and stay up till late hours of the night'. Or what about: 'Learn to let go of your insecurities, wear that bikini, eat all the fried platanos and mangos you want, and jump off some waterfalls.'
I had been wanderlusting about the beautiful Mexican sun, an undiscovered part of Mexico that had been long overdue—the Riviera Maya. During my time in Mexico, I visited the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Chiapas. You have the beautiful beaches in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, to colonial cities like Merida, hidden ruins and waterfalls in Palenque.
I trekked my way through some amazing ruins in Palenque, and Chichen Itza. I slept in the jungle with the sound of howlers monkeys and trees swaying through the night. I jumped off some amazing waterfalls hand in hand with strangers and swam in cenotes, ancient swimming holes that the Mayans used to throw the bodies of their sacrifices. I explored beautiful colonials, and ate so much it made me sick!
As beautiful as it all was, I learned a most important lesson. I learned to love myself and others.
We become better versions of ourselves when we are abroad. We feel more beautiful, confident, vulnerable, fearless. We put aside our troubles and invest time to love ourselves. Food is much sweeter, we can feel more deeply for ourselves and others. All of which are characters that love is nurtured from. I know my fellow travellers can relate!
I learned to see others as God would. I learned to love them as he would, perfectly imperfect people. I was so grateful and blessed to be surrounded by kind individuals who worried about my happiness, safety and well being. They still called me crazy, but never boring!
Love takes you by surprise. Many would say that love comes when you aren’t looking, or when you least expect it. To be honest I don’t know the first thing about falling in love, but maybe fun, uncharted places are the best places to find it! I’d like to think in a perfect world that my encounter would have a happily ever after, but what good would that be for the many others to come?
As a traveler and 'wanderluster', I have an open heart. I desire a raw love— a thrilling, passionate love that comes goes just as fast as it happens.
I’ve learned to recognize it and be happy it happened. I’ll be ready to fall in love all over again and be crushed all over again. Call it what you want, but I live for it.
'Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened'.
If I could tell you anything, it would be this. You're never too young or too old to be loved, and be in love.