Bodhi Squad

Little did I know what I was getting myself into when I enrolled in Bodhi Yoga Academy's 200 hour teacher training in Nicaragua. I have gained so much from the incredible experience and I truly miss the beautiful souls that are now my sisters every day. I am confident that we will all meet somewhere on our yogi's paths once again. 

During the last week, I was able to capture photos of some of the amazing women I met in my training. The amount of strength and divine beauty in each of them is inspiring to me.

Home

Being home is hard. I knew it would be difficult, but it is really hard! Whenever I travel, it always takes me a bit of time to get into the groove of constant change and challenges, and living a very unconventional life. Once I get into that groove, I could stay there forever! Of course I miss being home, but coming home presents lots of questions and emotions that I always get hit hard with no matter how many times I travel and come home again. These questions are my biggest fears right now. I think by putting them out there and writing about them, it makes it easier. So here goes... 

1. What am I going to do next?

THIS. Dang. Quitting your job and moving everything home (100 miles away) doesn't make your life exactly easy to pick back up again. Now that I am home, I have a blank canvas of how I want to spend my time. But the questions is how? Should I get a full time job? Part time? In what industry or field? Should I try to freelance? Should I teach yoga now? Should I pursue photography full time? Should I do everything? The possibilities are endless, which is amazing, but also quite frustrating. I am incredibly blessed to have a home to live in with my family who has welcomed me back with open arms. Now that I am rent free, I have a lot more flexibility with job searching and I will be able to find something that I love. I am trying to create a life and career that doesn't feel like work, but is driven by my passions. Again, it is easier said than done! I think the American culture makes us believe that working is how one ought to spend their life and work is our purpose. It is hard to have goals to travel instead of get settled in a 40 year career path in a culture that undermines this. I could live my life determined by how society thinks its "correct," but will that bring me happiness? Maybe. Maybe not. 

2. How do I continue to be a worldly citizen?

Being a "citizen of the world" is easy while you are traveling. I am exposed to new cultures and I am so open to exploring and trying new things. Then I come home to America and I become spoiled with my hot water and air conditioning almost instantly, forgetting about being environmentally friendly, conscious of how I eat, how I spend my money, and how I treat other people. Being at home, I have loads of lovely conveniences like a car to drive, clean drinking water from the tap, and reliable electricity. I think one of the best things about living abroad for a period of time, especially in a 2nd or 3rd world country is you learn to live much more simply. You learn to live and make do with what you have, AND be happy about it. It is frustrating to return home and see how people live here with no appreciation. And then the even more saddening thing is when I forget and become spoiled and unappreciative again myself. Remembering the beautiful people of the countries I've visited and how they lived, helps me remember that I don't need much myself either. Being a world citizen means being mindful of how I live at home is not how the majority of the world lives. And being grateful for everything. 

3. How do I reconnect with friends and family?

Explaining my experiences abroad to friends and family, who may have never travelled outside the country before is hard. People don't understand the appeal of going to a country that is poor or undeveloped. I try to paint a picture of what I saw and it just isn't the same. But that does not mean I don't stop trying and trying to communicate my passion for travel. Like I mentioned before, in our society people do not understand my passion for travel. They like their routined, comfortable lives how they are and traveling sounds like a lot of work and a lot of money. There is nothing wrong with that, but it just ins't for me. I would rather see every continent on the planet before settling down with a routine life. I try to explain this to my friends and family. I think having respect for different lifestyles and accepting them without judgement is the best approach. Of course nobody wants to only hear me talk about me relating experiences back to "when I was here" or "In Nicaragua it was like this," constantly, but I try to keep my memories alive and share with my friends and family as well as continue living my life in the present with my friends and family. Making new memories and connections constantly is how we truly live. 

4. How do I leave again? 

Now this is always the part that is kind of freaky. Planning the next trip always is a leap of faith and requires a ton of planning. I repeat, a ton of planning. For my next trip I am planning to go to South East Asia (Thailand, and Indonesia, probably some other countries in there too). It is a huge undertaking to go literally to the opposite side of the world. I think the frustrating part is that we bust our asses trying to find jobs to make money and settle in once come back from a trip abroad, so to leave again in just a few months seems crazy. Then when I get home from that trip, I will have to start at this whole process again. So yeah, it is a bit scary. I am still working out and trying to figure out how I can travel and make it sustainable on my wallet and how I can possibly work abroad. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there to help make that dream a reality. I am really excited for Asia, and we are still in the planning stage, but I know it will happen. I am so excited for my life ahead. 

