26: Birthday Goal List {Status}

As I was doing some housekeeping here on Globe Tracer, I came across my 26th Birthday Goal List. Anyone who knows me must be aware that I’m semi-obsessed with lists (got my bucket list, things I will miss from Costa Rica list here) so why not find another reason to make a new list? What has my process been on this said Birthday list?

Let’s see how I’m doing based on the following rating system: Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory and Needs Improvement. Get ready, this is a long one!

1. Be satisfied being single. Status: U. I’m bad at being single. Or completely unattached. I don’t really have any excuse besides I hate being lonely! #don’tjudgeme

2.  Pray daily. Status: NI. Most of the time I manage to wake up and half sleep I say ‘Thank You God’ acknowledging the fact that I’m up to see another day, and that I woke up in my right mind. I would like to extend these sessions to have a more meaningful conversation, though, but maybe mornings are not the ideal time since I’m barely there.

3.  Enjoy being alone with my thoughts.  Status: NI.  I’m sure God is having a good laugh right now, because he would put me in my own apartment just so that I’m forced to deal with my worst enemy.

4.  Maintain better eating habits. Status: S. I do cook more than ever (although I dislike cooking for myself) so the fact that I’m not eating out as much as I used to makes me feel good.

5.  Flirt more. Status: NI. Someone should write a good book on this art, because it eludes me.

6.  Show my body off more, while I still got it! Status: S. I’m trying, but if people want to label me as conservative, I’ll be that too.

7.  Get back into school and envisualize my new career! Status: S. Back in school, can’t wait to start makin’ some monies!

8.  Keep positive people around me. Status: NI. As far as physically, it’s been hard to make new friends. But I still keep in contact with folks who inspire me!

9.  Read a new book every month. Status: S.  One book a month is very ambitious, especially with a full course-load. Currently I’m reading 3 books: Native Son by Richard Wright, Falling from Grace by S.L. Naeole and Look at Me by Jennifer Egan. I like to read different genres and alternate depending on my mood.

10.  Connect with people in more meaningful ways. (online and off) Status: S. In the online world, it’s been great. Offline, needs improvement.

11.  Compliment women in public (Black women do more hating than complimenting!) Status: NI. I don’t see many Black women here, but I will attempt being friendlier in general to women.

12.  Stop over-analyzing. Status: NI. I don’t even think it’s realistic goal when this is so second-nature.

13.  Be more spontaneous. Status: S. I had duck liver in Montreal, if that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is.

14.  Take a notepad with me to most places. Status: S. I’m always with a bookbag, more than likely there’s paper in there.

15.  Learn how to be present in wherever I’m at. Status: S. I am very present here. Maybe I should make this one: stop complainin’ about where I’m at! It’s not forever!

16.  Be okay with leaving my cell phone at home. Status: S. I’m always okay with this one. I can’t deny though…if someone is not looking for me or I don’t have at least 7 missed calls, I tend to feel like no one cared.

17.  Learn a new dish from my grandmother. Status: S. I did learn a new way to make chicken, haven’t tried it yet though!

18.  Take a solo trip. Status: S. Bocas Del Toro, Panama!

9.  Smile more. Status: NI. It’s too cold to smile here. 

20.  Be more approachable. Status: NI. Apparently, smiling more helps with this one.

21.  Listen more. Status: S. I am doing much better, since I am not interrupting people as much.

22.  Expand my playlist on my MP3 player. Status: NI. This would require me having someone to steal borrow music from.

23.  Don’t be afraid to voice my religious beliefs. Status: N/A. I haven’t really been in the forum yet where I’ve been compelled to share my religious beliefs. I try to live as a Christian, as opposed to wearing the title on my sleeve.

24.  Find activities that I enjoy to keep me in shape. Status: U. See #19.

25.  Keep in touch with family members outside of FB and Twitter. Status: S. I find that I want to keep in touch with people more than they want to keep in touch with me!

26.  Wear lingerie for myself! Status: S. I stocked up real good in Costa Rica, so I’m good for a while.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end! (or not!)

Quick Glance:

Satisfactory: 13

Needs Improvement: 9

Unsatisfactory: 2

List or no list, God loves me too much to keep me the same.Thank Him for that!


The non-smiling, duck liver trying, reading three books at once, textbook toting, over-analyzer.

How often do you make lists and forget to follow up with them? Isn’t it more fun just to speak them into the universe and hope something happens?

26: Birthday Goal List {Status}

Foie Gras in Montreal

The second greatest thing about actually seeing a new place, is tasting something authentic and original to that place. Maybe you’ll find that you never knew the potential of Thai food until you go to Thailand, or that you were deceived by the Mexican food of the North until you’ve had something decadent South of the Border… no doubt gastronomy is a big part of experiencing a new culture.

