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My Journey to Costa Rica

A stormy day on BC Ferries

Vancouver Island > Vancouver

I had a long day ahead of me for my journey to Costa Rica. Although my flight out of YVR wasn’t until 5:45pm, I still had to get over to the mainland from the Island. So after hugging Roxie goodbye, I got in the car and headed to the Nanaimo ferry terminal to catch the 10:30am ferry to Vancouver.

When I arrived at the terminal, I bought my ticket and went through, and grabbed a coffee just in time to hear the announcement that due to high winds the ferry would be delayed and possibly cancelled. If the boat didn’t go within the hour, the next sailing wouldn’t be until 3pm! Whaaaaaat??!!!

I was happy that I had given myself lots of extra time, but if 3pm was the next available sailing, I would not make it to the airport in time. So I started stressing. I got my ferry ticket refunded, sat on a bench outside the terminal, and proceeded to call the seaplane company around the corner (weather was preventing them from flying too) and then Air Canada from the Nanaimo airport (the one flight that would get me to YVR on time was already full and the next would be too late). Arg!!

Next, I called the Delta Airlines to see about rerouting my flight. As long as I got to Atlanta to catch the flight to Liberia, I would be fine. The woman presented me with a couple of options for rebooking the flight, but it was going to cost me at least an additional $500! Whaaaaat??!!!

So just as I needed to make a decision about changing the flights, the ferry announcement said they were ready to board! Yay!! (Relief!) So finally an hour and a half late, the ferry was on its way! Crisis averted! I had planned to meet my girls for lunch in Vancouver before heading to the airport, but considering the start to my day, I decided to head straight for the airport.


A friend picked me up in Horseshoe Bay and as we left the terminal, listening to the traffic report they announced that there was an accident blocking access to the Lions’ Gate Bridge, plus delays on the Granville Street Bridge, and construction on the Burrard Bridge. Awesome. So we went around to the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, which was (thank goodness) clear of issues.

As we walked from the airport parking lot to the departures terminal, I got a phone call and an email saying that my flight would leave an hour earlier. Whaaaaat??! So I went straight to the check-in desk and asked about it and the attendant said the flight would leave at the original scheduled time and that the call and email were some sort of glitch. O…k… Stress diffused.

Relieved, we went for a quick bite, I said goodbye, checked in and went thought customs. My flight was routed from YVR > LAX > ATL > LIR, a 17 hour journey. Considering the way the trip began, I was relieved that I didn’t have any issues with US customs. (Not being Canadian, it can sometimes be a pain in the arse.)

So I ended up at the Canucks Bar & Grill with a Caesar just in time to catch the retiring of Pavel Bure’s jersey and the Canucks vs. Leafs game. Back to happy!

Sunrise at Atlanta AirportYVR > LAX

The next leg of my trip took me to Los Angeles. Not much to report there, but did see fun facts about my two home cities, Vancouver and Amsterdam. (Seems I am the average Dutch girl with a height of 5’8.) The layover here was 2 hours, and my hike from one gate to the next took me only 8 minutes. Perfect. So I had some food and boarded my red eye flight to Atlanta.


The flight was quiet and uneventful, and upon arrival in Atlanta (about 4:30am local time), I checked the boards for my next departure gate. It said E35, so I grabbed a tea and a muffin, and headed to the gate. I had 5 hours to kill, so found a corner by the window, watched the sunrise, and then tried to get some sleep.

My flight to Liberia was to leave at 9:45am. When I looked out the window at 9am, there was no plane. Whaaaaat?? So I checked with the woman at the desk and she informed me that they had changed the gate for the flight to E5. Seriously??? So now I’m running across the airport to get to E5, because it was already boarding. So I get there and pretty much walk right onto the plane.

Exploded Pen


As I sit down, I’m thinking to myself, “Thank God this is the last leg of the trip! There can’t be much more that can go wrong…” And sure enough, as I go to fill out the customs and immigration paperwork  during the flight, my pen exploded. Ink everywhere. OMG! Seriously, who does that happen to??? Hahaha!

Upon landing in Liberia, customs was quick and easy, and my shuttle driver was there waiting for me. Perfect! I was so happy to be leaving the airport! Only another hour by car, and I was in Tamarindo!

And 29 hours later…

THIS is what made it all worth it!

Playa Tamarindo

I’m Officially Homeless!

20131027-162140.jpgToday was a crazy day. I woke up in Whistler with my family, had a cup of coffee, and hit the road back to Vancouver for Moving Day. We drove straight to U-haul and were at my house, ready to load up by 12:30. By 2pm everything was loaded, the place was clean, I had dropped off the keys and we were on the road to the ferry terminal to head to Vancouver Island.

