BACK TO THE SUN

Winter is coming to a close which means that Spring Break is just around the corner and I’m taking you back to the sun. What I love about the transition of these two seasons is back to the warm weather and of course my BIRTHDAY. I usually like to go somewhere for a birthday trip and I have done that in the past. I’ve been to many different cities in previous years that consisted of beautiful beaches, great food, the night life and even family friendly sites. So I decided to list my top 5 Spring Break getaways that anyone can afford to take a pause from reality and celebrating the hard studying from midterms and term papers. From staying domestic or taking a flight to Mexico, hopefully these cities can give you the break you need.
CABO SAN LUCAS
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What I like about Cabo is the majority of their resorts are all inclusive and it is affordable. And the backyard of these resorts are easy access to the beach. And if you want to head into the night life, downtown has a strip of bars and night clubs which is easy access to.
RIU SANTA FE: average hotels per night in March and April $175 a night
*riu.com
LAX to SJD: $350-$400 RT March/APRIL
JFK TO SJD: $400-500 RT MARCH/APRIL
(expedia.com)
CANCUN
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Growing up watching MTVs Spring Break is probably one of the best TV rituals I had every year during spring break being a 80s and 90s child. My TV was on MTV all day when my parents would leave my sister and brother at home dreaming that we can be there under age partying with Notorious BIG, USHER and No Doubt. Until this day, Cancun has the all around effect for a perfect relaxation, let loose party until you drop with the MTV spring breakers, and even great sight seeing tourist attractions which can you bring the whole family to (Chicken Itza-Mayan Ruins, Xcaret, etc.)
All Inclusive Resorts Average: $200-$500/night – March and April
Hotel Casa Maya 4 star resort: $131/night
(cheaphotels.com)
JFK to CUN flight average: $489-$600 RT March/April
LAX to CUN flight average: $400-$500 RT March
LAX to CUN Flight Average: $280-$520 RT April
Aeromexico RT: $285 with One Stop
*expedia.com
MIAMI
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Mondrian Hotel South Beach Miami
My favorite city and I love to call this place my second home. My family and friends know how crazy I am over the 305. This city brings a whole lot of international and latin flavor from food to music, which I’m in love with. No matter where you go, south florida is the hot spot. Whether you want to party with the beautiful people in south beach, check out the arts district in downtown miami, or just even relax in Ft. Lauderdale, the south florida area has it all.
Ft. Lauderdale to Miami is 28 miles 45 kilometers from each other about a 40 minute drive on the I-95.
LAX to MIA $295-$450 RT/MARCH
LAX to MIA $247-$450 RT/APRIL
JFK to MIA $228-$550 RT/MARCH
JFK to MIA $216-$550 RT/APRIL
*expedia.com
4 star hotel average $200-$650/night in MARCH
4 star hotel average $160-$500/night in April
*cheaphotels.com
PUERTO VALLARTA
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What I love about this city is that it is a great place to relax with a beautiful scenery. If people ask me what they think of Puerto Vallarta, I tell them it is probably similar to Hawaii in my opinion but a lot more affordable. You can do a lot of the similar things like hike, lay on the beach, and have dinner and drinks with the tourists and locals. People here are very friendly and approachable.
LAX to PVR $320-$430 RT/March and April
JFK to PVR $560-740 RT/March and April
*expedia.com
4 star hotel average $50 to $320/night in March
4 star hotel average $21 to $226/night in April
*cheaphotels.com
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
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This part of the entry may be a little biased since I’m a true California West Coast guy and I live in Los Angeles, but in all honesty, you really can’t beat the many things you can do out here. My family and I used to road trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to Southern California almost every spring break. The weather is perfect and within 100-200 miles/160-320 kilometers distance away from each other you can go from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles to San Diego all in a matter of a week if you are really good with time management and money. No matter the age from your terrible twos to over the hill, you’ll always be a kid at heart by making a stop in Disneyland. And also, don’t forget the many entertainment sites you can see on Hollywood and Highland, and even stroll along Santa Monica Pier while watching the sunset on an average of 70 degree weather from sunrise to sunset.
SFO to LAX $160 to $250 RT/March and April
JFK to LAX $350 to $510 RT/March and April
*expedia.com
4 star average Disneyland Hotels $80 to $400/night in March.
4 star average Disneyland Hotels $60 to $350/night in April
*cheaphotels.com
Car Rentals $26-$50 a day in March out of LAX
Car Rentals $36-$83 a day in April out of LAX
*hotwire.com

