Hot water

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Hi Friends,

I find it crazy to think that people all over the world find themselves in the same predicament…at home as we all try to manage life with the corona virus.

It makes me sad to think about the global impact this virus has had on human lives. In addition to the lives lost, many more people find themselves without a job or struggling to balance work at home and being a full-time parent to their child that they now have to homeschool. There are millions of students that had their semester cut short and transferred to online learning…I have a close friend of mine who is still teaching abroad in Madrid but is cutting her experience short in order to fly home with her family. And there are those of us who don’t have shelter or the resources to follow the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for protection against the virus.

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It’s difficult to predict how long these “stay-at-home” and “social distancing” rules will stay the norm for us. I recently realized that so much of our conversations are dedicated to talking about the future—our work duties, weekend plans, future travel ventures, etc. But now that is left blank and a huge question mark resides in the air…

What comes next and how do we go from here?

Despite these trials we are facing, I think this is a pivotal moment for change in our world. The corona virus is the catalyst to re-thinking our values and how we live, because it has brought light to our weaknesses as well as our strengths and forced our normally fast-paced world to slow the heck down. I think that we have a crucial opportunity to grow from this collective crisis.

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There is an old story about a farmer who goes to a wise man complaining about his problems in life; he doesn’t know how he is going to make it and move forward. The wise man prepares 3 pots of boiling hot water; 1 with an egg, 1 with a carrot, and 1 with a tea leaf. He explains that the 3 items faced the same adversity, but they all had a different reaction to the hot water. The egg became hard, the carrot became soft, but the tea leaf changed the hot water—the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases fragrance and flavor. If you are like the tea leaf, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and the trials are the greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a tea leaf?

My hope is that we’ll all be better people at the end of this. That we choose to challenge our old habits and open our hearts more. That we become more humble and creative. That we accept and celebrate our differences. That we collaborate as brothers and sisters. That we forgive what happened yesterday and let ourselves live in the present moment. That we choose love over fear.

I can’t wait til the day comes that we can once again socialize where we please and galavant the streets, but until then I hope we all stay safe and sound at home.

Love,

Manders

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The Green Files

Hi Friends,

Happy New Year! I just finished my first full week at my first full-time job. Ufff…I am tired. Being a student-athlete in college required a lot of energy, but being a full-time worker requires a certain kind of stamina, a steady mental focus that I haven’t accessed in a while it seems.

Since coming home from Spain, I haven’t felt challenged or intellectually stimulated…but my first day on the job I knew that I was stepping into something special, something that would require every essence of my being and force me to flex my critical thinking muscles again. As much as I have wanted to avoid and delay committing to something “serious” again since graduating college…a part of me has missed the demand of having all pistons firing. I will say also that stepping into full-time work has quelled my restlessness and existential angst…I feel like I am moving forward on a path I am passionate about…no I don’t know where this will lead and I for sure don’t have all the answers but I feel like I can exhale now…ahhhhhh.

Adjusting: After my first day of work my head was throbbing. I’m not one to normally get headaches, but the amount of new information I was and am still absorbing is enormous. All the legal jargon and acronyms for everything is equivalent to learning a new language. Es increíble! Thankfully the headache has passed, but there is definitely a learning curve period when embarking on anything new in life. Patience and taking things one baby step at a time has helped me. Step by step and stay in the moment.

Sense of humor: The nature of my work is intense. We work on juvenile dependency cases, which means we advocate for children who have been abused and/or neglected and are in protective custody as a result. Reading about these cases and going on visits to check in with the children is heart-opening…there is a rawness and tenderness to it. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else at the moment though. This is my dream job…what I’ve been praying for and finally I get to step up and do it. I feel so freaking lucky and over the moon happy that this day has come. Given the emotional nature of the job, maintaining a sense of humor is so crucial. Something that surprised me was the normalcy of jokes and cussing in this field. A couple of my co-workers explained to me that its normal because the work can be really heavy so the jokes are like a coping mechanism to keep things light in a dark situation. 

Awesome co-workers: It makes such a difference when you enjoy the company of your co-workers. Our work is independent, but everyone seems to have each other’s back and get along. As my boss says, we are one happy dysfunctional family. 

A powerful outfit: I love love love getting to dress up for work. Seriously it gives me so much joy! Wearing a pant suit does wonders for your confidence. If you need a little boost, dress up more because feeling capable and badass seems to follow a good outfit. 