I am no Andrew Zimmerman, but I do consider myself adventurous. I’ll try most things once (except something that would cause a stir on Fear Factor). I did not go to Montreal with the intentions of eating duck liver. Actually the one thing I’ve been hearing everyone rave about (poutine) didn’t even make it in my mouth this trip (we area all adults here, right?) I am a big fan of real people reviewed websites. On an uncharacteristically warm summer day in autumn, YELP led us to Les Deux Gamins restaurant on Prince Arthur Street. The review about this elusive and exotic sounding foie gras read as such…

foie gras has become my star-crossed lover. it’s the most decadent, and possibly most delicious thing i’ve ever put in my mouth but i’ve yet to decide if i will eat it again because of how controversial it is. but this was amazing. smooth and creamy, categorically different from pates and other livers. a bit of salty flavor, but mostly just broad, deep, and intense. the best part was a rind of yellow duck fat surrounding the block, that i could mix in to my liking. i think it may have come with a tiny salad too but no one cares about that.

A little history about the dish:

“Foie Gras is literally goose or duck liver. The name actually means “fatty liver” in French. Throughout the 20th century, Foie Gras was most predominantly produced in France, with the exception of a few other European countries. A luxury item once only enjoyed in the most affluent of homes, foie gras became largely unavailable in the 1980s when the American government banned the import of raw poultry foods. This spurred American farmers to take matters into their own hands, and several foie gras farms started appearing in the New York- Hudson Valley area. ” (from GourmetFoodStore)

SOLD! I want to try some of that. Here’s how the dish was served:


Here’s VIDEO of me digging in (sorry guys, I tried to embed but apparently I’m inept) Disclaimer: I was biased before tasting it because my date had already expressed his reaction.

My foodie review: The texture of the liver was what pretty much did it for me, not so much the taste.  It really was just drenched in extra virgin olive oil, and that’s why my whole mouth was lined with oil and I needed to cover it up with the bread. I am not a big fan of weird textures in my mouth and the best way I can describe this dish is like flan (a Hispanic dessert). It wasn’t chewy, it was actually very tender, not much chewing necessary. Table etiquette dictates that you swallow a bite that you put in your mouth, no matter how bad it is, but this was just way too much for me.

Here’s how we left the plate.


Do I regret this? No way! Will I try it again? No way!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten at home or abroad?

Foie Gras in Montreal

First Solo Trip: Bocas del Toro, Panama

Lone Star, where are you now?

After my first solo trip, I learned that some places lend themselves to solo travelers, more so than others. Bocas for me, was somewhere in between. You already heard about my Sunken Ship Bar experience, but let me fill you in on what I thought about my trip in totality. I liked that I felt totally safe walking outside at 10:30pm with my high-heeled sandals and clutch on my way to the local watering hole. Even leaving the bar at 3am, the only thing I had to fear were drunk tourists, wandering through the streets embarrassing their mommas. It pays to check out the ´safety´factor of where you´ll be traveling alone as a woman (for your sake, and your loved ones), and if the place gets sketchy at night, make sure you leave room in the budget for taxi rides back to the hotel if you decide to check out the nightlife.

Bocas Del Toro (or Bocas Town) is located on Isla Colon, an island off the Caribbean Coast of Panama. The archipelago (cluster of islands) is made up of some unique islands, including Isla Bastimentos and Isla Carenero (which supposedly has no roads) but apparently all the action happens on Bocas.  My short-lived but amazing 50 minute charter flight from San Jose, Costa Rica landed and when I walked into what they called an airport, I couldn´t help but think ´did a bomb just land here?´ The problem wasn´t that it was an open-air airport, it was the fact that it looked like civil war had just taken place there; cement walls had wires hanging down, the place was completely gutted out, no Welcome signs, no salsa band playing the country´s Top 40 hits (this did happen in the Dominican Republic), just an immigration officer behind a teacher´s desk. The rest of the makeshift furniture in the room looked like it had been donated by a hospital or a school, but either way, I waited patiently on the line with passport in hand. On my way out, I did notice men actively working with sweat on their brow, which did make all the difference.

My first impression, walking through the peaceful and colorful island with luggage in tow, was that Bocas is more than a typical beach town. It´s a real neighborhood, the locals are either making a living working in tourism, restaurants, making furniture, fishing, or running their own stores. Most people choose bicycles (with cute little storage baskets in the front) as their mode of transportation. There are cars on the island, but for the most part you´ll see tourists and natives from all ages leisurely biking around taking care of all types of business: grocery shopping, banking, and visiting neighbors. I even saw a family of 3 biking home one afternoon, the father wearing the Bank´s business attire, with his wife and little boy all on bikes; a true Kodak moment. The bright-colored wooden houses are built on stilts, which also draw the Caribbean feel. I felt the island very authentic, although as with many up-and-coming tourists spots, most of the hotels and expedition tours are foreign-owned companies.

