Beers and Beans – 3 years and 28 Life Changing Events Later – A Visit to the Beginning of a Travel Blog..
When I started blogging almost 3 years ago – (yes BeersandBeans is 3 years old, crazy!) I had no idea what I wanted out of this blog or out of life even. All I knew was that I had wanted to travel long term for most of my life and had finally gotten the nerve to do it. My greatest and best travel pal throughout this entire time has always been Brooke from Brookevstheworld.com. She helped me create the blog and even found the very first theme I ever used! More importantly she was always there to listen to my sometimes excited, sometimes tearful self online. We were always going through similar, yet different situations and over time we discovered we had a lot in common. We were both a little bit workaholic, a little bit never satisfied and definitely both determined to see our dreams through to the end. Turns out we’re also both musicians, obsessed with the Silk Road and items inspired by outer space and keeping up on our sometimes insane travel budgets. Strange. And she still likes me even though a couple years ago I may have oversold the hippie town of San Pedro, Guatemala as a great place to learn Spanish. Anyway, Brooke suggested a while ago that I write a little more about my personal life on the blog and now as part of a change for 2011 and as hard as it might be, I’m going to do it. I usually rely on my photos to do this for me but in reality I need to take pen to paper and start baring a bit more of my soul on here. oh boy…
I’m not going to lie and say that planning for this trip has been a bed of roses. It hasn’t. In fact the past couple of years have been some of the most stressful in my life. I didn’t want to just travel for a year or two. I wanted to change my life. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be a location independent photographer/blogger. I wanted to be healthy, do what I loved and I wanted to have a passion for life again. I also really wanted to help people and volunteer around the world. I worked really hard my entire life and suddenly I knew that professional success was getting me nowhere personally. I was ready for the real me to emerge and so I started changing my entire life all under the disguise of “The Big Trip”. It’s been an enormous undertaking and it all started happening at the same time my life got a bit chaotic.
You can read as many “How to Save xxx Dollars for a RTW” blogs as you like but it doesn’t take away the cold hard facts that making a tremendous change in your life comes with tremendous sacrifice and a lot of really hard work. That being said, it is damn exciting. Planning this trip has given me more courage and more long term motivation than anything else EVER. I always go 110% into something new but usually I get bored with it and stop after a few months. That has never happened with my dreams of travel or with Beers and Beans.
I’m also really excited to say that Beers and Beans has had a pretty big year and I’m always in awe of it’s continued growth. It wasn’t until about 10 months ago that I really started taking the site seriously and the changes have been pretty exciting since then. What started as a personal blog for my family and friends is now the thing I spend most of my waking hours working on and thinking about. I am psyched for 2011!
However the one thing I’m really thankful that Beers and Beans has brought me is all my new travel friends. It’s mind blowing. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like without all the people I “know” online and really I have no idea. I actually can’t imagine it. Isn’t that weird? One time I was sick for a few days and the lovely Erica from OverYonderlust emailed me to make sure I was ok. She noticed I was ‘missing’. Isn’t that the sweetest thing? That really touched me. The travel community and all you crazy peeps reading this blog really mean a lot to me. Thank you all!
Ok before I get too mushy I’m going make a run down recap of this life changing, crazy pre- trip adventure! This is for all my new readers and a lot of my older ones too since I tend to not talk about too many personal things on here.
I’m warning you – the first ones are really not that great. This isn’t a pity party here so please don’t think that way. This is just the true and honest beginnings of Beers and Beans. And yes, the beginning sucked hardcore but trust me – things have gotten a lot better! Plus I think some of the later recaps are pretty funny. Hopefully you will too!
Here are a few of the things that this blog has gotten me through in the past couple years:
1. Working 10 – 12 hrs a day at a real estate job that caused tremendous stress – I wasn’t able to devote a lot of time to the blog then but it got me through knowing one day I would live my dream.
3. A month later, losing my pet rabbit Ree as he died in my arms after 13 years of constant companionship. – Thinking of him still makes me cry.
4. Being laid off – This should’ve been bad but actually was a huge and awesome relief. Randy and I surfed every morning and ate Papas Locos seaside for breakfast. Was pretty sweet while it lasted.
5. My best (since 12 yrs old) friend’s dad passing away. – Sudden, unexpected and heartbreaking. I did not have the money to fly back and be with her which was very hard for me.
6. Being diagnosed with cancer at 31 – I believe this was from the stress of my previous job but I actually started the blog during my recovery – it gave me something to look forward to when I was in a really dark period of my life.
