Finding Neverland in Fairytale Steveston, Canada. 

It was cold and it was windy when I walked down the harbor, but I wrapped my cashmere coat and braved the temperature in favor of a photo op at the harbor where Captain Hook ties his famous Jolly Roger in the ABC fantasy show Once Upon a Time. 

What would Regina do?

It was a momentary decision made while I was at work in the office. I had just begun watching Once Upon a Time a few weeks before and was now in the second or third season. I had fallen in love with the in depth fairy tales, with the character archs and the multifaceted Evil Queen who seeked redemption in the name of her son and in search of the eternal happy ending.

The docks

It was because of the show combined with my insatiable wanderlust that I decided on a whim that it was time to go visit our Northen and very friendly Neighboor Canada. I set out to Vancouver in April, an admirable feat for a Californian who is used to 80 degree weather. Upon landing in the rainy tarmac I discovered that the high  was 48 … good thing I brought gloves! 


Cold aside, my trip to Canada was fantastic in many more ways than I imagined. Not only did I tour the sleepy town of Steveston which poses as Storybrooke, Massachusetts in the TV show but I discovered a beautiful seaside community, with vast history and culture. I spent the whole day there, snapping selfies in all the store fronts that are staples of the show. Mr. Golds pawn shop that is actually a gift store and Granny’s Dinner that was actually closed, I went to see the library which has no tower in real life, and the little mail post which is also the Tourist information site. As I walked out to the cannery I discovered the clear blue water looking out toward the wild forest on the other side, and the snow covered mountains in the far background. It was beautiful indeed and I wanted as I often do with every place I visit to stay there forever. 

Granny’s Dinner

Steveston also had history of being a refugee community for Japanese during WWII and after. There are little cottages, resting on wooden pegs, standing avobe the water that serve as museums for those early days. The pier with its fish and chips and souvenier shops also caught my heart and I bought a heavy woolen scarf that ended up on my mothers closet.
When the town ran out of places to walk and photos to take, I drove back to my hotel in Vancouver and there I did some exploring of my own. I had perhaps one of the best dinners of my life at L’atelier in their Gaslamp district. The distinctive French food with local ingredients was superb, the taste of the first dish tortellini with cream sauce made me close my eyes in delight and the craft cocktails of an award winning bartender made that a memorable night for sure. 


The memories were endless and the time to explore too short indeed. Visiting the Capelliano suspension bridge was another fantastic highlight of the trip. The forest surrounding you in the middle of the city, the bridge, the treetop adventures, and the skywalk all with the dense, crisp air of the Canadian rain forest was an experience to come back to. And shooting pictures of downtown Vancouver with its high rises and old churches was a favorite pastime. 


In the end I had come to visit the filming sight of a fairytale show but I had found magic beyond it’s characters. I had found history of war and inclusion, I had found art and food and breathtaking forests, I could say I had found Neverland. 

Finding Neverland

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If I let us down, will you forgive me?

I know it has been a while since I posted. I could say that I’ve had too much work, or that family has needed my attention, I could say I was just too busy; but the truth is I just didn’t have anything to say.


I am aware that this is my attempt at a travel blog and that I have taken various trips last year which I did not blog about. I will at some point this year, but mostly when I blog it’s about a bigger meaning than just the place I went to or what airline I took. I want to write about what that place meant, why I fell in love with it, why I dream of going back. 

And honestly most of last year and the beginning of this one was about trying to discover who I am, and the part of me that has been left forgotten or dormant to go do what is expected of us as career women, as part of society. I forgot in the process a lot of the things that were important to me when I was 10 or 15 or 18. I forgot all those starry eyed dreams and causes I used to fight. I forgot why I was vegetarian for so many years, I forgot my love of art, my political involvement, I forgot how badly I wanted to do non-profit work. In essence I forgot who I was. I left it all for things that I though made sense and were more pragmatic. 

Turning 30 wasn’t life changing, not in a visible way. It was a time to think about what I had accomplished and where I wanted to be for the next 30 years. It certainly wasn’t what everyone would think. It also wasn’t what that strong minded teenage me would think, not anymore. But it is time to meet at a halfway point, to repourpose my life if you will.

This is a perfect time to do just that. There is so much at stake in our generation, in our country, in our world.

There is so many of us trying to ignore in an attempt to pretend it’s not happening but remember the words of M.L.K ~

“In the end it is not the words of our enemies we will remember, but the silence of our friends.”

In the next days or weeks ( no concrete promises) I will do more posts on travel, photography and well just life. But for now I leave you with this poem I wrote while walking to the grocery store tonight, that sums up pretty much how I’ve felt lately.

Will you forgive if I let us down?

It was so hard pretending to grow up

I didn’t know what to do

Will you forgive me if I give up on our dreams?

Those far fetched impossible hopes

All those sunsets chasing the sun

Young me, will you forgive?

You were a better person that I am

Youth gives us all the strength to take a chance

And now I’ve become the person we never thought we’d be

Will you forgive me?

If I settle for peace?

