Author: Anna Harris

Anna works an average 9-to-5 job as a Mechanical Engineer, but on the weekends transforms into a wilderness wandering mermaid. Combining her passion for aviation and wanderlust, she explores the world with unique adventures and has a knack for finding great travel deals.

Officially a Peace Corps Volunteer {Month 3 – September 2017}

Officially a Peace Corps Volunteer {Month 3 – September 2017}

“Does Meli drink coffee?” my neighbor asked my previous volunteer. Tikön looks over at me and I nodded. 

“Good, because that’s all we have to give,”

Tikön and I sat on a bed that’s essentially wooden slabs thrown together like a table, but since there was no other place to sit the bed became our chair.

“Meli, nete,” my neighbor says as she hands me a tall cup of coffee. I take a sip, and it’s the taste I’m becoming all too accustomed to: a burnt corn “coffee” blend with heaps of sugar that I know my teeth won’t thank me for later. 

My eyes glanced over the cup of coffee and three kids were standing before me, visibly sick, staring at me with their giant eyes in curiosity and stomachs extremely bloated from malnutrition and hunger. 

My neighbor’s words rang in my head as I was thinking about poverty in the Comarca; contemplating the fact that all that they had was coffee, and they were generous enough to make me a cup to welcome me into the community while their children were starving. It was a new-found motivation to be able to bring water to the community and return the generosity that was so selflessly shown to me. 

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I was so excited to find out that I’ll be living in the Comarca Ngöbe-Buglé in the mountains of Chiriqui for the next two years! Reality set in when a few days later and a guide from each of our community was going to come to Panama City to essentially pick us up and take us to our sites. Everything was happening so fast and it was really going to be the first time I would be alone with gente. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Will I have a good guide? Will my community like me? Will I like the site?

First work junta clearing out the ojos de agua with the women in my community

It was a relief when I met my guide for the first time and he seemed tranquilo, but really quiet. It was his first time ever leaving the community further than the closest town, so I understood the city must have been overwhelming. I exhausted all my questions so I just let things be after that. After a day and a half of ice breakers at the office, we got the motion to head to our sites. The guides were in a mad rush to get out of there and I had no idea what was going on, but I was trying to stay calm.

Meeting my previous volunteer, Tikön, and his host sisters

We headed out on the six hour bus ride to the Comarca, and I tried sleeping but I was worried about the hike into my site. One of my friends who visited the previous volunteer for their site visit said that the hike was brutal. And I was probably carrying about 60 pounds of stuff to begin the moving process from the training community to site. By the time we arrived to the closest town to site, it was 7 PM and pitch black. There was no way we would be able to make a hike like that so we stayed at a hostel for the night.

In the cancha of our training community

I was freaking out on the inside when the morning came; my bag was heavy and I wasn’t confident that I could carry it up the monte and this was the last time I would see my friends and the first time I would be alone with gente. As soon as it was daybreak, we headed out. Sitting in the busito climbing up the winding road, I looked out the window to an incredible view of the lush monte and valleys below. I was incredibly excited I get to live in such a beautiful place, which reassured me that the Comarca was the right place for me.

Ready for our Despedida! Wearing traditional Ngöbe clothes

We arrived at the entrance of the community and I took a deep breath and braced myself for the hike ahead. There was a gringo that got off the busito as well and I was staring at him in awe, but also really confused what he was doing here. My brain had been constantly translating Spanish and Ngöbere so when he spoke English to me, my mind was blown and I forgot how to respond. “You must be the new volunteer in the area. I’m in the community down here working with Bridges to Prosperity but I hear your community is waaay up there.” Thanks for the reminder that I have a brutal hike.

Everyone going to Ngöbe sites

Normally I don’t sweat, but my heart was pumping and streams of sweat were dripping down my face and body. With my 60 pounds of baggage, the hike was just as awful as I imagined it would be. I thought to myself, my legs are going to be in amazing shape after these two years. Two hours later and sopping wet from crossing a river, we made it to the community. My guide immediately took me to my host family’s house so I could change and get ready for the meeting at the botiquim (communal meeting house). From far away I heard a salimando (a unique yell that people use to greet each other) followed by my name. Who knew my name and why are they so excited to see me? I realized it was my previous volunteer, Tikön, and I was just as excited to see him too.

The ladies heading to Ngöbe sites!

I didn’t have service in site, so knowing that I’ll have Tikön as someone to talk to during my first few months in-site when I can’t talk to anyone else was extremely comforting and made being at site so much better. To read more about my experience my first time visiting my site, read here.

Women of WASH at swear-in

The last couple weeks we spent finishing up all our classes of PST and celebrated our leaving the training community with a despedida, where we performed various dances of the Comarca Ngöbe-Buglé. Our final week we moved the rest of our things to the dorms in Panama City to take care of office things and officially swore-in as G81 Peace Corps Volunteers!