7. Gained 50+ lbs in just a few months time because of related health issues. – I should note I am petite and only 5′ 1″. This was pretty depressing. – So far I’ve lost half of it – Go Me!!
8. Got kicked out of my apt. same day as I returned home from my surgery because of my pet rooster. -Don’t say it, I know but in my defense I was told he was a hen chick and after being in the hospital, which was also coincidentally just a couple days before Christmas and my birthday, coming back to an eviction notice was awesome – NOT.
9. Had to give up Pepe, my feathered buddy. – This was really, really hard for me. I really fell for this little guy.
10. Six months later got kicked out of next apartment because of the economy. – My sister Bridgette and brother in law Mike went home to Boston- sucked.
11. Adrian lost his battle with Leukemia – Throughout my cancer recovery I made online friends with 1 fellow cancer patient and that person was Adrian Sudbury. He was by far one of the most amazing people I ever had the chance to ‘know’. Life was interesting when I had Adrian in my online circle and I even dreamed of his passing the day he passed away, before I found out. He is also the one reason I want to go to Norway. He was only 27.
12. In attempt to save money, moved into a 350 sq. ft apt w/ Randy and our dog Chachy – Believe me when I tell you this was not easy. Thank god for Guitar Hero.
13. My uncle Joe passed away unexpectedly. – This was and still is really upsetting for everyone in my family because we all really miss him.
14. Started a new photography business, Nariko’s Nest. – Shooting weddings on my own – scary and fun! Named the business after my beloved pet rabbit.
15. Bought a sailboat! – Had no experience but got it caught in my head that I needed a sailboat. I desperately needed a change and thought I would one day sail to South America. Some people thought this was crazy but this was a great move for me. The first step to living out my dream of starting a new life. I also thought it would be cool for my new photo business. Looking back at the above posts I can now see so clearly why I needed this.
16. Learned how to sail – This was awesome! Although I quickly discovered that I would not be sailing to South America in 6 months like I had dreamed of. That was ok – just cruising the San Diego Bay was fantastic enough. I also got to shoot engagement photos on it and I used it as my office for my new business – Awesome!
17. Met really interesting people on the docks like Steven. – I wish I had written a post about him but I’ll surmise it here: Steven was in his 60’s, still bouncing around with the ladies and smoking pot. He was an interesting character and took an immediate liking to my best friend Lauren and repeatedly tried (unsuccessfully) to get a date with her. I can’t say anything bad about Steven though, he actually taught me how to sail. One day he insisted I sail back into our slip. Sailing into your slip can be quite dangerous because if you miss it, you’re screwed. You don’t have the engine on to turn your boat around or put yourself in reverse. I didn’t want to do this but Steven said it was something I should learn just in case I lost engine power one day at sea and had to sail home. He also said his 8 yr old daughter did it with his boat. Steven was normally calm and collected so I agreed. As we entered the row where our slip was he discovered the sail was caught on something and wouldn’t go down. This is really bad because we were going too fast and had to turn into our slip in just a few moments. Without getting the sail down, there was no way to slow down. This was surely going to be a disaster of gargantuan proportions that would end with me either running into someone else’s boat or the ground. This thought turned the normally calm, hippie Steven into a flailing, crazy mess in the matter of .2 seconds. He then wrapped his arms around the boom swinging wildly with all his body weight in an effort to drop the sail. Cigarette in his mouth, tossed drink on the seat, 60 yr old screaming man flailing his entire body on the sail – this was a sight. This was only our second time sailing and watching Steven’s reaction sent Randy and I into a state of paranoia. This really scared the living crap out of me and I mentally tried to remember how much insurance I had taken out for damage to other people’s boats. We had appx. 15 seconds from the start of this frenzy to our slip and amazingly (I still don’t know how) we made it! I remember my legs shaking as I jumped off the boat onto the docks to tie up the boat. Then I kissed the docks. Steven thank you for teaching me how to sail under extremely stressful conditions. Turns out I didn’t need you to crash into other people’s boats anyway – I did that all on my own 1 month later on the 4th of July. My screaming caused multiple people to scurry from their boats like worms in a rainstorm and Lauren to unwillingly flash her thong underwear at all our fellow boaters as she desperately tried to keep us, unsuccessfully, from running into their boats. Thank you Tom & Jerry (yes those are their names) for fixing our engine that day and thank you Jose Cuervo for being a trusty friend for the remainder of that nerve wracking evening. Living Life! If you ever feel your life is in a rut then learning how to sail meeting new people on the docks is a good way to change that!