For continued updates, I want to figure out how to add a button so that people can get email notifications when I post a new blog. If any squarespace geniuses are out there reading this, maybe you can help me figure out how to do that :) 

Until next time,

Meagan 

 The beautiful Nicaraguan coastline, near San Juan Del Sur. 

The beautiful Nicaraguan coastline, near San Juan Del Sur. 


Baby Sea Turtles!

Photo Credit: http://www.en.go2sanjuandelsur.com

Last night, we got the chance to release the most adorable itty-bitty baby sea turtles into the pacific ocean. When coming to Central America, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to be able to do this and I was not disappointed. 

I went into the experience with no expectations. I didn't want to be disappointed if there weren't many turtles or we didn't get to see the babies. I wasn't really sure what we would get to do and so I think that's why I was so blown away! At around 7:30 pm, we piled into a truck and took about a 20 min ride on a dirt road to a beach called Playa La Flor, a little south of where we are staying. We got out and waited in the parking lot for a little while and Kit, our host at the retreat center, brought out a basket filled with about 16 baby sea turtles. They were smaller than the palm of my hand and they all had 4 long fins all flailing about trying to move around. They were squirmy little guys! We had to be careful with the light we used to look at them so that we didn't damage the new babies eyes, so we were able to hold a red piece of plastic in front of the flash light I brought so that the light would be more dull. We all snapped some photos of the little guys and held them carefully. 

Unfortunately I don't have too many good photos because the lighting was very dim! This one I have from my iPhone :) 

After about 15 minutes of 15 girls oohing and ahhing over the cuteness of tiny sea turtles, it was time to release them into the ocean. I was a little nervous doing this, I mean they were so tiny and how could they swim in the GIANT ocean?! We were assured that the babies would be perfectly fine on their own and we headed out to the ocean. 

We started walking out onto the beach in the moonlight, and all of a sudden we saw tons of huge rock looking things. WOAH and they moved!! They were for sure not rocks. We discovered THOUSANDS of full grown female turtles that had come onto the beach to dig holes and lay their eggs! The turtles are called "Olive Ridley" turtles and they weight about 45 kilos each! This species of turtles exist in Asia and Africa as well, except in most other places they are very endangered and almost at extinction. Here in Nicaragua they have one of the biggest populations in the world, so we were very lucky to see them. There were thousands of them, I kid you not, and they all were so calm and quiet. We quietly walked around them getting sand flicked on us as the turtles used their fins to dig their nests. 

We made our way down to the water and it was time to let our little babies go. I picked up the squirmy little guy and I could tell he was ready. He was born for this! I placed him on the sand and he started moving towards the water and as the water came up, he was swept away and then he was gone. To be so small in such an overwhelmingly huge ocean is crazy to think about, but these babies are blissfully unaware of the dangers out there and just want to get out there and start their life. It's a beautiful thing.

We walked around on the beach in the moonlight looking at all the momma turtles and tried not to disturb them. We also found some eggs that were not buried and the best way to describe them was they looked like little ping pong balls! Sadly, we found an egg that was cracked open and it had a yellow yolk similar to a chicken egg spilling out. Here in Nicaragua, turtle eggs are a delicacy and people steal eggs from the beach to sell them. It is illegal, but they still sell them. During their mating/ laying season, which is about 6 months of the year, thousands of turtles swarm the beach at once and so when the turtles hatch they have power in numbers for more of them to survive. Luckily, Playa La Flor is a remote beach and it is a protected area so the amount of eggs that are stolen here is lessened. Thousands and thousands of eggs are laid every year on this beach, but because of natural reasons, a surprisingly low number actually get the chance to grow and hatch into a full baby turtle, and even less make their way across the beach to the ocean. Hopefully, because of us 16 baby turtles will live to be full grown and come back to that beach to lay their eggs one day.

We said good bye and good luck to the momma turtles and returned back to the big truck to take us back. It was a night I will not forget! 

To find out more info about where to go check out this site, https://vianica.com/attraction/25/la-flor-beach-natural-reserve 

Love and Light,

Meagan Hurst 

Things I couldn't live without in Costa Rica

When I set out to pack and get things together for my trip I looked online for packing lists and what to bring for ages. I found some stuff helpful, but other things I had to learn on my own. This little list is what after being in Costa Rica for about a month now I know I couldn't get by without! I also included links for stuff to amazon to make it easy :) 

Go Pro- Like I said in my last post, getting a Go Pro is a GREAT idea for Costa Rica. It is small, compact, offers great resolution, you can take it anywhere including water, get unique POV shots, and they are not that expensive. I got the HERO 4 silver (which has the built in screen- big bonus) for $325 brand new off craigslist! Also, you want to keep a low profile and not carry around big expensive equipment here or you might be targeted. Going swimming? Bring it with you in the ocean instead of leaving it on the beach to get stolen. Also, when backpacking this keeps your bag nice and light! 

