The Only Constant is Change

Hola mis Amantes!  Last weekend, I took a quick jaunt over to Mendoza to hang out with the ever so lovely ACs while they were on their South American Tour.  Determined not to repeat my Aerolinas Argentinas error from my departure from BA, I left my Còrdoba apartment with ample time to get to the airport…. but without my (forgotten) iPad, my usual method of entertainment on flights, even one as short as this one.  After a quick check-in misunderstanding clear up, I quickly realized my phone was my only method of distraction from the boringness that can be solo travel.  So I pulled out my notes app and typed up this gem for you.  Its not the epic adventures I usually portray, but instead a depiction of the journey between who I was when I left for RY and who I am now – a trip just as read-worthy as the rest imho.

How has Remote Year changed me?

This isn’t the deep stuff or the monumental growth – both personal and professional – that I’ve achieved on this trip.  Its not the life changing moments I’ve had, or the self realizations that have made me a better version of myself.  This is the superficial stuff. The day to day.  The shit that you might not give two flying fucks about, but hey, its my blog and I’ll write what I want.

Schedule

What’s changed

So far on this trip I’ve been fortunate enough to live in the future from my friends, family and co workers, and the only time it really bit me in the ass was New Zealand when I was 21 hours ahead and therefore starting my days at 4am and working “weekend” days.  Overnights in Asia were rough too, but Europe and South America are kinda my jam, where I am/was 3-6 hours ahead of the curve. This means that the girl who used to routinely rise for 530 am Iron Tribe classes now doesn’t dare rise before 9am, which is beneficial because here in Argentina, nothing starts before 10pm. Dinner party? Show up at 930 and you’re early. Empanadas are served at midnight and goodbyes are said in the wee hours of the morn. We showed up to a club in BA at 2am one time and it was devoid of souls besides us and about 15 others… within an hour you couldn’t move in the place…. and by sunrise, it was a madhouse with no signs of slowing down.  Europe wasn’t much different.  It seems the US is the only place where ‘early’ is a thing.

What hasn’t changed

No alarm weekends.  I cherish at least one day a week when I don’t have to be risen by the bleating chirps of my phone. Tomorrow is one of those days, and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to get to sleep and not be woken until I’m ready.  Do not disturb is your friend, especially when a good portion of your friends live in worldwide timezones and text you at all hours of the day and night.

Workouts

What’s changed

Your girl was a beast when she left on this journey – everyone said exercise routines would be the hardest routine to keep up with, and despite locating Crossfit gyms in each city I traveled to before even leaving AND running TWO separate fitness challenges (Lisbon and Thailand), I only find myself back in a regular gym routine here in month 8, where I’ve found a box that I really like and there are 6-8 of us going a day and shaming each other for not making it to class.  To be semi-fair, I injured my shoulder in Lisbon, and without access to my favorite orthos and PTs, it was more of a self-med sitch, and we all know I’m not the best at ‘laying off’…. but it has really been more of the side tripping, partying, and general exploring that’s contributed to the demise of my former cut AF physique.  My return to the barbell has been humbling to say the least, and not just because I’m nursing a back injury that I can only trace back to skydiving… or sleeping in a camper van for a week.  Having a core group that pushes each other helps, but even then I still find myself hitting snooze on the workouts sometimes…. and the rule is if you don’t Crossfit, you can’t talk about Crossfit…..

What hasn’t changed

I still have desire and the will and the want to participate in physical activity. It is still my best form of stress relief, so I swam the Adriatic in Split, ran the sights in Prague, trekked the river in Lisbon, traversed the parks in BA, snatched axels in Thailand (ok, it was just that once), and gotten in what I can where I can.

Water

What’s changed

I used to be the biggest water snob in the world. If it wasn’t Smartwater or Evian, I turned my nose up at it. At the very least, it had to be filtered from the fridge. Now, when I get to a country, my first question is whether or not the tap water is safe to drink, and I’m usually ecstatic when it is. I have no problems filling my water bottle up in an airport bathroom sink, something that I would have found appalling before. Water is an important thing to all of us, and knowing the boundaries of that staple in each country is imperative. Just ask Duffs about Bali Belly.