A Bumpy Road

 

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Another year has passed, and all I can say is…2015 was a bitch. It was a bumpy ride, literally and metaphorically. But when I look back and reflect on how my year went, I managed through it. You might’ve had worse or you may think it was nothing for me, but we all have different experiences in life that makes you stronger in the long run. Two of my loved ones got the bumpy ride as well. One battled, but one lost. As for me, I battled and also had bumps along the way, but I went into fifth gear and rode it out.

I was on my way home from Cancun making a connecting flight in Texas. I received a text message from my sister after passing through customs asking me when I was returning and to call her as soon as possible. When I spoke to her she told me her lymph node came back while vacationing. She lost her voice with a fever while her and her family was out celebrating the long Memorial Day Weekend. After a couple of biopsies and tests, they found a bump and said it needed to be removed. When I got off the phone with her, I was letting my heart out. Tears of pain and confusion occurred and people at the waiting area at the gate were asking me questions of comfort while I was waiting to board my flight back to Los Angeles. Even the Flight crew comforted me giving me alcohol, water anything to make me feel better, but I kept it all in. I didn’t know how to respond to people after a great getaway which ended my trip finding out about my sisters condition. Five years ago the same situation occurred and the pain she had to go through effected my family and didn’t want to see her go through this again. Doctors appointments and another surgery date was scheduled for mid summer, July to be exact.

I had planned on going on another vacation, a getaway the same time my sister was scheduled to get her lump removed. That bump needed to go. Prior to Cancun, I knew when I returned I would have to get with a friend of mine who planned this trip to Miami. I go to Miami maybe twice a year. I love that city, that is pretty much my second home. But at this point, what am I supposed to do? What would you do? Should I go to my sister and be with her while she gets her lymph node removed, or do I still enjoy my time in Miami? What is the smart thing to do? Ideally I would love to go to Miami. Coming back from Cancun, and going to Miami once or twice a year, it’s the obvious. My friend sent me a text asking if we can plan and go over trip details for Miami. But when I told her I couldn’t because of my sisters condition she was upset. A day later she calls and yells at me over the phone saying “how rude and inconsiderate I was” for not communicating with the rest of the group and not giving everyone else a heads up. I’m sorry, what difference does it make? I’m not going into other details about that conversation and situation because it boils my blood. After I spoke with the rudeness over the phone, I felt like my sister and the rest of my family was disrespected just because she was more worried about the trip to Miami over my sisters condition. Why yell at me because I’m cancelling out on a trip I would’ve LOVED to go to. Her reasons? Ask the people that were my friends, the ones that do not talk to me anymore, because her side of the story was believable and brain washing. None of them had reached out heard my side of the story, or even wished my sister the best. The other thing, the ones I introduced her to listened to her, and did not bother to reach out to me. MY FRIENDS, not hers. After these peoples relationship breakups, difficult everyday life challenges that I was there for, they did not want to be considerate, reach out to me, be there for me when I needed someone for comfort when I was scared for my sister. Her selfishness got the best of her, and everyone that I thought who had my back fell for it. My trust was lost after the disloyalty of these so called friends of mine. This whole entire time I was aquatinted with them was all a fake, plastic, non existent, time wasted. The list goes on.

During this Christmas season, I found out my cousin was in a coma. They found a tumor in her brain. The surgery did not become successful. Apparently the Doctors who operated on her brain mistakenly did something wrong. It resulted in a coma. My cousin did not make it. Christmas night I received a call from my sister and aunt at work saying that my cousin passed away. I was at the work when I received the news trying to hold it all in. As I walked out of work, I was pouring my eyes out. I knew that my cousin had a bump in her brain, but did not know that she actually went into the whole surgical process until my cousin gave me a call. I thought about my sisters situation. If the surgery didn’t go well that first time around, who would have known what happened. I can’t live without my sister, let alone my own family. God had made the decision, and this was it.