Vinyl purse- This is great thing to have. I have a knockoff Longchamp tote that is great for travel because it folds up nice and small when it is empty and I can slide it in my backpack. It is water proof (big bonus) and it is sturdy. I throw my 13 in Macbook in there, my go pro, my wallet with money/passport/ credit cards, snacks, my water bottle and a few other things on travel days and it all fits! I even spilled coffee on the outside of it and my things inside stayed dry and the bag looks fine on the outside! Maybe because I got the coffee colored bag that's why :) for $19.99 it is stylish and super functional. I added a button with the link to Amazon below! 

 

Rubber Flip Flops- Okay, these are a MUST HAVE. I wear them basically 24/7. It is so hot you don't want to wear shoes, or even think about socks. You will need a pair of flip flops that can get wet and dry quickly for the beach, pool, and the most important one, showers. I have a pair of thicker strapped Havaiana's and they are good quality and a decent price if you shop around amazon for a cheaper color. 

 

Reusable water bottle- This is a huge one. Costa Rican water is drinkable in most places. Only one place I visited (Santa Teresa in the Nicoya peninsula) I was advised NOT to drink the water. With a reusable water bottle, you can fill up at regular taps and save money on water. I actually prefer to drink bottled water anyway and so at the grocery store you can buy bigger 6 liter containers of water and just fill up from there. It is more earth friendly and cheaper than single serving small water bottles :) I have a nalgene type bottle with a carabeaner attached so I can clip it to anything. 

Clothesline- This is incredibly useful for washing clothes on your own and being able to hang them to dry. Also its great for hanging bathing suits and other clothes when they get wet or stinky! The one I have is super thick/ strong elastic and has hooks to hook it on almost anything. Also, with the twisted elastic design you can save space and just tuck a corner of your clothes into the twist and it will hold!

 

Cheap Sunglasses- Protect your eyes! The sun is more more strong (being closer to the equator) and if you bring an expensive pair most likely you will loose them or break them. So brink a $5 pair and do all the extreme sports you want!

Bug Spray and Anti Itch- This is a huge one. Bug spray can be found here in stores for sure but is a lot more expensive for the american brands or ones with deet. I use OFF! Deep woods with 25% deet. If mosquitos like you, like they like me, you will get eaten alive. For me the bugs were worse at the beach cities than in the central valleys and mountains. Also, when you get bitten, a little hydrocortisone cream will do wonders when you are tormented at night while trying to sleep with a thousand itching bug bites. 

 

No fee credit card- Last but not least, this is my favorite thing I brought. Having a credit card that doesn't charge an international fee is brilliant. At places that do take cards (grocery stores, most restaurants, most tour companies, most transportation companies, some hotels... not usually hostels though) it is really nice to just be able to pay with a card with the same freedom you would at home. With no fee added, you can swipe your card in the local currency and Visa decides the exchange rate, which is basically an up to the minute market rate. So you get the best price as well! Win! I have the Capital One Venture Visa Signature. If you spend 3 grand in the first month you get 40,000 bonus miles which is like $400 that you can spend on travel, cash, or whatever you want!

That is my short list of things I couldn't live without. I think in just about any tropical country all these things would come in handy. Happy Travels!

Please comment on my social media or leave a comment below and tell me what you want to see on my blog!

Love and Light,

Meagan 

 

10 things you learn in Costa Rica

Here I am, in a very quiet hotel on the top floor lounge. This space is an indoor/ outdoor hybrid and so it has open walls to the outside. Hammocks line the perimeter and I can hear bugs chirping and thunder in the distance. 2 weeks ago today, around this same time, I left LAX airport not knowing exactly what to expect. 

The amount of things I have learned about this country and about myself in such a short time is crazy. Here are 10 little tidbits that I would love to share with you:

1. Understand nature. If bugs and critters aren't for you, then Costa Rica will be an interesting place. At the moment I am covered in bug bites because apparently bugs really love me. That part isn't so fun. But, I have so many cool critter stories to tell as well. A gecko climbing on the ceiling as I cook dinner. Huge frogs jumping in the road at night. Monkeys playing in the trees. A monkey on a power line and seeing it get shocked... that was sad. The happiest dogs and cats you'll ever see roaming around. A huge crab walking across the road and scaring the crap out of me. Parrots fighting in a mango tree. Sea Turtles floating in the ocean (trying to mate haha). Spotted Dolphins swimming and jumping alongside the boat. An iguana walking across an alley and another bigger one sunning on a rooftop. Tiny hermit crabs crawling across your towel on the beach. The list goes on, and I LOVE IT!

