Here is what REALLY went down on my solo trip through Latin America after quitting my job

I quit my job 3.5 months ago to travel full-time. I was embarking on a 3-month solo trip throughout Central South America. This would be my first long-term trip, my longest trip traveling solo, and the longest amount of time I'd spend outside of my home-state. I have now returned and to say it was an adventure would be an understatement. 

Here are some things that happened on my trip:

- I cried in my taxi on my first night because it finally hit me that I was about to embark on a such a new experience. I had no idea what to expect & my parents were freaking out about me traveling through Latin America alone. What if they were right? What if the worst did happen?

- I returned to love in Tulum, Mexico after having previously experienced the town with an ex. I intentionally started my trip here so that I could create my OWN memories, without them being soured by the thought of someone/something that once was. And so I did. I took back Tulum.

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- I swam with sharks in the blue waters of Belize, but the captain on the boat offered us so much Caribbean rum that I hardly remember the experience. I guess that's what pictures are for, right? 😩

- What's even more crazy? I stayed in a hostel in Caye Caulker, Belize named 'DIRTY MCNASTY'S. LOL...wh...? Enough said. 

- I went sailing for the first time in Belize 🇧🇿  for 3 days. No showers, cell service, etc. I should also mention that all 3 of the boat crew were easy on the eyes, especially the captain.

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- I got the chance to spend 3 days snorkeling in the 2nd largest barrier reef in the 🌎.

- I camped & slept in a tent for the first time - on a remote island in Belize. When I peaked from behind my tent at dawn to pink skies, I nearly cried.

- I camped & slept in a tent for the second time on a Volcano in Guatemala. We watched as the volcano erupted through the night right under the star filled sky. 

- If the 13,045 ft hike to the top wasn't hard enough, I shed a tear once we got to the top...not because I'd FINALLY made it, but because I realized that I'd lost my phone on the way up. After feeling like I was going to die and my legs were going to give out, It was the tip of the iceberg. 😭  1 month of photos GONE! Stupid, beautiful Volcano.

- As a result, I traveled for a month without a phone and everything was fine. I used like...real maps & stuff. Like, I didn't die. 

- I camped for the 3rd time in the Peruvian Andes Mountains on 3 day, 18mile(30km) trek to Machu Picchu.

- I couch-surfed alone for the first time and made a life long friend. Sure, I feared for my life on the first night but my host ended up showing me his life in Belize. He'd prepare meals, help with laundry, show me around town & more all out of the kindness of his heart. We even illegally crossed the border just to go to his favorite bar over in Guatemala. Sorry mom.

- I rode a motorcycle for the first time in the Nicaragua. After stopping at a smoothie shop in town with my Canadian friend, two workers invited us to go dance salsa in town with them. They told us to meet them back at the restaurant at 9pm. When we arrived, they were waiting for us on their bikes. Well...when in Rome, right?

- I connected with people from all over the world, from Peru to Norway. White & brown, old & young, straight & gay, etc...it didn't matter. It doesn't matter. It's amazing how quickly strangers can become friends. How you can share things with them that you haven't shared with those you've known your entire life. How you can share intimate moments with them that you'll never forget. 

- I lived with a Guatemalan family to help with my Spanish. Although things got REALLY awkward and we sometimes had to use Google Translate to communicate, mi Madre(Sylvia) never failed to make me feel at home when she'd call me down for breakfast before school each morning. Anytime I'd feel uncomfortable, I'd remind myself that I asked to be challenged.

- I took one on one Spanish classes in Antigua, Guatemala and it really helped push me closer to my goal of becoming fluent. Also, every interaction I had..in taxis, in markets, in restaurants, and with new amigos/friends.

- I went salsa dancing every chance I got & attended so many free classes. I loved every second of it!

- I fell in LOVE with Reggaeton! J balvin, Maluma, Nicky Jam 😭

- I stayed at a wonderful place in Nicaragua called Maderas Village. I met the most inspiring people here. It seemed that everyone had also quit their jobs to travel and/or work on their own personal projects. We had conversations that I didn't even know my heart needed. 

- The sweetest Isreali girl taught me how to surf the golden waves of Playa Maderas in Nicaragua. She spoke nearly 5 languages and she was such a bad*ss. Just a traveler who offered to show us to surf. I met so many awesome Israelis during my trip and although I never had a strong desire to visit before, I do now.

- I tasted exotic fruits that I didn't even know existed. Maracuya, Guanabana, Pitahaya Mamoncillo, Apote...

- I ate alone in restaurants & sat in many coffee shops alone. It was always awkward at first, but I learned more & more each time that what others think of me is truly none of my business.

- I met so many amazing women who are just killing it at life! 💁🏾  

- I volunteered on a sail boat for 6 days from Panama to Colombia. In exchange for cleaning dishes, preparing food, and sharing my experience with you all, I received a trip in the San Blas Islands at no cost.

- Honestly, I was ready to get off that dang boat after 6 days. I didn't know it then, but my soul needed the solitude and the sea. 

