A New York City Christmas

My sisters and I decided to spend the day after Christmas exploring what New York City has to offer for the holidays. I mapped out the best route before we went. Here is the list of places we were hoping to go to.
1. Bloomingdale’s
2. Barneys- 660 Madison Ave
3. Bergdorf- 754 5th ave.  58th st
4. Tiffany & Co.- 727 5th Ave. 57th st
5. Henri Bendel- 712 5th Ave. 55th st
6. St Patrick’s Cathedral- 51st
7. Saks 5th Ave- 12 E. 49th st- stay for the show on the building
8. Rockerfeller Tree
9. Bryant Park Holiday Village
10. Macy’s- 151 34th st
11. Lord and Taylor- 424 5th Ave
I would definitely allot 5-6 hours if you would like to make all of these stops. I had to leave at a certain time so we saw the first 9 in 4.5 hours. We did not get to see the Macy’s or Lord and Taylor windows this year.
Seeing the windows is a magical experience. They are all beautiful! I recommend going to see the windows early. It doesn’t have to be dark to see those and it will be less crowded. As the day went on it was increasingly more difficult to see the windows or take pictures.
 Not only are the windows beautiful but the streets are looking festive too!

Some windows:

Bloomingdale’s

Tiffany & Co.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Saks 5th Ave
Rockefeller Tree
Bryant Park Holiday Village

New York City can be magical during the holidays but also crowded. Be kind, be respectful and be patient. Enjoy your holidays and have a Happy New Year!

Check out my Christmas video from a few years ago:

Tis the Season

I absolutely hate being cold. In fact, as I write this I am bundled up in two blankets, drinking tea. Despite hating the cold, I love all the fun things to do in the winter for the holidays!

The following are my favorite places to visit for the holidays!

Last winter, my boyfriend and I hit up Destiny USA, one of the largest malls in the United States. It is located in Syracuse, NY.

A few minutes away from the mall there is an event held each year called Lights on the Lake. This is an adorable drive-through event. It starts mid November and runs through the first week on January. It’s open from 5-10pm and is $10 per car to get in.

We waited a long time to get in, about 45 minutes but it’s worth it. There is a station you can tune into for Christmas music while you drive through and enjoy the light displays.

Another one of my favorite spots to hit up in the winter is the Corning Museum of Glass. Check out their calendar and make sure you visit during their free Holiday weekend. It’s a lot of fun, not only because it is decorated beautifully but also because there is so much going on! There is a choir singing carols, there is free hot chocolate, cider and cookies as well as giveaway raffles. The glass making demo’s are holiday themed and there are endless holiday glass ornaments and decorations to buy. Each item is more beautiful than the last. I had a lot of trouble deciding what to get last year. I finally settled on a glass bulb ornament and a glass snowman.

Because there are limited spots and a highly sought out event, I have never been able to do the glass making, though I haven’t tried that hard either. To make the holiday themed glass, you need to make reservations in advance. I recommend it because it is a lot of fun! (I have done it outside of the holiday events.)

Though it is absolutely freezing and you feel like your face might fall off, I love visiting Niagara Falls, Canada in the winter. Though you aren’t able to ride the Horn Blower, it’s really quite magical! The Falls are always lit up at night but this time of year it feels even more special.

There was a cool option to write on the buildings and there was a light display in the park when I went two or three years ago.

If you live in New York, visiting Dyker Heights, Brooklyn is a must! There are several blocks that get absolutely decked out for the holidays! Bundle up and walk around this festive neighborhood.

Some of the blocks even have characters and Santa giving out candy!

These few blocks can get pretty crowded so beware of that. Everyone is trying to take pictures with their families. Go in with a positive attitude and a lot of patience! Be kind even if other people are being rude and also, do not go on the properties. These are people’s homes. They of course want you to take all the pictures you want but from a reasonable distance.

NYC- Duhhhhh!

There is nothing like New York City in December. The windows, the ornaments, the light shows on the buildings, and the Rockefeller tree!

A lot of people go to see the windows and Rockefeller tree but forget all about Bryant Park. I definitely recommend going there too! They have an adorable holiday set up, Bryant Park Winter Village. There are tons of shops, hot chocolate stands, snack stands, ice skating, and their very own large Christmas tree.

I have never ice skated near the Rockefeller tree due to the enormous line but I have in Bryant Park. The line goes pretty quick.

Check out my video from a few years ago.

Happy Holiday, fun travels, and have a great 2018!

Backpacking Costa Rica

I went to Costa Rica for 10 days and it was an absolute dream. I loved it so much. I knew I would like it but I didn’t realize how much I would love it. I loved everything about it, the food, the people, the weather, the scenery, the intimacy, the animals…everything! Lets break this trip down.

