A day in the life of a volunteer in Mexico

Life’s a beach!

A day in the life of a volunteer

Thinking of volunteering? Want to know more about life in Mexico? Although it’s not this easy everyday, Sunday family days at Mision Mexico are truly the best, and here’s why….!

Australian founders, Pam and Alan Skuse spent many years building Mision Mexico and creating a home filled with love, life and hope. Together they’ve seen hundreds of children from Tapachula and the surrounding areas walk through their doors, even creating a youth transition programme that provides children with a more mature environment with the resources to help with their next stage in life. Combining their love of surf, Pam and Alan regularly took the children to the beach for special family time and fun for everybody. Along with the help of generous donations of surf boards and volunteers giving surf lessons, the children were able to practice riding on the big waves and test out their skills as the first surfers in Tapachula!


Following from this is Pam and Alan’s next great project, Mision Surf. Over the last few years and with the help of many donations, Pam and Alan have built an incredible beach house in the poorer community nearby. The ideas behind the use of the house are endless and inspiring. The house has already served as a place for the local children to come and enjoy free swimming lessons, and our children have also completed an art project that saw them venturing out into the community to paint and create beautiful and bright mural’s. The house also has space for various workshops for the children, guests and the community which will include art, craftsmanship and many more activities. Alongside this, Mision Surf will be a hotel complete with a small restaurant which will provide our children and the people from the community with jobs and training in tourism.

So, they’re the basics and the background of Mision Surf, and that’s where we get to spend every other Sunday together as a family! It’s my favourite day for sure, and my most favourite day during my whole time there was a Sunday beach day.

Mision Mexico has a bonus like no other refuge that I know of. During my time in their home in Tapachula, the family and I would spend every other weekend down at their beach house on the coast Mision Surf. Though it’s no holiday home for the kids, and luckily the beach is only a 30 minute drive, beach Sunday’s definitely feel like a mini-break!


The morning shift starts off with a rush because we need to get 22 kids fed, dressed, ready for the beach and sitting in the cars! The 30-minute journey consists of everyone in the van singing along to whatever’s on the radio! It’s funny, and every child knows most of the words to the Latino music AND the western music that plays. Pure talent. 


My favourite beach day was slightly different to the usual. Usually we spend a few hours at Mision Surf then head home for a family BBQ, the normal chores, TV etc. But on this day, we spent literally all day at the beach house, listening to music, playing in the pool, surfing at the beach and eating almost non-stop whilst drinking Jamaica. It was so much fun, and not once did I hear “I’m bored” or “when are we going home?”. The older boys with the help of Jonathan managed to make sure that everyone got into the pool, by choice or with force! And the sun also shined all day which topped everything (and meant that half of us left looking like lobsters!).

Days at the beach are not just filled with fun but are also incredibly important as a family and for the children. It’s the one day in the week where worries go out of the window and everyone laughs and plays heaps more than usual. The children are given the space to be just children and the day is full of normalcy which is usually natural for most families but with 22 children, days like this take a lot more planning and hard work! All the moments shared on that day, all the love and laughter makes all the effort worth it. It’s days like these where you think you’ve gotta be the luckiest volunteer going! BBQ, beach, surf, swimming pools, fun and sun. What more could you possibly need?!

For all those interested in volunteering or teaching skills through workshops and projects, please don’t hesitate to ask further. You can apply at volunteers@lovelifehope.com! We’re in need of volunteers especially for the holidays throughout the year with the first being this Easter 2018. Must be over 21 and willing to commit for 6 weeks minimum.

Thanks for reading!
Vanisha
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Instagram: @vanishamay and @misionmexicovolunteers
Twitter: @misionmexico
Follow us on Facebook too! @misionmexico
http://www.lovelifehope.com

https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/

Photograph credits to previous volunteers at Mision Mexico**

The troubles of travel. Do you have what it takes?

Thanks to social media and mobile phones, it’s easy to see the glam side of travel. But what you don’t usually see or hear about are the downsides. And although there are many beautiful positives, there are of course many downsides to choosing a life out of a backpack! 