Charms: My brother gave me a beautiful Japanese charm for Christmas that I keep around my work bag. It is said to bring good health and offer protection. Just glancing at it makes me feel anchored and cared for. I also decorated my desk area with post cards and paintings that I’ve collected when I was living abroad. Its a very colorful collage and it makes me so happy because it reminds me of all the cool experiences I’ve had and that there is so much to be excited for in life. 

The little girl: I may be 23 years old, but I’ve always felt inside that I’m still that 13 year old girl with big dreams and a flaming curiosity for all things life. No matter what happens and no matter how many adult things and milestones I will take on, I want to keep my spark and freshness for life. To stay optimistic and true to myself. I remember imagining what I would be like when I was in my 20s and thinking that that time was so far away and its crazy to me that I’m living it now. Every choice I make to this day takes me back to that little girl…I wonder if this decision would make her proud? My own moral compass and if I listen, I am guided exactly where I need to go. 

I hope 2020 brings you an abundance of blessings and beautiful moments! Salud!

Love,

Manders

P.S. Here are some precious moments with some of my favorite people. Quality time with the loved ones is my kind of treasure…ain’t nothing sweeter in life, I can guarantee it 😉

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Look Up

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How come it seems that goodbyes bring out the tender emotions that aren’t expressed in our day-to-day existence? I feel like a lot of us, myself included, take for granted what we have right in front of us.

Last week I had my last day working at the middle school as a tutor and I am quite sad to be leaving, but it reminded me of a couple things: my motivation and the importance of looking up and being present.

Why?

Remembering “why” we do things is essential in living a purpose-driven life and it also helps us muster the strength to march forward during moments when all we want to do is throw the towel in. Why do we exercise? Why do we buy things? Why do we behave a certain way when we’re angry? Why do we travel? The list goes on…What I’m getting at is that’s its important to question these things! Its so easy to live each day out of habit, unconsciously thinking, feeling, and behaving in ways that we’re used to. Sometimes a little house cleaning is necessary; to unpack and let go of the things (physical and mental) that are no longer serving us. A little purging can go a long way and create more space for joy in your life.

My motivation as I explore different vocational areas stems from being of service—I want to make an impact, I want to engage in meaningful work, I want to help someone. I don’t know the exact details or what specific job title would be my “dream job” but as long as I wake up in the morning and can express my talents in these ways, I will feel fulfilled. I’ve recently gotten into the daily habit of connecting to my purpose by meditating on my “Why“. Not only in the area of work, but health, relationships, and personal growth too. It has helped me feel clearer and cut the bullshit and idle time spent doing things, like scrolling through social media, that absolutely do not serve me. Uninstalling Instagram on my phone has been the best thing I’ve done lately. I like how it can connect us but does it really? I was getting headaches and feeling like my life wasn’t cool enough after consuming all the glossy images on there.

My kids at the middle school, one of my table groups of 7th graders to be specific, reminded me why its crucial to be living my biggest, wildest, most authentic, and loving life while I am on this Earth—to be a positive example for those kids. As I looked into their eyes, I was inspired to stand a little taller and to embrace my unique self. At the end of the day, I want to know that someone’s life was a little better because of my relationship with them. Nurturing their potential and showing them how beautiful, unique, and capable they are is the most rewarding thing to me. It not only opens up their future possibilities, but also for society as a whole because they are our key to a more peaceful, innovative, and sustainable world.

Here and Now

As Einstein said, time is an illusion but I think it is also our most precious gift in life. What we do with our time colors our life here on Earth. On my last day as a tutor with my kids, it felt like our time was cut short. I remember telling myself to “stay here” and really just soak it all in. I am inspired to live each day like it is my last day with my kids. To really look up at the world and use all my senses: taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. To really savor life because it is a gift.

Love,

Manders

P.S. Hayden, Ryan, and Mia thank you for all the laughs and for being you. You three are my motivation everyday

Part of the puzzle

img_20191210_165606Hi Friends,

Returning to live back home in Orange County has been a mental challenge. I love, love, love being able to spend quality time with my family in real time instead of our weekly Video calls on WhatsApp with a 9-hour time difference. However, after 5 years of living outside of the OC bubble and blossoming amidst an atmosphere filled with constant newness and challenge, being here has sometimes felt overwhelmingly comfortable and dull. Orange County is beautiful and has some cool beaches, but in my opinion it is a place for retiring or raising a family, neither of which I am ready for at this season in life. 

