Tag Archives: friendship

Snorkeling

If I asked you to draw blind hope what would it look like? Could you create a melody that sounds like the best moment in your life? If I asked you what it felt like to drive home, knowing that there is someone waiting for you, could you tell me? These moments, these feelings transcend the boundaries of the human experience. They are proof that this world exists on a deeper level than what we could ever imagine. These moments make up the world we were meant to see. So where am I going with these philosophical thoughts? It’s simple really. We need to keep trying, keep exploring, and keep sharing these moments to enrich our souls but more importantly, to inspire others to seek out adventure.

Snorkeling. With that introduction, you might’ve thought that I found a land that time didn’t command or climbed a mountain whose peak no man has seen. No. I went snorkeling in Cayo Icacos. My friend had suggested that we take a “catameringue” trip. I initially found humor in the name because it was so similar to the delicious lemon pie. It wasn’t until several weeks after we came home that I realized I was pronouncing it horribly wrong, apparently, it’s spelled “catamaran.”  Good start, but as long as we remember to keep moving forward, it will all be okay.

We pulled up to this beautiful dock, with boats floating on crystal clear water. After tossing our shoes in a bin (still not sure why we did that) my friends immediately went to the back of the boat. In loyal fashion (and because I had no idea what else to do) I followed. I’ve never been on a boat like this before. As soon as we started sailing away, we bobbed in tandem with the gentle waves, swayed with the breeze, and was graced with an indescribable view. Words could never really do it justice. Suffice to say, I didn’t know where to look, but was intent on committing everything to memory. It was important to make sure everyone else in our four-person adventure group was getting this same experience, so I kept checking in. There’s nothing better than seeing the people you care about happy (not even a view like this one).

When we stopped near a beach, Kelly asked my shoe size. I thought she was joking, then I realized we were going to snorkel. Apparently, everyone else knew this was happening except for me. It was all such a new experience, and to be totally honest… I never knew how people breathed out of the snorkel tubes. One pair of flippers, goggles, snorkel tube, and one quick lesson later, I was intrinsically part of this warm, blue ocean. I can’t remember how long we swam, I wasn’t going back on the boat until I saw a fish. After I did, I rushed to the boat to relay this information and despite my excitement, I was given the look. “You saw a fish” – Kelly. “One fish” – Shannon. “Your going to love the next place we go.” – Kelly. Fifteen minutes later, we sailed to another island. On the way, a bird got so close to the boat and flew with us for a few seconds. It may sound silly, but I felt like we were one of the same. Imagine that? When it was time to get back in the water, everyone started jumping off the boat. Super casually throwing themselves off the side like it was THE NORM. After a little encouragement, I did too. It was a little high, but jumping in is never a bad thing is it? Read close because this next part, it’s unreal. My friends were already swimming ahead of me, I got distracted by the views above water. As soon as I started swimming, a school of blue and yellow fish were directly beneath me. They were swimming all around, comfortable and happy at home in the sea. My heart at that point was too full, but then Kelly turned around (I had no idea she was even waiting) and gave me some bread to feed them. Honest to Pete, they came right up. They weren’t scared or apprehensive, just trusting and excited (how cool is that?!) We swam and swam, saw coral reefs, gigantic fish with vibrant patters, sea urchins, and fish with long noses. I don’t remember how long I was under water, time froze in that moment. When I did come up to feel the sun, I looked to the boat only to find three people already waving back at me.

You never really know when the best days of your life are going to happen. One morning, you wake up and fall off a hammock. Then you find yourself on a boat, in the middle of an ocean, on a clear day, surrounded by people with hearts of gold. It’s the kind of day you don’t know what you did to deserve, the kind of day you revisit in the hard moments, it was the kind of day that ignited a passion. So no… I didn’t peak an unclimbed mountain or travel down an endless river. I went snorkeling, and that experience in itself, was enough. More than enough.

Vows

To you, my travel partner.

I vow to always suggest new places, to never say any one spot is off limits, to never say a place is not interesting or overrated.

I vow to always keep up good appearances in front of your parents so they don’t think their child is traveling with a crazy person because that’s between us.

I vow to be your travel agent, bodyguard, photographer, historian, and food critic all in one. We will find the best places, the cheapest eats, the best photo ops, and in hostels I’ll ward off any drunks that try hitting on you. Worst case scenario we’ll say we’re dating.

