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My Work, Wanderlust, Writing

The Introvert’s Travel Guide – for Travel Latina

May 7, 2018

I wrote about the way I’ve molded my personal travel routine to better fit my introverted personality; a major change that has improved my traveling experience immeasurably. Though, if I had to measure it, I could probably measure the reduction in stress plus the physical and emotional wearing down brought on by the typical hectic travel plans.

I also shared the new method for traveling I use that cuts down the cost of accommodations to nearly zero! Reject the cookie-cutter model of travel and learn more about tailoring your trips to fit your personality from my featured piece on Travel Latina.

Have you experienced travel burn out? In my article I argue that feeling worn down stems from planning our trips using a one-trip-fits-all mentality that ignores our personal needs. What are some ways you keep travel exhaustion from interfering with your travels? Let me know in the comments or on social media here and here!

Salomé 

*Looking for a travel story to read while you procrastinate? This one might almost make you feel slightly less guilty about that procrastination. Have an interest in personal growth and travel is just one tool in your self-development kit? This thought-experiment is all you

My Work, Photography, Wanderlust, Writing

A Country Named Mother – (For La Liga Zine)

March 8, 2018

I finally took a trip I’d been planning for years. I knew it would be a different kind of trip, more serious and personal. In some countries more than others, maintaining contact with family is difficult. Historically, Cuba has been one of the more difficult countries, as home phones were a luxury shared between several neighbors and communications are still monitored and intercepted as seen fit. Through a burgeoning access to the internet, my own family, now living in Miami, was able to make contact with family members still living in Cuba, after 30 years of silence. 

Staying in the home of family members I had only known through my mother’s stories felt like watching figures of the past come alive. In the short week I spent on this tiny island with a massive world presence, I came to know myself through knowing the many women of my family who call this country mother. 

I’ve written one of my most personal essays yet for La Liga Zine. You can read it here. 

A Country Called Mother

The niece of my abuela, my “new abuela.”

La calle my family lives on in La Habana

Cuban art with Cuban resources

Staying vegetarian in Cuba was much easier than one might imagine!

Land of the mamoncillo

The iconic Flamboyan trees of the Caribbean

The most photographer-friendly country I’ve been to

These photos and this essay are extremely close to me and as such are that much more important for me to share. I know the feeling of being part of a diaspora and tracing your lineage isn’t exclusive to Cuba, so I’d love to hear how you personally relate to this experience! I’d also love to hear any and all feelings A Country Named Mother brought you, so please share either in the comments or on social media here and here!

Salomé

*If you enjoyed this essay about Latin American identity, you’ll probably want to know about this problem facing indigenous South Americans.

My Work, Writing

Paying for Our Own Destruction – (for La Liga Zine)

February 16, 2018

I was recently given the opportunity by the incredible creators at La Liga Zine to write about what I’m terming the New Genocide in Latin America. The New Genocide is colonialism raised from the dead and dressed up no longer in the clothes of conquistadors but in those of consumerism. It’s through this deeply embedded capitalist lifestyle that colonialism has risen anew and is actively exploiting Latin America’s indigenous populations all over again, through a barrage of one billion tiny cuts. 

There is a bright side to this new enemy that’s both its strength and weakness; there is no leader, only millions of individual people who must decide to help. You can see how this new form of war is both an optimist and pessimist’s playground; decide whether you’ll be one more person, or whether you’ll be only one person.  

You can find my whole essay at La Liga Zine: Paying for Our Own Destruction. Please share your thoughts and feelings with me in the comments or on social media.

Paying for Our Own Destruction

                               A Guarani woman (Photo courtesy of Sarah Shenker/Survival)

Disclaimer: If you feel that for some reason your situation does not allow you to change any aspect of your diet, even if that is simply a vegan Monday, then use this essay for its educational value to help those who can change their diets and store this knowledge for the day you might be in a situation where you too can change your diet. This statement is not meant to erase the existence of poor vegans, those vegans living in food deserts and all the others who despite a popular narrative to the contrary, still eat with ethics in mind.

Veganism calls to mind white people with dreadlocks who spend their trust fund at Whole Foods and thousands on a trip to India to discover the virtues of poverty. These people do exist, but just as white women are unfairly often the face of feminism, just as white men have become synonymous with rock music, we know that a lack of representation does not mean a lack of contribution.

 The idea that something is not “for” your race or ethnicity is a tool of limitation. One that, once broken down, allows for the creation of a beautiful and unique interpretation of something that previously was lacking, something that was smaller before you took a piece of it, molded it and added your own vision.