When I first came home I thought that I would stay for the summer and look for work in L.A. or northern CA or anywhere with a good job opportunity. And I did do that but none of those opportunities worked out. I thought of applying to grad school programs for next fall, but that also didn’t seem right since I’m not sure what field I want to go into yet. In the middle of these head scratching moments, I worked as the Head Tennis Coach at a high school close to my house. This one came out of the blue and I accepted it a few weeks after coming home from Spain because I wanted to see if the coaching/teaching combo would be a good fit for me. Looking back on things, I wish I would’ve given myself more time to pause before committing myself to being a Head Coach. I definitely learned a lot from the experience and truly enjoyed working with a handful of players, but I left after the girls’ season finished in November. Some of the parents were overly demanding and it turned out to be more of a power struggle and political chess match than anything. It taught me a lot about setting boundaries and exposed me to the high responsibility of being a Head Coach/Teacher to high school students. These kids are like sponges so you have to be very conscious about how you carry yourself and not only what you say, but how you say it. You realize that you can’t make everyone on the team happy…someone isn’t going to make the lineup in tomorrow’s match or make Varsity…but you have to stick to your vision and what you believe is best for the Whole. As someone who likes to accommodate everyone, I struggled with this. 

Fortunately in September I also picked up a part-time position as an AVID tutor at a middle school close to my house and it was my saving grace. The working environment is warm and laid back (no parents breathing down your neck) and I hit the jackpot with one of my table groups—I would adopt those precious 7th graders if I could. It is the best feeling in the world when they see you and get all excited and start screaming your name and asking you a million questions while gazing at you with a bright sparkle in their eyes. They are always the highlight of my day. Next week will be my last week with them though because I accepted my first full-time job offer as a legal investigator at a law office not far from my house. After much researching, applying, interviewing, and contemplating I decided that this one would be a good fit because it would expose me to different sectors of social justice—law, social work, and counseling. This has always been an area of interest for me and really the best way to learn is to go out and do it rather than imagining things in your head or reading about it on the internet. 

Existential angst is something that comes up for me once in a while…questions like “is this the direction I want to be moving in?” “what is my purpose on this earth?” consume my mind and make me question Ev-Er-Yyy-Thinggg, but all we can do is focus on what’s in front of us and do our best in the present moment. Back in college, my coach used to tell me to get out of my head and into my body and I feel like that advice is helpful off the tennis court too. You can think and analyze and brainstorm all you want, but in order to move forward you must take action and trust your senses. Yes life gets messy and part of the dance is adjusting in order to find your way but its also a pretty wonderful gift to be alive too. 

*The parents and I in Sedona, Arizona for Thanksgiving

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“a ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for” – william shedd

“give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way” – native american proverb

“remember, the other person is you” – unknown

I see a girl yearning to be free…

Bursting at the seams to let her spirit soar,

untouched, unedited, Ready to release her raw power…

The magnetic forces she was born with but has kept hidden from the world for fear of judgement…

Despite the risks, she knows her time has come. The moment is ripe, the bells are ringing…urging her to shine her light that is so desperately needed by the world.

Love,

Manders

The Land of the Rising Sun

 

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Hi Friends,

I have just returned from a beautiful trip to Japan where I got to visit my brother with two of my best friends, Megan and Renee. We stayed in three different cities—Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka and did a few side trips to more rural areas as well. Before arriving in Japan, I had this idea in my mind of what Japan would be like from various media sources…the temples, food, people, architecture…but as I was telling my brother on our first night in Tokyo, Japan FAR exceeded my expectations in every way.

What’s That Smell?

I vividly remember meeting Ezra outside an Excelsior café after getting off the bus from Narita airport and smelling a fresh, clean, slightly soapy scent. At first I thought it was a new cologne of Ezra’s, but then I realized that it smelled like that everywhere. One of my favorite things about Japan was how clean and polished everything was: the streets, the buildings, the public transportation, the toilets, and the people. They value tidiness so much that they purposely don’t have trash cans in public spaces so that there isn’t garbage outside. I don’t think this idea would work in an American city like L.A., crap would be everywhere, but man does it work well in Japan. Another cool thing under the cleanliness theme is their bidet toilets. They are everywhere, even at a bathroom at the top of a mountain. I was really excited to try it, but we stayed in hostels and I didn’t feel comfortable using it since we had shared bathrooms. However, my brother tells me that the bidet’s are absolutely life-changing so you should try it if you go to Japan. 

