It’s Been Real

 

 

 

Most people experience things in life in what seem to be different chapters. New York City for me has been one big chapter with A LOT of sub chapters. It’s funny how sometimes the universe seems to force change on you. Like it knows you’re long overdue and that shaking things up will bring with it a lot of necessary experiences. I have been wanting a new adventure and a big change for some time now. For me a lot of what has kept me in NYC is comfort. A good stable job. Various freelance work and connections. And a cheap apartment in an expensive neighborhood. Comfort can be the worst thing for a person because it can hold you back from taking risks. Risks which could lead to exciting things.

Growing up my life was full of a lot of instability. Crazy family life and lots of moving around and staying with friends. Because of this I have embraced the stability I have been given these years in New York and that has always been a big part of what keeps me here. I have a definite fear of reliving those unstable moments.

This past week I received some news. Our time in our very inexpensive Brooklyn apartment is coming to an end. And very quickly. It seems they want us out, which we saw coming being that we are living in the most expensive neighborhood in the country right now. It was only a matter of time really. Williamsburg isn’t the rough around the edges artist mecca it was a few years back. It has been inundated with J Crew, Starbucks, Urban Outfitters, and expensive real estate. A lot of the neighborhood staples have closed and a lot of my friends have already been priced out. Our lease is up  April 1 and once that happens we will be saying goodbye to this apartment.

Kam and I alway said if we lost our apartment that would be our cue to leave the city. Any other apartment we could afford would be more expensive then what we pay now as well as way farther out in Brooklyn. It seems the universe has given me a kick in the ass. I guess it knows that as long as I have this apartment I’ll never leave New York. Once the stability, which has been the one thing holding me here, is gone then I don’t have a choice but to do something else.

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Which brings me to our plan. Maybe a bit crazy. Definitely a bit more rushed then we would have liked. Nonetheless our options are a bit limited. Kam and I haven’t experienced most of our own country. I’ve been abroad and I have always dreamed of doing a cross country road trip but have never had the time, money, or guts to do it. Pretty soon all I will have is time and without my stability what else is there but guts. So April 1 when we leave our apartment we will be moving into an RV. We’ll be spending half our week in Pennsylvania and half our week in NYC working as usual. Saving as much as we can, so that in August we can hit the road on a cross country adventure.

Pretty sure there will be ups and downs. We are planning on trying to utilize as much of our skills as possible along the way to earn some money on the road. Possibly trying to play some shows as a two piece version of our band, Bloodletters and Badmen, taking pictures, picking up some recording gigs, bartending, work exchange, basically whatever we can figure out.

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For me the scariest part of leaving NYC is leaving my job. I’ve had very few points in my life where I wasn’t working. I’ve always been lucky to have a job since the ripe old age of 16. And right along with that stability thing I tend to stick to my jobs. I’ve been with Bowery Presents probably about 8 years now and I know that job won’t be waiting for me when I return from our road trip.  That being said if we do this trip and decide there really is no place like New York, New York will still be here waiting for us.  We can always come back.

The most exciting part about our decision is all of the unknown. The idea that we could find a place and fall in love with it and just know we should live there. Seeing the Grand Canyon and all the beauty of the country that I’ve only seen in pictures is exciting. Doing something I’ve thought about for a very long time is so fulfilling that as days pass the good starts to overshadow the scary and I become more ready to embrace whatever my next chapter is. We are about to lose a lot of things over the next month. But in a way, nothing compares to closing a chapter and embarking on a new and exciting one. Wish me luck!

On this blog I’ll be posting not only the normal travel stuff but consider us an experiment.  If anyone ever wondered about living in NYC in an RV or doing a cross country adventure sustainably I’ll be sharing the ups and the downs of this process.  And for those that know me don’t worry, Dean the cat will be coming with us on the road.

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The Jaguar Rescue Center

 

 

 

Where does one take a boat to a cab to a bus to a cab to a bus to a cab, resulting in 15 hours of travel in a single day?  I’m going to tell you.