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There are a lot of bumps in this road and there are ways that you just need to figure out how to get rid of them. My sisters lymph node is still there. Luckily the week before she was scheduled to go to surgery, her results were looking positive and she needed to follow doctors orders to prevent it from getting worse. Unfortunately, for my cousin, she’s playing with the Angels. In life, we find bumps in the road, we either drive over them, or they’re in the way. For me, I’m still trying to get rid of the bumps and I’m currently eliminating them. I got rid of most of them. Those are the people that I’m losing trust in, but I stepped on the gas to get over it. It does suck that I lost these people that I thought were my friends, but they were never my friends to begin with. We all go through it.

That was 2015 for me. When I think about this year, I look ahead on how I want 2016 to be. I figured, let me just get through the year day by day. No New Years resolutions. The bumps that were in my way to begin with, I learned that I just have to fly by them. As a result in all this in 2015, I was able to travel more with not one thing to hold me down. Cancun, Madrid, Puerto Vallarta, Paris all in a couple of months. 60000 miles total travelled. And I checked off something big on my bucket list. Am I going to do the same thing in 2016? Probably. But like I said I’m taking it day by day. And if there any bumps in the way, get rid of it. How? You’ll know. I did.

I love you Ate. And to cousin Danelle, may you rest in peace. Play safe with the Angels. ❤

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Christmas Taking a Different Turn

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It’s that time of year. Christmas is the season of giving. Or that is what has been told to many. Gatherings, being with loved ones, and being jolly and having a grand ole time. So the other day I decided to have a little gathering of my own. I reached out to the people I had a special relationship, bond with that I hold in a special place in my heart here at home in Los Angeles. Making them brunch while doing a little white elephant gift exchange would be best as well as playing games having mimosas and just listening to Christmas music was very ideal and picturesque. I made special invites specifically for them to join me and they all accepted. I planned the entire two weeks for it from that point up until the planned Christmas Brunch Date. Little that I know the day took a turn.