- I woke up one day & decided to go paragliding in Medellin, Colombia 🇨🇴 and it was pure ecstasy. It was then that I decided fear wouldn't stop me from doing anything in life. 

- I also got robbed at knife-point in Medellin, Colombia. Oh, the literal highs and lows of travel.

See: Travel Insurance 

- I trekked for 3 days in the sacred valley of the Incas on the way to Machu Picchu. Within 10 minutes, I was thinking "NUH-UHHHHH.*huffing & puffing* I *huff* CANT *puff* DO *huff* 3 *puff* MORE *huff* DAYS *puff* OF *huff* THIS *big puff*". But of course I could. I might have been last but I did.

- I questioned my own beliefs/views about my life, myself, relationships, religion, and everything else I've been taught.

- While I need Google Maps to drive 20min away in my hometown, I navigated foreign lands alone. While I thought I was shy/introverted, I made new friends on a daily basis. I surprised myself many times.

- I learned that there are plenty of fish in the sea and they are only waiting to meet you. So, don't trip over F*boys(or girls).

- I fell in love many times - with the strangers that so quickly became friends, with every sunset I saw, with the chaotic markets I visited, and each new chance life presented me with when I arose each morning.

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- I visited Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia & Peru. 

- I thought I was confident before, but this trip gave me more confidence than I've ever had.


If you are considering a booking a trip, applying for your dream job, quitting your job, or doing anything that scares you....please do it! I cannot promise the journey will be perfect, but I can almost guarantee that it'll be worth it.

I am so grateful that I was able to see the world in this way. Since I only returned 2 weeks ago, I haven't had the chance to fully process the past 3.5 months. However, my phone notes are FILLED with videos, blog post ideas, and more. I can't wait to share everything with you all in more detail.

NEXT UP: EUROPE. I head there in less than a month. If any of you have recommendations, please let me know! I will be flying into Paris & bouncing around.

Note - These are bullet points that I originally wrote in my iphone notes. I then posted them in a private fb group & received phenomenal feedback so I decided to share it here. Hope you enjoy.


If you enjoyed this post, please comment & share. Your engagement helps me to continue sharing. Thank you for reading. xx Ciara

I QUIT MY JOB TO TRAVEL FULL-TIME

I DID IT! This past Friday, I quit my corporate HR job to travel full-time. 

Saturday, I moved out of my apartment.

Sunday, I (over)packed my brand new backpack. 

Monday, I hopped on a flight to Mexico with a one-way ticket 

Over the next 3 months, I plan to backpack throughout Central America and make my way to South America - sharing those experiences(via photo, video, and writing) with you all along the way.

I am currently on the beach in Tulum, Mexico drinking a Pina Colada and celebrating such a big life change! Also, totally crying all over my tacos.

Why?...because this wasn't an easy decision. I spent 2 years MISERABLE in a job that I started after graduating from college. I spent the last year questioning whether or not I should quit to travel & blog full time.

While I was SO grateful to be making money, I dreaded showing up to the same grey cubicle everyday and doing the same exact thing over & over again, day in & day out. I was physically at work, but my mind was always elsewhere. 

My best-friend and I would often call each-other up to talk about life and the conversations would always sound like, "This is it? This can't be all there is. This can't be the 'adult' life that we all strived for. Why didn't anybody warn us?" It all felt so robotic and I eventually grew numb to the cycle of every-day life. 

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Along the way, I continued to travel as I could and blog after work. That was the ONLY thing I looked forward to - traveling and encouraging others to do the same. So, I saved up for the inevitable.

I was so conflicted about whether I should leave such a "good" and "normal" lifestyle behind for something so unconventional. "Maybe I'm just not grateful enough?", I thought. Then my right mind would kick in and tell me that there had to be another way. 

And of course my right mind was....well, right. I couldn't do it. So, I continued to save a portion of every paycheck I received. Every bonus. I cut out all extra expenses. I stopped eating out. I stopped shopping. I wanted to use any extra income I had to fund my dream.

And, It is SUCH a privilege to be able to dream. Many people are merely trying to survive...that's all they can do. However, I know that I have a huge amount of privilege as a first world, college educated woman in the US. I know that I am doing a disservice to myself and the world if I don't take advantage of that privilege. I am doing a disservice to those that only wish they had the ability to follow their dreams.

So here I am. I don't know what life will be like in the next year or the next 5 months but I'm happy knowing that I'm taking steps towards the directions of my dreams.

Travel helped me take the leap. Travel has constantly pushed me outside of my comfort zone, reminded me that everything will be okay in the end, and shown me that the world truly is our oyster.

Disclaimer: I posted this 3 months ago on my Facebook page. However, I never got around to posting it on here. Now it's up!

(Oh, and I've now completed my stint through Central & South America. 3 months later, I can say that making this change was the best decision I've made.)


What Now? 

More content & better content. I am focused on creating content(blogs, videos, articles, instagrams, etc.) full time to continue inspiring the wanderlust in you.