I’m officially homeless. I have no house. I left my car in Whistler, and everything I own is in a small U-haul trailer, and I’m sitting on a ferry as I write this. Holy crap!!

It’s a strange feeling to leave a city that I’ve lived in for nearly 13 years. As the ferry pulled away from the terminal, I looked back and thought, “I don’t live there anymore. Weird.” It feels strange that I don’t have a place to go back to, but at the same time it’s a freeing experience to know that I’m starting fresh and with a clean slate. By the end of this week I’ll have packed a suitcase and will be on a plane to new adventures, including beaches, sunsets, Spanish, new foods, new people, new EVERYTHING! So excited!!

But will admit that I’m more than a little freaked out. I’ve asked myself more than once today, “What the hell did you just do?!” But at the same time, my intuition is telling me I’m doing the right thing. So I have to trust that.

So, here goes nothin’! My new life has begun!



If You’re Not Scared, You’re Doing It Wrong

Diving in Thailand

How do you know if you’re doing the right thing by leaving everything behind and jumping head first in to a new life? The simple answer is: you don’t. But one thing I can tell you for sure is that if it doesn’t scare you, you’re doing it wrong.

When I think about all the things that I’ve done and the things that scared me most, it’s exactly those things that have helped me grow and become stronger and more confident in life. For me, some of these things included solo traveling, scuba diving, moving to a new city where I didn’t know anybody. Each of these events in my life freaked me right out!

Scuba diving was an especially huge fear for me. I’ve never liked the water, I can’t stand the cold, I hate having my face in the water, and the thought of going 30 meters below the surface of the ocean was simply paralyzing!

But, I did it!

And with that certification I went to the Blue Hole in Belize and swam with sharks, I did a liveaboard diving trip in Thailand and dove a shipwreck in Bali. Scuba diving has introduced me to an entirely other world! It has been an absolutely amazing experience and it was so empowering to stare a major fear in the face and overcome it.

From that fear-facing experience I learned that if something doesn’t scare you, then you’re not on the right path. If you’re not challenging your comfort zone, you’re not playing a big enough game. If you’re not even a little scared, you need to think bigger!

Fear of the unknown is something that stops so many of us from exploring amazing opportunities that life has available to us. Your comfort zone is exactly that: a comfortable place for you to hang out and float effortlessly through life. This may be enough for some, but it’s not enough for me. Hence my commitment to creating a life that that inspires and challenges me.

What are some of the fears that you’ve overcome?

Maybe the Life I’ve Always Wanted Is Buried Under Everything I Own


Photo: © 2009 Mariska Richters Photography – Mayan Riviera, Mexico

I’ve been preparing myself of this journey over the past year. I have slowly been letting go of my attachments to physical possessions and have either sold, given away or donated many things. The funny thing is that as much attachment that I may have felt to these things at one point, (convincing me to keep some of them for years,) I haven’t missed a single item I’ve purged. Which brings me to wonder:

Maybe the life I’ve always wanted is buried under everything I own…?


I’ve found that in the past, I’ve attached my happiness in life to “stuff”. I’ve told myself, “when I finally have this, I will be happy!” But the truth is, that once you have that one thing, you only end up wanting the next thing, expecting happiness to come each time.

Through this process, it has become clear to me where my happiness lies. My true happiness appears when I am spending quality time with quality people, having quality experiences, doing amazing things. It’s not about that next pair of shoes, or piece of art for the wall, or driving a nice car, it’s about truly enjoying the time I spend and the people I spend it with.

As a result of slowly coming to this realization, I’ve purged many things and it has felt so freeing! I’ve been through my closet several times, and each time I come out with at least one garbage bag full of clothes, shoes and accessories to donate. Sure, there continue to be certain items that I have convinced myself I will still “need”, but even those will eventually make it to the donation bin.

One thing I know I will miss on this journey is my own bed. I have the most comfy bed in the world! (Oh yes, it is even more comfortable than yours!) I mentioned this to my mom and she said something that really resonated with me; she said, “It won’t fit in a suitcase!” And that is how I will be looking at things moving forward. If I can’t find a valid reason to put it in my suitcase and carry it with me, then I don’t need it!

So I challenge you! I ask you to consider the following questions, and leave your thoughts in the comments below:

  • How much of your stuff do you truly need?
  • If you got rid of some of it, would you actually miss it?
  • Would you even notice its absence?
  • Would your life feel incomplete without it?
  • Is this stuff actually making you happy, or is it some kind of place-holder for something you have yet to identify as your true happy-maker?

Living a life you love is not about stuff. It’s about the amazing experiences you have with the people you care about.