Fashion and Independence

The people in Japan are super stylish and I was entertained just by staring at people on the metro because of how sleek and elegantly they dress. One cultural aspect that Ezra shared with us is that it is normal for children as young as six take public transportation and walk around the city by themselves. While Japan is a more community-minded culture compared to the U.S., they highly value independence and this shines through in letting their kids navigate by themselves. The students wear uniforms and little children on field trips wear adorable colored caps to show that they’re part of a school group. A big difference is that Japan is also a very safe place and I felt secure and respected by people the entire trip.

Another cool thing is that there are public restrooms in most places, so you don’t have to slip into a restaurant bathroom or pay to pee, like if you were in Europe. Despite Japan’s many cutting-edge qualities, one of the darker sides of their country is their intense working culture. Apparently its pretty normal to put in a 60-hour work week but I have no personal experience in the matter. 

7-Eleven

Never have I ever eaten at a 7-Eleven in the U.S. and nor do I plan to anytime in the future, but the food quality of 7-Eleven’s in Japan is pretty darn good. We would stop in for fruit, a warm dumpling, cute Japanese snacks, or onigiri (triangle-shaped rice/seaweed sandwiches). These stores are virtually around every corner so you never have to worry about hunting for a snack. Some of the foods we ate in Japan: ramen, pork dumplings, udon, okonomiyaki (pizza-like savory pancake), curry rice, shabu shabu, dorayaki (red bean pancake), The real mochi, and my personal favorite…matcha flavored soft serve ice cream (truly a divine creation and something you must try). I will say that Japan is a tough place to be for vegans. Megan is vegan and we were fortunate to come across some good vegan restaurants, such as Ripple and T’s Tan Tan, but it was a bit of a challenge and requires some planning ahead. 

Zen Mode

Tokyo is the most populated city in the world. Despite this fact, I felt very at ease and comfortable amidst the high density of people. There is something so streamline and pleasant about Japanese cities that I think has a lot to do with the deep respect and consideration people have for each other. Even when you are packed in the metro like a sardine, they respect your personal space and exude so much kindness. This approach seriously needs to spread its influence to each and every corner of the world because we all would be better off. 

In our ten day trip, we did a lot. On average we walked ten miles per day by wandering through various parks, markets, and temples. One of my favorite things that we did was climb Mount Takao. It was a serious and consistent uphill climb, but the sun was shining, the fall leaves were out, and all the way up the mountain were markets and food stops where you could revive yourself with fried rice balls, warm dumplings, or some soft serve. Walking through the Bamboo Forest was also a special experience because it was my first time witnessing bamboo trees of that height. Just next to the forest we came across this gorgeous turquoise river with traditional boats floating past as the fall leaves drifted in the wind. 

In Kyoto, we stayed at a hostel in which our room consisted of three futons on the floor for us to sleep on and a skinny side part where we squished in our bags. It was not the comfiest sleeping situation, but made for some good quality time with my girls. One thing Renee and I did in town near Osaka was go to an onsen. Going to the onsen is a social outing for the Japanese. It is something you do with your friends or family and is very normal. At the onsen, there are several hot water baths indoors and sometimes outdoors too. The onsen’s are separated by gender and everyone is completely naked. Renee and were the only non-Japanese in our onsen and everything was in Japanese, but we managed to navigate okay. The baths and supposed to be very good for your skin and have healing qualities. It was both of our first times and I liked it honestly. Got in some good bonding time and sweat all the toxins out of our bodies. 

We came across a lot of other tourists on our trip, some young couples but mostly families or older people. I felt extremely lucky to do this trip with two very special friends whom I met my freshman year of college in Portland. Kinda crazy to see our progression since then and reconnect in Japan five years later. If you go to Japan, I highly recommend purchasing the Japan Rail Pass online because it was super helpful for us to take trains from city to city and made traveling much easier. I would be more than happy to give specific recommendations too because Japan is definitely a country worth exploring. 

Love,

Manders

P.S. Thank you to Ezra, Renee, and Megan. You are bright stars in my life…whom I love more than words can express. 

