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QUITTING YOUR JOB TO FOLLOW THE SUN

It's January 2015. I'm sitting in a tiny little Brazilian restaurant named BERIMBAU on Carmine street across from my dear friend, Angela. For the span of a little over a year, we have regularly met over lunch to discuss our shared flounderings through our twenties, love lives and professional careers. "What the eff are we doing with our lives?" is a general staple of our conversations. 

Over the course of lunch, Angela tells me she quit her job and is leaving to embark on an adventure across the country to travel. I couldn't believe the cojones of this girl. For so long, we had talked about it, and finally she was doing it. What she told me that day stuck with me, and not too long after she left, I did too. Who knew how much that one hour lunch so many months ago would change my life today? Below, Angela describes why she left on her trip to FOLLOW THE SUN. You can follow Angela's travels on Instagram HERE. 


FOLLOW THE SUN

By Angela Del Sol
 


Our selfie-obsessed generation is fixated on capturing every single moment and curating an image of self for the world to see. Traveling allows us to step outside of ourselves and let someone else take the picture, widening our perspectives and reminding us that there is so much to life beyond the selfie stick.

I wasn’t feeling entirely content with my life in NYC, so I decided to toss my safety blankets to the wind and follow the sun, my sun. In big cities like New York, the pressure to succeed and survive is high, and it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters as we become blinded by the unattainable markers of success. We begin to define ourselves by what we do rather than what we truly love. After pushing past the fear of leaving all the comforts behind, a stable job, a beautiful home and a relationship- I bought one way ticket to South America. This was a terrifying process but the risk of living one more day just going through the motions scared me more, and with one click I set my sails towards the unknown.

My journey began in my home country of Colombia. It was liberating coming back as an independent young adult to reconnect with my roots. After riding a packed Transmilenio (the transit system), and seeing firsthand some of the negatives of human nature, I made a conscious decision to focus on the positive and tried to not lose the edge that living in places like New York City gives you. I ventured to the center of Bogota, which is known for street art but also has a reputation as an unsafe city.

As I walked down the hundred year cobblestones of La Candelaria - Bogota's oldest neighborhood, I joined a free street art tour where I absorbed the street art created by politically charged artists such as Toxicomano and Juega Siempre. They call attention to institutionalized corruption and remind people about the disappearances of homeless men during the tumultuous "falso positivos scandal." Halfway through our tour we stopped at El Chorro De Quebedo, and our tour guide pointed to what was the oldest jazz club in the city "El Bolon Verde". I was shocked to see the disrepair of it's facade. How can a place of such historical relevance be in such ruin?

As a person that holds music in the highest regard,  I stood on the small street of El Callejon de las Brujas in shock. A man walked out the door and we made eye contact,  I introduced myself and asked him about the building,  because I was interested in painting it. As luck would have it, he was the owner's son. He gave me his number and told me to come back later. My heart beat fast with excitement as I ran to catch up with the group.

 

After painting my first mural in Brooklyn as part of a beautification project for my neighborhood last year, it was something that I wanted to do it again, but this time it was even more special. This time I had the opportunity to give back to my birth city. After convincing the owner of the jazz club to let me paint his building, I raced to accomplish a project that seemed impossible. With less than 48 hours before my next flight, I was determined to paint this mural. 

Having lived half of my life in Colombia and the other in the United States, I’ve felt in a cultural limbo and have a hard time identifying with either culture. This project was an opportunity to create some sort of permanence in a place that was dear to me. Bogota, has one of the most relaxed street art laws in South America and some of the best street artists from around the world come here to paint. I was scared, but I thought that whatever painted would be better than what was already there since it would be done with love.


I met two locals, Mike and Nick that helped me navigate Bogota to find the best paint deals. Upon first glance, these two young men were intimidating - piercings and tattoos, baggy clothes and chains- but there was something about them that made me feel at ease. This taught me to trust my gut and believe in my first impressions, vibes don’t lie.

 
“Judge people by their character and not by their looks. “
 

Yogurt is an essential part of the street painting process.

After prepping the wall, I painted non-stop. I felt completely liberated and time felt suspended in those moments. Any plan that I had before this moment went out the window and nothing mattered other than the completion of my project. I was exhausted but I did it and I must say it was an amazing feeling; it felt like love.


