Americas The Beautiful

And I’m not just talking about The United States of America.. But all of what is known around the world as “Americas”. This summer is the first summer in 8 years that I have given my passport a rest. You don’t need a passport to travel around the United States of America. I did decide to see more of my own country however I can’t help but think of America in the greater sense of how it’s seen by the rest of the world.  As a first grade teacher I instruct my students that there are 7 continents in the world. We learn about them, find them on a map, sing songs about them, and learn how to say hello in the countries that lie within their borders. If my students take anything away from our year together (aside from learning to read and write and add and subtract) I hope that it’s this knowledge about the world around them.

But it wasn’t until I started working on a cruise ship traveling to different continents and meeting people and children from all over the world that I learned that not everyone sees the world as we do. Working with children from all over the world I am always intrigued by what students are learning in their classrooms. And continental georgraphy is no exception. NOT everyone sees the world the way we do (in more ways than one). Some children grow up learning that there are 6 continents… Europe and Asia are combined and known as Eurasia. In other cultures they will tell you that there are 5 continents… Africa, Australia, Antarctica, Eurasia, and the Americas. I was beginning to wonder myself…

I’ll be honest… For a while I was a bit embarrassed about my google search history… 

“What countries are technically Central America?”

“What continent is Central America a part of? ”

“What is the cutoff between North and South America?”

“Is the Caribbean a part of North or South America?”

And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still a tad confused when it comes to certain specificities. But this is also one of my favorite teachable moments to have and discuss with my students. 

What I am sure of is that I have been to many cities in many countries within the Americas-North, South, and Central- and they have never disappointed. 


Drinking coffee in Colombia….Sailing through the Panama Canal during the 100 year anniversary…laying on the black sand beaches of Costa Rica… Snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef…Taking the Maid of the Mist into the heart of Niagara Falls…Traipsing through the ruins of Tulum…Climbing on Alaksan glaciers…And swimming in countless Carribbean crystal blue waters… Not to mention my recent summer adventures driving the coast of California and Oregon, exploring all the beauty that Hawaii has to offer, and reminding myself of all that our Nation’s Capital has to appreciate-  These are just a few of the adventures that the “Americas” have offered me. And while many of these places do  actually require a passport, they remind me that there are just as many fantastic places in our own backyard than there are at the end of a 16 hour plane ride. 

The Travel Bug’s First Bite


Once you’ve been bitten by the bug there is no cure. No medicine you can take to reduce the symptoms. No remedy for the pain you feel when you don’t know where you will go next or when. For me it all began with Mexico. (No, don’t worry.. I didn’t actually get bitten by anything in Mexico 😉) It’s the very first stamp I have in my passport and I can tell you I was devastated when the immigration officer at the Rome airport stamped over it. The audacity! Anyways, that’s where it all began. Truth be told, which surprises many people, it wasn’t on a boat that I first left the country. My foreign parents never left the country with us…I never took a senior trip to Europe…No gap years in college… And definitely no spring break trips to Mexico. The summer before I was to become “fun-employed”, due to what I like to call the Great Eucational Depression, my friend Stacy convinced me to go on a trip to Mexico. As she will attest to this- I was dreadfully afraid of leaving the resort- of doing anything remotely cultural or anything not involving laying by the pool. Insert eye roll here because I would. It’s quite funny to think back to 7 years ago and see how much I have grown and changed. 

Almost 3 months later I signed on to work my first cruise to the Mexican riviera. And what an adventure that was. Three major things happened on that cruise. 

  • My sister took it upon herself to boss me around mercilessly- “Jasmine sit there with your life jacket, don’t move or talk to anyone and I will come back and get you after the drill!!!” That list could go on and on and on especially for those who know Princess Jade. 😉
  • I worked with the most amazing group of people-some of which are my best friends today (Lisa and Lidia aka Jumby) 
  • I fell in love with Mexico. And not just the pools and beaches but the culture, the history, the colors, and the Mexico-ness of it all. 

Since that first cruise I have been back more than a few times to different places, and sometimes the same places but with different people. Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, Acapulco, Huatulco, Ensenada, Mazatlan, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and a few others I can’t recall at the moment. Nonetheless, Mexico never disappoints. And no matter what, it will always hold a special place in my heart just as that stamp holds a special place in my passport. 

History Lesson

img_2509

Let’s begin with a Full disclosure backstory of facts:

1. I am a first generation American.

2. My great grandparents, grandparents, parents, and uncles were all born outside the United States of America.

3. I never got a passport until I was 24 years old. Scratch that. I never got a passport that I would end up using until I was 24.

4. I never left the country until I was 25 years old.

5. Since then I have never looked back.

6. To date I have traveled to 47 different countries (I thought it was 48 but I can’t remember what the last place was so I must defer to 47)  on 6 continents.

7. If I’m not traveling or don’t have travel plans on the horizon, I don’t feel like myself. Everyone who knows me knows this and subsequently laughs and rolls their eyes at this.

8. My passport is an extension of myself and I am already sad thinking of the day when it will expire.

9. I have 2 passions in life- teaching and traveling. And when I’m not doing one I am most likely doing the other.

10. For the past 8 years, I have worked on a cruise ship when I’m not teaching.

11. This is a big part of how I got to #6.

12. This is the first summer in 8 years where I will not be using my passport… If you catch my drift.

13. Coming to terms with #12 was a long and tough process yet finally achieved when I realized the following… I live in an amazing place that I absolutely love and want to spend time enjoying and this country has enough wonderful places for me to spend my summer off appreciating.

14. Instead of physically traveling this summer I am going to mentally and emotionally travel by reliving all my previous experiences. I have always kept travel journals of all my adventures and for a hot second I used to write a blog… Until of course, I got wrapped up in the travel and found that I didn’t have time to cruise the love boat and type about all the experiences.

15.  Last year was the first year I realized that not only was I in need of new countries to stamp my passport but that I was desperate for new kinds of traveling adventures. Not just by ship, but by plane, by car, by train, and by foot. And this year is no different. So this is my new  and different kind of traveling. I am going to relive my travels through the pen. Or shall I say by the keyboard. And I can’t wait to see what this journey has in store.