 

The Journey

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One day it’ll all make sense…

the tears you cried, the confusion that clouded your mind, the pain you endured…

the curve balls that caught you off guard, the pit stops, the U-turns…

the random encounters and crossing of paths, the heartbreak, the hellos and goodbyes…

This beautiful blend of experiences has colored your unique life…

It has molded you into the warrior you are today…

There is no telling what tomorrow will bring, but isn’t that part of the joy of living?

Darling, there is no need to worry, no need to hurry…

You are the path…

Give your best, do your part, but surrender the rest to that which makes the wind blow.

 

Photo Credits to my friend Johanna while on a trip to Pakistan

 

Bellingham

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Hola amigos,

The Pacific Northwest has a special place in my heart for a few reasons. It reminds me of my freshman year of college in Portland where I got my first real taste of independent living. One of my best friends from college lives in Bellingham, Washington. And it is a nature wonderland with trees of green everywhere.

This was my second time visiting Bellingham to stay with my friend Megan. The last time was two summers ago right before we went into our senior year of college. Each time I visit it seems that it is during a big life transition and each time the trip gives me exactly what I need…clarity and perspective through nature’s healing and quality time with a friend.

One of the days, we did this hike called Heliotrope Ridge Trail with a gorgeous glacier view at the top of Mount Baker and it was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve done so far. On some parts of the trail, it felt like we were in Switzerland, the hues of green, lush trees, wildflowers on the mountain, waterfalls and ravines. It was also my first experience doing river crossings. The water was freezing and strong, but thank goodness for hiking sticks and the Cornwell family for guiding me through that one. 

Love,

Manders

 

Stepping Stones

Hola amigos,

I am back on California soil again and happily reunited with the family.

Leaving this wonderful adventure of a lifetime year I had in Madrid/Europe has been difficult. I’ve been experiencing a variety of strong emotions and a lot of it has to do with the sadness that comes with closing a beautiful chapter of life and moving on to the next one. The responsibilities and existential angst of adulthood have been knocking on my door and I feel like I have been questioning every move I make or want to make in life. “Is this what I really want to do?” “Will this make me happy?”

Especially coming off this high of doing something so life-changing and challenging abroad, I find myself asking “What now?” And trying to match that level of newness and excitement that I experienced abroad to my life now has been a detriment to my mental health. What I do next will not be the same and that is fine. It doesn’t mean it will be any less meaningful for my self-development. I am now faced with a blank slate. Time to start over again and build up my life here in SoCal.

I will say that the greatest reassurance during this time of change and transition has been my family and friends. Knowing that I have them to lean on and support me no matter what makes me exhale a sigh of relief and thank God for their presence in my life.

Another thing that has been helpful is remembering to appreciate the journey—the surprises, the stepping stones, and beautiful moments along the way. The rush that we feel to “get there” and achieve our goals is a trick. Life is not a race and sometimes a miracle comes along that re-directs our path in life to an unexpected place, BUT we have to stay open to see it for what it is and receive it.

Saying goodbye in life is hard. Cry your tears, feel your sadness, but remember that there is abundance and good things coming for you around the next corner. We just have to keep moving forward.

Sending you lots of love and I hope that you find peace on your journey!

Love,

Manders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hasta luego Madrid

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11 months. New country. New culture. New life.

Living abroad is NOT all sunshine and rainbows, but things shifted for me when I started embracing it all—the cultural differences, daily challenges, and the messiness. It was here that I experienced a liberation and empowerment that made me feel so connected and alive. I feel like Madrid broke me wide open…almost like a caterpillar going through chrysalis. At times it wasn’t a pretty process, but it freed me and I am eternally grateful for the awakening it ignited in me. Madrid, thank you for teaching me what it means to truly live and love. You were an unexpected blessing in my life and I will forever treasure my time spent here and the amazing people and experiences along the way.

I think the biggest pearls of wisdom living in Madrid/Europe taught me was how to walk through fire, take things one step at a time, and trust Life. When you learn to embrace the discomfort, messiness, unknown, differences, changes, impermanence, etc. in life, something beautiful happens. A lot us, myself included, live our lives anticipating the future, going from one thing on our To-Do list to the next, but we can lose touch with reality and miss the beauty of the Now when we live like that. Showing up fully and doing our best in the present moment will in turn create a beautiful future and all things will fall into place if we do our part.

