Life with thatgirlcarmel: July 2016

Lately, life on the blog has been hit or miss. Lately, writing feels like a chore. I have so many blog posts on my calendar just waiting to be written. I still have so much to share from last year’s travels to Jamaica, Colombia and Ecuador, but I just can’t seem to get back into a writing groove.

I’ve let myself off the hook, chalking it up to the fact that I just need a summertime break. Also, I’ve been busy working on a new venture. But the reality is that I need to get my act together and re-discipline myself to write consistently for the simple fact that I love to travel and I love to inspire others to travel through this blog and my other travel writings. Plus, I love being able to browse through past posts and reminisce about some of the places we’ve been while dreaming about all of the many places we still want to go.

With that said, I’m slowly but surely going to get back into the swing of things around here although it’s going to be kind of rough due to all of the major life changes we have coming down the pipe.

July was a relatively slow month for me and I didn’t get into much. Following 4th of July celebrations, the month got off to a very sad, depressing start with the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Of all the recent stories about police shootings and police brutality, these two stories affected me the most for so many different reasons. The night of Philando Castile’s shooting, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning watching the video posted by his girlfriend, Lavish “Diamond” Reynolds, sobbing and coming to the painful conclusion that what happened to Philando could just as easily happen to my brother, my dad, my nephews, Jave or me. The whole situation made me sick to my stomach and the sad reality is that most of our leadership doesn’t care.

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With Mishanda at the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, Turkey several moons ago…

A few weeks later, I got more bad news when I contacted my childhood friend and Turkey travel buddy, Mishanda, to wish her a happy birthday, only to find out she’d been in a horrific car accident on the freeway that left her stuck in her bed and wheelchair for six weeks. By the grace of God, she survived to tell the story about how she lost control of her SUV which ended up flipped upside down on the opposite side of the freeway. I visited Mishanda a few weeks ago, and I’m happy to report that although she had to undergo emergency surgeries which have left her with titanium rods and plates in her legs, she’s doing very well – much better than others with similar injuries, in fact! Mishanda has a long road to full recovery, but fortunately, she was able to walk for the first time in weeks on her birthday, and she’s looking forward to getting back to her jetsetter ways!

In more uplifting news, I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to stick to my Cize dance workouts. They’re super fun and engaging and the choreography gets progressively challenging as the series moves along. Although I haven’t lost any weight just yet, it feels good to work up a sweat dancing and working out consistently again.

I wrapped up the month celebrating my birthday in Canada! But before I tell you about Canada, I want to share a quick travel tip. When you’re waiting to board your flight at your gate, if the agent ever says that the airline is looking for volunteers to give up their seat in exchange for a voucher, don’t sleep on the opportunity! While waiting for our flight to Canada, the agent announced that they needed volunteers to take a later flight in exchange for a $600 voucher that could be used to purchase tickets for any Delta flight, anywhere they fly, without any blackout dates. You’d think we would’ve pounced, but we actually pondered for a bit only to finally decide that we wanted to go for it. But then we were told there weren’t any vouchers left. But…God is always looking out for us, I swear! Because as we were getting ready to board our scheduled flight, the agent called us up and said he was able to secure two more vouchers, and he upgraded us to first class for our flight to Canada! Two $600 vouchers plus a first class flight?! Win-win! Needless to say, we finally know where we’re headed this fall! Thanks, Delta!

Anyway, back to Canada…

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Canada is always a good idea. Always. Especially British Columbia. Jave and I ventured to Vancouver a few years ago and fell in love with it, so this time, we headed back to BC, except this time, we went to Victoria, and I have to say, I like Victoria even more than Vancouver. It’s so beautiful, green and peaceful which is the exact environment I was hoping to celebrate my birthday in. Plus, it has more of a small town, less-commercial feel than Vancouver.

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Pre-hot spring sunbathing…

I spent my actual birthday at a spa on Oak Bay Beach, complete with a relaxing soak in the hot springs. I told Jave that if golf getaways are going to be his birthday tradition, then spa getaways are going to be mine.  So if you know of any good spa destinations, please fill me in.

After three nights in Victoria, we spent a few days in Seattle where the weather was glorious and the food was orgasmic. Of course I’ll be sharing posts about both destinations in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

How was your July? Share in the comments.