It's been months since I left my traditional life and I have been traveling nonstop; right now I am typing this from a cafe in Berlin, continuing to follow my sun. The more I continue to embrace the fear of the unknown the more the world continues to open up.

 

I've let my dreams be bigger than my fears and my actions louder than my words and I wake up every morning with the intention to live life on my own terms. I think that’s what it means to live a successful life : to have the courage to honor your inner voice and take action on whatever burning desire is inside of you, to live life creatively.  


As I continue to travel across the world map, layers and layers of myself are shed and I feel lighter, more vulnerable. In our society vulnerability is a trait that is not necessarily celebrated but is something we’re supposed to remove from ourselves. For me, being able to shed all of these layers that I create to protect myself allows me to be open to life and to connect with those who are on the same wavelength. It's ok to get lost, it's ok to not know.

 

My values and ideas are constantly challenged by the places I go and the people I encounter along the way. Fully opening to them has broadened my sense of self and my understanding of the threads of connection binding us all. We are all on the same boat no matter where we come from or where we are heading.

We must follow our sun.

 

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A EUROPEAN ESCAPE ONLY A METROCARD SWIPE AWAY

 

Europe is majestic. That doesn't mean New York can't be. 

Located in the northernmost tip of Manhattan are the CLOISTERS, a museum dedicated to European Medieval Art. It is a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and ticket holders from the MET also get access to this venue. Take the A train to 190st and enjoy a ten minute walk along the Hudson River through Fort Tryon Park to get to the museum . 

Entry to the museum is a "recommended $25"Most museums in NYC, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History are "suggested donations", meaning that the price they display is not a firm one. You can pay anything you want, from $5 to $500. 

Inside are over 2,000 pieces of artwork from Medieval Europe, with pieces taken from actual monasteries, churches and buildings. One of the most famous collections are the Unicorn Tapestries - which uncomfortably depict the capture of a Unicorn.

Free guided tours occur every day at 1pm and 3pm. The museum is rarely crowded, nor very big. I'm sure you could finish exploring the museum within two hours. Once you're done seeing all the art inside, take a visit outside in the garden and enjoy the view where you can pretend to pose for the cover of your imaginary cd album. 

What do you think?Is it more European or American? Comment below! 

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Swimming

The lanes at the pool were separated into FAST, MEDIUM, SLOW and RECREATIONAL, with the latter section reserved for beginners. This of course, was my lane. I had done my fair share of swimming in lakes and oceans but never confident enough to be on my own completely. There was always a lifesaver nearby, a friend, a floatie, a wall or a rock to grab onto. Now, at 26, I felt I needed to really hone in and become a good swimmer.

 I was struggling to work on a new stroke and I tried imagining Bruce Lee's, "You must be like water" speech. I envisioned myself cutting through the water like a martial arts master, with slow rising music in the background and smoke coming off the water in a feat of my extraordinary prowess. I'd float out of the water, completely dry and impeccably dressed in a white martial arts suit with a black belt. Bruce Lee would mystically appear behind the smoke and say, "You done good kid, you done good. " It was a really meta seeming experience in my head until I opened my eyes and realized I actually hadn't moved at all. I was just an idiot paddling in the exact same place with my eyes closed. I was trying my hardest, and getting absolutely nowhere. 

I looked at the other swimmers. They were like dolphins seamlessly gliding through the water. I was heating up inside from anger and disappointment. Why didn't my parents sign me up for swimming lessons? Why do I suck at hand eye coordination? Why do swimming caps look so stupid?

I had more to prove to myself than the short kid in a basketball game.  The disappointment followed me the whole night - and after a few whiney conversations with friends, a few clips from Freaks and Geeks and finally, at a friends suggestion listening to the Grateful Dead's "American Beauty" album I came to a realization. 

Those other swimmers just weren't struggling now. I couldn't compare my few months of practice to their years and years and years of swimming. It wouldn't get me anywhere to compare. The same goes for life. You can look around and think everyone has got their shit together, but they might just be at a different place then you are. Maybe they've gone through their learning phase already, or are better at hiding it. What we see on the surface is just a small percentage of what really goes on under the water. You just have to keep swallowing the water, blinking back tears, pushing past your limit and know that one day you'll make it in the other lane. Not now, but soon enough.

Now, who wants to take me swimming? 

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why travel?