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My friend from San Francisco was coming into town to join the Christmas brunch date I planned. So I had to get my place ready. Throughout the week I bought little prizes that I put in gift bags to give to winners of these little games along with gift cards to Target, Coffee Bean and Trader Joes which I thought was adorable to give, along with little incentives on the side. As I was getting that ready and setting up the decorations, I was going to cook for my friends after picking up my friend at the airport. While doing all this, I received a text message from her saying that her plane was on a mechanical and that she would arrive an hour late. She asked if she still should come, but I told her, “Yes please do, because I want to see you” through a text message, since I haven’t seen her in a while. Besides, her and I were going to do the cooking and put a little mini concert for my friends at the end of the little soiree I planned, so I needed her. But, could this have been the start of a bad day? Well, I put that mind setting on the side and thought “alright, well let me get things started and prepare the food for cooking just in case people started showing up. I had vegan scones and potatoes I planned on making for my vegan friends that were coming. I had a rotisserie chicken I planned on glazing, side salads and fruits as well as 3 bottles of champagne ready to pop with strawberries in the mimosas on trays ready for my guests as they walked into the door. Plus I had the mistletoe hanging above the door I had ready to kiss my guests as they walked in, as a joke to both male and females, (LOL!). However, while prepping up I was getting a text that one forgot, so he wanted to relax. One down, no big deal. Another said she also forgot, Great!. And another had family issues she needed to deal with. It’s ok, Family First!. Another friend didn’t feel well so she could not make it, but that is ok, keeping good health is a must. Little did I know, as I was on my way to the airport to pick up my friend, I did not hear from everyone else, so no one showed up. The only ones that ended up showing up was my friend from San Francisco as well as a close companion of mine who is really good friends with my roommate who showed up with a white elephant gift at hand. In all honesty, I was heartbroken. With the year I’ve had, I just felt empty, like i had no one except the two that showed up which means a lot. She flew in from San Francisco to join in on the festivity but came to nothing. Although she said, lets have our own brunch, in which the three of us did. So we went on about our day and had a beautiful brunch in Downtown Los Angeles.
As I was heading home from brunch with my two friends, I received a call from my cousin in San Francisco. You know that feeling when your heart drops? Well my heart literally fell out and dropped after this phone call. About a couple of weeks ago around Thanksgiving, my first cousin from the Philippines found a tumor in her brain. To make a long story short, as they operated in getting the tumor out, the doctors supposedly hit a bad artery which caused blood clotting. After two to three tries in trying to get her brain function back to normal, she fell into a coma. It has been told that from the time I received that call from my cousin, that she only had a certain amount of time which was count down to hours to live. Remember how I said I felt empty, well this was when I really felt empty, cold, and depressed inside. My sister just had to go through the same situation, and to hear that my younger cousin is going through it and going into a coma made my heart ache. And to hear that she just got married to her high school sweetheart this past July just made it worse. My aunt is in loss for words. My Grandmother is stressed, let alone, if it were the case to see her grandchild go. What grandparent wants to see that? Especially this time of year, the season of giving, really took a turn in my family. The rest of the day, after dropping my friend back at the airport, i drove along the beach. To just try and clear my mind, but while I was driving there it started to rain. Then I took another turn, and decided to go to church. I felt at this point God needed to hear me. None of my friends showed up to the gathering I planned, so I felt I needed to turn to someone who I knew would be there regardless, and that was God. I cried, I prayed, I sang from my heart, I let it out. The day that went from I thought would’ve been a joyous little gathering turned into a day of mourning. My building mate, came down to see how I was doing. She bought me pizza, poured me a glass of wine and listened to me talk and be by my side. I really needed that. She had no words for me, but all she told me was, “I’m here if you need it and I’m sorry it hasn’t been the greatest year for you.”
I got on the phone with my Aunt, Uncle, Brother, Sister, and Parents just to see how they were doing. I think we were all in shock because we didn’t think that in our own family something so sudden would happen. After all this, with how the day went, I mean, was it even worth it even trying to have a brunch for those that didn’t even show up? I forgive that they didn’t come. Because at the same time, I don’t think I would want them to see my feelings and reactions when I received that call. At that point I think all the energy that I put in trying to make a successful brunch needed to be where it needed the most. Was prepping up to be with family for the holidays. These people are still my friends but it was not worth trying to waste my morning, day, let alone the past weeks in trying to make it a day. I felt horrible, empty, alone, depressed. At that point I wanted to be with family, my grandmother because of her pain. I just wanted to be with those that I needed to give and put the energy to, and that was family.
We all know this is the time of year where it tends to get busy and our minds wander elsewhere. That is the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But after that Sunday, I learned that we just need to appreciate what we have. Appreciate WHO we have. Who is it that you really need to give, put the energy to for this holiday season. Do you really need to buy that $100 present for your loved one? I think just being there for them and giving your heart and your love is what really matters the most. Do you really need all these friends that you tried making an impression for? Are they really your friends? Think about it. I tried making everything perfect for that day. But the day did not even happen. I felt i need to owe something to people, give to people. But I really don’t need to. I think it’s because of the mentality that we all are brainwashed this time of year. I really do love all of my friends, with all my heart. I consider them my loved ones. Family too. And as for my cousin, I pray for the best, wish for a miracle, and sending a lot of my love like I always do to everyone I know. it’s all in God’s hands. Love you Danelle ❤
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The Trip Of A Lifetime…

Everyone pretty much knows that I owned it when it came to traveling this year. But the thing is, I OWNED 2015. A lot of it had to do with figuring out who I am, who my real friends are, and who needed me the most. I lost friends, but I gained my self dignity and pride in myself. Yeah it hurts, but I am a lot more happier than I was earlier this year. I had to eliminate a lot of the FAKE, THE PLASTICS, the ones who do not know what is going on for their lives and trying to reach what they THINK they need. For me, I just want to live life, have fun.