Communication:

I do not speak Spanish well at all. I know a few words here and there. I used the free app Duolingo to learn basic Spanish before I went. This was actually very helpful. I experienced a good mix of people knowing English and not knowing English. Most of the people we interacted with did have basic English words down and I had basic Spanish words down. This was enough to get me through without too much trouble. There were hiccups here and there but nothing major or damaging. What was consistent though was that everyone was extremely nice and even though we did not speak the same language, I found that anyone I met or interacted with was friendly, sweet and willing to help out with directions, etc… as best they could.

Transportation:

My boyfriend and I decided not to rent a car and instead use a car service that drives you from point A to your far away destination of point B. They come and pick you up and will drive you to your next destination, even if it is 6 hours away and it is usually around $50. It was so worth it to not deal with the stress of directions and the bumpy roads which would have made me nervous to drive on. There were a few times that I feared for my life because the driver was talking on his phone or not looking at the road but ya know…you get what you pay for I suppose. The two car services we used were: Desafio & Montezuma Expeditions.

Food:

As for the food, I have been trying to go vegetarian and I thought this would be an issue in another country but it wasn’t at all. I did have chicken here and there but there was endless supply of veggies and rice and a bunch of other yummy things. The plantains were out of this world and I swear Costa Rica has the best tomatoes I have ever tasted in my life. Look at all of this deliciousness! Everything tasted so fresh. I miss the food a lot.

First few days of the trip: Cabuya

For the first part of our trip we went to Cabuya, which was a 6 hour drive from San Jose airport. We went there for a wedding. I absolutely loved it. Cabuya had so much to offer…so much so, that I did not even get to do everything I wanted to! We stayed at my friend’s mother’s spa, Gentle Earth Retreats. This place was incredibly beautiful. I highly recommend it! My friend’s wedding took place on this property. It was a dream location for a wedding.

This is the adorable place we ate at each morning. It was a 5 minute walk from Gentle Earth Retreats.

The woman that helped us each morning was so sweet and the food was amazing.

The first big adventure we took in Cabuya was snorkeling on Toruga Island. Now this was a fantastic deal we got through Gentle Earth Retreats. We spent about 2 hours on a boat to the island. Went snorkeling for a few hours, spent a few hours lounging on the island with food provided for us and then the boat ride back. This was only $45!!! Incredible deal. This was one of my favorite days in Costa Rica.

Hard to see but we saw a whale shark!

I also highly recommend hiking at Cabo Blanco. We hiked 2 hours through a beautiful, monkey filled jungle to a beach. Because it is a 2 hour hike to the beach, there were barely any people on it. Warning, the 2 hour hike back after sitting in the sun for hours was pretty horrific. There were times I didn’t think I was going to make it but just pack plenty of water and snacks and suffer through because trust me, it was SO worth it!

Next stop…Monteverde!

We took Montezuma expeditions from Cabuya to Moneverde. This was about a 5-6 hour trip which included driving and a boat ride! They picked us up right from Gentle Earth Retreats and dropped us off at our adorable hotel, Las Orquideas.

We only stayed here one night. It cost us around $50 for the night. The two women that worked there did not speak good English and I do not speak good Spanish but that did not stop them from helping us out and trying to talk with us. They were super sweet and they cooked us a dynamite breakfast. There was a fantastic view in the back but it was so windy and up high that I was a little scared!

After checking into our hotel we went zip lining through Sky Trek. We had previously made a reservation. I was very afraid and was tearing up but our two guides were so nice and comforting. One of them told me to just try it once with him and if I didn’t think I could do it they would let me down at the next stop. I got on the zip line with him and he encouraged me to scream and just let it all out. I was screaming so much that I ended up laughing a lot. I ended up sticking with it and made some cool friends! (We still keep in touch on FaceBook!)

After Zip Lining we walked around on a path in the forest. It was beautiful. I saw so many gorgeous flowers and we heard a lot of birds chirping.

After Zip Lining we walked to town from our Hotel. We took a flashlight which was smart because it was very dark. It was only around a 10 minute walk. We went into cool shops and bought some souvenirs.

We ate dinner at this amazing tree top restaurant. The food and atmosphere were amazing.

After our adventures in Monteverde, we were off to La Fortuna. We used Desafio ‘s taxi-boat-taxi service to get to La Fortuna. Not only was it easy and convenient for us but it was a fun experience in itself. We had a lot of fun on the boat and we caught such gorgeous views the entire way.

Baldi Springs was an absolute dream.

We had arrived on a Sunday so we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. While Baldi Springs was super expensive ($200 per night! Yikes!) we only stayed one night. We checked in right at  check in time and checked out the next day as late as possible to get our money’s worth.

Breakfast was complimentary and it was delicious. Other meals were very reasonably priced. I was scared they would be super expensive but they weren’t. Phew!

