I was lucky enough to head down to Mexico just outside of Cancun for some work and BorrowLenses hooked it up! I rented two lenses (1 & 2)and this underwater housing for all my photography needs. It was my first time using BorrowLenses and found the process and pick up/drop off super easy!
Work had me running around but here are a few favorites...
After eating too many churros and and getting ravaged by mosquitoes, I headed back home to LA with a full belly and itchy body. Lucky me I had a window seat and the sunset over the city was incredible!
After leaving Vietnam in April and feeling like my life was in disarray (the jist) I wasn't sure what to expect. I had just left a major trip, a relationship, and was coming back to my hometown to take care of a sick parent. The transition was bumpy. Everything felt foreign coming from foreign lands and I wasn't sure where life would take me. As time passed the bumps started to smooth out, I started regaining my footing, and the stars started to align. I mean really align. So much so that I've become co-founder of an amazing travel company.
After an exchange of serendipitous emails between DC and LA, a few google hangouts, a shared love of socially responsible travel, and an appreciation for creativity and innovation, El CAMINO was born.
What is EL CAMINO?
+ Authentic and well curated travel experiences for groups of 10-12 people to unique locations.
+ Travel experience includes a professional and creative photographer that accompanies the group the whole time. You can live in the moment and not worry about capturing the moment. (I will be the resident photographer for the first few trips!)
+ 10% of profits goes towards the efforts of a local social entrepreneur who is radically changing their country and who will also lead a dinner one night so you get that unique and intimate perspective into the country.
Where are we going?
But we can't wait to get the party started so Katalina is planning a midweek pop up vacay in the DC area to a nearby swimming hole. Yes, please! Details below on where to rock your oversized inflatables.
What is a Pop Up Vacay? It is an excuse to take a vacation, relax, and #yolo the hell out of life in the middle of the week. It keeps with the spontaneous and adventurous vibe of El Camino and is a preview of the atmosphere that El Camino is committed to providing on all of its trips, in whatever part of the world we may be.
Where: A quarry turned swimming hole on the outskirts of Baltimore aka Beaver Dam Swim Club. This includes a rope swing, diving board, and several floating docks. This place is magical.
When: August 6th from 10AM to 5PM
Price: $85 if you sign up before 7/28 and $95 thereafter.
Includes: Oversized inflatable swans and inflatable half eaten donuts, the sweet sweet sounds of DJ Ayescold (our official El Camino Music Curator), creative photographer extraordinare Emma McAlary (you will get access to these photos soon after the event), delicious food, table settings that you might freak out about, transportation there and back, a copy of the beautifully designed and wanderlust filled Boat Mag, and a special appearance by #yolo and #vacay.
Sign up here!
El Camino has launched 'LA TIENDA' a store filled with eclectic and beautiful items from our trips abroad. We are currently selling a limited amount of hand picked and brightly colored frazadas (blankets or rugs) from the markets of Cochabamba, Bolivia. You will fall in frazada love. Guaranteed.
So there you have it.
Life is nuts, crazy, amazing, and everything in between.
Come along for the ride.
BE A TRAVELER, NOT A TOURIST.
So you are ready to take on the world. You've quit that soul sucking job where you wanderlusted on your company computer. You've pinterested in between meetings and instagramed during meetings and now it's time to pack your bags.
What are you taking? What do you really need? Here are a few of my fav's.
BACKPACK // How hard is it to find a front loading backpack? Really hard. Top loading packs make it hard to reach those items you've stuffed at the bottom. I loved this backpack because it made everything in my pack accessible without all the bells & whistles.
SHOES // Remember my post before I left about how hiking boots are not sexy? Guess what? They are still not sexy. Not much has changed in the women's hiking boot world in the past year. Since I bought these boots and traded out the laces for some bold red ones, they've seen the Arctic Circle, Trans-Siberian Railway, and Gobi Desert to name a few. They are still in great condition a year later and currently use them for California hikes.