I travelled to 3 different countries, 11 cities, which adds up to almost 70,000 miles this year. In all of these places I’ve been to, I think I’ve learned something different about life and myself.
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CABO SAN LUCAS:
Someone told me that I was full of myself, but at least I love myself.
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PHILADELPHIA:
The ones need LOVE the most are the ones that I give and deserve it. Not the ones that want attention, but need the LOVE. There’s a difference.
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MADRID:
When I was out and about dancing in the streets and made 21 euros, you shouldn’t care what people think. Just go out there and do you. When I donated that money to a homeless lady on the street, the ones that need it the most are more appreciative than the ones you know that you tried to be there for when you thought they need it, and then they burn you. Not cool.
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CANCUN:
You have to trust your own instincts. Trying to figure out the public transportation system in another country is not always the same as your familiarization in your town.
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IMG_2584_2LAS VEGAS:
That Britney Spears is doing another residency for another two years in competition with Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey who is coming back for the month of February.
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PUERTO VALLARTA:
You need those days where you need to reflect, and just need time to meditate and relax. Sometimes you just need to let go of the gas and slow it down a bit because if you’re on overdrive then you’ll heat up. You need time to yourself to cool down from the hustle and bustle and in this crazy world we live in.
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PARIS:
When you feel like you’re failing or if you lost, you just have to get up and keep moving. Yeah, I lost the fake friends, but they were fake, plastics, but you’re up and about and you keep moving.
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MIAMI:
This party town in south beach is always going to be there. Yeah we all have our obstacles that we go through, but there are more important things in life that needed to be done. FAMILY FIRST. If you don’t get it, then you don’t get me.
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From all this, the bigger picture, I pretty much learned that I do not owe anything to anyone. The only person I owe something to is myself. You will never satisfy another person. In the long run, if you’re happy with yourself and doing what you love doing, then that is all that matters. Who cares about the fakes, the plastics, they only worry about their superficial lives and the other “artificials.” I really don’t need that many friends, and it is something that I am getting used to with out having what they call now a days a “squad.” But do you really need a group of friends to make you happier in life? I can count as many friends in just one hand and I’m good. And with family by my side, that is all that matters. Besides if you can be independent, then the stronger person you are. I’ve always told people and I have to keep repeating to myself to JUST DO YOU. Keep on going, move forward, because “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” And that’s what I’m doing.
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Pray For Paris <3

“Peace is a precious gift

which must be promoted and protected…

Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. 

War begets war, violence begets violence”

-Pope Francis

I just got back from Paris a little less than a month ago. Because of how much I love this city, I went Looking through photos and videos from my vacation and I put a little video together from my little trip as well as my family members and friends photos from when they went in the past. My heart goes to Paris and I pray for world Peace. #PRAYFORPARIS

PARIS IN PHOTOS…

I took a couple of head shots while I was in Paris because I wanted to. The rich history and beauty of this city made me want to do this. With being one of the most popular cites in this world and a high fashion market, I wanted to pretend I was in a magazine. My roommate told me that I literally looked like I was in a GQ spread. Hey, sometime you have to have it get to your ego just to boost your self confidence, right? Hope you like them. Enjoy 🙂

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MERCI PARIE

 

CONTINUER – KEEP MOVING

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I got off the metro not knowing where to go. The Concierge at the hotel told me to get off of Châtelet because that is the middle of everywhere in the city. There were about thousands of people at the metro station when I got off. As I went up the escalator it was a complete maze. Everything stated in French. It almost reminded me of Penn Station in NYC, but at least I understood what the signs meant. Thanks to my senior year in high school, I visited Montreal with my Student Government group and I remember “Sortie” which means exit. So I followed the “Sortie” signs and the sign that looks like a guy running eager to get out (coincidence). As I looked lost, a beautiful young African girl with a french accent asked me if I needed help. And I asked her “where do I go?” She pointed in a direction and said “continuer” which meant “keep moving.” So I went that direction and was turning left, turning right, going up the stairs, and down an escalator, I finally saw daylight. The smell of fresh air and cigarette smoke was very appealing to me compared to the common urine smell inside any typical metro or train station.

PARIS METRO SORTIE

By the time I got outdoors, I had no idea where to go. I was still lost. it was like any typical city. I’ve been to a lot of the major cities in the U.S. and grew up in San Francisco, so walking out of the metro station was typical for me compared to walking out of the BART station on Embarcadero when I used to work for the radio station. But it’s different when everything is in a different language other than english, and especially when you do not know where you are. Back at the hotel, the Concierge offered to hand me a map, but I declined only because I wanted to figure my way around. Same thing happened in Madrid, I did not want a map, and I got lost there which was great. I prefer to walk around in a city I have never been to and get lost because I know I can figure my way around, and eventually get back to where I started. Because at that starting point, you know that you were never lost after all. Especially in a beautiful city like Madrid.

