Otavalo Market, Ecuador

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(All photos by Daniel Nevares – @danieljtravels)

I’m not a huge shopper but I was in shopping heaven when we strolled into the Otavalo Market in Ecuador.  It’s about an hour and a half drive from Quito and it is well worth it.  Apparently, they have been promoting this market a ton so there were a bit of tourist in the area but that didn’t matter.  There was so much culture and so many beautiful things, it didn’t disappoint.  I had been brushing up on my Spanish before this trip so it was also a great opportunity to practice the language.  I ended up with many, many things from this market and I would go back in a heartbeat.

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The colors were stunning.  I love bright colors so I was drawn to all the fabrics.

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I had to stop at every vendor.

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My first purchase was the hat you’ve seen in many posts now.  I love it so much and got it from this stand.

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I had to try on a lot to find “the one” and this woman was great with my broken Spanish and indecisive nature.

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There were so many options!  Honestly, if they were easier to transport I probably would have bought so many.

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And then I found the one I loved the most that has now graced many of our blog posts :).  I was so pleased I looked to Dan in excitement only to see he had been taking photos of us the whole time.  His Spanish is great so whenever I would get stuck on what to say, I would look to him with this exact expression like “come help me with a word!”

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With my new hat, we carried on.  There were many other things I was interested in like the food and some colorful ponchos.

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It seemed I needed one to match my hat and this is where we found this adorable woman who insisted on helping me try them all on.  Of course hoping I would buy them but I’m a sucker for cute locals with beautiful merchandise :).

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After settling on this poncho and a blue one (oh and multiple others for family members), we felt pretty good about supporting the locals.  Things were not expensive and the quality is great.

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Here I am with a backpack full and multiple other bags but don’t worry, you will see how much I wear all the things in previous and future posts.  I hate to be wasteful or own things I don’t wear and sometimes I struggle with buying things wondering when I will ever wear them.  My Ecuador finds though have become my staples and I just love them!

Stars and Sparkles.

IMG_5520_2(Shoes – Sorel’s similar here, Skirt – Nordstrom similar here, Denim jacket – Madewell, Hat – locally made at the Otovalo Market in Ecuador)
When I saw this amazing skirt of Chelsea’s, I knew I had to try it on immediately.  I’ve always wanted to figure out how to wear an amazingly fun, Carrie Bradshaw type skirt and this was the perfect skirt.  I basically raided her closet because the Sorel platforms are also hers and probably the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.  Paired with a simple top, denim jacket, and my favorite hat, what more could you want in a fun outfit?

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Comfy Casual.

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{Dress – Athleta on sale now!, necklace – Anthro find your style here, shoes – French Blu from Nordstrom cute similar style here, purse – Marc Jacob from Nordstrom love this similar one}
One of my favorite purchases ever was this Athleta dress.  It’s so comfy and can be worn so many different ways.  I wear it around the house or dress it up with some strappy sandals and a good necklace.  Maybe it’s a west coast thing but anytime I can make casual work, it’s safe to say I will take that chance.

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Best parts of this dress are the soft material and the thumb holes!

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This paired perfectly with a big chunky solid colored soft necklace.

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So simple and comfortable, this is definitely one of my favorite closet finds of the moment.

 

Cable Knit Spring.

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{hat – Otovalo Market in Ecuador, sweater – Ann Taylor, similar here, Denim – Madewell, Shoes – Banana Republic similar here, Bag – Marc Jacobs from Nordstrom Rack similar here}

The sun is starting to come out but there is still a chill in the air.  Since I am always cold, I like to be bundled up while embracing the Spring days to come.  The is my go to outfit at the moment.  What’s yours?

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I love this hat that I got on vacation in Ecuador last summer.

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It’s got a great detailed band.

IMG_5440_2Cable knit keeps me just warm enough.

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You never know what you are going to find at the Nordstrom Rack, like this purse!  I also got these flats on super clearance at Banana Republic for under $10.  What a steal!

IMG_5437I’m pretty simple when it comes to dress so this is the perfect outfit for me when the days are chilly but the sun is shining.

 

Vinales, Cuba – 3 must do’s!

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What can I say, by now it’s probably a bit obvious that I’m a sucker for farm towns.  I’ve just returned from spending a week in Cuba (mainly in Vinales) and after all of the research I did before the trip, I wanted to share my learnings and some of my favorite spots/stops from the trip.  Throughout the week, I hope to help debunk some of the rumors and also help in the planning of your trip or inspire you to visit Cuba!

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  1. Horseback ride through Vinales Valley!  There are so many places to link up with a horseback riding guide.  We were lucky enough that there was a spot right next to our Casa Particulares in which I would highly recommend.  For $25 CUC, we spent hours riding horses through the valley where we took a tour of a tobacco farm, a coffee farm, a cave, and a restaurant with a look out over the entire valley.  You pay for food and drinks along the way but that was to be expected.

    IMG_13982. Eat the local fruit!  You will likely get a taste of this from your host if you stay in the Casa Particulares and have breakfast with them but we also stopped and bought a massive bowl of mangos for $1 CUC.  They were delicious and the fruit is just so tasty on the island.