So in my 32nd country and new home of Mexico, I present to you my 3 main pros and cons of travel:

Lack of connection to life back home vs a connection to the world 

Although it’s easier than ever before to sit down in front of your laptop and see your mum from the other side of the world, the connection and life from back home is definitely lost and missed whilst travelling. Being around your friends and family is completely different to constantly being surrounded by strangers and new people. While you’re planning your next trip around the world alone and what backpack to live from, your friends are growing up, settling down with partners, children and in homes for life. Life doesn’t stop back at home and the daily conversation and closeness to the people that I love is one of the only things I miss while I’m away. 

However, you do gain a whole new connection to the world and countries you travel to and people you meet along the way. People change your life and ways of thinking on a daily basis (as well as the few the completely test you!) which is amazing, and inspiring and so worth missing a Sunday dinner or drink down the pub for a while!


The constant need for adventure vs the absence of normality

My last three years in London was the most settled I’d been in a long time and it still wasn’t very settled with a summer in Asia and three house moves! But I loved my routine of work, uni and social life. And it was something I really took for granted before I travelled. It’s a lovely feeling being settled and having a routine, knowing what you’ll be doing next week and having an unpacked room with all your belongings in it. It’s normality that you miss whilst travelling. The ease of being able to pop down to costa for a coffee or doing a food shop in Morrisons, and the little things like a proper duvet and going to the fridge for food! (Lol that my main normalities revolve around bed and food). And then the big things like a monthly pay and regular income…!

But during these days I’d find myself longing to get on a plane again. I loved my life in London but the need to see a new city or two, to be around more exciting and inspiring people, the need to try something new always takes over my need for normality. And so again, I venture across unknown streets and into new shops for cups of coffee. I walk the streets listening to people speaking unknown words and wonder what will happen today. Whether it’s excitingly life-changing   or completely bad luck, every day brings something and someone new which is worth the risk surely?


Wanting to go home VS never giving up

We all have bad days but it’s the home comforts and people around you that always seem to make things better. So, when you’re travelling, all these bad things are quite literally more complicated and harder (because you’re a million miles away!) and always feel 10x worse. Losing my debit cards and camera was tough, inconvenient and gutting, and being ill whilst away is incredibly testing too. Honestly, some days, all you want to do is give up, book that flight home and run into the arms of mum and dad. But at the end of the day, all that’s really lost is a few objects and a few days in bed which could happen back at home too. The experiences and memories that I’ve gained trump my GoPro pictures any day. And alongside that, it makes you realise what’s important, makes you 10x stronger and so much more independent. So, if you can get through these times with a smile on your face and the determination to keep going then guys, you’re smashing it! 

People rarely tell you that loss is a fundamental part of travelling. You’ll experience feelings of loss of normality, chances of love and settling down, opportunities of a normal 9-5 paid career. You’ll feel lost, alone and question what on earth you’re doing. But you’ll find new ways of living, loving and working. You’ll never get the experiences of travel by never leaving your doorstep. And so far, through all the tests and difficulties that I’ve faced, I’ve learned that it’s always worth the risk. 



Catch up with my adventures here on instagram @vanishamay

Thanks for reading guys!

Vanisha

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Machu Picchu and the wonders of Peru

One of my favourite countries in South America so far is Peru and definitely a top place to visit!
We headed straight to Cusco by a long bus ride from La Paz, Bolivia and we spent a lot longer than planned in the historic city of the Incas. We loved it so much! The city itself is pretty and quaint, full of friendly happy people and we finally had hot weather and blue skies every day! We were happy gals! So what did we do? How did we do it? And what makes Peru so special?


