Traveling Light: A 12-Day Trip to Ecuador

I am having a hard time leaving my bed, at this moment. Perhaps it’s my body saying “enough” after a weekend of camping and unpacking only to repack. I picked out and packed my clothes in less than an hour which truthfully deserves a medal in my book. And now I’m laying in bed and sharing with you on just how I did that 😉 If we run into each other at the airport and you see me lugging another bag, I promise you won’t find a single item of my clothing in it. It’s all gifts for family and the various things they’ve ordered from Amazon and had delivered to me. The perks of having a big extended family, haha!

Besides the shoes that I’m wearing to the airport, I’m bringing two sets of shoes. Some flat sandals that I picked up on Monday, sneakers for the occasional run, a scarf for the plane and for chilly nights, a tote bag for any books that I may pick up at the airport, a crossbody bag for my time in Ecuador and my trustee passport case.

Besides the black jeans that I’m wearing for the flight, I’m also bringing a pair of leggings, and two pairs of shorts. And yes, I will iron these shorts before wearing them. Haha!

In addition to the red silk blouse that I’m wearing, I will also bring 7 additional tops, 5 to be worn interchangeably and 2 for workouts.

Speaking of workouts, I’m bringing a pair of running shorts and 2 sports bra, both suited for extra support. You can’t pack for a trip without bringing a bathing suit for the occasional trip to the beach or even just the hot tub.

I also packed a long striped dress and romper, which I could dress up or down, and a pretty, red, linen dress that I had altered and didn’t get to wear here.

My beauty routine is simple, on the day where I put “effort” into it, I add a cream blush and a brow wax. It happens quite rarely but I packed them, in case inspiration should strike. Not hating on people who wear make up, I wish I was like them but I always end up looking like a child who is playing around with art supplies. Teach me your ways, make-up aficionados! What I have always valued, well since I was 18, is skincare! Not only did I bring my usual skincare but I also packed a sheet mask and face gels for each leg of the trip. I brought some Tylenol PM for the off chance that I don’t fall asleep the second I get in my seat or if these sniffles don’t leave me. They’re usually a sign of lack of sleep for me.

Well, I thought it couldn’t be done and yet somehow I pulled off 12 days in a backpack 🎒Watch along on my instagram for all of my adventures but for now my biggest adventure will be getting out of bed and to the bank. I won’t board my plane for a couple of hours so if you have any last minute tips, please send them my way!

Xoxo,

Gen

Wellness Finds: Floating Therapy

Have you all heard of floating therapy before? The idea behind it is that you would feel as if you are floating in the Dead Sea. Sixty minutes of total silence, literally floating life away. This is what their website states,

Studies performed in the United States and Sweden indicate that flotation therapy delivers wide-ranging benefits including significant reductions in not only stress but also chronic pain, swelling, headaches, depression and insomnia, all while lowering blood pressure and improving skin tone.

This experience was unlike any other and I can honestly say that I walked in with pain in my right shoulder and felt the level of pain decrease significantly. Initially the pain went away altogether and although the pain has returned, it’s certainly not as intense as when I walked in.

A couple of recommendations:

1. Insert the ear plugs before getting wet, it will provide better protection from getting water in your ears.

2. Use the neck pillow! It will allow you to rest your head comfortably.

3. Bring a bathing suit or not, you’ll be fine either way!

4. Once your session ends, either sit or hold onto something while your body gets used to being vertical again.

5. Wash your hair!!! A couple of times! The salt will cling to your hair and trust me, having salty water dripping from your hair won’t be a cute look.

6. Moisturize! Floating Lotus provides a wonderful Shea Butter Lotion. Use it! Your body will need it after you have been immersed in salt water for an hour.

7. Rehydrate! Drink the water that is provided, you’ll body will thank you for it 😉

After the session, hang out in the waiting room. Make yourself some tea and grab a book. Allow yourself the time to soak it all in! For a full video, check out my Instagram!

Have you ever tried floating therapy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

A Weekend in Cuenca

Ever felt like city life was weighing you down? As if your own thoughts weren’t audible amongst the sirens or if we’re serious, amongst chaos, commitments, and deadlines?Yeah, fun times! That’s when it’s time to get away! AFTER every assignment is handed and everything that was due is turned in. We are responsible after all 🤓

I was given the opportunity to visit Cuenca for the weekend and it was a dream! Now I had not been to Cuenca since I was 5 and this weekend exceeded all of my expectations.

If you are visiting from the US, there is no need to worry about bringing foreign currency since Ecuador uses US Dollars. If you are visiting from outside of the US, make sure to exchange your money before your arrival or at the airport. I have found that Ecuador accepts credit cards but not as readily as NYC, so bring cash whenever possible. This is particularly hard for me since I rarely carry more than a $20 bill with me 🤷🏻‍♀️

Let’s break it down 😃

Where to stay:

Anywhere in Cajas will surely be fun but we stayed at Hosteria Durán. The best feature of this hotel are their thermal baths. Known for their healing properties, a dip in these thermal waters was the best “me time” that I could have hoped for.