In planning our Costa Rica itinerary this travel blogger made a tiny mistake.  The day before leaving we were finalizing some of our plans when Kameron realized there were two extra days at the end of our trip.  Had I booked an alternate date flight and until this very moment not noticed?  Yup pretty much.  This however was GOOD news.  I mean who doesn’t want two extra days of vacation?

When I was initially planning our itinerary I used various blogs and travel sites to figure out where we should go and for how long.   I would say about a day after I had finished booking our hostels and sorting things out I stumbled upon this website for the Jaguar Rescue Center.  Why haven’t I heard of this place before?  I hadn’t come across it in any other blogs or advice sites on where to visit.  I immediately started watching videos of the center and falling in complete love with  it.  I showed Kameron and we both were like how can we make this happen?

Unfortunately the center is located in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca which is on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.  Our entire trip is based around the central and Pacific Coast.  There was just no way to make a visit happen.

Sitting there the night before we were leaving and realizing that we had two extra days of our trip unbooked had me immediately on the computer trying to figure out if it would be possible to get from Drake Bay all the way across country in a single day so that we could make it to the center before we fly out.  It turns out, you can!   I don’t know that I would recommend it but it can be done.  Any interested parties can contact me and I’ll gladly help you get set up to do it.  There were some risks involved.  We cancelled the hostel we were supposed to stay in for our last night and instead booked a place in Puerto Viejo for a couple nights.  If we missed our connection on one of the buses or if there was a hangup in any of our points of travel then we would be stuck in San Jose without a hostel and on top of that have to pay for the night we missed in Puerto Viejo.  Not the end of the world but for broke travelers it’s not the best situation either.  On this trip it was important for us to prebook our lodging because January is the beginning of high season in Costa Rica and you risk being shut out.  What has become a very long story short, we made our connections and made it to our hostel.  Tip: if you bring peanut butter and jelly on the road make sure you bring a knife.  I’m not going to tell you how we made sandwiches on the bus.  Another tip:  If you’re going to drink beer on a 5 hour bus ride don’t start in the first hour.  The public bus drivers there are not going to conveniently pull over for you to pee.  There was a guy on our bus who was basically dying and wound up peeing in his beer can and throwing it out the window.  Can’t say that I blame him but as soon as we saw him crack his first can we saw it coming.

and now:  The Jaguar Rescue Center

From the moment you enter the center you encounter animals roaming freely, being loosely tracked by volunteers.  At the center the animals are not contained in cages all the time but are allowed to explore their environment while being trained and prepared to be released.   Because of this you can see animals interacting with both people and other animals in ways that you don’t normally see in the wild.

It’s not just us humans that visit the center either.  During our visit I happened to glance in a tree and spot an owl.  Our guide Torey told us that the owl use to live at the center but has since been released back into the wild.  He returns to the center whenever he wants to visit those that nursed him back to health.  As we were about to leave, there were a bunch of monkeys hanging around.  Torey told us that one of the monkeys use to live at the center and now that she is living back in the wild she returns for visits with her new pack.  She even brings her baby and trusts Encar, one of the founders of the center, to examine it and make sure it’s healthy.  There is a trust and friendship between the animals at the center and their caretakers that you may not be use to seeing between humans and wild animals.

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How to visit

There are two ways to visit the center.  You can do a group tour or a private tour.  The private tours need to be scheduled in advance and are a bit more expensive, but if you have always dreamt of feeding a monkey or petting a baby ocelot then you’ve gotta do it.   However if you’re on a tight budget the group tour is better then no tour and at only $18 it’s a steal.

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Donate, donate, donate.  The center receives no government funding for what they do and all of the animals in their care live off of donations. There are two founders, Encar and Sandro.  They began the center out of their home and it has since expanded into what it is today.  The main goal of the JRC is to rescue, rehabilitate, and rerelease  animals back into the wild.

For more on the center visit their website:

Jaguar Rescue Center

Check out their volunteer program as well.

In my opinion no trip to Costa Rica is complete without a visit here.  The private tour might seem expensive at $50 a person but I assure you it is well worth it.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the video we made.  And remember, every penny you pay goes toward the care of the animals you’ll meet.