I know that people think of traveling as a kind of frivolous and somewhat irresponsible route to take. Isn't it usually the mark of a teenager transforming into an adult, to prepare oneself for the "real world"? Shouldn't an adult have their shit together by this point, and be pounding the pavement everyday, working on their careers and getting a mortgage for their house?  I think my friend Chris said it best when it comes to why people should travel.

When traveling, you get to be exactly the person you want to be.

For me, something happens to my mind when I travel, as if the whole process of adventure sharpens my mind like a knife on a block. Any previous fears or insecurities about myself grow obsolete and I immediately feel stronger. I begin to crave knowledge and the only way to slake it's thirst is by delving in completely until my curiosity is piqued. (That is before the next question arises.)  Situations that would have broken me before are now merely obstacles. The word, "Afraid" becomes less and less used in my vocabulary and slowly I feel as if I am waking up from a haze and my vision is getting clearer.

I'm not exactly sure of the person I want to be. I'm not sure if anyone really does, but I feel like traveling puts me on the right path. For now, I will make do with what little resources I've got and make the most of it to grow my mind, body and soul. I've got the rest of my life to sit in a glass cage and look out.

 

 

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THREE WAYS TO BACKUP YOUR PHOTOS FOR LESS THAN $1

The only thing worse than losing your phone is losing your phone AND your pictures. The ultimate question is then, what are the best ways to backup your pictures?

Here are the best (and cheapest) ways to get storage for your phone and laptop.

1. The GOOD NEWS is that Amazon Prime has just unleashed the newest feature to their customers. Amazon Prime is now offering UNLIMITED PHOTO STORAGE to customers who pay the annual $99 fee. This includes an app that you can download to your phone that will AUTOMATICALLY BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS when connected to WIFI. This is direct competition to Apple's iCloud feature. You can also upload pictures via the website with a pretty cool looking UI. (That means user interface - I learned it from reddit)

Amazon Prime Interface - Pics from my recent trip to Puerto Rico

Amazon Prime Interface - Pics from my recent trip to Puerto Rico

This is wild because DROPBOX only offers 2GB for free. An upgrade will cost you $9.99 per month for 1TB of space.

 2. Apple iCloud has just come up with an upgrade to curtail this - and have increased their monthly 99cent plan from 20GB to 50GB. If you'd like more space, you'll have to hawk up $2.99 per month for 200GB and $9.99 per month for 1TB. 

iCLOUD saved my pictures after I lost my phone in Paris earlier this year

Either way, the world of photo storage is changing. If you don't have access to AmazonPrime, then MOOCH off your friend or family. Members are able to add one adult to their account FOR FREE and have access to all the amazon video, 2 day shipping and the UNLIMITED PHOTO STORAGE.

Don't have an iPhone OR AmazonPrime?

3. GOOGLE also unveiled UNLIMITED PHOTO STORAGE system earlier this year called GOOGLE PHOTOS. It's basically the same option as Amazon Prime except that high resolution photos (over 16mp) will be capped at 15GB. Compressed pictures can be unlimited. If you're already signed into your gmail account - then it will automatically link to your account. 

Clean, basic Google interface

All three options include apps and options that can automatically upload your photos to the CLOUD when connected to wifi so you can....

SET IT AND FORGET IT! 

Personally, I use iCLOUD's 50GB storage and Amazon Prime's unlimited storage to clear up some space on my phone and laptop. So far, so good. ICLOUD saved all my photos from my travels when I lost my phone earlier this year - so I DO recommend getting some back up. 

So there, three ways to keep all your photos from your trips safe, and all for less than the price of a McDonald's Cheeseburger. 

 

 

 

 

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QUITE POSSIBLY THE MOST PATHETIC, OPTIMISTIC LETTER EVER WRITTEN

Paris, France

Within seconds of arriving at our AIRBNB in Paris, I had lost my phone. It was a brand spanking new Iphone 6 with no insurance. Call it a matter of ego, I had gone through my entire college career with the same student ID, despite being broken in half and having a barely discernible photo of myself. I thought of myself as incapable of losing anything important. 

I had always been extra careful with my cell phone during my travels. Warnings from my parents and other travelers had cautioned me about getting your phone stolen, and I heeded their advice almost to a fault.  I slept with it on my body and kept it cradled in an inner pocket at all times while walking. I whispered sweet nothings to it at nighttime. As a solo traveler, your phone is your world. It's your camera, your contact with your friends and family when your lonely, your GPS, your distraction when you are waiting at the terminal, your form of research, your choice of food, your best friend. I was entirely too heartbroken when I left it in a cab and lost it at no fault to anyone but my own.