I challenge you to disconnect yourself from possessions, and make the effort to spend more time with the people you care about. Because at the end of the day, when we leave this life, we can’t take the stuff with us, but we can leave some quality memories behind with the people we enjoyed our life with.

Be free. Feel alive. Live a life you love.


Contagious Inspiration

I woke up this morning to the following message in my inbox from my friend Catherine Bendall in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Hearing that you are spreading contagious inspiration is an amazing way to start a new day!

“Hey! I just wanted to say I read your blog this morning, and it really inspired me. Last fall Charlie and I had been feeling the same way, dreaming of days in exotic cultural rich places… A life without shackles to a desk, back problems, mortgage stresses etc etc… So we said what would make you happy today. A trip to India was my dream, so we booked within a week and went. When we returned, that feeling came back… As I knew it would.

This week we are listing our house with the hopes of a move West. But what we realized is after we sell our house, why do we need to buy another one in Calgary right away, why do I need to get the same job there. Why can’t we take this freeing opportunity and see where are sails take us.

I read your blog at 6 am when I woke up today and it truly inspired me. So today is the day I start the process to do what I want. It might take a couple months to save and plan but that’s the fun part! At breakfast we talked about a round the world ticket and where we wanted to see and experience. It was a nice breakfast;)

So thank you!

And sure enough I get to work go to the office kitchen like I do every morning, and the only mug left is this one;) a sign or what!

Good luck in your journey!”

Thrilled to be 30 Coffee Mug

Quick Have Fun Coffee Mug

Thank you so much, Catherine for your message and encouraging words! I’m so happy that the adventure I’m about to embark on has inspired at least one more person to live life to their full potential!

Too many of us are living a cookie-cutter “formula” life. One that is expected and already drawn out for us by our parents and/or society in general. If this is the life you envision for yourself and this makes you happy, then go for it! It’s really all about being happy. I just know that, although I saw this for myself at one time, this “formula” is no longer the life for me.

So, I encourage you all to take a look at your life. Are you happy? Are you inspired? Are you living a life you love? If not, what’s missing? What could you be doing that you are not? And the big questions: What’s stopping you?

If you are not living a life you love, I challenge you to take life by the horns and make your dreams a reality! Do what makes you happy! We only have one chance at this life and the whole “one day” mentality is one that makes so many people (me included, until now) miss out on an extraordinary adventure full of inspiring experiences! Life is yours to enjoy, so break out of the mold and enjoy it!

Get out there! Live a life you love!


Change is Afoot

"The secret to getting ahead is getting started." ~ Mark Twain

Photo: © 2012 Mariska Richters Photography – Vancouver, Canada

I made a major life choice this past weekend. I have watched so many of my friends over the past few years, make the leap from a life being enslaved to an office job to that of a digital nomad. I have followed their blogs and adventures with stars in my eyes, as it has always been my dream to do the same.

I’m not sure what I’ve been waiting for…? Some kind of sign? Some kind of magic opportunity to be handed to me on a silver platter? I’m not really sure. But this past weekend, when yet another friend made the courageous leap, and moved his life to his dream location in the tropics, something in me flipped. Although I’ve always known it, it became very real to me that the life I want isn’t going to just happen TO me, I have to MAKE it happen!!

So on Saturday afternoon I made the decision that I would make a major life change. I would give my notice at my Vancouver apartment, sell and get rid of most of my possessions, and begin the process of becoming a digital nomad, living a life that I love!

I started making calls to friends and family and have been showered with nothing but enthusiasm and encouragement.

Within a couple of days, I have found new homes for most of my furniture, I’ve posted a bunch of stuff on Craigslist, packed a few boxes, and have decided on my next location to begin my transition.

Then yesterday it all became very real, when I paid my last month’s rent and delivered notice to end tenancy to my landlord! Ahhhh!! It’s finally really happening! There is no chickening out or turning back. My new life begins NOW!

It’s truly amazing how quickly things begin to happen and flow with ease when you make a choice with full determination.

So I leave you with this quote from Mark Twain, which is really resonating with me at the moment:

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

And I ask you: What have YOU been waiting for to start living a life you love?

Let the adventure begin! A year from now you will wish you had started today!

Quarry Rock

I never even knew this place existed until I was invited to go for a hike in Deep Cove. It was more of a walk than a laboring hike and this was the stunning view that awaited me at the top. Amazing. Once again, I am so appreciative of this beautiful place that we call home!20130807-132802.jpg

Some details about the hike:

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.8 km
Elevation Gain: 100 meters
Season: year-round
Dog Friendly: YES! (insert happy face here!)
Transit: Yes
Washrooms: not on the trail, but are available at the beach at Deep Cove

The trail is the beginning of the Baden-Powell Trail, which begins along Panorama Drive. The trail is well marked with signs, so you can’t miss it.