How I managed alone:

Day one was strictly a beach day, I landed on the island at 8:30 AM and by noon I was already on the public bus (which is really like a 12-passenger van).  It was a $2.50 hour ride that stopped about 10 times to leave groceries and materials to little boys waiting on the outskirts of their villages. Last stop was Boca Del Drago beach and the entrance meets you with 2 bar restaurants. When I got off the bus, the beach didn´t look that appealing so I just followed some people who kept on walking along the shore until I found a perfect spot. Generally the water was clear and calm, but walking beyond the main area, I found the crowds got smaller and smaller and the beach water got clearer and clearer. Eventually I stopped at a beach called Playa Estrella, that was littered with starfish near the shore.

I came equipped with my MP3 player and a book to stay occupied, and by 2pm I had fallen asleep (bad idea in the noon sun), listened to music, and read on the shore. I was ready to go and have lunch. I walked back to the bar restaurant and had a silent lunch of red snapper with patacones (fried green plantains). I people-watched,  thought about what I would do the rest of the day, and for the moment, enjoyed not having any plans. That evening, I took myself to Bocas Bambu Beach Restaurant that had a very relaxed open atmosphere. They played some cool reggae music, and had a projector playing some yardie-Jamaican film. For dinner, I had some shrimp in a red ´criollo´sauce, it was delicious beyond belief. What a way to impress this tica!

Day two I rented a bike for the day ($7) since that seemed like the best way to get to know the island better. That gave me the opportunity to experience different beaches, and get lost. On my way back to the hotel to rest, I stopped at a bar restaurant (that was closed due to low season) and spoke to some natives who gave me the scoop on where to eat for cheap and about life in Bocas. I wrapped up Independence Day night chopping it up with some Americans at a random hotel´s lobby, and then heading to some unforgettable bar that was full of tourists. The best part of the night was probably after 2am, when the DJ turned the music off and everyone spilled into the streets…looking for the after-party spot. I sat in the centrally-located park and spent the morning talking with a new-found friend, while drunk, paranoid people realized they had gotten robbed, local Panamanian women found their taste in American seamen, and people just generally made fools of themselves.

Drawbacks to being alone:

I got bored right smack in the middle of the day. Sometime after lunch and before dinner, I had to resort to my room and occupy myself with TV movies. The sun was so high and blazing that it wasn´t smart to be just strolling around, and I didn´t really want to sit at a random bar by myself.

After a day, I didn´t want to sit on the beach or go island-hopping. In Bocas, water-sports, boat excursions and chillaxing by the beach is about all there is. The next time I decide to travel alone, there will have to be more than water activities available at the destination I choose.

I ran out of money, and had to call home and get the lecture. So much for my independent trip. Let me just say that I normally budget trips pretty well. This time around, I was depending on a deposit that didn´t come through due to the Independence Day holiday so I was pretty screwed.I hate traveling with people that limited themselves in where they can go, and how much they want to spend. I was forced to turn into one when I realized that most places on the island did not take cards, and I didn´t have even enough cash for my bus ride back to Costa Rica. My last day on the island was dictated by my lack of cash, and I tried to make the best of it. If I had been with someone else, at least I wouldn´t have had to make the call of shame before walking over to Western Union.

Overall, I blame myself for some of the things that could have gone smoother on my trip. In my defense, there are some things that fell out of my hands. And what could I do? Cry and sulk for 2 days? Nah, I made the best of it. Bocas del Toro is a great choice if you love to snorkel (they´ve got awesome reefs), swim, eat seafood, ride leisurely on a bike, and spend hours on boats. For the most part, this does not fit my travel character. For me, this (or any) beach destination is better consumed in couplets or groups. Find that private patch of shore, pack your own snacks and liquor, snuggle up next to someone on the sand, or in the water. Simple.

Have you ever enjoyed a beach day alone? What did or didn´t you do?

First Solo Trip: Bocas del Toro, Panama

Birthday Gift

After reading this great post about Solo Travel for women, I decided to treat me, myself and I to a little adventure for my 26th birthday. I’ve been thinking about solo travel for a long time but never had enough guts to do it! I’m not going too far from Costa Rica, but far enough to take a little flight!

A charter flight
To a neighboring country
Bocas del Toro, PANAMA!

I’m curious to know, where is your next trip taking you? (even if it’s your ‘hopeful’ trip)

Birthday Gift