Welcome to the Jungle

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Yesterday morning Claire grabbed some oranges, papayas, lime and waters while I arranged a Jeep rental in an unconditioned Hertz speaking broken Spanish to a man who spoke broken English. Before I knew it we were on an unpaved road filled with crater-sized potholes barreling our way through the jungle. The view was mostly the same – jungle to the left and jungle to the right. I was hoping we could get some elevation to see over the expansive jungle but the road was entirely too flat.

At one point we came across a beach and resourcefully ate the fruit Claire had packed for our adventure. She scraped out the papaya seeds with an orange peel and simply dug her thumb into a lime to marinate the papaya with. We didn’t have any utensils and ate the papaya in a way that managed to get it all over our hands, down our arms, dripping on our legs and all over our faces. It was a simple moment but one I never want to forget. We rinsed off in the ocean and headed back to our Jeep to continue driving south.

We listened to Ethiopian jazz on Claire’s iPhone and were giddy to be on an adventure. We had to pause frequently for iguanas and every time laughed at their little legs as they ran out of harms way. After about 1.5 hours of driving we came across a small fishing village called Punta Allen. It was such a sleepy little town whose main economy comes from guided dolphin watching and fly fishing tours. We stopped for coconuts being sold for $30 pesos a piece by two sweet women (who could wield a machete like a pro) on the side of the road. We tried to go further South on a one-way sandy road but eventually gave up and turned around.

As we were heading back through the jungle we saw two hippie girls and a tanned boy hitchhiking back towards Tulum. We picked them up – the girls, Malena and Maria, were from Germany and the boy, Jeff, was from Santa Barbara, California. They had all met at a rainbow gathering in Tulum last December and pretty much decided to stay. They fund their travels selling jewelry with feathers and gemstones they collect from around the world. Claire and I probably easily funded the next week or two of their bohemian adventure with the feathered earrings, necklaces and hand pieces we bought from them.

And of course, we ended our day with a whole fish, a couple glasses of white wine, more Ethiopian jazz, and a conversation that went into the early morning with a local friend. Tulum is treating us well, I have to say.

The Town of Tulum

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The beach is beautiful and the jungle is majestic but the town of Tulum is rich with sights your eyes can really grab on to. And coconut paletas to cool you off.

Every morning I wake up, do my Morning Pages, practice yoga by the beach and eat a green smoothie while checking my email and texting Jeremy. The days are spent exploring or simply lying by the beach. Our evenings usually end with a whole fish on our plates.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with a scorpion directly in front of my face on the mosquito net. While I was still in a state of half-sleep I felt a sort of wordlessness and even oneness with the scorpion. It was watching me but it was also watching over me. As I started to become more awake the fear of “OMG there is a scorpion on my bed!” started to sink in and just like that, the scorpion crawled up the net to let me sleep.

Fish and Flies

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I have only been in Tulum for less than two days now but already I’m beginning to forget what life is like when you’re not wearing a scarf as a shirt, doing yoga on the beach, and eating an entire whole fish for dinner.

After a day of a little bit of work and laying in the sun, Claire and I rented bikes and found our way to little boutiques stocked with linen kaftans and custom perfumes designed for a clientele out of my league. We treated ourselves to dinner at Hartwood. A man who looked like Cheech took our drink order and asked to touch my hair. We decided on a jicama salad and a whole snapper from the daily changing menu. I found myself mesmerized by the open air kitchen and hypnotized by the rosemary hanging from the ceiling. When our fish came out in a hot cast iron pan about a million flies began to swarm around us. A bus boy burned what smelled like cedar wood at our feet and bathed us in smoke to keep the flies away, but it hardly did the trick. That’s when the chef, a tattooed boy from Brooklyn – without missing a beat – came to our table with a pair of sturdy tongs and informed us that the flies were attracted to the head of the fish. And just like that he removed the head and the flies mostly disappeared. It was probably one of the single most beautiful and honest eating experiences I’ve had in my life.