This is always an important topic for me, as Roxie is my preferred hiking companion!

Your dog is welcome to be off leash on the trail, as long as s/he is under voice control. When you get to the top, do be careful as I have heard stories of dogs adventuring around and getting stuck in places that they could climb down to, but not back up. Also, it’s a very steep drop from the top of the rock. So if you have an adventurous puppy, you may want to consider leashing it when you arrive at the top.

As always in Vancouver, please be considerate of others on the trail, and pick up after your dog. There’s nothing worse than getting doggie doo on your shoe!

What are some new hike you’ve enjoyed this summer? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below, as I’m always looking to discover new places.

The Hope Slide

The Hope Slide is the largest historic landslide located in western Canada. I’ve driven past it many many times, but have never actually stopped to find out what it’s all about. Today, I made the stop and was amazing by the story.



“Early Saturday morning, January 9, 1965, an enormous landslide descended into this valley of the Nicolum Creek, destroying about 3km of the Hope-Princeton Highway.

“Apparently triggered by a minor earthquake, the slide consisting of more than 46 million cubic meters of earth, rock and snow, crashed down in seconds from the 2000 meter high mountain ridge forming the north side of the valley. It filled the valley bottom with debris 70 meters thick in places and completely buried Outram Lake at the foot of the slide.

“The water and soft clay of the lake bed and the adjacent land were displaced and cast violently up the opposite mountain side and then back into the valley, spreading out in a south easterly direction and back up the north slope to a height of 30 to 60 meters. The boundaries of  the area swept by mud and slide debris are visible along the south side of the valley where the mature forest cover was wiped out leaving a scarred path. Four persons  in three vehicles stopped by a small snow slide earlier, were caught in the wave of mud which swept back into the valley from the south and all were killed. Two of the victims were never found.

“Seismologists recorded two earthquakes that morning with epicenters in the Nicolum Valley area. The second of these was at 6:58 a.m., the approximate time the big slide occurred. The new highway and this viewpoint are built on slide debris approximately 55m above the original ground level.”


If you’re driving through Manning Park at any time, it’s worth the stop to see the huge-ness of this landslide. Looking up at that mountain and imagining that huge chunk of rock breaking off and tumbling down made me feel incredibly small.

The Hope Slide is located here:

View Larger Map

Hiking Hollyburn Mountain

Yesterday I went to another place I’ve never been. Although I had committed to this project as a weekend thing, it seems to have spilled over into the weekdays and I’m loving it. It feels great to be making the most of the summer and this amazing weather we’ve been spoiled with.

The original plan was to hike up to Lynn Peak at Lynn Valley, but due to traffic issues, we decided on a change of venue and ended up heading to hike Hollyburn Moutnain.

It was an easier hike with a few tougher bits that Roxie found to be a challenge and needed some coaxing (and lifting?) to overcome them, but she did it! (Good Doggie!)

I would definitely recommend bringing bug repellent if you plan to do this hike, the mozzies were brutal! Lucky for me, I’m never a mosquito’s first choice on the buffet when there are other people around, so my hiking companion got the brunt of it. So yes, bug spray and a long sleeved shirt for times when it becomes unbearable are recommended.

When we arrived at the top, it was nearing sunset and these were the views we were rewarded with. Simply beautiful!

More images will soon be available on Flickr.











(These are just iPhone shots for now, stay tuned for updated images.)


Nairn Falls

I’ve been to Whistler more times than I can count, but this weekend my aunt was visiting from the Netherlands, and I spent the weekend being a tourist in the Whistler area. So, after meeting up with my family on Friday afternoon, we headed out to the Nairn Falls provincial campground, near Pemberton.

It had been a while since I had camped, so this was a treat, especially since I had never been to Nairn Falls before. My aunt and I (and Roxie too, of course) took a walk to the falls and I was once again amazed by the beauty of nature and this amazing place we live in. Wow!

The last few times that I’ve been out for walks and hikes in the forest, I have been reminded of the beauty that surrounds me. It’s so easy to get distracted and forget while living in the city. I have been inspired to get out of the city more and get back to more hikes, walks, and trail runs in the woods. More nature. More camping. More fresh air. We are so lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and summer is the perfect time to get out and appreciated more of it!

Other local favorites: the trails and swim holes at Lynn Valley, Pacific Spirit Park, the beaches at Spanish Banks, the Grouse Grind, the Chief in Squamish, Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite places to hike, walk, camp, and reconnect with the beauty of nature. (local or otherwise) Please feel free to share them in the comments, and if I haven’t seen them yet, I may add them to my list!