RAIN COVER // Oh hey downpour. Caught in monsoon season? Don't get caught without a backpack cover. This one saved my pack from several downpours and from all that ferry sludge in Thailand.
UMBRELLA // So you have your rain cover and your pack is safe but what about you? I am so glad I brought an umbrella because I can't tell you how many times the clouds unexpectedly opened up.
TOWEL // Budget travel doesn't allow for those plush 5 star towels. Take your own. They double as pillows.
FIRST AID KIT // Blisters, cuts, gashes, etc. You will get them all. Be prepared.
ELECTRICAL TAPE // Saved me in a pinch for a lot of random needs. Also used this to tape my shampoo and conditioner tops down when in transit.
NYLON CORD // Remember that bunk rail on the Trans-Siberian Train that was broken? Rigging it with nylon cord was the perfect solution. Also, all those times I was hand washing my laundry in the shower, I used this to hang my undies to dry!
SUNSCREEN // You will burn. It will hurt.
WET WIPES // Clutch for that 8 day trip to the Gobi Desert.
BUG REPELLANT // I'm allergic to mosquito bites. Enough said.
FLASHLIGHT // I'm not afraid of the dark, but I'm afraid of the dark when I have no idea where I am.
SCARF // Style, warmth, and that perfect thing to tie around your waste if you need to squat in the middle of Mongolia with a little discretion.
Whether it is in my day to day or in my travels, I often find myself yearning for an authentic experience. What exactly is an authentic experience, and why do I keep digging for these moments? In an age where everything feels saturated and commercialized, I wonder if authenticity is still alive.
So what is an authentic experience? I had this fantasy before my trip that the lands would be laced with true and authentic experiences devoid of tourism and commercialism. I imagined I would feel connected to people and places in ways that felt absolutely true. I thought that if truth lived in moments, that I would find them, feel them, and share them. But as a tourist and as a stranger to distant lands, I wondered if it would be that much harder to find the scraps of truth.
I think back to a moment that comes to mind when I think about authentic experience. The first time I rode a horse was in Mongolia as I helped a nomad herd his sheep in a landscape that was straight out of The Land Before Time. Needless to say, all other horse rides in my lifetime will pale in comparison. Thank you Mongolia for single-handedly ruining all future horse rides and giving me one of the best experiences of my life.
The nomad rode the horse as if they were connected. They were one symbiotic, beautiful beast, and while I was holding on for dear life, he casually smoked a cigarette while navigating the land and his livestock. We didn’t share language, but we shared this moment. It was so beautiful I could cry at the memory of it. It was beautiful not only because it was an objectively impressive scene, but the physical memory and the emotional impression is engraved into me, onto me, and all over me. I argued with myself over the authenticity of it. Mari, you are only having this experience because you paid for it and this tour was set up for tourists to make money. I previously had such strict authentic experience guidelines… anything commercialized and driven by tourism and money could not be authentic I would argue. But I cannot deny the truths I felt in those moments. Yes, I had paid for a tour which I knew included horseback riding. What I didn’t know was that I would actually be herding sheep with a nomad. It felt more like he needed to get his sheep back to base and also provide a horse ride and that he was killing two birds with one stone. I was happy to be a bird because then I was flying in his authentic air space. He wasn’t simply taking me for a ride, I was riding in his world, and I actually did feel as free as a bird. I was soaring.
I realized that authentic experiences cannot be achieved by checking off a near impossible list of rules. There’s actually nothing authentic about boxing in moments with a checklist. An authentic experience comes from within. If you experience truth in a moment, whether it’s on a tour or on a solo wander, it IS an authentic experience.
While my extravagant fantasy of living in continuous authentic moments while traveling was not achieved, the reality was that I found pockets of authenticity that live inside me in brilliant ways. When I think back on other such moments, I realize the common denominator is shared human experience. When we connect with other people, it’s magic.
~ Champs Ulysses Cabinatan