The pools were gorgeous. We spent the day bouncing from pool to pool to pool. They even have cool water slides!

This was the end of our trip. By this time we were exhausted. We had plans to venture out and experience the natural hot springs around this area…they are everywhere! We also wanted to do a walking tour up Arenal Volcano but we were pooped! We ended up just lounging by the different pools all day at Baldi and going on the slides repeatedly, which was so much fun! I wish we had more time to spend in this area. We did not get to explore which I would have liked to do. Baldi Springs truly was a paradise. I wish I could live there. I highly recommend it!

Check out my video of our trip:

Sapphire and Scooter

My family used to feed stray cats that lived around their house. There was a mother named Ginger and her two kittens, Sapphire and Scooter living in their back yard. They were very afraid of people but came everyday for food. My family was not able to pet them.

I had the opportunity over Christmas when I was visiting them to trap the kittens (my dad did the trapping) and take them home with me, so I did just that.

Scooter and Sapphire were timid and afraid of people. It took weeks for the kitties to warm up to us. They stayed in their cat house together. Scooter warmed up a lot quicker than Sapphire, she couldn’t resist playing.

She discovered that she loved to play…like 24/7!

She was also very cuddly and sweet too!

Though Sapphire loved being pet, he was terrified each time a hand came near him. Once the hand touched him he realized it made him happy.

He had a reserved but silly personality.

We got them both spayed and neutered but Scooter was bad and ripped her stitches…twice! She kept breaking out of her cone. Naughty kitty!

We had Scooter and Sapphire for a few months before they were socialized. Putting Sapphire and Scooter up for adoption hit me hard. They were my babies. I spent every single day with them. I watched them grow and become outgoing and happy. One day I saw a friend’s status that he was looking for two kittens. It was fate! I messaged him with pictures and videos of Sapphire and Scooter. He spoke with his family and they ultimately decided to take them. My boyfriend and I drove them to him in Pennsylvania after a few weeks due to Scooter needing time to heal from being spayed.

After we dropped Sapphire and Scooter off I broke down crying. I think I cried the whole way home. I continued to cry for the next few days. This adoption hit me hard. I think this was also difficult for me because I knew how terrified Sapphire and Scooter would be. I knew that they thought I was their mom. I couldn’t help but think they thought I gave them up and that I didn’t love them. These thoughts wouldn’t leave my head. Scooter and Sapphire took a few weeks to adjust to their new home. I get happy updates via pictures and videos from their adopter. I still miss them a lot but they seem happy in their furever home!

As for their mom, Ginger- we TNR’d her ( trap-neuter-release). It has been 3 years and she still gets fed in my dad’s backyard everyday and she is no longer feral! My family (especially my sister) are able to pet her now.

Check out their rescue video below as well as my Instagram and FaceBook

 

Niagara Falls

I’ve been to Niagara Falls almost 10 times now, maybe more. No, I am not obsessed with it. I have been there so many times because I live so close and friends and family have asked me to bring them there ’cause well, I’m kind of an expert by now! It’s easily a day trip but yes, I do love it!

What’s not to love?

I have gone to Niagara Falls on the American side, the Canadian side, in the summer, and in the winter. Here are some of my thoughts and recommendations for your trip to Niagara Falls:

My favorite place I have stayed when I visited Niagara Falls was The Knights Inn. Not because it was glamorous or anything but because it was nice and cheap and walking distance from the falls. It was so convenient to come and go as I pleased. You can park your car at the hotel and walk down.  It is up a killer hill though. Your legs will get a workout!  This was during the winter though. When I went to book this hotel in the summer, it was completely booked for months and the prices were sky high! If your hotel is not walking distance, no worries! There is tons of parking. I recommend the main lots to park for the day. It’s about $18 for the day. Well worth it in my opinion and experience!

This is my own personal opinion but I wouldn’t bother going to the falls unless it’s on the Canadian side. It’s a much more fulfilling experience. You get a much better view and can see it from all different angles. Don’t forget your passport!

I actually really liked Niagara Falls in the winter. Obviously it was absolutely freezing but it had it’s perks. It is much less busy, it feels like you have the whole place to yourself! There are no lines for anything. When you go in the summer everything has a long wait. But the down side is that you can’t ride the Hornblower (Canadian version of Maid of the Mist), which I recommend. It’s a lot of fun.

My absolute favorite thing to do is Journey Behind the Falls. The nice thing about it is that you pay and there is no time limit. You can stay as long as you want and you can get up close and personal to the waterfall! One risk of going in the winter is that the lower platform next to the waterfall may be closed. It sometimes freezes over. If so, it is still worth doing. I really like being in the caves and stay in there for a long time.

And make sure you stay to see the falls at night! They light up every night and it is gorgeous!