18. Photographed Ziggy Marley & Nikka Costa! – This was really cool and Randy got to interview him as well.
19. Lived *illegally* on our sailboat – Always wanted to live on a boat, would totally do it again legally if I could. What wasn’t fun was getting busted on the docks by a 65 yr. old man wearing long black socks and Birkenstocks, who was known as “The Wolf”. Yes, I’m serious. Actually less fun was having to disguise myself and Chachy whenever I went to the car so it would look like I hadn’t slept on the boat. I would wear a big, dark hoodie and put chachy inside my hoodie or a bag as I walked up the docks. Then I would walk down the street to my car, which I had craftily put in another lot. Then I would drive down the street, change my clothes and drive back to the marina and walk down the docks with Chachy on a leash like I had just arrived. Going up to take a shower was the biggest game of dodge you have ever seen. At any given time I had 3 different outfits in my car for quick changes. I can’t believe I did that! Looking back, it was very tiring and a huge waste of time but led to interesting stories.
20. Started living in a tent and actually had to sleep in the car a couple times -First a 350 sq. ft apt, then a 27′ boat, then a tent – what the hell was i thinking? I should also note the car was a Hyundai Accent and again, 2 people/1 dog. What haven’t I given for the big trip? In the end it was cool. We slept at the beach and it prepared us for the nights we car camped in Europe!
21. Had to do most of my work at Borders Bookstore because they had 2 important things lacking in a tent, Electricity & Internet. – Actually this was great for me but it wasn’t for Chachy. It was too hot to keep him in the car and he couldn’t stay at the campsite alone so he had to sit in a bag at Borders with me while I did my work. Good think he likes to sleep in small spaces.
22. Lived on Lauren’s couch after we got busted on the boat and the tent was getting to be too much- This was actually really fun once I got over the fact I was 34 and had gone from living in an apt., to a boat, to a tent and was now living on my friends couch and that my boyfriend was sleeping on a different couch in another room. We had a lot of great times and became locals at the drag karaoke bar down the street.
23. Dealt with a lot of unexpected money stresses -Please, this can stop really – that was enough. hahaha
24. In a rash attempt to be more like a normal human and to take part in the 8k homebuyers credit, I tried to buy 2 different houses that fell apart for the most insane reasons, one being that the seller’s realtor didn’t like my loan. HUH? – After being in real estate financing for several years I knew exactly what I was doing and had never seen anything like this happen. After my futile attempt to talk them into my pre-approved loan and then my attempt to hardball them into it, I gave up. I was sad but I felt because of the oddness of the entire situation that I was not supposed to have a house at that point in my life. I felt like the fates were looking out for me and after some tears I realized I was definitely supposed to be on the road and that something was waiting for me out there. Bullet dodged!
25. I started shooting my first solo booked weddings with Randy as my assistant. Photos always came out even better than I could’ve imagined and each time they seemed to get better and better – success!
28. Started actually making money on Beers and Beans – Beyond Amazing!
Wow! I can’t believe I got all that down on paper! It’s actually crazy to look back on it all, especially all of the losses and tough times I went through at the beginning. Sometimes I feel like my memory is horrible and that I’m not the person I used to be. Seeing how the first couple of years went, I know why – I think I blocked it out! What else is amazing is to look at where I am today. Life is so much better. I never want to be sick again or go through any of that part of my life again. It was just too much. I think I was in a haze for most of that time. Truthfully I’m feeling pretty good about things right now after writing this because I can see how vastly my life has improved and how much closer I am now to living my dream. Maybe I can get good at writing these personal posts!
Anyway, I hope this gives all my readers a look inside my personal life and what my life has been like the past 3 years since the inception of Beers and Beans. I’ll have a few more (happier) lists coming out as well about travel and the growth of Beers and Beans. I’ve also got a secret stash of must see locations and a CRAZY amount of travel photos that I am finally getting to edit. I am so EXCITED and I can’t wait to share some of my personal travel stories with you guys. Coming up – My Arrival to Italy (highly emotional photos from the train), Venice at Night (Beautiful by day, better by night!), All Roads Lead To Lacedonia (my successful quest to find long, lost family members in the small village of Lacedonia, Italy – AMAZING EXPERIENCE) and much more. Plus Paris, which I’ve barely glazed over here and believe me, I am in LOVE with that city. I can’t wait!!
*Please remember all photos on this website are copyrighted and property of BeersandBeans.com, NarikosNest.com & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you want to use one of them please contact me to ask first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!