2. Try to speak Spanish. Don't be afraid! From the moment I got on the plane, I was flying with Copa Airlines which is a Central American airline and it hit me fast that my Spanish was not up to par. However, little words like hola, gracias, como estas?, mucho gusto started coming out of my mouth. Here in Costa Rica they speak very formally I've learned. Instead of "de nada" for "your'e welcome" you say "con mucho gusto." "De nada" is like saying it was nothing. "Con mucho gusto" is like saying it was my pleasure. "Usted" is always used instead of "tu" and "ciao" instead of "adios." Also when in doubt, a smile goes a looooong way!

3. Costa Ricans are good people. I have met so many very very nice souls here. People who genuinely want to help you. People who care about their livelihood and businesses. People who go out of their way for you. Everybody helps everybody, that is the Costa Rican culture.

4. PURA VIDA! The saying Pura Vida means Pure Life. It is the Costa Rican way of life most simply put. Pura Vida is said as a greeting to a fellow friend (like whats up!), as a farewell, as a thank you, and as a general slogan for this wonderful country. To the Costa Ricans, pura vida means life is good! 

5. Appreciate everything. This is another reason to say pura vida! Costa Rica is not the most wealthy country. Things like hot water (suicide showers scare me, google that shit and be thankful you can pay for gas heated water), toilets you can flush paper down, and paved roads is a major luxury. Things are not convenient or perfect here. You go with the flow and be happy with what you have! This is so different than american culture and I am thankful for the change of pace! 

6. Things are always wet, muddy, sandy, and probably that means dirty. My rubber flip flops are my friend. Sand is always in the shower because 99.9% of the time it is also stuck to my feet. And when it rains, it is muddy. Then clothes get muddy, then you hang them up and water drips everywhere. The cycle never ends, and my feet will never be clean. I think I will live. As long as things aren't smelly, then we are good! 

7. Learn to do some math. The money here is very different. 500 Costa Rican colones equals about 1 dollar. So, for example 4000 colones equals 8 bucks. It is a little alarming when you pay for something that costs 25,000 colones and then you're like oh wait that is 50 bucks. Whew! I used dollars here at first (yes there are accepted basically everywhere) and you don't always get a good exchange rate because it's always rounded to 500 when the daily exchange rate could be anywhere from 525-535:1. Get colones and have some fun! Plus the money is colorful and has awesome animals on it so why not. 

8. Bring a Go Pro! This little camera is awesome. I have the HERO 4 Silver which comes with a built in screen and shoots 2.7 K resolution. This thing is small, pretty indestructible, and water proof! You can take it anywhere, including in the ocean and get some sweet shots and you don't have to worry about leaving valuables on the beach while you swim, which I would not recommend. 

9. Keep your eyes open for art. Costa Rica is full of murals, handmade artwork and creativity. It is bursting and thriving with art and beauty. So much authentic, colorful and heartfelt work goes into making these pieces and they bring so much charm to this country.

10. Learn about yourself. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with a much slower pace of life. Be introspective. Figure out what is important to you. Cut out the bull shit. Find what makes you happy and what you want when you return home. For me, I have learned that I love and miss my family, friends and boyfriend more than humanly possible. I have learned that if something does not make me happy, then leave it behind. I have learned I am stronger than I thought. I have learned that my heart is bigger than I thought possible.

This beautiful country has taught me so much in 2 very short weeks. It is incredible how traveling pushes you and challenges you, all in unexpected ways. It is a blessing!

Love and light,

Meagan 




Picking the Right Wine (on the Road!)

I am thrilled to feature one of my best friends, Kate Edgecombe as a writer on my blog today. We have been friends for a long time. 9 years to be exact!  Kate was recently sharing with me (over a glass of wine of course) her 5-step process for picking out wine when traveling for business or for fun. I hope you enjoy her little tricks of the trade! 

A little background on me is I travel for a living. What I do is I am a Traveling Event Planner who works for a Real Estate Education company. I put on 3-day seminars all over the country almost every weekend, so I fly out on Thursdays and fly home on Mondays. If you want to learn how to flip a house, hit me up! But really, I travel 5 days a week and so picking the right wine on the road is an essential! I almost always get a rental car because I pick up snacks for my team and goods for local charities so I am always going to a Grocery Store or Whole Foods (if I am lucky). To spend a few extra minutes going down the wine aisle when I am already at the grocery store is not only convenient, but a benefit to me as well. 