So, here what I need from you to keep going:

If you like a post, please comment and/or share it. All engagement helps! It will be nearly impossible for me to continue doing this without your engagement. In return, I will give you the my best travel content. 

Enjoy! 

A Look Inside Azulik Eco Resort, an Architectural Masterpiece!

I knew exactly where I wanted to stay during my first visit to Tulum - Azulik Eco Resort

I’d seen pictures of this unique tree-house lodge circulating around Instagram and it looked phenomenal. Now I know that pictures, despite how great they are, don't even begin to do this place justice. 

Sometimes I don’t mind where I stay - Give me a clean room with a shower & I’ll be fine. Other times, I purposely seek out one-of-kind places that are an experience in themselves. That might be a purple airstream in the middle of east Texas, a treehouse in the middle of the rainforest in Costa Rica, a glamping tent in a Mayan town and in this case…a jungle treehouse overlooking Tulum's white sand beaches. 


Upon arrival, we were welcomed with a traditional Mayan ceremony to cleanse us of any toxins or negative energy so that we could focus on being present. It was explained that Azulik was designed to bring connectivity to ourselves and/or each other. This is why there are no tv’s, A/C, wifi, or other 'distractions' throughout the property. After giving us a tour around the property and explaining the philosophy at Azulik, they welcomed us with a green juice and walked us to our villa.

We were blown away the moment we walked through the entrance. The whole property is raised off the jungle floor and you are completely surrounded by nature. Despite being only 5-10min away from any establishments, it feels like you are a thousand miles away from civilization. My jaw nearly dropped as we walked through maze-like wooden bridges & enchanting archways to get to our room.

Our villa? Oh, It was love at first sight - a beautiful white round canopy bed in the center of the room, a private toilet with an intricate wood carved door, a small handmade mosaic bathtub with an empty coconut to fill & rinse our bodies with, an intimate dining area with pillows on the floor for seats instead of chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows with intricately designed wooden blinds, and two large doors in front of the tub in case we wanted to soak as the ocean breeze flowed into our room. Sounds like heaven, right? 

 

Then we step outside & we’re blown away by a spacious balcony that is equipped with a mosaic pool, 2 comfortable chairs, a wooden dining table, a magnificent view of the beach, and a round bed that hung from the ceiling. We jumped onto the bed like children and squealed in excitement. “Is this real life?”, I thought. I guess that cleanse worked because we looked at each other and admitted that we DID feel different. After laying on our balcony and overlooking the turquoise water, we did feel a shift in energy. It might sound corny, but my soul did feel a bit more calm & free. Within 30 minutes, we both declared that we’d never stay at a place better than Azulik.

We originally planned to stay here for 2 days and then move to a nice but more affordable place. We ended up loving it so much that we extended our stay for an additional two days. I was completely awestruck by the architecture every second that I looked around. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. We actually ended up sleeping on the bed on the balcony more than the bed in the room because it was so peaceful to fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves just below us. We woke up at 4am daily to watch the sunrise from the hanging bed outside or the plunge pool because it was just that spectacular. It was a blast to experience such a unique place with someone, but I could see it being just as special alone. I never wanted to leave this jungle treehouse. 

Azulik is one-of-a-kind and I really do wonder if it can be topped. It's pricey, but completely worth it even if only for a few days. It's not for everyone - especially if you can't go without showers, A/C, or wi-fi. It is NOT your standard hotel or resort because it doesn't many offer modern amenities. However, it's perfect for anyone who is looking for a highly unique experience within the jungle and along the white sand beaches of Tulum.

FYI: This is NOT a sponsored post(I WISH! HA). This place was SO amazing that it deserved a blog post of its own. 

Helpful things to know: 

  • Azulik is adults only - all guests must be over 18

  • The beach & entire property is clothing optional. People are not shy, so be prepared.
  • Free yoga is offered every morning in the yoga dome
  • The beach area is small , but private. 
    • If you are looking for a bigger area, you can wander along either side of Azulik to find endless stretches of beaches.
  • The villas don't have A/C(only a fan above the bed), meaning it can get really hot & humid during the daytime inside of the rooms. 
  • Many restaurants are within a 5-10min walk down the beach
    • The food at Azulik is just 'okay' in my opinion. I'd recommend exploring some of the restaurants in town for better food options. There are SO many to choose from!
  • There are no showers, only tubs with a coconut to rinse yourself off
  • Since there are no lights, the place is candle-lit by nighttime 
    • This creates an inconvenience if you are trying to get ready at night or do anything in your room at night. You can use your phone flashlight or bring one
  • There is only one outlet to charge your electronics in the room
  • This is not a traditional 'resort', so you won't have people waiting on you hand & foot. However, the staff is friendly & helpful if you need anything.
  • The walkways are made of wooden sticks - Heels are probably not the best idea 
  • Wi-fi is available, but only in a concentrated area - not in the rooms
  • Organic mosquito repellant, body soap, etc. are provided inside of the room
  • You will need to fly into Cancun to get to Tulum. Check out my guide to Tulum here.