IMG_1389

There is an incredible aviary right near the falls, about a 5 minute drive. I highly recommend this, especially if you have kids! It’s called Bird Kingdom and it lives up to it’s name. Bird Kingdom is incredible. I would leave a few hours to be in here. I typically like to spend a few hours here on my last day before I travel home. This place is huge! And you will want to see every square inch. Not only does Bird Kingdom have incredible, exotic birds but the rooms are gorgeous! This place doesn’t only have birds. They have skunks, a crazy bat exhibit, turtles, snakes…I can go on about this place forever. A must see!

I hope you enjoy Niagara Falls as much as I do! Let me know in the comments if you have any other recommendations!

My first experience fostering- a feral mom and her two kittens

I have always wanted to foster cats but I never took any action to do so because it wasn’t a stable time in my life. I was in college, I was moving every year, and I didn’t have a stable job. My last week of school I saw a post on facebook from the Humane Society. They were looking for a foster home for a mother and her two kittens. I felt that the stars had all aligned now that I had an apartment with a spare bedroom, I was graduating and looking for full time jobs. This was the time! I decided to call and inquire about fostering. Calling to inquire turned into picking up the mother and two kittens a mere three days later.

I fostered the mother, Oleta and her two kittens, Cracker and Crocker for a few months.

The kittens got adopted once they were weened off of Oleta. Though the kittens were adorable, it wasn’t difficult adopting them out because they were so young. They loved everyone that walked into the room. I knew they wouldn’t be sad to leave.

Oleta was a two year old, feral cat. She was extremely shy and scared of people. My boyfriend and I had to work very hard to socialize her. It took her months to be comfortable with us petting her. She wasn’t aggressive at all, just very shy.

I thought about keeping Oleta a lot. I knew that it was better to adopt her out so I could continue fostering and also my cat despises other cats. I bonded so much with Oleta. This cat that was absolutely terrified of people was now following me around my apartment, screaming for my attention, banging on my bedroom door at night to cuddle, and laying in my lap.

She also became very playful!

An old co-worker of mine saw my post about Oleta on FaceBook, she wanted to come see her. She came to visit and it was love at first sight. She adopted her a few weeks later! This made me extremely happy because it was someone I knew and trusted and I knew Oleta would be well taken care of. It was still very difficult to hand her over. I missed Oleta for weeks. It took Oleta a few months to be comfortable and outgoing in her new home. She hid in the basement for a few weeks. Now I hear happy updates that Oleta runs around the house meowing for attention and sleeps on the bed. This is amazing because this was a cat that rolled up in a ball in a corner and shook with fear when someone walked into the room. It makes me very happy that Oleta found such a loving home.

 

Birthday trip to Philly

Last year I decided to spend my birthday in Philadelphia. I wanted to see the sights as well as checking out a Broken Bells concert. I had never been to Philly but had heard so many great things about it. It was a lot of fun and there was so much to see!

As usual, we got in late Friday night. We spent the night at an airbnb. In the morning our first stop was Reading Terminal Market. I had great food there and I had an incredible smoothie. We also got some candy. I could have spent hours in here! There was so much to see and eat!

After a late breakfast we did our obligatory stop at the Liberty Bell & Independence Hall. I honestly thought it would be boring but it was actually pretty fascinating. I learned a lot and it was a beautiful place to walk around.

US Mint was fairly close by so we took a walk over but sadly it was closed. I think it would be pretty cool to see money get made. Hopefully I can go in the future.

Among our obligatory stops in Philly was none other than Rocky’s Road. I saw the Rocky movies when I was very young and don’t remember much of it but it was still cool to see where a world famous movie scene took place and what a beautiful view!

Elfreth’s Ally is one of the oldest roads in the United States. It dates back to 1702 and “As of 2012, there are 32 houses on the street, which were built between 1728 and 1836.” (according to wikipedia).

Elfreth’s Alley is a short walk but worth going to. Though it is only a 5 minute walk, I think we stayed close to 30 minutes just walking back and forth. It was just so stunning.

Once we got our fill of the oldest road, we headed to Edgar Allen Poe Historical Site. They say Poe lived in this house for a while and it inspired some of his most famous works. It was definitely a neat spot to check out.

We also went to Mutter Museum which was a trip! I have no pictures from here because we weren’t allowed to take them (lame!) but trust me when I tell you that it was worth the trip! “America’s finest museum of medical history, the Mütter Museum displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a nineteenth-century “cabinet museum” setting.” You will see crazy things here that you may have never even thought of. We spent hours here. It was so fascinating.

Our final stop in Philly was none other than the Magic Gardens. This is a truly magical place and my favorite out of everywhere we went! I just couldn’t believe my eyes. There was so much beauty! I was amazed! Totally recommend!