I also used to load my water down with ice.  Tons of it.  I spent the first two weeks of Croatia looking for ice.  Turns out there, they make it in plastic bags.  In Budapest, we had *an* ice tray for three of us… by Lisbon, ice was a thing of the past.  Here in month 8, I realized I had an ice bin and three ice trays… and didn’t even use them until two weeks later after the ACs gifted me with a fun size pack of Heaven Hill whiskeys.

What hasn’t changed

My love for water.  Cold water.  In lieu of my ice failures, I still attempt to keep my water as cold as possible while chasing summer.

Beauty

What’s changed

Because we are chasing summer, embracing the flip flop lifestyle has been one of my favorite parts of this trip.  Top that with walking almost everywhere, and you can get some rough soles.  When I lived in the states, I wouldn’t dare bare my feet without biweekly pedicures, and if I was treating myself, a nice shellac mani. It’s month 8 and I’m pretty sure the last pedicure I had was month 3 (despite wearing flip flops every day) and even then I was scolded for the status of the skin on my feet.

Additionally, my level of give a fuck about the status of my mane has dropped dramatically.  Although I do have my favorite shampoo and conditioner muled in from the states, my general attitude about the tameness of my curls has decreased immensely.  Most days I don’t wash my hair and just throw a little water on it and hope for the best.  Managing this mop in a myriad of climates had generally produced what Marky refers to as my lion’s mane – a heap of golden curls that are messy and tangled a far cry from the carefully crafted ringlets I strove so hard to achieve while living stateside.  Oh, and anything but curls?  Forget it…. my straightener died with a pop that blew out a fuse in Thailand and my curling iron decided to stop heating up in BA… I’m left with my travel hair dryer, but most days I don’t consider it even close to worth the effort.  So lion’s mane it is.  Roar.

Make-up…. ugh make-up, shmakeup… what’s the point? I throw on some eyeliner and mascara if I want to feel pretty, but it’s mostly reserved for nights out. In this heat it mostly just melts off, so, like I said earlier –  what’s the point?

What hasn’t changed

I’m still a product loyalist.  Ever since Birchbox sent me my first sample of Beauty Protector, the only time another shampoo and conditioner has touched my hair is when I’m in the salon and don’t get to choose.  I’ve had friends restock me and even risked Vietnamese customs to have my signature product in my possession, not to mention the precious suitcase space and KGs I’ve sacrificed for that delectable scent.  Don’t get me wrong, I tried in Split to use something I could find on the road, but some things are with the hassle, and BP is one.

Another item worth it, my Forever After Lotion.  I’ve been using this product for over 15 years, and as long as I can still get it shipped from Amazon and muled to my location, I’ll pay a decent price for the comfort of my favorite skin product at my disposal.

Travel 

What’s changed

I used to despise traveling, and god forbid there was a bump in the road concerning my travel plans. Delayed flights, forgotten items, and crying babies used to send me into a travel tizzy. 8 months in, nothing really phases me anymore. I just left an airport where my reservation had been cancelled because the airlines domestic site had not accepted my foreign credit card despite sending me a confirmation. NBD, head downstairs and re-book the flight. Volcano erupted and stuck in Bali? Ok, book another flight and contact your travel insurance. Flight delayed 8 hours? Leave the airport, find a bar and taste the local brews. Got drunk the night before and missed your flight?  There’s another one in a few hours. Pay your stupid tax, grab a hangover nap and try again (this has happened to me twice now – whiskey is the devil).  Didn’t get the window seat you wanted on a 13 hour flight? Take a whole xanax instead of a half and sleep that sucker out.

