New York, Costa Rica, Las Vegas

This year has been a wonderful whirlwind. At 29 years old, I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor's degree in Communications (minor in Spanish), got a strong start in my writer/computer nerd career and made a serious dent in travel exploration.

As you've already read, I made trips to Denver and Chicago-the latter being my first solo-trip ever. I plan to make that happen again next year, again to somewhere I've never been before. Maybe the 2016 edition will be an out of the country excursion. Only time will tell.

The next city that followed was the one I've always loved-New York City! Given, the original plans were to stay in Newark-to visit New York but stay in New Jersey because cheaper, obviously. But when traveling on NJ Transit as well as MTA came into play, that quickly changed. After one night in New Jersey, hotel arrangements were moved into the city. Room service not included, we ended up spending a few dollars less and stayed in Times Square. This trip was different for me because I'm in a good place. So technically, it was my first trip to New York-as a grown-up and armed with a clear, positive mindset. In other words, it was even better than any other trip to New York I've taken before. Even the one that involved the Puerto Rican Day parade-but that's mostly because it was 217 degrees in the city when I went to it.
The Raines Law Room
speakeasy, NYC

There was a scandalous evening at The Raines Law Room, an authentic speakeasy, trailblazing in Brooklyn to return to our favorite eatery, Cafe Argentino and explore the Brooklyn Flea, slurping of Pho noodles in Chinatown, the High Line and rude baristas in Chelsea and full and thorough use of a 7-day MTA transit card in the short time we were there.
Brooklyn Flea

New York, you still have my heart, but I think I've stumbled upon another courter...and his name is international travel.

The total cost for 2 people to travel to NYC, including travel and boarding (flight+hotel), came in at a strong $920. The total cost for 2 people to travel to San Jose, Costa Rica, including travel and boarding came in at a modest $605.

Just a week ago, I returned from my trip to Costa Rica, and I could not be happier with every aspect of the experience. Being in Central America, amongst Spanish speakers, salsa music, happy people and nature was everything I could ask for. For 3 days, I barely spoke any English, drank fresh juices, ate fresh food free of chemicals, and was surrounded by everything that felt like home.
Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica
(an active volcano!)

The people were amazing-especially the entire staff at Baroca (our local hangout) the rainforest was lush, the active volcano we saw was simply breathtaking. There were hot springs of flowing water that ran below the volcano, getting hotter the higher up we went. A 4-foot iguana watched us as we lay in the hot springs and he seemed to model for the cameras. Totally used to it. The coffee was quite possibly some of the best I've had and the culture in Costa Rica combines rich history with strong political tones expressed through street art and powerful graffiti.

Political statements from Costa Rica:
"No mas violencia machista" | "No more chauvinistic violence"
I won't talk your ear off, but I may dedicate one whole post to Costa Rica. There's just so much to say. Until then though, Las Vegas is up next. Vegas for my 30th birthday-how cliche is that? Just enough to be wonderful, quite frankly. Stay tuned for the details and follow me on the snap (sdotcurls) for real time highlights.

Until next time, travelers, goal diggers and happy people...

Peace, love and new experiences to all!