Reasons such as environmental destruction, health, and animal welfare are relevant to and can be sympathized with by all identities. To say otherwise is to grossly underestimate a human’s capacity for care. There exists an extensive list of the ways in which animal agriculture exploits not only animals but humans as well, however, I will focus on only one of these ills now: the violation of indigenous rights.

To fill the demand for meat, Latin America is being forced to exploit its own resources once again. While the destruction of one of Latin America’s most precious resources is tragic in and of itself in addition to the loss of animal habitat that leads to extinct species as well as the loss of an important environmental balancing mechanism that mitigates climate change, there is yet another loss in this situation, that of human life.

Finish Reading Here

            Vegan Cuban-inspired sweet potato and platanos maduros bowl

Do you have any tips for cutting down on our consumption of animal products? What do you think is the best way to fight against the usurping of indigenous lands from afar? If you’re in a rough position of your own and unable to make any ethically minded changes, help share this article with others who can!

Salomé

*If you liked my work centered around Latin America, you’ll really enjoy this other piece in La Liga.*

My Work, Photography, Wanderlust

A Week in Naples (The Other Naples)

June 28, 2017

NaplesI took a road trip by myself to Naples, where I stayed in a house that came with a little dog who, albeit suspiciously, tolerated my company. The house was tucked into a quiet gated community, where I quickly blended into everyday life, taking out the trash and walking the dog as if I wasn’t actually from the chaotic North Caribbean metropolis that is Miami.

NaplesThough it’s only about an hours drive away, Naples and Miami share mostly physical geography and that’s about it. The first sign that I was not in Hialeah anymore was the abundance of those simple flashing lights that save lives: turn signals. People actually used turn signals and moved out of the left lane after passing! I quickly got used to this foreign cultural custom. Now when I talk about visiting Naples, I always mention the regular use of turn signals as if it’s some famous local monument you have to see. Driving on the Palmetto just changes a person.

NaplesIn many ways, Naples is your stereotypical Florida beach town; lots of old people and postcard worthy beaches. It’s quiet, shiny and sandy, making it a popular vacation spot amongst Floridians. Naples has a strange secret though; it’s actually one of the richest cities in the entire United States. Little old Naples with it’s population of less than 30,000 people holds 6th place in highest per capita income and a lot of those 30,000 residents are living in some of the most expensive homes in the country, with some houses selling for upwards of $40 million. Now I understand why everybody seems so pleasant here.

NaplesReally though, the people of Naples are extremely nice and at the most basic level, they actually seem to give a shit about you. Being a semi-introverted inhabitant of a major city, friendliness beyond the reach of general social niceties makes me a little nervous. The people here were so outgoing and chatty it started to ware down my anti-social armor and I found myself being…friendly. I even caught myself stopping to help a family take a vacation photo. Luckily I had progressed to this serious stage only by my last day there and a quick drive through Miami Dade county restored my callous exterior.

NaplesNaples is a strange mix of money, Florida and tranquility. The beach and sunset demand you take the time to really observe the gorgeous shows they put on everyday. My stay in Naples was so peaceful and the openness people exhibited towards me brought me to reevaluate how few words I use in my everyday interactions with others. Things move slower in Naples. At least, the people definitely do. Naples

Have you been to Naples before or are you thinking about going? Let me know what your impression of the town was or why you’re planning to visit in the comments! Start your search for the perfect Airbnb away from home here.

Salomé

My Work, Photography, Wanderlust

The Emerald Pool in Dominica

August 26, 2015

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Emerald Pool, Dominica – This tiny island in the Caribbean is full of postcard views and some of the most untouched nature that doesn’t require hours of advanced level hiking to see. The Emerald Pool in Dominica is as magical as its name leads you to imagine. Less than a 30 minute hike (but more like a walk) to and from, this is a great place for visitors with limited mobility. The mid point on the trail is the perfect place to take photos – you’ll have a mountain view from 2,248 ft. If you’re in Dominica, this is a gorgeous sight you shouldn’t miss.

Salomé

Adding Beauty to Your Life, My Work, Writing

We Accept the Friends We Think We Deserve

June 10, 2015

“Many of us learn as children that friendship should never be seen as just as important as family ties. However, friendship is the place in which a great majority of us have our first glimpse of redemptive love and caring community. Learning to love in friendships empowers us in ways that enable us to bring this love to other interactions with family or with romantic bonds.” – bell hooks

We tend to think of friendship in a casual way and not afford it the power we do a romantic relationship. Especially today, when social media has us calling people we’ve spoke to only once a friend. The problem is that all relationships, whether romantic, familial or friendly, can either prevent or promote our growth as a person.