    IMG_12953. Eat at Finca Agroecologica.  This is not somewhere you will see locals eating so it is quite well known by tourists but it’s truly an amazing experience.  You can walk the farm and see them growing everything you will eat.  It’s a beautiful farm to table experience in one of the most epic sceneries.  We loved it so much, we went twice!  You will get more food than you can ever finish.  My favorite thing was actually a special smoothie type drink they made with peppermint, local honey, pineapple, coconut, and more.

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    Miguel, the grounds keeper showing us the animals and around the farm.

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    If you can speak and/or understand Spanish, Miguel will tell you a lot about the property.

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    Just looking at these photos makes me want to go back!

    I would have also added climbing to this list but I know not everyone would be up for that.  I will dedicate a separate post for any climbers out there :).  Cuba was incredible but since it is starting to become easier for Americans to travel there, there are many things changing about travel to the country.  I read so many myths before our trip that I didn’t realize until we got there but also so many solid travel tips that I’m glad I was prepared for.  I will post those later this week.  For now, enjoy!

Tribal Threads.

IMG_7101I’ve been digging Top Shop’s trends lately and when I saw THIS thick threaded tribal skirt, I knew it was right up my alley.  It’s comfortable and fits like a glove.  Also, since it’s a thicker material I can wear it with a tank top in the summertime and a long sleeve in the winter.  A perfect addition to a capsule closet.

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IMG_7106I add my fringe heels here and call it a day.  They are super comfortable as well and go with pretty much everything.

LBD.

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A little black dress is a great investment because you will have so many purposes for this one piece of clothing.  Whenever I’m stumped over what to wear that is dressy enough but not too much, I throw on this dress from Top Shop (sold out but similar here).

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I add this Madewell gold necklace to add some flare to the high neckline.

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These fringe heels are the perfect way to add some fun to a simple black dress.

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The back also has a long slit that I liven up by wearing a bright neon soft bra.  This way you can still wear a bra but have it be fun that it’s showing.

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Voila!  This is my way of dressing subtle but adding my own style.

Would you rather live 70 years as a lamb, or 30 years as a lion?

I came across this quote recently and it made me pause for a moment.  It’s seemingly ironic timing with my turning of 30 years old today but more than that, this is a question that seems to rear its head so often to my generation.  There’s always this yin and yang of either being too static or being the bravest version of yourself.  What if you could find a solid but brave place?  In a life full of choices, how have you chosen to live your life?  I don’t have all the answers but I have learned a lot in the past three decades.  Here’s some open thoughts to myself full of advice and learnings.

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If you want something, make a plan and don’t wait for anyone else to help you get there.  Put it out there in the universe and start brainstorming.  No idea is a crazy idea but a crazy idea is an idea without a plan.
TRUTH:   I wanted to start rock climbing outdoors and think maybe I was waiting for someone to invite me to start going.  But that didn’t really happen.  So I started going to the climbing gym more frequently to try to meet people to climb with.  Then I started taking courses to get better at climbing.  I actually set a goal of one big outdoor climb by the time I turned 30 a few months ago.  Well, today I turned 30 and not only have I done one big outdoor climb but I’ve done multiple climbs across 5 state parks.  I’ve accomplished a hard rating route (to me), done two multi-pitch climbs, and learned to set anchors and rappel, all outdoors.  Thanks to the help of many along the way who I cherish and continue to climb with.

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Six degrees of separation is a real thing and it’s pretty awesome to encounter when you least expect it.  Also, like people find each other so most people that you gravitate towards are probably for some similar awesome traits that you haven’t yet discovered about yourself 🙂

Always be kind.  You hear it all the time but you really don’t know what someone is going through and when that person is you, remember to also still be kind.

You’re not always wrong.  People will try to convince you of this but the important thing to take away is a lot of times this really translates to a disagreement.  Don’t mistake this for being wrong for feeling a certain way.  

Embrace the unforeseeable future but know that every experience you’ve had along the way has helped groom that path.  It’s very rare you will be steered in an unfavorable direction so embrace the adventure!

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Time is the most valuable gift to give so nourish the worthy relationships in your life, they will bring you the most joy.  Also, let go of the ones that you know you should even if it’s hard.

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The hobbies I enjoyed the most as a kid, I enjoy the most as an adult.  Think about what made you happy when you were younger and try it out at a later stage in life if you’ve let it go.  It feels good to remember the good, innocent fun.

Laugh inappropriately at appropriate times or just whenever you want to but not at other people’s expense. 

Try to keep cash on you, always.  You never know when you are going to need it and so many times, I’ve failed to have it when I needed it.

I’ve loved all the learnings I’ve been able to gather from my friends and family.  Like this article a friend of mine wrote.  Or my mom’s children’s book that just won an award!  Everyone has their talents and it’s awesome to watch them flourish and learn from them.

If you don’t ask, no one will read your mind.  Flip the situation in your mind of what would think or how would you feel if this person approached me about this.  It often softens the blow of what you need to say.

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When given the chance to jump in or stay dry, always jump.

And when someone spontaneously invites you to have the next best day of your life, fucking YOLO.

These are all things that have stuck with me along the way and I’m sure there will be many more to add but as I pass over the threshold of 30, I know that I can live to 70+ years as a lion. 🙂