I vow to always keep ideas flowing and our schedule exciting.

I vow to understand you might need a day off, staying in the hostel or hotel or airBnB isn’t against the rules and I won’t be mad at you for suggesting it.

I vow to make every free hostel breakfast feel like a five star bottomless brunch. But I also vow to keep watch while we take extra for the road.

I vow to be just as interested in all of the things you like, or at least fake it. Because even though I might’ve seen something a thousand times doesn’t mean it should discredit your first time.

I vow to understand your fears, and push you through them slowly but surely. You will always have a hand to hold while we explore the new, strange, scary and unusual.

I vow that I will make sure we always get to the airport on time, and if for some reason our flight is cancelled I’ll figure out how to get a new one.

I vow that if your luggage gets lost you can use mine, even though everything will be big on you.

I vow that my food is your food. We can always split meals and snacks so we can cheaply try more of the cuisine.

I vow that if we ever find ourselves in a foreign country I will not shame you for one day wanting McDonald’s or fifty cent ramen. Sometimes our stomachs want something like home even if we are in the land of tapas, or pasta, or sushi.

I vow to always stay adventurous and if we hit a point in our lives in which we can no longer travel together, I promise to always keep you updated, I promise to like all of your posts, I promise to continue to talk to your parents and remember your immediate family, I promise to continue any of our inside jokes, and I promise to offer more travel suggestions for us in the future.

Excitement and Expectations

It all started with a promise. A pinkie promise to be specific. I think we need context here, so let’s back up… not to the age of dinosaurs just to an age of change.


I’ve worked at the same restaurant for four years, watched the predictable parade of characters waltz in and out knowing they were never meant to stay. Somewhere along the way, this “authentic” Mexican restaurant became my home away from home, in some ways it still is. It became my comfort zone, and its bright, slightly tacky decorations were enough for me. But life has other plans, it comes at us fast and shifts the world beneath us until we end up right back at square one. These plot twists tend to leave us recovering, rebuilding, and re-discovering ourselves. At least that’s what I was doing when I met this charismatic, slightly insane bartender who would throw tickets at my face while speaking rapid Spanish. I had no idea then that I just met my best friend. Flash forward five months later, one too many beers, more than enough existential conversations (for Shannon anyway), approximately 500 hand hugs and here we are, at the bar making plans to go to Puerto Rico.

Traveling has never been my passion. Looking at restaurant décor was as close as I’ve allowed myself to see the world. So when I was asked to travel with my friend back to her home, I was shocked that I said “yes.” In hindsight, I think the initial answer was not so much for my benefit. I read about Hurricane Maria, saw news footage of destroyed homes and flattened forests, but its the stories that I heard were too much. Too much sadness but they were strangely laced with hope for the future and filled with love for a home that could never really be destroyed. So I made a pinkie promise.

As the countdown to the trip hit single digits, my excitement began to increase exponentially. Maybe it was the names in the stories that I didn’t recognize (Karen & Kelly), or the pictures of mountains looming over turquoise water, or maybe it was just the idea of going somewhere unexplored. My bags were packed, my ticket was ready, and so were my friends. Only one mildly horrifying challenge remained: the plane ride. I fully expected to kick the bucket at 30,000 feet, but I made it through (unless my spirit is writing this) with the help of liquid courage, plenty of hugs, and ocean sounds weaving their way through my mind. Before I knew it, we were in PR a place I’ve heard so much about and I was ecstatic. Then I peeked over to see my friend excited for an entirely different reason that had everything to do with coming home. That’s when I knew I was somewhere special.

The first sight I registered was a palm tree. I have never EVER seen a real palm tree before, I didn’t realize they were so tall. It seems quite silly that a tree so tall should have so little branches. Despite this confusing conundrum, I was so thrilled by its island like presence that I went right over to touch it. I guess we can check that off the bucket list.

My excitement was unparalleled in that moment, and honestly, it got so much better from there if you can believe it. I still can’t. Expectations are something else entirely, too great and we risk being disappointed. If they are too little, we need to question why we even bothered in the first place.  So what were my expectations traveling to PR? I had none, not because I didn’t want to be over or underwhelmed, but because I had never really traveled anywhere before. All I hoped was that my friend would be happier and maybe I would swim in the ocean because I heard it was warm. I’ll be the first to admit, I never expected this.