This isn’t to say you might be friends with someone who is actively plotting to hold you back, just like you can be in a romantic relationship with someone who doesn’t cause you pain, but also doesn’t bring the best out of you.

The people we spend our time with are some of the biggest influences in our lives; the way they speak, what they speak about, their values and beliefs, the media they take in, even the people in their own lives, become part of our consciousness.

One of the most proactive things you can do to raise the quality of your life is create a friend filter.
Just because you hit it off with someone and have things in common doesn’t mean this person should have access to you daily. That wouldn’t be reason enough to start dating someone, so why friendship? Set a higher standard for all your relationships. They’re different yet are all equally important and influential.

Reading this might have already brought someone to mind, so check this list of symptoms to make sure your friendship isn’t stunting your personal growth. But if you find this list describes you more than your friends, it might be time to check yourself.

Safe Spaces
Sure you laugh and have fun, but do you find yourself keeping quiet on your opinions? This is a big negative, but not at all uncommon. Some people are of the mindset that their opinions are facts, and spending your time around them will push you to hold back your opinions or just agree to avoid discomfort. There’s a crucial difference between standing by your beliefs and being unable to have discussions that don’t agree with your beliefs. The latter doesn’t create a safe space for learning and sharing. You wouldn’t accept a boyfriend or girlfriend that curtailed your self expression, so why a close friend?

Giving More Than You Get Back
It’s basic math; if you subtract more than you add, you’ll end up in the negative. Both romantic relationships and friendships require and thrive with balance. Of course that doesn’t mean a perfect 50/50 split between give and take; a healthy relationship moves back and forth between giving and taking with not one person always doing the giving and the other always taking.

Do you both have cars but keep finding yourself in the driver’s seat when you’d rather not? Are you quick to pay for your friend but can count on one hand the times they’ve just offered to pay? Do they vent about their day to you but suddenly have to leave when it’s your turn to vent? Do you seem to come into existance when it’s convenient to them? If you’re the one giving too much, you probably already know it.

More Bad Than Good
This one’s important because it’s both easy to do and easy to overlook. Shit talking. We all do it, but (hopefully) try not to. While you don’t have to set your standards so high only a zen buddhist could be your friend, don’t lower them just because most people don’t meet them. There are people who occasionally have a bad word for someone, and then there are people who are constantly focused on other people and how they can insult them. It might be funny and even true sometimes, but that’s not worth filling your consciousness with shit talking. It even sounds terrible. Shit talking filled consciousness.

People who constantly bad mouth others are a blessing in disguise though. They are openly letting you know they will fill the space around you with negativity. There is no easier way to be certain someone will bad mouth you than if they do it to others right in front of you. Trust that once you break with this person you will be the first one they gossip about.

If you don’t already know it, let me tell you; a person who is always insulting the people around them has chosen a toxic method of dealing with insecurity and self-hate. You will never find a happy person bothering to search other people for flaws to pick at. They don’t need that low form of false confidence because they already have real confidence in themselves.

Not every person with low self esteem acts in a toxic way, so don’t make the mistake of avoiding all insecure people. We’re talking about those who, instead of confronting themselves, project their insecurities onto others. Don’t let them bring you down with them.

“Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Goal Digging
No, I’m not going to tell you to surround yourself with like minded people. Spending time with people who share your goals definitely has it’s benefits, but there are lots of great people who don’t pursue what you do. Instead of seeing people in terms of what they want to do, see them in terms of what they actually do. Someone might say they want to be a lawyer, but what are they doing to get there? If your goal requires hard work, then spend your time around people who work hard, not just people who have the same goals but aren’t doing what’s required to achieve them.

We Accept The Friends We Think We Deserve
Friends hold a lot of power in our lives. There are times when neither family nor significant others can help us, but our friends know exactly what to say and do. It’s so important we acknowledge the huge role friends play; this means not letting just anybody step into that position. Don’t feel like you have to compromise parts of yourself to have friends. It’s good to give, but not if the person you’re giving to isn’t helping bring the best out of you, too. Watch how quickly you’ll feel the space around you open up with room to grow when you raise your standards for friendship.

People are constantly changing, don’t be afraid to let them go; someone who was once at your level will hold you back when you begin to progress beyond them. So do a little check up on your friendships; sometimes it’s not you, it’s them.

Salomé