I Ran Away to Mexico

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Yesterday I woke up at 4AM and in what still felt like the middle of a cold Spring night I ran away to Mexico with my friend Claire. It was a long and tiring day of travel, but by 3PM we had our fill of guacamole and ceviche and were napping on the beach. This adventure actually began over a couple glasses of wine at a dinner out with my girlfriends. It was a chilly night in March when Claire said “I’m going to go to Tulum. Wanna go?” I said yes and I think it may have shocked her that I had my plane tickets purchased the next morning. And now I’ve shocked myself that I’m actually here.

Last night Claire and I walked down a long stretch of road. We walked by the most beautiful sunset and almost full moon. The sky turned dark as we walked past small boutiques and local restaurants, with the smell of generators and the salty ocean in the air. We sat down to dinner of a whole roasted fish and a jicama salad. Mosquitos bit my sun soaked skin. Ah, yes – only in paradise can insect bites and sunburns feel glamorous.

We have a week of chilling, reading, exploring, and definitely not-getting-into-any-troubleing to do. But at the same time, I’m going to experiment with capturing, shaping, sharing, and even working as I go. I’ll be posting to Braid about what it’s like to work from paradise when I return. For this trip I thought I’d leave the big, nice camera home and challenge myself with just capturing photos on my iPhone and using the VSCO app to process the snaps I get. (I won’t be posting all of my photos to Instagram as I go, but you can follow me here for updates between posts.)

I’m Jealous

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Girl Crush Tea Party is a 1-Day workshop designed by my talented friend Danielle, a.k.a The Jealous Curator, to connect creative women to each other in real life. It’s about getting vulnerable and bonding over cupcakes. And maybe getting a little jealous. My jealousy started as Tara and I drove from where we were staying in downtown Austin, out towards our Tea Party host and artist Alyson Fox’s house in Hill Country. We took a windy highway through quaint small towns selling peaches by the roadside and past expansive landscapes that served as a playground for deers. But when found our way up Alyson’s gravel driveway and arrived to her modern home on a hill I was sucker punched with jealousy.

You see… I have this dream house in my mind. I call it Kaftan House. It’s a glass house nestled in the country. It has concrete floors and modern furnishings perfectly contrasted with ancient textiles, folk art from around the world, and layered rugs. I call it Kaftan House because in it I wear kaftans and gracefully float from the kitchen to my studio where I create art. Alyson Fox wasn’t wearing a kaftan but she had built the home of my dreams. You guys, her house has an outdoor shower. It just doesn’t get sexier than that. And she’s a prolific artist for a living. And she was wearing the coolest geometric leather cuff. She’s clearly living the dream, totally killing it, and I was totally jealous.

The day started with me and a dozen or so other artists – photographers, painters, and writers, all of whom I became jealous of throughout the day – gathering around and making small talk with our coffee and tea. We shared a bit about ourselves and launched into our first exercises of the day. We began to uncover and share clues that revealed our own insecurities. Before long it was time for lunch, cooked by Alyson herself. Over smoked salmon and roasted potatoes we bonded over stories of who we are and where we come from. From the living room I watched hawks circle the open blue sky and thought “This is it.”

After lunch we gathered back around. Our final exercise of the day was to list who we’re jealous of and why. Simple enough – I had been swimming in jealousy all day long. I was jealous of Alyson Fox. I mean gah, even her name is rad. And Alyson is killing it – she literally lives in a glass house in God’s Country and has her art on everything from chairs in West Elm to coffee mugs and plates by Ink Dish. So needless to say, it was transforming when she shared who she was jealous of and why. My jealousy turned inside out on itself and suddenly shifted to gratitude. We took an intermission for cupcakes and before long the sun began to lower itself in the sky. We wrapped up our day and as I watched the Texas sunset from Alyson’s back porch I found myself wanting the life I already have.