If I don’t pursue our dreams?

If I let the visions of the future you had imagined go?

Will you forgive me if I let us down?

The world is such an awful place

More than we would have imagined back then

And I’ve somehow let go of all the all the things that drove me

All the causes we were going to change

All the passion boiling in our veins

All the battles we would fight and win

I got lost and lost them too

Will you forgive me, if I fail to achieve all the success ?

If I ddon’t save the forest or launch a fashion line?

And if we never live in Paris, will you forgive me?

Can we be okay?

I promise to reconcile all that’s possible

To start again and start anew and do the best I can

It was so hard learning to navigate the waters all on my own

And all your flailing innocence and naïveté left me

When I needed it the most

But we’re alive,

And we survived

And for the longest time I forgot who I was

Younger me, I know that you still yearn for all those things

Will you forgive me?

If we don’t achieve them all?

I promise to salvage all the other shattered dreams

Live this moment::               


“Our generation is famous for yearning wanderlust stories, entrepreneurship, following our passions and using our bright education for more than a normal (God forbid) corporate job. We have made a mantra of individualism, of startups and billionaires before 30. We are the modern generation that looks back for inspiration.
But we often lack the perspective and appreciation to be happy and thankful for the moment we live in. Handed everything since a young age and told we can do anything and we deserver everything gives us a lack of understand of that beautiful thing that being valuing the moment, “smelling the roses” as the saying goes.

I myself am guilty of doing that. I don’t often realize all the good things I have, all the beautiful moments that everyday provides.

Today I was driving down the 101 Hollywood freeway in a gorgeous sunny day, the ones California is famous for. The sun brightened the perfect blue sky; it was like a movie the ones that make California the place of dreams for many. The breeze blew around my hair and it felt almost like early summer in the middle of winter. This is a blessing indeed, to live here, to have days like this, to drive in the middle of the Hollywood hills, or near the peaceful ocean waves in Long Beach. There was no traffic and music fell in waves from my new car, and I though I should be thankful for all of this. For having a job and being able to buy an expensive cup of coffee, and making reservations to dine by the sea.

I am often troubled by the future, I don’t think I should anymore. I think I should focus on enjoying the moment I live in because at the end of our days that is all we have. That sunny day you spent driving down the ocean, that rainy night curled up on the couch with loved ones, everything we don’t cherish enough is the only thing we keep in the end. “

A Very Merry Christmas ::

It comes & goes like the snow storms of the season, Christmas! 

This year it seemed to allude me, in flashes of string lights, work and holiday get togethers.

Yet being my favorite season I managed to weave a few traditions and some new ones.

I did Disneyland of course :: Disney


And Grinchmas : Universal Studios

Went shopping at South Coast Plaza with my mom that we do every year: South Coast


Saw the tree lighting at Long Beach for the first time :: 


And did Johnny Mathis (the one singer who sings all the classic holiday songs) : Sergestrom Center


We saw ” Baby it’s cold outside” perfomed by Broadway singers ​

And Post Modern Jukebox – post thanksgiving!

Post Modern Jukebox

So you see it has been all in all the Happiest Season of All ~❄️

And there is nothing left to do but wish you a Very Merry Christmas !!

Holiday Travel Tips:

The holidays are a time for family, going back home, helping mom put the decorations up, busy airports, long security lines, traffic jams and lost luggage, sound like a charm. Right?

The truth is that whether you are going home or taking a winter vacation the holidays  are  still busy travel season.

If you plan our your trips it is more likely that you will enjoy them, and not stress out about it. Trust me this come from the girl who used to pack for trips the day of.

 

Here are my 10 personal musts when I travel:

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  1. Make a list  :
    1. Actually make a few lists. One for packing with the essential items you will need. One for the activities you wish you do on vacation (mostly applies if you are traveling for vacation but it may be useful if you’re heading home with mom but also want to make room to visit old high school friends, or simply do some solo shopping.)
  2. Pre-plan your outfits:
    1. This goes hand in hand with the lists. Packing light is a great art and if you plan your outfits so that you can use one piece for 2 or 3 of them it works miracles. It also helps cut time from choosing outfits in the mornings / nights previous to activities if you already know what you will be wearing each day.
  3. Travel with 4 pairs of shoes:
    1. I always take four types of shoes. The basic black flats, they will go with everything, they dress up, they dress down and are comfortable to walk in.
    2. The destination shoe. Sandals for the tropical island, boots for the mountains, etc.
    3. The fancy heels. No explanation needed
    4. The running sneakers. This can be interchanged for the flats if that is your style or for me. I use them to actually go running. Keeping a routine during travel helps me stay motivated

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  1. Dress comfortably for the plane.
    1. A basic classy sweater and comfortable pants will do. There will be time to dress up but also don’t look like a slob. Slip on shoes are great for security lines or you can pay the pre-approved TSA line (free wiht Amex card).
  2. Tell people at home your plans.
    1. This sounds like a basic one. But tell someone your hotel, flight, places you plan to go, who you’re going with etc. You get the idea. Adventure is amazing but so is coming home safe and sound.
  3. Take a first aid kit.
    1. I don’t mean like a whole red suitcase with a white cross strapped to it. I mean basic aspirin, some cold medicine, a band-aid, etc. I’ve been saved time and enjoyed my vacation a few times by my mother insisting I take pills with me. I do it on my own now.
  4. Take your vitamins
    1. It will help your body keep a routine, it will keep you energetic during your travel time and also keep hydrated.