Something I loved about Philly was all of the murals and street art! Every piece was unique in it’s own way. I was fascinated by each art work and spent a considerable amount of time in front of each. Pictures don’t do it justice. Art was everywhere and it was all breathtaking! The murals make this city beautiful and unique.

I loved Philly and can’t wait to go again! We saw a lot in two days but I know there is so much more to discover!

Virginia Weekend

I went to Virginia last summer to work toward my goal of seeing all 50 states. We went for 2 days. I had always heard amazing things about Virginia Beach so I was excited. Well I lived in Florida for some time so I should have known it wasn’t going to float my boat. I was not too impressed with Virginia. There were parts of it that I liked but overall, it wasn’t one of my favorite states I have visited and I don’t see myself going back anytime soon. I thought it was going to have an amazing boardwalk. It did not. I thought the food would be amazing. It was not. I also didn’t like how dirty the beach was! It was pretty gross. It also didn’t help that it was a cloudy, windy day and the people next to us were feeding all of the birds when we went to the beach.

Our day on the beach:

The only thing that saved our Saturday on Virginia Beach was that I saw advertisements for Cirque Du Soleil everywhere. We decided to buy tickets last minute. We had an amazing time!

On Sunday, we checked out of our Airbnb and drove to Richmond, VA. This was a cute town with lots of sights to see and lots of history. I really enjoyed my time here.

After we hung out in Richmond, VA we decided to drive the Virginia Skyline. It took longer than expected but totally worth it. We had a lot of fun! Beautiful sights and a relaxing 109 mile drive. And the best part was that we saw a bear!

I definitely recommend Richmond and the Skyline if you are heading to Virginia. I would skip Virginia Beach if I ever come back to visit.

The Ultimate Packing List for Backpackers

Backpacking is a very different beast than vacationing, which means that packing can be a a huge ordeal!

Each time I backpack, I pack a little different but I have put together a comprehensive list to go off of each time. These are just my suggestions. Take with you as much or as little of these as you would like. It all depends on the length of the trip, the weather, and the destination. I have only backpacked for up to 10 days.

This is long and maybe a little intimidating, but I’m trying to be as comprehensive as possible and pass on everything I know from experience. Use this as a reference.

Before you leave for your adventure:
  • Check state department travel advisories http://travel.state.gov/
  • Make sure your passport is valid (some countries won’t let you board the plane if your passport expires in 6 months)
  • Check CDC health advisories. You may need some vaccinations.
  • Enroll in STEP https://step.state.gov
  • Advise credit cards of your travel plans
  • Print tickets, maps, itinerary
  • Back up your phone in case it gets lost/stolen
Backpack:
  • Carry on is limited to 22″ x 14″ x 9″
  • A frame backpack with hip straps will help you carry the weight comfortably. I prefer a volume of 40-60 liters. This may be different based on your body size and type. Try before you buy. Get one that fits and is lightweight. I totes recommend checking Eastern Mountain SportsREI, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

I bought mine at EMS and I LOVE it.