Where to eat:

Dos Chorreras was one of the top recommendations and it did not disappoint! Trout is all over the menu so if you are a pescatarian, this is the restaurant for you. On my flight out of Ecuador, I even saw an ad for Dos Chorreras before the in-flight movie 🙂

Things To Do:

  • A facial and massage at Novaqua Spa is the perfect way to start your trip.
  • The Turi Swing will test how much of a daredevil you are  and for the price tag of 1USD, can you really say no?
Selfie with a llama that we saw on the side of the road.
Post-Meal Horse Petting Session
Petting this horse was almost therapeutic.
I booked my facial early in the AM and there was no one in the spa except for the masseuse and myself. Quiet and stillness at its finest.
The view from the top of the Mirador de Turi
This was a much more tame version of the Turi Swing
Bubblegum ice cream? Yes! Yes! Yes!
This souvenir shop was full of cute little sayings for the kitchen.
Trying to pet these little guys was about as much cardio as I got that weekend.
The view from Dos Chorreras

Fridays at Coney Island

There really is nothing like SUMMER. The days are longer, the people are happier, and minus the B.O. one encounters on the subway, life is perfect. The best part of Summer is definitely the beach and Coney Island has tons to offer this Summer. Coney Island Brewery is hosting Friday Fireworks every week until the end of August and they are spectacular. I don’t know what it is but there is something about Nathan’s that makes my 85% vegan self crave a hot dog. So if you are still trying to figure out what to do this Friday, here is my encouragement, head to the beach, take a dip in the ocean, grab a bite to eat, and sit back for the firework show!

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Happy Friday!

Xo,

Gen

Nothing Like Summer in New York

Late nights illuminated by fire flies, early morning yoga classes and all the fruit one can eat? That’s my kind of summer! Whereas most people travel during this time, there is no place I’d rather be. Once winter hits? Catch me if you can! Ha!

There is something so magical about summers in New York. I always say that I fall in love with NY every summer and breakup every winter 😂

Below are my favorite summer activities:

1. A day at Brighton Beach 🏝

If you can make it to the Hamptons, do it! You won’t be disappointed but if you don’t get the invite, head on over to Brighton Beach! It’s clean, it’s beautiful, it’s a lot of fun and you can walk to Coney Island if you feel so inclined 😉 Bring something to lay on, some snacks, something to read, but more importantly come ready to enjoy yourself!

2. A day at Governor’s Island!

I have two words for you! Hammocks Everywhere! If you want to chill on hammocks? Gov Island is the place for you! If you want to try something amazing from a food truck? Gov Island is the place for you! If you want the best views of NYC? Gov Island is for you! Bring your bike or rent one there, have a picnic with friends, cuddle with your love on the hammocks. Whatever you do, you will surely have a blast at this beautiful island that’s all of 5 minutes away from Battery Park. Find more info on how to get there HERE.

3. Movie Series at The Intrepid

The Intrepid has to be one of my favorite museums. Perhaps it’s because it’s the first museum that I went to when I first came to the US. Perhaps it’s just because it’s awesome. During the summer season, they become even more amazing by hosting movie nights and there really is nothing like it. If you are in the area, you have 4 weeks left to check it out. Bring a blanket, food and non-alcolholic drinks, and kick back to watch a movie on a boat, under the stars, in the greatest city in the world. Check out the schedule for what movies are coming up next.

4. Friday Nights at The MoMa

On Friday Nights, UNIQLO sponsors Free Friday Nights. That’s right, you can head over to The MoMa for free! It’s open from 4pm to 8pm. Check out all of the exhibits and get an amazing selfie or two. My only advise is don’t bring a backpack, you’ll be forced to wear it on the front and that’s just not a cute look.

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5. A day at Central Park

Whether you are going on a hike, biking or running along the path, having a picnic at Sheep’s Meadow, checking out the zoo, a concert, or riding a row boat at the Loeb Boathouse. The possibilities are endless. If you do decide to go rowing, remember to bring cash as they do not accept any other form of payment. Bitcoin not allowed, for now.

What do you like to do during summer? Always looking for new ideas!