Grabbing a taxi to my destination from the airport (or anywhere at all for that matter) used to make my heart race, but now I walk out with ease, locate the taxi line, negotiate the rate and hop in. Uber isn’t always a thing and taxis will try to rip you off, so of I want that extra empanada or glass of wine, I have to be able to show the local chariots I can’t be pushed around. It’s helpful to know flat rates to and from airports, and ALWAYS have the meter running otherwise.

I’ve begun to work as many travel hacks as possible too. How to sneak your overweight carry-on onto any flight.  Most airlines only allow 7kgs of carry-on, and my tech alone weighs that.  When not traveling alone, leave your carry-on with a friend and check in without it.  The alternative is getting caught by Air Asia in Osaka and getting smacked with fees for bags you now have to check. How soon do you really need to be there beforehand? You’ll learn more from the fails on that one. Figuring out if said airport has food and/or drinks once you pass security – not always a thing. Best packing job to have the items you want accessible. I’ve also abandoned the use of my Apple Wallet for boarding passes too. It’s much easier just to have the paper pass. Travel pants – complete with pockets for phone and passport so I always know where those are. Displaying said passport in key moments to convey I may or may not speak the local language. Always have a pen handy for customs forms. Always – ALWAYS – be nice to customs agents, even when the scold you for not speaking Spanish after aforementioned 13 hour flight in a middle seat after being delayed a total of almost 10 hours (I’m learning, damnit).

What hasn’t changed

I still carry my script of low dose Xanax for two reasons: hangover anxiety and travel.  I don’t care how used to the travel mishaps I am, airports are still stressful places.  Judge me if you want, but it is in everyone’s best interest and enhances travel experiences for all for me to down that half of a little blue pill that brings me back to zero from a seven or eight. I’m not the only one taking advantage either… I’ve facilitated a much more enjoyable flight experience for more than a few of my fellow Earharts by prescribing to the sharing is caring method (see what I did there?).  Also, my travel essentials: a bottle of water, a bag of Sour Patch Kids and noise cancelling headphones.

Reliance on technology

What’s changed

Sometimes you land in a country and for whatever reason, your phone doesn’t work.  Most airports have wifi, but having a game plan in place regardless is a fantastic idea.  T Mobile had a worldwide outage last weekend while I was roaming Mendoza with the ACs.  We grabbed a map and did it old school.  Worldwide data is great, but 2G speeds are bullshit.  I have recently cut ties with my US based SIM to go the international route VIA Google Voice, Hangouts, porting and local SIMs… I’m not exactly sure what this means for my text messages yet (even though Johnny Boy has tested it and explained it numerous times), so to be safe, if you need me, hit me on WhatsApp.  Its how the rest of the world sends text messages.

That said, when landing in a foreign country that’s not on the itinerary, grab a local SIM, find an ATM and get moving because there is limited time and lots to see.  Always.

What hasn’t changed

My need to rely on technology.  I am a digital nomad after all.

There you are my Lovers, a little insight into the changes in your SR that aren’t really important, but fill up the space of a short flight to Mendoza (plus a bit extra for editing).  Stay tuned for more adventures along the way – Abuela’s empanadas, mountain biking the Sierras, Asado and more…. all in the next episode.

 

Until then, as always
Randomly Yours,

SR

Home is where the big suitcase is….

Hola Lovers of Random. I’m writing my latest Love Letter to you from {poolside atop the roof of my digs in beautiful Buenos Aires}{the workspace in Còrdoba}. Sometimes our accoms are total winners and {this}{last} month {is}{was} one of those months. But I’m not here to fill your heads with tales of Latin Love, as all I’ve really done here so far is sleep, and I’ve got far more to catch you up on than the {current}{last} month.

One question we get a lot as Remotes is where home is. Considering the only piece of my life from Birmingham that I kept was the amazing people I know there, and my family resides in a place I’ve never lived, I’ve maintained that home is where my big suitcase is – my home base for the month, usually my RY designated city. Once Earhart’s month in Chiang Mai ended, that statement became more – eh – fluid. I opted out of Kuala Lumpur as I embarked on my biggest travel stretch of the whole trip, so there was no place for my bag to reside while I hopped around Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand. I carried it, and my sense of home with me over the past 6 weeks – a more difficult task that I had anticipated, and not just because of the weight of the suitcase.