 

  1. Be flexible:
    1. When I travel one of my main purposes is to enjoy the trip. To take in the local culture, try the local food, see the people that live there. Sure I have a list of my main attraction, you can’t go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower, Right? But don’t be hung up on seeing every little monument, or hitting every vintage record store, or whatever. Just enjoy being there.
  2. Avoid crowded places if you can.
    1. Sometimes you just can’t but if you plan around off-season holidays, or days if will make your days more enjoyable
  3. Take pictures
    1. Take a camera with you, other than your phone. And take pictures, a lot of a little whatever your style is but you will be glad when you go back and look at the memories created.

 

In the Pursuit of Hope: in retrospect the election and life.

 

washington
The sun setting over Washington;  over centuries of history and hope

You wouldn’t know it at first glance. You wouldn’t know it by the way I act or the things I say, it takes time but once you know me you’ll realize I try hard to be an inclusive person. At my core I am perhaps one of the most judgmental and elitist person you can meet.

But before you judge you have to hear me out. I grew up in an affluent neighborhood of Mexico City, with my mother, her parents and my aunt. The first memories I have are of dinner parties and afternoon tea with my grandmother’s friends. As I grew up my grandmother who I would spend most of my days with taught me the difference between ‘our kind of people’ or ‘people that were not’ like the indigenous people asking for money in the corner of the church. They gave Mexico a bad name she would say as she gave them a few pesos. It wasn’t that my grandmother was a bad person, it was just the way she lived.

 

I went to school a few blocks away from my house. Everyone in that school was from the same neighborhood, except this one little girl. whose mother worked as a maid for someone’s house. She would walk very far to get to that school, and we made her life a living hell. You see my best friend and I, we were the ‘cool’ kids in our classroom and collectively we decided she didn’t belong there. We once made her believe she could sit with us at lunch only to grab her lunch box and throw it over the fence. She was not very happy about it and neither was my mother when she got called into the office that afternoon. However, I never really got in trouble for it aside from my mother telling me “that is not a nice thing to do.”

But you see it wasn’t just us. When we chose roles to hold a Wizard of Oz play she raised her hand and said she wanted to be Dorothy. The teacher shook her head and said we need someone that looks good, you can be the Wicked Witch to scare people. I of course was Dorothy and Alejandra my best friend was Glenda the Good Witch. It was just accepted behavior and we just grew up like that.

Coming to America was one of those cruel jokes life likes to play on you. My parents had been divorced and my father thought it would be a good idea to leave the country and come to California. In a long and complicated story that never really involved economics we ended up in a tiny apartment in Orange County. It was hard,  we didn’t have a backyard, or someone to come clean the house for us, we didn’t  go shopping all the time and God help us we had mismatched china for Christmas dinner!

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D.C. in our visit this past summer.

And suddenly I was the one that didn’t quite fit in at school. Although California has always been an inclusive state I still felt different. It was not my native tongue, everyone had different colored skin and hair and it was so strange. I cried myself to sleep a lot during those early years, missing my family, my friends, my home. In the end time healed the nostalgia somewhat, I excelled at school, my family came to visit and the normal continuance of life went on. But America had opened my eyes to what it was like being on the other side of things; and I became less divisive.

Tuesday was surreal because I have never cared so much about an election, because despite my mother’s baffled shock (I rarely cry), I went to bed and cried. It’s not that I’m really afraid of the future, it’s not that I hate the opposite party, or that I truly believe Trump is racists (or most of his voters for that matter), it’s just that it made me think about how deeply divided we are. As I watched the map turn red I saw ‘the other America’ the one that doesn’t have bonfires by the beach to celebrate Hispanic Month, or African American Month, the one that is not California pride parades or Kumbaya hand holding as we light the tree in Downtown Disney. I realized how shelter we are in the west coast, or in the major metropolitan cities for that matter, how far disconnected we are with the rest of the nation that yearns for jobs and a better life. I don’t know what the way is from here but I do know we will be okay.  You know why? Because we are humans, we are resilient, America has survived, the world has survived. We’ve been through wars, natural disasters, assassinations, poverty and hate. We will survive because the world can’t be perfect, because life is a cycle of good and bad, a ying and yang, a heaven and hell.

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Hate is a human trait, but so is hope and faith and beauty.

 

We just have to keep going, keep doing what we love, keep working to be the beacon of light we demand of others and keep exploring the world, cultures, history. Because nothing and no one can stop us from our dreams. #adventure is out there!

And I just bought a new car to go on more adventures to shake of the post election blues!! ❤