Clothes:
    • Clothing takes up a lot of space. The strategy to pack everything into a carry on is to pack only a few items and hand wash your clothes at the hotel/hostel or just be dirty. I try to pack 3 pants and 4 shirts for my 10 day trips.
    • For materials, avoid cotton if you can. It won’t dry in time, you’ll pack it wet, and it’ll smell disgusting when you take it back out. Synthetics dry very quickly so you can wash them frequently. They can however retain odors. Linen works. Spandex clothes like yoga pants dry quickly but are easy for mosquitoes to bite through. Wool is great because it’s naturally odor resistant. You can get very lightweight wool suitable for tropical humidity and heat from Icebreaker or SmartWool. But wool clothing can be expensive so I like to buy wool socks off of Ebay  and Amazon (unused!). Some companies sell defected items for cheap. These are usually just spelling errors, etc. The product is still usable, durable, and effective. They are still pricey but much cheaper. I especially like wool because for a 10 day trip I can pack 4 pairs of socks and be set. You can re-wear them once or twice. Also, if you are doing a lot of hiking or walking around cities (which I recommend because it is beautiful and cheaper), wool socks will save you from blisters.
    • In regions with mosquitoes/malaria, it’s highly recommended you treat your clothes with permethrin. This is pretty cheap and easy to do. It’s safe for humans and very effective.
  • Pack:
    • Shoes – Don’t skimp here because you’ll be wearing these all the time, and carrying everything on your back. I recommend trail runners or hiking shoes. I love my Keens. I got them at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Like backpacks, try before you buy.
    • 2-3 pairs of socks
    • 2-3 sets underclothes
    • 2-3 shorts/pants – Hiking pants are good. Some zip off, which looks dorky but minimizes your packing volume.
    • 3-4 shirts
    • Sunglasses
    • Lightweight rain shell or poncho. I love This One from Columbia because it folds up tiny and is warm. It doubles as a pillow when you need to sleep on the floor.
    • Swimsuit
    • Watch
    • Sun hat
    • Flip flops
    • Cotton bandanna
    • PJs
    • Towels- towels take up a ton of space! When trying to pack minimally but also trying to pack everything  you can into a backpack, towels are a hassle. I like to use Packtowl’s because they fold up super tiny and take up almost no space. Now, these are not super soft and may even be annoying but I find them to be worth it to save space for my souvenirs!
    • Wallet – make sure you have your ID, credit cards, and enough cash
    • Water purifier- Some countries in Central and South America don’t have the cleanest water so you might want to clean it before you drink it.I like using Aquamira.
    • Passport
    • Tickets
    • Map
    • Schedule
    • Phone
    • Phone charger
    • Keys
    • Lightweight flashlight/headlamp. Some countries I have visited experience blackouts. A flashlight has come in handy quite a few times.
    • Water container/Camelback/daypack for walking around cities or hiking.
    • Ear plugs for the airport, planes, and loud hostel neighbors.
    • Snacks/gum (recommend 1 granola bar per day of travel. Sometimes you just don’t know when you are going to have your next meal or for the cases you are experiementing with local foods and it doesn’t go your way.
    • Earbuds
    • Camera
    • Kindle/books
    • Nail file (not metal)
    • Note pad, pencil- keep the memories alive by jounaling!
    • Sleeping pad/yoga mat (optional for sleeping in the airport)
    • Toiletries: read below
Toiletries:
  • The TSA limits liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes to as many 3.4oz containers as you can fit in a 1 quart ziplock. They’ll make you throw it out if it’s not in your ziplock.
  • In addition to toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc:
    • Bug spray (20-30% Deet)
    • Sun screen
    • Medications and Rx (bring in original containers)
    • Bodywash/shampoo (can be used for laundry, or you can pack detergent separately)
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Toilet paper (You would think everywhere you are going will have toilet paper. You would be wrong)
        • First aid kit

      Like I said, this is just suggested. Take it or leave it, but no matter what you choose to pack or no to pack ALWAYS pack a positive attitude and some flexibility!!

That time I was harassed, cat called, stalked, “complimented”

Being a female, at almost any age, it is extremely common to be cat called and harassed by men. Though I have been harassed by men on the street more times than I can count, these are the memories that really stick out in my mind. I began writing them down and I will continue to write them down as it happens to me in the future. Many people say that cat calls are a compliment. I began getting cat called when I was thirteen. I was a child. Grown men on the street should not be “complimenting” a child. Even if many people do believe cat calls are compliments, some of the things that have happened to me are terrifying. I have been chased and groped on the street. Here are some of the times I have been “complimented”.