Lantern Festival

A good number of us decided to stay over a couple of extra days in Chiang Mai to experience the Loy Krathong Festival (more widely known as the lantern festival) that took place the weekend of our transition. On Friday, we scootered down to the river and I watched as our crew launched their krathongs, an offering to the river goddess, before walking down to the main bridge where the lanterns are launched and setting fire to a few of our own.

The next morning was transition day, so while the majority of Earhart loaded up to take off for KL, Marky, Kiwi, Eddie and I stuck Duffs and our luggage in a Red Car and followed her on our scooters to our temporary CM home. Our second night of Festival included parade watching, scorpion eating and an semi successful attempt to launch 6 lanterns tied together (4 made it up). After we almost set ourselves on fire, we joined Meraki (another RY group) at an outdoor riverside bar with a band that played alternative hits from the 90s. Not wanting to miss out on a delicious city team recommendation, Duffs, Marky and I stumble our way to Midnight Chicken and gorge on fried meats before turning in for the night.

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Sunday is our last full day in CM, so Kiwi, Mark and I take advantage of the gorgeous day and take the scooters out to the reservoir. On our way back, we stop in for some margaritas with Meraki before headed to meet the crew for dinner. Rems and Milana are in town, so we grab dinner with them and a few others that had stayed behind for the festivities. After we feast, Marky and I check out the Red Light District, play best out of five in pool (I can’t remember who won, which probably means I lost) and rejoin the rest at Zoe in Yellow. Lots of drinks and lots of dancing have us landing back at Midnight Chicken and I have no regrets.

Island Takeover

On Monday, Kiwi and I take our leave of the rest of the crew and head to Ao Nang to chill out for a few days before the Island Takeover. With four Remote Year groups in Asia, three in SE Asia alone, a meet-up weekend of debauchery has been organized in Krabi, Thailand – which is not actually an island, but peninsula getaway didn’t have the same ring to it (side note, it does have beaches, so my quest continues). Working nights leaves me the daytime to explore, so I check out Ao Nang beach, find it less than impressive and coerce Kiwi away from work and into a coastal scooter exploration. We end up at Klong Muang Beach, sneak onto a private resort and catch sunset while discussing loose plans for the rest of our lives.

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Wednesday we find ourselves without power and therefore wifi, the two most important needs of a digital nomad, so we take it as a sign from the universe and take a quick ferry ride over to Railay Beach, a beach not accessible by any other way than water. It’s epically gorgeous with lush, looming cliffs and clear blue water. After we return, we grab an amazingly delicious albeit spicy dinner and I head in for work while Kiwi hits the scene.

Thursday the rest of the crew arrives and debauchery weekend ensues. 53 remotes, 7 groups in total, all in one resort for an extended weekend of…. well… everything. There were dinners and brunches, beach cruises, pool days, games (both drinking and non), working (because we are digital warriors), networking, and one EPIC day long boat ride. But my favorite part of the weekend was meeting these people, my kindred spirits, my fellow crazies who decided to leave what they know behind and adventure for a year without question. It was truly something special to see how we all came together, and how just after a short weekend together, you had a whole new arsenal of people you could rely on, call on any time, people you now considered friends. The Remote Nation never ceases to amaze me in that regard.

Sorry for the lack of details, but here’s a video of the best day of the trip.