How to do Machu Picchu…

So there’s tonnes of different ways to visit the incredible wonder of the world from day trips to four day treks along the inca trail. We booked last minute and committed ourselves to a 3 day adventure trek called the Inca Jungle Trek. It was so much fun and a completely different way to work your way up to Machu Picchu. By bus we passed through villages in the sacred valley and the Andes mountains, we walked, mountain biked, zip-lined, white water rafted and hiked up to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. Whilst mountain biking we passed through clouds, we zip-lined across rivers and on top of the mountain we saw Machu Picchu city in all its glory surrounded by the valleys and mountains. It was amazing and all at a pretty good price of around £200 which was a huge relief as average tours to Machu Picchu cost around £500-£600.It was all incredible and was made better by staying in hotels rather than camping. Aguas Calientes is the main starting point when visiting Machu Picchu and even that little town is full of wonder with a train track running through it and the mountains surrounding it. 


We only stayed in Lima, Aguas Calientes and Cusco but Peru was one of our favourite countries for so many reasons. And there’s so much more to do! I’ll definitely be visiting again in the future to conquer rainbow mountain, sand board down the famous dunes and to visit pretty little Arequipa. But thanks to the people that we met there, the hostels we stayed in, the yummy food we ate, the amazing sights and finally the sunny weather, Peru definitely left it’s mark on us. 


Here’s a little list of places to visit in and around Cusco:

 • Visit Machu Picchu, obviously.

 • See the llama’s! They so funny. They so cute. 

 • Go shopping for the colourful clothing, alpaca jumpers and accessories in the cute markets with the cholitas.

 • Check out Cusco’s chocolate museum where you can get classes, freebies and chocolate liquers!

 • Stay at Inka Wild Hostel in Cusco! Good location, good vibes and good backpacker prices!

 • Visit the sacred valley, and pretty Aguas Calientes but avoid day tours and make your own way around. Our day tour around the valley was ridiculous and rushed all day with the guides shouting ‘vamos’ every five seconds… Lol.

 • Party at Chango’s and dance the night away to the amazing Latino music! 


You can use this code to get £10 off when booking through booking.com 🙂 http://booking.com/s/vanish15
Follow my adventure here on instagram @vanishamay 

Thanks for reading guys! 

Vanisha  

5 reasons to travel Brazil

5 Reasons To Travel Brazil.

Brazil. My first stop of my big South American adventure. And what a good start! I really loved everything about Brazil. It ticked all my boxes from sun, nice beaches to black beans, buffets and tall, dark, good looking guys! General good vibes all round. So here’s my 5 top reasons why everyone should visit beautiful Brazil. If you’re thinking about it, do it. I’ll definitely be visiting again! Happy reading!

  1. The People

As soon as we landed, we felt good vibes. Every person that we met was friendly, smiley and super happy to help! Though not many people spoke English, they were still eager to help us with directions, carrying our bags,  and being our tour guides. I’m not sure if it’s the sun, sea or Caipirinha’s but the Brazilian people are some of the nicest and happiest that I’ve met! They were also some of the best looking I’ve ever seen. Literally every other man and woman were good looking, tanned, physically fit and full of charm. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be surrounded by that?!

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2. Stunning Natural Scenery

Brazil has so much to offer and despite only being there for a few weeks and only visiting a tiny part of the country, the landscapes and scenery that I did see were amazing. With its jungles, nice beaches, mountains, hiking, islands and huge cities, Brazil literally has everything!

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3. The Sights

Along with all the natural scenes, Brazil has the hotspots of touristy sights which were pretty banging too. Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Mountain top city views, Iguazu Falls, Paraty Historical Town and so much more. There classic must do’s and perfect for the pics!

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4. The Nightlife and Caipirinha’s

Not gonna lie, if I go a few more months without drinking a caipirinha, I won’t be sad, but they’ll forever remind me of Brazil and partying. Famous for being lively, carnivals and sexy samba dancing, Brazil was a good place for nightlife. Different to party places like Ibiza, Magaluf and even partying in Thailand, Lapa in Rio De Janeiro in particular was a new and fun experience. Unlike popular party destinations, Lapa was filled with locals and not catered for tourists. With people drinking, dancing and partying in the bars, clubs and all over the streets, Lapa was representative of the country and its people. Fun, lively, and full of culture and authenticity.