So I continued my way around the city, and my goal was to reach that famous landmark everyone keeps talking about. I figured all I need to do was look up and I could see what I wanted to see in a distance. It was stated that it was the tallest landmark in the world until 1930 when the Chrysler Building in New York City was built. I continued walking a couple of blocks but I really couldn’t see much with taller buildings and overcast skies with temperatures about 12 degrees Celsius, I was hoping that clouds and fog would not cover it but there weren’t that many sky scrapers to tell if tall buildings were covered by fog. About 10 minutes later I finally saw it, so I headed that direction in a rapid movement.

The Eiffel Tower didn’t look like it was that far, so I figure I walk it. But what a beautiful walk it was. The first thing I saw was the Pont Des Arts. And it was true, they were already taking half of the locks down. But it didn’t stop locals and tourists around to add more locks onto the bridge. With how beautiful the city and people are so drawn to falling in love or being in love, the lock and the key represents “Love is the key to the heart,” which is true. I believed it more when I came to this city.
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A couple of blocks down was the Home of Napoleon and across the street the Palais Garnier. After seeing these popular city tourist sights, I was already overwhelmed and it was only the beginning of the trip, and maybe because I was still jet lagged. But it really hit me when I finally reached the Pont Alexandre III, especially with a crepe guy at the corner cooking crepes on his bicycle stand. I would see a lot of Pont Alexandre photos in magazines, engagement pictures, many times on the travel channel, since it is probably one of the attractions people tend to think of when they think of this city.
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So I continued the walk. Dusk was approaching and street lights were turning on. It then started to sprinkle a bit, and I had no umbrella. So i started to walk faster. I reached a point where I had no idea where to go. I turned into a street and literally got lost. As I looked up I couldn’t see the tower anymore, thinking I went the wrong direction. I just started walking towards the ways I remember seeing the tower which I felt was north so I unknowingly went that route. Turning right, turning left, I started to see flash of lights blinking. In about 10 minutes after getting lost, there it was. The sparkling with its lights twinkling blinking TOUR EIFFEL.
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Over the past couple of months I had to just figure out a lot of things. Certain people knew what I was going through and it took a toll out on me because over the past couple of years I faced a lot of challenges that I never would thought occur. Family member becoming sick, losing close friends over stupid bullshit, but then I realized that it’s a part of life. I felt like I’ve lost and I felt alone. These trips I took the past couple of months I have learned SO MUCH, especially when you go solo. But what this trip to Paris has taught me is that I’ve pretty much have done everything I could. Meaning, being there for family when they need it and trying to save friendships. It all just worn me out. So I had to go my own way, and going down that one road was definitely not for me. So I went the other way. And trying to find my way out of that metro station or figuring out how get to the Eiffel Tower is no matter the journey I’m taking it will strengthen me as I go along. Whether I’m just trying to deal with a family member being sick, losing friends, or even having a hard day at work, it will make me a stronger person. You learn from it as time comes and have to figure it out. You have to remember, I never used a map to try to find my way around Paris. It’s almost as comparison to buying a book on “How to Save A Friendship” or “How To Heal A Family Member” or “Why Did I Get Yelled at For Canceling a Trip Because My Sister Was Ill” you just have to figure it all out on your own, and when you move towards that direction, you’ll eventually understand why.
No matter the direction you take, whether you’re going left, going right, up the stairs, or even decide to take the elevator, or if you think you’re taking the wrong way trying to reach that destination, you’ll definitely see that light at the end. And when you see that light or reached it, you know you’ve overcame that obstacle. Like what the beautiful African French girl or Mademoiselle said, you have to keep moving. Like I said it’s a part of life. You will never get lost. You’ll eventually find your way back.
When I got to the Eiffel Tower the lights started flashing, like the lights you see in Vegas or Time Square. I knew I was going to be ok. Before I left my trip to Paris, a good friend of mine sent me a text, but it was a picture text that states “Those who fly solo has the strongest wings.” Traveling by myself this year made me a strong person. I still fight my battles, but I’m definitely stronger than I was before.