What I realized since living abroad is that a lot of Americans live in fear. What if this…what if that…and sometimes we’re so concerned with “safety” that we don’t let ourselves live. Yes, bad things happen and life is tough shit sometimes but living in fear is not the answer. There are always solutions and alternative options available to us. We just have to remain calm, open, and grounded enough to see those solutions that are literally right in front of us. We might not get things right the first time around, but we try and adjust. 

Love,

Manders

Apply for that job. Date that person. Buy that plane ticket. Move to that city. Do all the things that scare you, because they’re worth it.

-Unknown

 

Sparkles of Transcendence

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“My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.” 

-Nikola Tesla

Hola amigos,

Berlin and Serbia marked my final travel adventure before heading back to California for the summer. This was a very special trip because I spent 3 nights in Berlin by myself and it was my first time as a free-bird/solo traveler. It was definitely a different experience and I did miss having a travel buddy to share moments with, but it was also refreshing to roam free and re-connect with myself. I also loved how rewarding it felt to arrive at the correct place and figure out the travel puzzles by myself. You realize that everything works out, even if it’s in a different way than you originally expected and there are always people on your path who are willing to point you in the right direction.

Berlin is a beautiful city, rich in history, but now I get the feeling that it is a hipster place. It is quite a large and spread out city and I definitely didn’t get to experience everything so hopefully I can return one day again. I went on a walking tour in the city and also did a boat tour, but besides that I preferred hanging out in the Mitte neighborhood, just north of the main center, where I spent 2 nights. There were gorgeous parks where people would sunbathe and relax, rows of cozy cafe’s, and pastel-colored buildings with flowers hanging from the balconies. Being in Germany made me feel very close to my Oma. Even though I was traveling by myself, it felt like she was there with me, witnessing everything along with me. I highly recommend going on a solo trip, even if its just for a night or two. You learn so much about yourself and the absence of a companion can be very insightful.

After Berlin, I flew to Belgrade for 4 nights and met up with Jetso, my friend/former college teammate who is from Serbia. This was probably the most surprising and jaw-dropping trip I have been on. I didn’t really have an idea of what this country would be like, but going into it I was stoked to explore a place off the beaten path. When I arrived at the airport, I felt like I was in a different world—the language, people, and atmosphere was unlike any place I’ve visited in my lifetime. We went out to eat after she picked me up at the airport and I was astounded at how delicious and cheap the food was. We ate a variety of different meats, salad, and THE BREAD, more fresh than anything I’ve tasted in places like France or Italy. 11/10 for food there.

Belgrade is known for their nightlife and even though I don’t like to drink or go clubbing, I went because I wanted to see it. The club was on the river, where there was a row of different nightclubs, and it was open so that you could see the river, castle, and moon. I loved the setting, but I left early because it just wasn’t for me. Earlier that day we walked to the park and just past the park is a castle/fortress. We spent the afternoon lounging at this Tarzan- looking jungle cafe with couches and swinging chairs and it was absolutely divine. There are so many adorable spots to eat/drink and just pass the time with your friends. Along the castle, we watched the sunset on two occasions over the city and adjoining rivers.

Belgrade has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world at night time. Everything is well lit and the mix of architectural styles is marvelous to admire as you walk about the lively streets. We had a nice moment walking through the park to the largest Greek Orthodox church in the Balkan area. One of my favorite moments in Belgrade was having a traditional Serbian dinner with Jetso and her friends where they play live music and surround your table and sing and play guitar to you. Before driving to Novi Sad, we stopped by the Nikola Tesla museum and were in awe of this man and all that he created with electricity and engineering. I had no idea that he was Serbian and I left the museum so inspired. The drive to Novi Sad, a more calm city just an hour north of Belgrade, reminded me of the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. So much green and lush nature! We visited two monasteries in Novi Sad and this sacred water fountain that is supposed to have healing powers. It was so peaceful and serene to experience and a nice break from the craziness of Belgrade.

This country truly is a hidden gem. One thing I will say is watch out for the mosquitoes and drivers in Belgrade, they don’t have an ounce of patience. They were hot and sweaty days, but this was one of my favorite trips so far…a collection of moments that will stay with me forever and inspired sparkles of transcendence in my being. A HUGE hvala (thank you) to Jetso and the people I met who made me feel at home in their country. Until next time Serbia!

Love,

Manders

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.