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Heart of Travel

Liebster Award: Getting To Know The Girl Behind The Heart of Travel

A month or so ago, I got a message from Chris at Travel Hippi nominating me for a Liebster Award. Fairly new to blogging, I immediately had to google what the heck a Liebster Award even was before I got too swept away with the idea of walking a red carpet in an Oscar worthy sequin gown and stilettos. (Fyi, I would actually never wear that but you get my drift).

After a couple minutes of research I learned that, while not quite an Oscar, a Liebster Award is in fact a real thing and it’s designed to help newbie bloggers grow their audience and make their mark on the blogging world. I was excited that Chris (whom I’ve never met before) found me and my little site worthy of the nomination and it’s proven to be a true pleasure working on this post!

Thank you very much Chris for the opportunity. Everyone, please check out his and Ciska’s site, Travel Hippi, where they chronicle their journeys across the globe and provide readers with insightful tips, recommendations and travel inspiration!

So, without further ado here are my responses to the questions Chris sent my way. At the bottom you can learn more about the Liebster award and also check out the questions that I’ve come up with for my two nominees, Dominique Cordero of La Mariposa Vagabunda and Meghan Sherman from Meghan on the Map. Tag girls, you’re it.

– LIEBSTER AWARD QUESTIONS –

1. How did you find your niche?

I found my niche after falling in love with Latin America in the spring of 2010. At the age of nineteen, I boarded a plane for my first solo trip abroad knowing little about Guatemalan history or culture. At the time, I spoke all of 5 words in Spanish you know baño, taco, cerveza, guapo, bailar….all the important things. What was supposed to be a 10 day trip snowballed into a love affair with Guatemala and its Latin American neighbors. Seven years later and still going strong it’s probably the best relationship I’ve ever been in 😉

I often reflect on my time in Guatemala as a major coming of age moment in terms of my personal, professional and academic growth and development. I showed up in Guate a childish teenager and, while I hardly had things figured out (do any of us really?) when I returned just weeks before my 22nd birthday, I did head home a profoundly changed person. Over the past seven years I’ve been working in tourism, education and the nonprofit world. In November of 2016 I began breaking ground on realizing my vision to combine those three areas with my entrepreneurial desires to start a boutique travel agency/tour operating company.

2. What is the best book you have read recently?

Rebirth: A Fable of Love, Forgiveness, and Following Your Heart by Kamal Ravikant. 

Given to me by someone near and dear to my heart at the most kismet of times, this fiction novel is inspired by the author’s real life and follows his journey, both literally and figuratively, while on the famous Camino de Santiago. Kamal uses his talented storytelling and character development skills to share poignant life lessons in a book that is hard to put down. It’s one for the mind, heart and soul.

3. What do you do for music while traveling?

I’m not the most tech savvy person out there so my solution is pretty basic. I’ve got a Spotify premium account and I create a bunch of different playlists that I can download and play offline. I am obsessed with music and consume it throughout the day, much like coffee. I really like classic rock, reggae, bluegrass, bachata, merengue and also country music. I don’t think people belong in boxes and I firmly believe we can have varied taste and even like things that might be considered “in conflict” with one another. ¡Viva la música!

 

4. Using any criteria, what is your favorite place you have visited and why?

Hmm.. this one is near impossible to answer. My heart has a clear bias for Guatemala but putting that aside I would say my top three favorite destinations so far have been:

  • Viñales Valley Cuba – An insanely beautiful agriculture center of the island with rich chestnut colored soil contrasted by lush green vegetation. The region is known for tobacco and coffee production and farmers that fully embody the terms “baller” and “boss tycoon”.

  • Mexico City – An amazing blend of history, the arts, innovation and enterprise and diversity. And oh my…the food is ridiculously good. In the words of a millennial “I can’t even”.

  • Lake Titicaca, Perú  particularly Amantaní Island for the cultural exchange experience with local families that was heartwarming, fun and left a lasting impact. Please check them out or email me for more info!

5. And using any criteria, what is your number one bucket list destination and why?

Also not something I can easily answer and I’m sure it will continue to change over time. My current #1 bucket list item is the Galapagos Islands which I plan on checking off this year! While my focus generally tends to be on people, cultures and the human experience we are ultimately all part of something much bigger than ourselves. I feel the Galapagos is perfect evidence of just that so I look forward to exploring it!