Xo,

Gen

The Tungurahua Takeover

The debate stands on how many days we spent at Tungurahua. The truth is, it wasn’t enough. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. And even if you don’t consider yourself a daredevil, swing from The Swing! Something beautiful happens when you swing off “The Swing at The End of The World”Initially, I screamed loud enough to revive the dead. You may scream in delight, sheer euphoric bliss or perhaps in fear, after all, you are swinging 2,600 m (100ft) above sea level. Once the screaming ends, you look around and you realize where you are. Crossing things off your bucket list while contemplating if anyone has ever fallen before haha! And then everything became more beautiful. As my friend says, it’s hard not to believe in God when you are surrounded by His creation. I saw God’s love in every sunset, in the beautiful waterfalls we toured through, in every mountain and mountaintop, in every animal and most of all, in every human. God’s glorious beauty reflected in all of His creation.If you visit Tungurahua, or anywhere in Ecuador, load up on Coconut Water. Never costing more than $2, it’s the best way to stay hydrated. As far as places to stay, we stayed at Hotel Passiflora on a recommendation and the place lived up to the hype. It was clean, it boasted of a friendly staff, and it’s proximity to attractions was unbeatable, oh and hello, free Wi-Fi. Sold!For dinner, head over to Sativa Studio Cafe located at Luis A. Martinez Street & Eloy Alfaro Street Behind the supermarket Banos Tungurahua Province 33130. The vegan tamales? Beyond delicious and the place itself is uber cute! With various seating areas, books, and giant Uno cards, you are bound to run into a fellow tourist or two. There’s even a little garden in the back, which the salad above is said to have come from. There is a 3 hour tour all around the waterfalls called “Ruta de las Cascadas”, it was a dream! The bus itself is called a “chiva” and the music made it feel less like a tour bus and more like a party bus! Along the way the tour guides will give you the option to bungee jump, hike, or zip line. We ventured through el Pailon del diablo. A ride on the Tarabita was a must. This provided a beautiful view of the Manto de la Novia. A day’s worth full of activities was less than $20, a total win in my book and after a couple of days of adventures, we headed to a small spa that for $50, treated us to facials, accupressure therapy, and full body massages. Heaven on earth! Wherever you end up and whatever adventure you decide to embark on, you will not be disappointed. The town hosts some of the friendliest people I have ever met, the air quality is incomparable, the craziest activity we embarked on which was ziplining was only $10, everything else is less than that so your money will go far, the fresh smoothies were a hit, all in all, it was great.  Baños de Ambato, Tungurahua, you will forever be the place where I changed the way that I looked at life.Xo,
Gen

Mental Wellness

When we think of wellness we tend to solely think about our physical health. A healthy diet, a fitness regime, an organic skincare routine and while I am a big proponent of all of those things 💯 We cannot forget about our mental health!

How many of you know that your body and face may look amazing but if you’re battling an off day then it won’t make much of a difference. In an interview, the ever talented, Mindy Kaling, captured the sentiment of looking great physically while feeling less than great mentally:

“It was years and years ago that that breakup happened. I was so sad, not angry, sad. That was the hottest I ever looked ‘cause I stopped eating. When I get depressed, I stop eating. I was so miserable and so beautiful.”

I am no expert but I am here to reassure you that off days happen with or without you being depressed. I know because they happen to me.

After undergoing intense testing for a disease that doctors couldn’t seem to find, I began getting restless. Questions and different scenarios kept me up at night and intense discomfort woke me up in the middle of the night. Getting out of bed was challenging at times. I often felt like I was on the outside looking in at my once healthy body.

Perhaps the most challenging part was fighting this battle on my own. In hindsight, it was foolish of me to do. It was a battle that I needed reinforcements for and I am glad that little by little I started calling my troops in and they are the ones that got me through. God places amazing people in our lives for the celebrations, for the road trips, for the adventures, but also for the breakups, for the illnesses and for everything in between.

Mental wellness starts with me. What’s the one thing that flight attendants always remind us before takeoff? In case of an emergency, please place the oxygen mask on YOURSELF before helping others. We cannot help others if we’re bleeding to death. We must first take care of ourselves, invest in ourselves and love ourselves enough to recognize when something is off.

How I do it:

Taking Care of Myself:

I carve out 5-10 minutes in the morning to meditate on a devotional and process what my day will look like.

I ensure that I am having some face to face contact with my best friends on a weekly basis. This is real life so I don’t see them all on a weekly basis but I see at least one friend a week. With long-distance friends, this requires a bit more planning but there’s nothing like laughing with a friend even when you’re thousands of miles apart.

I set time aside to do something just for me. Most days that’s taking a long walk to a place where I can see the skyline while listening to a podcast. I am a huge fan of:

Investing in Myself

I thank God for my pastor, who for the past year has spoken to our church about the importance of mental health and the benefits of seeing a counselor. Having someone to chat with freely and openly who will help you process things is something you cannot put a price on. It’s a wonderful investment into yourself that will yield long-term results. The founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, Jamie Tworkowski, said it best on this podcast.

Loving Myself Enough to be Self-Aware

Whenever I see that I’m crying more than the usual or like my patience tank is getting smaller by the day, I know something is off. Now I could pretend that it’s the people around me that are wrong but loving myself enough means that I have to recognize that something is off with me. It could just be that my blood sugar is low and I’m simply hungry or perhaps I’m not sleeping enough. It could be more, it could be a sign of something that I’m not dealing with that is boiling over to the surface. Sometimes chatting it over with a friend helps, other times it means an extra session with my counselor. Whether it’s a jog to clear my mind, a well balanced meal to counteract HANGRY feels, a chat with a friend or a counselor, or time alone with God. Get away, laugh until your belly hurts, refill your tank! It’s very important to take care of yourself especially if you want to help out and be there for your friends and loved ones!

Xo,

Gen