I prefer to buy a bottle for the weekend as opposed to just going to the hotel bar and getting glasses because, one I will get a better deal and to be honest my wallet really appreciates the consideration. Two because I will get better quality and better tasting wines. The hotel bar usually only has a few different types and only a couple overpriced brands that are usually not very good. Three because I can regulate how much wine I have. We all know what can happen when we go to a bar and one glass very easily turns into 2-4 when the bar tender keeps topping off your glass! And then you wake up with a hangover because it was cheap wine to begin with, which I try to avoid at all costs. Lastly, four because I think it is more fun to have a glass of wine in my room and get caught up on my Netflix, dive into the book that I am reading or Skype my friends and family than it is to sit alone or with coworkers at a hotel bar. Not that I like to be a loner but the ones I really like are more than likely watching Netflix with me anyway!

So lets dive right into how I pick out my wine. 


The first step is I go to the section of wine that I like. For these hot summer months for reds I like Pinot Noir (because it’s nice and light for being a red) or Merlot (because it almost always is made with cherries and for anyone that knows me they know I am obsessed with cherry anything including my wines).  For whites I like Sauvignon Blanc (because of its light crisp taste and I feel like it has less tannins than Pinot Grigio so it doesn’t leave your mouth as dry) or any type of French Rosé (which always is going to throw my second step out the window but I still put it in there since it is my absolute favorite, in case anyone was wondering.) But whatever type is your preferred choice my traveling strategies will work for you as well. 


 

The second step is I go to my price range. Which is different for everyone of course. But my philosophy on this is I'm okay spending up to a couple dollars more for a bottle than I would for a glass of wine at a bar. After all, you're getting a whole bottle instead of a single glass! A glass of wine at a bar is usually anywhere from $6-$12. For example the bottom shelf of the grocery store are usually wines that cost anywhere from $5-$9. Since I worked so hard to graduate college and have a job now I feel like I can afford a little bit better than that! During college it was bottom shelf all the way! My palate prefers the third shelf from the bottom which is the $20-$40 bottles but my budget still wants the bottom shelf, so I typically settle for the second shelf which is generally $9-$18. I like to stay in the $10-$14 range. 


The third step. I like to keep my wino habits on the “DL” meaning I don't like to feel the judging eye of the front desk agent when I ask them for a wine opener as I have a whole bottle of wine in my hand by myself...oops! Plus, its not really practical, or legal, to fly with a corkscrew! So, at the store I look at all the wines that have a twist top. Which is actually increasingly more and more. Side note: I was also recently watching these YouTube videos of how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew and some of the ways were super creative. My favorite was using a man’s dress shoe as a wedge and banging it against the wall, however I would not recommend any of these alternative methods since I haven't tried any myself. Just make it easy and stick to the twist off top when you are traveling. 


The fourth step. Out of the twist tops, I take a look at the regions of where the wine is being made. I'm a California girl born and raised so I prefer California wines from Santa Barbara County all the way up to the Napa/ Sonoma Valley, since I have had the most experience with trying these wines. I have been to a lot of the vineyards up the coastline of California and something about actually seeing and feeling where the grapes come from makes me appreciate the wine a little more. As well as the climate from central to northern California makes for some great grape growing weather. (Try to say that 5 times fast.) If there are no California wines, which is typical if you are in a smaller town (and a lot of the times this is where I end up on my travels), then I either do one of two things: one, see if there are any recognizable brands that I have tried before (I like Yellowtail or Barefoot) , or two I will always try a chance on a local brand which is fun. If there are two that I want I'll do an analysis based on cost or ingredients I prefer. (Or just buy both if I want to share with some friends ☺) Side note: If you are sensitive to headaches, stay away from nitrates and try to find organic wine! 


The fifth step: Go back to your hotel and ask the bar tender for a wine glass. My favorite kind are bigger ones compared to those dinky room service sized ones. They won’t usually give you the big ones but a couple of times I have gotten lucky because I asked super nicely. I have a bad pet peeve of not liking to drink wine but in a wine glass something about it just doesn't taste the same to me. (I’m letting my wino show again.) And then the best part…ENJOY! Take time to enjoy and wind down at the end of your day whether you are on business or traveling for pleasure. If you are in a hotel, maybe take a nice bubble bath, go up to the roof or on the balcony, or just snuggle up in bed with a good movie or Netflix! We all deserve a little vino at the end of the day. I hope my tips help you on wherever your travels take you next. ~CHEERS