6. If I offered you a vacation on a tropical island, who would you want to take with you? Any person, dead or alive. Why?

A couple months before writing this post I was guiding a tour in Guatemala. This is something I’ve been doing for years and I always partnered with a close friend of mine, Carlos Armas, to work on these trips. He was one of my first friends in Guatemala,  employing me at 19 as a tour guide and helping to pay for my Spanish classes. When I returned home to California we continued to work together guiding trips and he was a big driving force and inspiration behind my decision to start The Heart of Travel. Whenever I was in Guatemala I stayed in my room at his house and he was a person I could truly count on for anything. While I was in town running the tour he passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident at just 36 years of age. We had plans to go to Honduras the following week and visit the Bay Islands, partly for fun and also to research places for future tours we wanted to offer.

So, if I could spend a week on a tropical island with anyone, living or dead, it would without a doubt be Carlos Armas, even if it was just to catch some waves together one last time and say all the things you always think you’re going to have time to say but often never do.

 

7. What is your favourite dish that you discovered through traveling?

There is a dish in Guatemala called chuchitos that I love so much that some of my friends there began calling me chuchitos as a nickname. That’s my level of obsession with these savory little treats. Similar to what many here in the states know as a tamales, chuchitos are basically corn based masa pillows filled with a large chunk of chicken or pork and a yummy tomato sauce. They are wrapped up in a corn husk and cooked in the same fashion as tamales but what makes them different is the chunkiness of the meat and the bright red (not spicy) tomato sauce that oozes from the little guys with each bite. You can throw a little extra sauce and some queso fresco on top as well if you want to get wild, which I do.

8. What is your biggest challenge around blogging?

Consistency. With so many other things on my plate such as my business, graduate school, family, friends, fitness, etc. I sometimes fall behind on keeping up a consistent blogging schedule….which is a big no no. Setting deadlines and doing my best NOT to hit the snooze button helps but it’s still not a perfect system. I’m happy to hear suggestions and tips on how to improve in this area 😉

9. If you can give newbie bloggers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Collaboration.

Forget competition and forget comparing yourself to others. Instead join some Facebook groups, take a blogging course and get out there and network with other bloggers. You are now embarking on a journey that most of your peers won’t be able to relate to, and that’s ok, but it’s a good idea to make some friends in the blogging world. You can go to them for advice, support and friendship and it can also be a good way to get some guest post opportunities to help build your audience. Just remember to be authentic. There are so many awesome people out there doing all sorts of amazing work. Find your tribe, the people whose values and goals are in tune with yours and work together!

10. If you were offered the opportunity to be part of the first mission to Mars, would you go and why?

Honestly, no I wouldn’t at this point. There is still so much else I want to see and experience on our beautiful planet earth. I’ll save Mars for the next lifetime 😉

HOW DOES THE LIEBSTER AWARD WORK?

It’s pretty straightforward. Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their website. Display the award and answer their ten questions about yourself. Nominate other bloggers including links to their websites (I asked their permission beforehand) and present them with your own ten questions. Enjoy, and then spread the joy!

MY QUESTIONS FOR DOMINIQUE AND MEGHAN!

1. When did you first get bitten by the travel bug and how did it lead to where you are today?

2. What is your favorite aspect of traveling? History? Nature? Food? Or?

3. What is the biggest challenge you face when traveling for longer periods of time?

4. Do you prefer solo travel, organized group travel or traveling with your partner or a couple close friends?

5. What’s the craziest experience you’ve had while on a trip? Don’t be shy 😉

6. Is there any particular travel hack you’ve found to be extra useful?

7. Are there any places you’ve visited that you really wouldn’t want to go back to? Why?

8. How has travel impacted your personal growth and development?

9. Who is the most interesting character you’ve met abroad?

10. Is there anywhere that you really want to visit but are perhaps held back by fear of the unknown? If so, where, why and how can we get you there?!

Okie dokie my loves, thanks for reading. ¡Hasta la pasta!

– Chelsea

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