  • When I was 13 years old, I was hanging out at a friends house. We decided to go to my house. It was around 8pm and getting dark. My house was a ten block walk. We were walking and a group of about eight older teenagers/young adults were walking towards us. We couldn’t understand what they were saying but we knew they were talking about us. We both became uncomfortable and without vocalizing any sort of plan, we both turned around to walk in the opposite direction. That’s when we heard people running. We turned around and saw the group of boys were running toward us. We both started running. We passed our school so we ran into the court yard and through an opening in the fence. We ran the entire way to my house. They chased us for 3 blocks.
  • I used to walk to school everyday, to middle school and high school. When I was approximately 13 years old, a group of construction workers whistled at me and my friend. This happened everyday until we decided to take a different way to school.
  • I went to the park to play card games with three of my friends after school. A car pulled up to us and parked. The three men inside were yelling that we were hot and sexy, stuff like that. My friends and I were about 15 years old.
  • One day when I was walking home from school, a man yelled from across the street, “Hey! Smile, it will get better!” I was really confused because I wasn’t sad or depressed or anything. I was just walking home. I thought he was being nice and wasn’t particularly offended but this bothered me for days and I didn’t know why. I was 15 yrs old.
  • One day after school my friend and I took a nap at her house. We woke up around 6pm. We were starving. We decided to go to Burger King. We were both in sweat pants and oversized t-shirts. On our 5 block walk to Burger King, numerous men whistled at us and blew kisses at us. We were disgusted.
  • When I was 17 years old I was taking the bus to my best friend’s apartment. I sat next to the window. This man in his late 50’s sat next to me and started talking to me. He said he was a customer of mine at the Pharmacy where I was a cashier. He kept telling me I was cute and kept asking for my number. I repeatedly said no but he wouldn’t stop pressuring me to give him my number. I was trying to be polite. I didn’t want to be rude to a stranger that recognized me from where I worked. Also, I did not want to cause a commotion on the public city bus. After numerous times of giving my excuse that I don’t give out my number to strangers he said OK then you take my number then. I put his number in my phone just to get him to leave me alone then he kept telling me to text him so he would have my number. I still had over ten minutes on the bus and felt trapped, up against the window with him blocking the isle. I gave in and texted him. He texted me the second I got off the bus but I can’t remember what the text said. I remember being annoyed. I started getting calls and creepy text messages from him in the middle of the night. I would wake up around 3am from my phone buzzing from creepy messages from him saying he was thinking about me and wanted to see me. I told him to stop texting and calling me but he didn’t. I called my phone company to block his number.
  • My friend and I were at a bus stop waiting for the bus to come. We kept hearing a kissing sound and whistling. We couldn’t tell where it was coming from. We looked up and saw an older man leaning over the railing of the subway station. He was whistling and blowing kisses at us. We hid out of his sight behind the bus stop.
  • When I was 18 years old, I was walking to my boyfriend’s house at 8am. A fat, shirtless man about 50 years old, maybe older asked me for the time. I told him the time, then he grabbed his crotch, started rubbing it and said, “Do you want to come inside and have some fun?”
  • When I was 18, I worked as a waitress over summer vacation. One night I was waiting at the bus stop at midnight for a bus to get home from work. A man asked me for the time. I told him. He stayed standing next to me. I moved over a few feet to get some personal space but he moved next to me again. I pretended to walk over to read the schedule on the pole a few feet away. When I saw him walking toward me I decided to walk an avenue ahead to wait at the next bus stop. I heard him following me. When I turned around I saw him walking toward me. I walked faster, then he walked faster. I became very afraid and instinctively started running. The man ran after me. Without even thinking about it, I ran into the street into oncoming traffic. I crossed and turned the corner and hid in bushes. The man ran after me but he didn’t see me. From the bushes I could see him looking around. He walked out of my view. I waited a while to come out. I ended up walking home because I was too scared to go to the bus stop.
  • I was on phone one day walking to a bus stop. I was going home from my friend’s house. An older man, around 60 years old kept trying to talk to me. He was saying I was beautiful and asked me to sit next to him. I told him to leave me alone and that I was on the phone. He told me I was being rude and told me to hang up the phone. He wouldn’t stop harassing me. I had to walk away and wait at a different bus stop. I was about 19 years old.
  • I was sitting on the subway, waiting for my stop when I felt someone watching me. I looked around and saw a man staring at me. He was staring at me very intently. He didn’t take his eyes off of me. It was making me very uncomfortable and I felt intimidated.
  • When I was 21, I was at a bar with my friends. A guy came up behind me, grabbed me and pulled me toward him. I turned around, told him to let me go and shoved him off of me. He said, “I didn’t want to dance with you anyway, bitch.”
  • At the same bar, my friends and I were dancing. My friend that was facing two of us grabbed us by the arms and pulled us forward. We didn’t know, but their was a guy humping the air right behind us. It was directed at the two of us.
  • After class, I was standing at the bus stop talking on the phone, waiting to get back to my dorm. A bunch of teenagers walked past me, about six of them. One slapped my butt as he walked by. The rest of them were laughing hysterically. I cursed them out. They started throwing things at me like water bottles and food. I was 21 years old. I went to the campus police and they told me to wait at a different bus stop next time.
  • When I was 21, I was walking less than a block home from a party with my friend that was a male. My friend, Steve walked into my building first. I was a few feet behind him. I walked into my building and three guys followed me in. They did not live in my building. When they saw Steve they turned around and ran out.
