Cruising with Royal Caribbean: Embarkment

The start of the school year didn’t go as planned. I mean, how many people in this world can say that their first day of school consisted of boarding up their windows in preparation of the upcoming hurricane. It has been quite the adventure to say the least, but one thing was for certain…I was not going to leave St. Thomas without experiencing more of the Caribbean islands.

After several Facebook posts asking if anyone wanted to join me on a Royal Caribbean Cruise during my “Spring Break” week in April, I finally had a friend respond. And this particular friend is my world traveler (currently at 99 countries and counting!), Darren. We met in Mexico; he visited me in St. Thomas, VI; and here we were planning a 6 island cruise!

Once April came, Darren and I were well prepared and extremely ready for our week long island hopping adventure with Royal Caribbean Cruises on Adventure of the Seas.

We decided to meet up in Old San Juan the night before our embarkment day and spent the evening enjoying the night life of Old San Juan, which may or may not have included several delicious cocktails. If you’ve never been to San Juan/Old San Juan, I highly recommended. La Factoria is an amazing bar to enjoy a unique vibe and wandering the blue cobblestone streets makes you feel like you’re somewhere in Europe. I’ve written this before in several past posts, but I’m saying it again…VISIT PUERTO RICO!!!

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By morning, I felt the excitement of travel beginning to reemerge in my heart and soul and it was truly a refreshing feeling. It was such a great feeling having the freedom to travel and having a travel friend along for the ride made it special.

Since we didn’t have to officially board the ship until 3-4:00pm, we decided to sleep in slightly before heading to a bar/restaurant to eat…okay, actually watch some European Football Championship game that was on TV that Darren had to watch, but it involved good food, ice cold beer, and European football, so I was NOT complaining. DSCN0142

Once the game ended, it was time to start making our way to the ship. We selected our bags from our hotel, ordered an Uber, and off we were. No turning back now 🙂

Check in for the ship, was to say the least, a complete cluster. We couldn’t figure out what to do, where to put our bags, how to check in our bags, or even where to stand, but we managed. I guess that’s part of traveling, “Problem Solving!”

We finally made it to check in, handed over our passports and before long we were officially making our way to the ship entrance. I think it was at this point that I realized how massive this cruise ship really was. We were standing at the bottom on the dock looking straight up. Words do not help explain the magnitude of the Adventure of the Seas. DSCN0180

We didn’t stay in our room long after we found it, mostly because there was so much to see and do and experience on this ship, that we knew we needed to wander and explore. We spent a solid hour walking around the ship while it was still at port and even found ourselves a nice cold beverage from the pub. The first couple hours on the ship are very rigid because of the amount of safety factors the ship is mandated to hold, but safety first.

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The rest of the night went as followed: drink, buffet, drink, game show, bed. We knew we wanted to get an early start for our first new island!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neither of us could hardly wait to board our massive cruise ship and after finding food (cough, cough the Manchester United Football game), we loaded up and headed to the boarding dock.

Boy oh Boy, what an experience that was…chaotic, crazy, frustrating, exciting, stressful, and basically a complete cluster, BUT, we got our bags check, ourselves checked in, and safely boarded the ship. It didn’t take us long before we located our cabin, freshened up, met our cabin steward, Randy (He’s AMAZING) and headed back out to wander and explore our large, large ship. And by wander, I mean, we located the pub and enjoyed a nice cold beer! We did actual explore the ship, ate a good meal at the buffet, and went to several of the ships offered events before calling it a night.

Now, I’m apologizing now because this blog is VERY LONG, because let’s face it…it’s hard to combine 6 days, 7 nights, and 5 new islands into a short blog post. I have written an island by island play by play summary of each day or island as a semi-guide to Cruising The Caribbean.

Day 4: Antigua

Day 5: St. Lucia

Day 6: Barbados

Day 7: Day at Sea

Experiencing Chiang Mai

Can you believe that I’ve been in Chiang Mai, Thailand for an entire month already?!!!! It’s gone by so quickly that it’s hard to imagine in less than 6 days, I’ll be teaching Thai children/teenagers; just slightly terrifying. (this blog post was late so I’m technically a week into teaching- oops…blogger fail)

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One of the benefits of teaching abroad through Xplore Asia, is that before starting your TESOL course, you go through a week long orientation. This orientation provided myself and the other teachers informative lessons about Thai language, culture, government and politics. Michael, the owner and executive director of Xplore Asia, is so passionate about teaching new Foreigners making the transition to Thailand, about the new country they moved too.

