Sunday, April 20, 2014

Time for Introductions: Alisa

To kick off this blog, Hope and I decided to compose introductory posts for each of us. These posts will serve as an introduction to us, and a quick overview of the travel we have already done. If we touch on a country you would like to know more about, just send us a message or leave a comment. We can either address your specific question or design a whole new blog post!

So, hello and welcome to The Windblown Earth! My name is Alisa and I am one of the two writers for this travel blog.
I graduated from university last year, I can't believe it has been that long, and am now trying to figure out how to be a real adult. Other than a strong desire to travel the world and help people, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I guess my early-mid twenties will be spent trying to figure that out.

Currently both Hope and I are applying to teach English in South Korea. I love Korean culture and food, especially the food. I want to experience a new culture, not just for a little but immerse myself in it. I also really need to get out of my hometown. I have the travel bug.

I have done a fair amount of traveling already in my life, though  not as much as some bloggers out there. I have been to Northern Ireland, Ireland, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Aruba, and a fair amount of states in the U.S.

Northern Ireland was the first place I traveled to without my family. I was going into my senior in high school, and it was a big deal for my parents to let me fly to Northern Ireland at seventeen. I had participated in the Ulster project the year before, and had begged my parents to let me go stay with my friends there. I'm pretty sure the begging involved tears. I stayed with my friend's Protestant Northern Irish family for seven days. I fell absolutely in love with the area and the culture.
Over four years later I made the trip to Northern Ireland again. This time I went as a graduation from college present with my dad and brother. We traveled around Ireland for a week. A week is definitely not enough time to see the beautiful country. Still, I saw the Hill of Terra, Kilarney, Dublin, and a bunch of sites in between. After a week my dad and brother flew home from Dublin and I rode the train across the border to Northern Ireland. Other than some issues with a local friend of mine, the trip was as magical as the first. I definitely recommend both Ireland and Northern Ireland to anyone. I know Northern Ireland still has a bad reputation, but it is a gorgeous place and the people are friendly. Never once did I feel unsafe in Northern Ireland.

New Zealand was one of my absolute favorite places I have visited. The country is breathtakingly stunning, and I only saw the northern island. I have heard the southern island is even more spectacular. Fruit is super easy to come by in New Zealand and always perfectly fresh. I swear it tastes better there too. I made the two day long journey to visit my best friend who moved there during high school. She lived not far outside Auckland in a quaint little town. I stayed with her for roughly a month, and I saw barely a fraction of all the beautiful and fun things New Zealand has to see and do. The beach was within walking distance and the city was a short drive away. Auckland is the cleanest city I have been too, and fun to explore. The ocean around New Zealand is much colder than I had assumed. Swimming in the crystal clear water requires a wet suit, unless you're much braver than I.
I wish a plane ticket to New Zealand wasn't so expensive, because I would head back in a heartbeat.

Puerto Rico is a quirky little island. San Juan is a mostly a tourist area, not to say it isn't an exciting and worthwhile city to visit. I definitely recommend exploring the island though. Nothing is more than two, or two and a half, hours of driving away. Some of my favorite spots include El Cuevo d'el Indio, El Yunque, the bio-luminescent bay, the beaches around Aguadilla, and the Arecibo telescope. If you're visiting Puerto Rico I would learn a couple simple Spanish phrases if you aren't with someone who speaks Spanish. Outside of San Juan, most locals speak little or no English. I traveled with my cousins, who are both half Puerto Rican and speak Spanish fluently, so we had no problems. We also stayed with my abuela, so it was a rather cheap trip. Areas of Puerto Rico are almost third world, so be careful when you are out at night, watch your belongings, and be aware of your surroundings. The barrios, poorer areas, have narrow one way streets which are easy to get lost in. Warnings aside, I absolutely adore Puerto Rico. The water is an unbelievable blue and the perfect swimming temperature, San Juan has a great bar scene, the people are so friendly and helpful, and the natural beauty will astound you. If you go to Puerto Rico my last and most important advice is try the parcha, passion fruit, flavored icecream on the beach. I still crave it.

I visited Aruba with my family during winter break senior year of university. Normally I stay with locals when I visit anywhere, so staying in a hotel like a true tourist was a weird experience for me. Aruba is a lovely country, and the locals are friendly and helpful. The beaches can be a bit packed, but the view and warm water are worth it. The water is super clear so snorkeling is a must. By far my favorite part of my trip to Aruba was horseback riding along the beach. I definitely recommend it. On a horse you get to see the less touristy areas of the island, and the beaches you ride along are practically empty. The restaurants in Aruba are great. We went to the same little breakfast cafe every morning because the food and smoothies were so wonderful. If in Aruba, try the sangria while you're there. I haven't had sangria as good as the kind in Aruba anywhere else.

After reading my brief summaries of the places I have traveled to, if you have any questions just ask. I would be happy to cover them in more detail.

Just to make you feel like you know me. Here is some more quick info: I love reading and playing video games, I am like a little old lady and do crochet (I even have an etsy store with my friend if you're interested, shameless self promotion), I used to ride horses all the time and I miss it horribly, I have been doing Muay Thai for four years, and I love hiking and being outside.

Please feel free to message or comment, I would love to hear from you.

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