  • I was dancing at a club with my guy friend. While we were dancing, a guy grabbed my arm and told me to dance with him. My guy friend yelled at him and said we were dancing together, to leave us alone. The guy said, “I don’t care.”
  • I was at a bar with my friends. My girlfriend was in the bathroom. I was sitting at the bar waiting for her. A guy grabbed my arm and pulled me toward him. I tried to pull my arm away but he held it tightly and twisted it a little. I began punching and shoving him with my other arm. The guy was laughing. He didn’t let go until my guy friend saw this from afar and got in between us.
  • My friend and I were dancing together one night at a club. A guy came over and began dancing in between us. We backed up from him and tried to walk off together. The guy stayed in between us and wouldn’t let us near each other. We were pushing him and yelling at him but he just laughed. He tried to keep us apart and kept trying to dance on us. My friend ducked under his arm and we ran to the other end of the club.
  • One night when I was 26 my friends and I were leaving a bar. We were talking about our friend that left earlier because she was so drunk. As we were passing two men that were standing up against a building, I said, “She was so drunk she left her favorite water bottle there.” One of the men followed me and proceeded to mock me. In a whiny exaggerated voice he yelled, “Oh my goddddd, not her water bottle! She forgot her water bottle?”
  • When I was 27 years old, my girlfriends and I went out to a club to dance. We were dancing in a circle. A guy walked up to my friend and stuck his face up against my friend’s butt. My other friend pushed him away. We got him kicked out by a bouncer but within 15 minutes he was back in the club.
  • That same night, my friends and I were dancing together when a group of guys came over to us. Each of them put their arms around one of us. The guy that had his arm around my shoulder was holding on tight. I tried to wiggle free. He asked me if I wanted to dance. I said no. He kept saying, “come on, just dance with me. Why not?” I said that I didn’t want to and that I had a boyfriend. The guy accused me of lying. He kept asking me questions about my boyfriend like his name and where he lived. He asked why I was out without my boyfriend. I kept trying to push the guy away and telling him that I didn’t want to dance with him but he wouldn’t stop or let go of me. My two friends were having the same issue. I was finally successful in pushing him off of me. After a while of telling them to leave us alone, they finally walked away to another group of girls.
  • When I was crossing the street with some friends, a guy held out his arm as if to grab me. He said, “Hey, hey, hey honey. Hold up. Where you going?” Without thinking, I replied, “Away from you.”
  • Walking to the bus stop, a guy I was walking towards was looking at me. As I walked past him he said “Excuse me?” and tried to grab my arm. I twisted my body and swung my arm backwards out of his reach and kept walking.
  • I had to run to the mall to pick something up and my boyfriend had to go to the grocery store. After my errand I was waiting for him at our meeting spot. While I was standing there, two guys kept looking at me. One of them said, “Hey, waiting for your ride?” I replied “Yes.” The two guys kept looking at me. I was trying not to look their way but I could feel them watching me. A few minutes later the same guy asked, “Are you waiting for your boyfriend?” I didn’t answer. I pretended not to hear him. They walked a little closer which made me nervous. They kept staring at me and finally walked away after a few minutes.
  • When I was crossing the street a guy yelled, “Heyyyy baby!” at me from his car.
  • One day when I was walking to work, I was walking toward three men sitting on a stoop. One of them was staring me up and down. His eyes were completely locked on me. He did not look away. I felt uncomfortable passing them. One of the guys said, “Dude stop staring so hard.” The one that was staring at me looked me in the eye and said, “But I just cant help myself.”
  • When I was 28 years old, I walked out of my apartment to meet my friend at her car. Her car was parked on the corner of my block. On the opposite corner of my friend’s parked car, three construction workers yelled, “Wooooooooooooooo” at me from across the street.
  • When I was 27 I was at a club with my friends. My friends and I were walking to a different section. A man I was walking past grabbed my arm and said, “Hey, where are you going? I began screaming at him. I cursed him out and shoved him and told him not to touch me. His friends started yelling at me to calm down. I kept yelling that he grabbed me. They told me to relax. I yelled, “I will not fucking relax. Tell your friend not to fucking grab people.” My friends and I walked to a different section of the club. The group of guys followed us. We walked to a different section of the club. They group of guys followed us again. They wouldn’t leave us alone so we left the club.
  • I was walking down an aisle at CVS. An older man leaned into me, pushing his body up against me and whispered in my ear as I walked by him, “Gorgeousss.” It was very creepy and gave me the chills.
  • October, 2015: I was on my way to a job interview. I was outside of the agency when I got whistled at by three different men and a man in a car honked at me. These four incidents were all within ten minutes.
  • When I was walking home from work, three tweens were yelling to me from across the street. I had my head phones in. I ignored them but they just yelled louder. I took my head phones out, turned to them and yelled, “What?” That’s when the boys pulled their pants down to moon me. I crossed the street and began yelling at them and told them to get their parents. They told me their parents weren’t home and they apologized numerous times.
  • May, 2015: I was at a music festival with my boyfriend. We parted ways for a little while to get dinner. We wanted different things. I was walking to our meeting spot when a guy yelled, “Excuse me!” I ignored him. He continued, “Hello!…Hello!” I continued to ignore him. He yelled, “OK, well fuck you then!”
    • It wasn’t even five minutes later. I was sitting alone, waiting for my boyfriend. I was looking around, taking in all of the music and fun outfits. A guy walking past me says, “Don’t tell me you aren’t having fun.” I responded, “I am.” He insists, “Come on! Have fun!” I said again, “I am.”
  • June 1, 2015: I was walking home from work. I was less than one block from my apt. When an older man looks me up and down and says, “mmmm, hellooo!”
  • July 26th, 2015: When I was walking home from work, two men driving by were hanging out of the car window. They were yelling something but I couldn’t hear because I had my headphones in. The one in the back seat continued to laugh and hang out the window looking back at me as the car passed me.