 

Kuala Lumpur

I started KL not only with physical and emotional hangovers from the weekend, but also some lost luggage and a solid 14 hours of praying to the porcelain goddess. (Question, if home is where my big suitcase is, and it is lost, does that mean I am as well?). My luggage showed as my stomach calmed and Marky took me out for a bite, but my appetite hadn’t returned as successfully as my belongings, so I passed on the dim sum and hit work instead. KL was highly underwhelming for me, but I was exhausted from being sick, super busy with work, and completely over the night shift, despite the pool table in the workspace. I made the best out of the sticky, hot, aggressive nature of KL with a rooftop dinner with the ever so charming DL, a swanky work afternoon with views of the KL Tower with the Dinster, and one horribly awful Tinder date.

Bali

I arrived in Bali for some much needed girl time and met Duffs and Kiminy for a bite. Afterwards,we trekked the treacherous stairs to their cliff-side Air BNB with sweeping beach views with my (now becoming annoyingly massive) previously mentioned suitcase. Once we were showered and ready, Duffs and I descended further to the beach for a beachfront walk to meet Kiminy and Em for dinner. But the tide was high. And it was pitch black. And we removed our shoes for grip. We’re laughing about our current sitch when Duff cries out in pain. Was it a shell? Was it glass? We’ll never know…. all we do know is it caused Kiminy to pass out and landed Duffs and I in an International SOS clinic getting her two stitches and causing us to miss our boat to Gili. But we swanked it up in a resort nearby for the night before catching a boat the next day.

Gili

A quick boat ride across the ocean has us on Gili Tarwangan, a small island off the coast of Lombak where there are no motor vehicles allowed. With Duffs semi-immobile, we take a horse drawn carriage to Wonderland, our accoms for this stretch and are delighted to see bike rentals next door. With Duff’s newfound ability to get around again, we take to the beach for some cocktails and the best pizza I’ve had since Lisbon (see this post). The island is small and cute and the water is clear and beautiful. We mingle with other travelers and locals at a club that evening, spend the next few days exploring and relaxing with the ample amounts of delicious tea provided at our hostel. I have one early morning of calls that I take on the beach sitting across from a local before taking my bike around the entire island (a short 30 minute ride) before we hop the boat back to Bali for Thanksgiving.

Balisgiving

There’s a good number of Earharts and visitors in Bali this week, so we rented a villa to spend the holiday together. There is a pool, private driver, in-house(ish) massages, and most importantly, a big kitchen with an in-house chef. The Dinster teams up with the staff to whip up a feast that makes us all feel at home, including mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and chicken that made us all forget turkey was a usual staple.

Nusa Pineda

After stuffing ourselves silly, I convince Isaac to grab a ferry to Nusa Pineda with me the next day for a little island exploring. Nusa Pineda is about an hour off Bali and rumors to have plenty of instagram worthy beaches and sites. We book a tour, board a boat and are scooped up by a van upon arrival. The sites on Nusa Pineda are breathtaking, from Angel’s Billabong to Broken Beach, Kelingking Beach to Crystal Bay, but it was also quite touristy. Line up, wait your turn, take your picture, move aside for the next. Still glad we went though.

Bali > NZ – Just Kidding

We return to Bali in time for one night’s stay before jetting off to the two week epic adventure orchestrated by Kiwi.  I hate to sound like a travel asshole, but I was over Bali… it was hot, sticky, hard to get around, and it was rainy season, so most afternoons were filled with thunderstorms.  My anxiousness grew as we approached the airport – Mt. Agung had been threatening to erupt for months, and the past few days had showed significant activity. We arrived at the wildly overcrowded Denpasar airport just in time to see our screen flash that all flights are cancelled because the bitch finally blew.  the next 16 hours are a blur of attempts to get off the island before we finally book a flight back to KL that will get us to NZ to meet the rest of the crew.  No questions asked.  Get us out of here.

I know this post is late. And it’s not on par with what I usually put out….. but I have a resolution to get better about writing in general, and that includes my etudes to you my darlings.  I don’t make promises, but if I did, I might slip you one that a post about New Zealand is headed your way soon.  In the meantime, keep yourselves entertained with pics here and here. 

Until next time my Lovers,

Specifically and Randomly yours,

SR