5. The Weather

Okay a bit of a boring one but think it’s worth a mention that although it’s their winter, the weather was perfect still. Currently in Argentina and I’m wearing every possible layer I can. I’m a walking Michelin man, it’s so cold. But Brazil was still sunny and warm in the day, so no matter what time of year you go, you’re pretty much guaranteed sun and blue skies! No wonder the people are so happy all the time!

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So that’s my 5 top reasons to travel Brazil. Fairly straight to the point but if anyone has any questions about anything, feel free to ask away! Here is a helpful list of the hostels and hotels I stayed at:

You can also use this link to receive £10 when booking with booking.com 🙂 https://www.booking.com/s/vanish15

 

Thanks for reading guys!

Keep up with my adventure on Instagram @vanishamay

Have a good day wherever you are 🙂

Vanisha

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Sunrise in Rio at Copacabana Beach

Backpacking South America. First stop: Rio.

Reading time: 5 minutes

Country #26

 

When did I go? 1st – 6th June 2017

Where did I stay? Secreto Hostel, Copacabana

How much money was spent? Too much (oops)

Highlights: The people, drinking caipirinhas in Lapa, being washed away in what seemed to be a tidal wave, watching the sunrise on Copacabana beach and the city views from the mountains.

Playlist: Rio – Netsky and obviously Copacabana – Barry Manilow 

 

Rio De Janeiro was a super exciting place for me and my best friend who I’m travelling South America with. We’ve just finished studying at a university in London and have been dreaming of cocktails, sun, sea and sand for months. Our first stop in Rio gave us all of this and more….

 

Is Rio safe?

Rio is a huge city with almost everything that you need. We stayed in a hostel in Copacabana called ‘Secreto’ which was in perfect walking distance of the busy streets, restaurants and the beach. It was a home away from home and although the city has a reputation for being dangerous, we felt quite safe and comfortable. This was probably down to the people. Everyone we met was extremely friendly and helpful regardless of the language barrier (not many people speak English and our Portuguese is horrendous!). We heard some horror stories even while we were there, but as long as you’re sensible and avoid walking through the favelas at midnight with your iPhone out and wallet hanging out your pocket, you’ll be more than fine. It’s expected in a city where so many live in poverty, don’t let it ruin your travels.

Me at Copacabana Beach, Rio, Brazil
Here I am, loving life in the sun on Copacabana beach in Rio De Janeiro.

Lapa, Salsa and Caipirinhas 

Staying in a hostel is great for meeting people and we even made friends with the staff. Our real taste of Brazilian life was a night out in the party area of ‘Lapa’ where we spent the night with our new friends drinking way too many caipirinhas and dancing to salsa music. The people are incredibly sexy and some of the best looking I’ve ever seen… and they’re amazing dancers. They’ve got it all!

 

Our partying days in Rio didn’t stop there. We also spent a night on a party boat which was just as fun and full of caipirinhas. The nightlife was wild and an experience, but for girls on a budget and considering this was our first stop; we were pretty naughty with our time and money.

Things to do

Luckily, Rio has lots more to offer. We spent one of our days doing classic tourist-y things that included a visit to Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Selaron Steps, five other popular spots and an amazing lunch buffet. The views overlooking the city were amazing. We paid around £50 and the tour lasted nearly all day (8:30am-5pm). Similar tours cost more and lasted half the time. We got our package from a man selling from the beach so look around before you book for better deals. Unfortunately, we missed other sights like the favelas due to cancellations, bad planning and hangovers, but there’s lots to see and do around Rio. It’s easy to spend a long time there for sure.

Tourist day and Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Tourist day and Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Overall, our first taste of Brazil has been non-stop silliness and fun. Rio is amazing for beaches, chilling and partying. Do not let the dangerous reputation put you off, the city is full of history, culture and happy people. We can’t wait for our next stop!

 

Feel free to ask me any questions and share any stories or advice you may have!

 

Have a good day guys!

Vanisha

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Follow my travels on my instagram @vanishamay

 

You can also find our hostel at this website: http://www.secretohostel.com.br