Without a receipt or a taxicab number, I had no way of getting in touch with my cab driver. My only course of action to take was to use my FIND MY IPHONE app and write him a message in French with my friend Justine's number for a contact. He reached out to Justine and left a voicemail, so in my eagerness, I wrote him a note of gratitude that you can see below. I imagined him returning to the apartment we arrived at and blasting a boom box in his arms, "Madame! I found your mobile!" He would shout, and I'd slam open the window in gratitude and cry with elation.

None of that happened.

Not even remotely.

He left no number in the voicemail so I was never able to get in touch with him. Justine's phone, being in France, had little to no service and missed the call entirely. I rewrote my FOUND MY IPHONE message to include my email. No response. Instead, a little while later I got CATFISHED worse than a fat kid in Iowa. They hit me with a false ICLOUD email saying that my phone had been located. It took my APPLE ID password and released the phone from my account so that it could be unlocked. 

I ended up having no phone for the remainder of my trip as I traveled solo through Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Greece for well over a month. Joke's actually on you Cabbie guy - my sense of direction has gotten so much better now!  RIP IPhone6. You left me so soon.

Thanks to Google Translate I was able to write in French:

Hello Mister,

 I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for returning my phone. I've been traveling for two months by myself and each photo means so much to me. You have no idea how thankful I am. Please let me know if you are ever in New York, you will have a friend in me.

                                                                                                                                            Thanks,

                                                                                                                                            Chau Mui

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14 BACKPACKERS WALK INTO A BAR IN PARIS

Paris, France

Parisian Nights. Beer Goggles.

Everyone had warned me about the French. I had heard horror stories from fellow travelers of being scolded by store clerks for not pronouncing French words right. 

"They're going to be so rude",  "Make sure you learn some French." and "Good luck loser", were some of the main staples I heard amongst the common room in my hostel.

So it was here, in Paris, that on my very last night, I found myself leading 14 fellow backpackers from my hostel to a bar that I had walked by earlier that day. I thought myself lucky to have gotten away without meeting any of the aforementioned "rude" Parisians, but I had this nagging feeling that they were waiting to pounce. We had a pre game at the hostel that night, and before embarking on where to go, I shouted out to the crowd that I saw an amazing bar earlier that day and would lead everyone there.

You'd be surprised to find how little of your memory sticks around after about two bottles of wine. 

We walked down random, uninhabited side streets, getting deeper and deeper into the city for about twenty minutes. I could feel the alcohol wearing off the group and the crowd getting impatient with me. They were starting to question where the bar was.

I couldn't TELL everyone that I was lost and had no idea where I was going. I wasn't about to admit I was lost to a group of drunk travelers looking to get more drunk.  I figured, as long as we just kept walking we'd eventually find a bar that was open. At this point, ANY bar would suffice.

Finally, in the distance, like a mirage,  I saw a bright red light in the distance that said BAR.

"Here it is!" I shouted triumphantly.

It was a tiny, local bar playing quiet jazz with no more than 6 people inside.  Small, quaint + dimly lit, the bar was not fit for a group of our size. Our rambunctious group crammed into the tiny bar like a fat kid into a water slide. The Parisians inside watched our group with bewilderment. They stared at us and whispered in French about us, mesmerized by our large, loud and drunk ways. A lady walked up to me - one of the group of three in the corner who sat silently judging us.

Here it is, I thought to myself. Here's the whole French persona I was thinking about. I turned the rings on my fingers around in case I had to throw down. She came up to me and said, "Excuse me. I could not help but hear that you are all speaking English. It's a very local bar, we never see foreigners in here. We want to welcome you to our neighborhood!" 

She later on told me that she was born in the apartment across the street, grew up in the apartment across the street, and still lives across the street. Another fellow lived right upstairs and invited us to airbnb his apartment next time we came to Paris. 

And it was here that we were able to meet some real Parisians. On a random street, that I don't even remember the name of the place - but it was the perfect ending to France for me. Locals buying us shots - some mixed cocktail that I couldn't tell but resembled a murky green Absinthe. 

At 5AM that day, my lovely roommates woke me up to make sure I made my bus to the airport and send me off. 

Suffice to say, I'm happy that I was proven wrong. Parisians are lovely.

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