I never thought this would be beneficial, Read more

I Moved to Thailand?!!!!!

Have you ever had a moment where you knew you needed some type of a chance to get you out of a funk or bad habit?

This was me back in February.

After the hurricanes, life changed and almost everything on the island became a challenge. Work was harder: more children to see, more schools to drive to, and lack of internet to be able to access files (thankfully, we did have hard copies). Driving was life or death on every road due to little to no stop lights/stop signs. Even obtaining basic necessities could take a full day if not a couple days. So by February, my mind knew it needed a change…the challenge was the “Where and What” factor.

When I first started thinking, Arizona became the first thought. After all, it is where my family lives and it is where I spent majority of my life. I could…but when I truly started putting my heart and my head together, the pull to Arizona just wasn’t there. So it was back to the drawing board…

It took two days before an old roommate’s story came to mind. When our house in Seattle decided to each go out separate way, one of my roommates took the opportunity to move abroad to Thailand to teach English. I started doing my own research and reached out to her for more information. It didn’t take me any time before my heart and my head started lining up and I knew this was it. This was the change I needed.

The opportunity to travel, learn to speak a new language, put myself in difficult situations, and experience a new type of career, being a teacher…SOLD. My heart, soul, mind, everything lined up. This was it.

I immediately went online too apply for the position. I decided to use a recruitment type company called Greenheart Travel, a non-profit organization to run an extensive amount of programs for people of all ages. These programs include but not limited to homestays, exchanges, teach/work abroad, and volunteering.

Choosing to go through a teach abroad program vs. independently moving abroad and finding a job wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I liked the idea that I’d have endless amount of support in obtaining the necessary visas and work documents,  setting up accommodations, completing and obtaining the appropriate TESOL certification, setting up a bank account, setting up a phone number, AND even help find teaching jobs and placement into schools.

Don’t get me wrong, it probably is cheaper to find a job by simplying moving to Thailand, but I personally LOVED having someone assist me and knowing I had a guaranteed job as an English Teacher takes a LOT of the stress out of moving to a new country.

From the start of the application process in February, to interviewing in March, to paying off the program cost in June,  and purchasing the plane ticket in July, the adventurous spirit inside me slowly began growing again.

I was sad to be ending my time on St Thomas and leaving the children I truly adored and cared for and leaving behind an amazing group of lifelong friends, but a new adventure was waiting for me and I was ready to pack up my life and move to Thailand.

So here I am writing to you in Chiang Mai, Thailand about my “WHY” and my “HOW” I made the leap into moving to Thailand! It has only been 12 days  and I’m in love. Stay tuned for “My First Week In Thailand” blog.

What Life Was Like Post (2) Hurricanes

I honestly have struggled putting words to paper. I’ve attempted multiple times and it’s just been so difficult. Finding the right words, finding the initiative to write, finding the motivation. Every ounce of energy and focus it takes me to write a blog post had been depleted since Irma and Maria. But there is no time like the present to attempt to update you. The words might not fit together perfectly and this post might have lots of random, miscellaneous, scattered pattern but I can promise that I’m going to try.

First, it’s been a little over 5 months since our first hurricane came barreling across the islands and although so much has begun to feel back to normal, we are far away from recovered.

Since Irma, my roommate had been living in darkness and without hot water, cable or internet. We basically spent our lives “camping” Read more

2 Friends, 12 Days, & 3 Countries

WOW.

Just WOW.

I can’t believe TEN month came to an end so fast. I remember thinking back in August that “10 months is going to feel like forever, but yet, it is going to go by so fast.” Well, 10 months definitely didn’t feel like forever. In fact, it went by too quickly and just as quickly as I became friends with my co-workers, our school year came to an end and it was time to say good-bye (for now).

Thankfully, for me, the end of the school year meant one thing…one of my best friends, Kristin, was set to arrive to travel the US Virgin Islands, BVIs, and Puerto Rico with me. Read more