G81 Peace Corps Panama Volunteers!
Tech Week {PST Week 6}

Tech Week {PST Week 6}

“Edi! How do you like it here?”

I looked up from my bowl of rice, chicken feet, and boiled yuca, trying to make out the voice that was talking to me. It was the black of night, and there wasn’t a light to be found except from the glow of the embers beneath fogon. I was trying my best to figure out how to eat the skin off the chicken foot and was not focused on conversing with the Ngabe host family that was letting me stay at their penca casita. Half slurping the skin off a chicken foot that was hanging out of my mouth, I replied, “I really like the Comarca and hope I get to live in a site like this one.”

“We really like you and would love for you to stay here and live with us forever!”

The chicken foot dropped back in my bowl and I looked around the dark area in bewilderment. Did they really just say that? Considering everything I’ve heard about the Ngobe-Bugle people, they’re very reserved people so I was surprised they openly wanted to welcome me into their home like family so quickly. Later that night, they presented me with the most beautiful gift; a bright sky blue nagua with carefully crafted dientes of lime green, red, and black. I felt so at home during Tech Week that I started to imagine what life would be like for two years in the Comarca. 

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It was 3 AM and I was up, packed, and ready to head out. It was the first day traveling to Tech Week in the Comarca Ngobe-Bugle, and we had to catch the diablo rojo to ride an hour and a half into Panama City. From there we took a bus for 6 hours west to the entrada of Tole and then a chiva for another hour until we came up to the most beautiful view of all of the lush, green valley out to the ocean. It had been an extremely long day, so after making a very long, muddy hike, my roommate, Shelby, and I arrived at our host family’s bamboo hut.

Host family gathered around the fogon & eating area

Inside, the family had sectioned off a section for Shelby and I by hanging up blankets as a barrier. There were two beds that looked more like wooden tables, since they were just slabs of wood without any sort of mattress or blanket. The more comfortable option was to sleep in a hammock, so Shelby and I strung them up along with our mosquito nets. For dinner, our host family gave us a giant purple potato each, along with hot coffee. My mind immediately zoned in on the coffee; my first test. Everything I learned during PST so far about drinking the cafe or chicha was that the water is probably dirty so you need to cloro it, you’re probably going to get a parasite if you’re not careful with what you drink. What do I do about this coffee though? I sighed, accepted my fate that I will probably contract some sort of parasite at some point anyways, and drank it. This is my life now, I thought to myself.

Tech Week was filled with tons of projects that wore me out after each day; throwing the plancha for an aquaduct tank, constructing the frame for the tank, building latrines, and clearing out the ojos de agua. I think we made so much ferrocement that it is forever ingrained in me. And I also have a new-found appreciation for those spinning self-mixing concrete contraptions. When we weren’t involved in our main projects, we played soccer with the gente, learned how to make soap, hiked around the monte, and went to the school to present a charla to the kids. It was a full and exhausting week, but we learned so much about our future work in our communities.

Pouring concrete for the plancha for the aqueduct tank
Rodding the freshly poured concrete
Mixing concrete by hand
The finished plancha!
Pouring concrete for the latrine seat
Comarca vistas
Constructing the frame of the aqueduct tank
Futbol game with the gente
I just really liked the essence of this photo
Apparently I wasn’t muddy enough…
Post-futbol muddiness
Nagua from my host family
WASH women in the school
Teaching the kids about WASH in school
Charla about latrine usage
Another beautiful morning in the Comarca
Volunteer Site Visit {PST Week 4}

Volunteer Site Visit {PST Week 4}

As I was sitting with the indigenous Ngobe women making chakaras under a giant, majestic “grandmother” tree like in Pocahantas, I took a step back and thought to myself, what an incredible opportunity it is to be here, to learn from the gente, and to integrate into a seemingly disappearing culture. It was at that point I realized how “present” I was – how much less I thought about the past or the future, but how much I was enjoying life in the present moment. I realized at this point in my life, I am exactly where I need to be.

Making chakaras with the Ngobe women

During our 4th week of PST we have the opportunity to visit a current PCV at their site to get a taste of what everyday is life. After learning about the diverse groups of people in Panama I really hoped that I would get to visit an indigenous site, and I got exactly what I wished for.

I visited Sophia, also a surfer from California, at her site in the mountains of Chiriqui of the CNB. Having only been in the city around Panameno Latino culture, I had no idea what to expect. It was a 6-hour bus ride to the entrada, where I met Sophia wearing a nagua – I was in awe she wore her dress for everyday life, but it’s part of the integration. We went to the grocery store for food and she was really stoked when she saw vegetables, and quickly grabbed them. I realized how scarce food is in the Comarca, and as a PCV you scavenge anything you find.

It was my first time in a chiva, a pick-up truck with a roll cage over the bed that you sit in, and it was a bumpy ride up dirt roads through the mountains. The hike-in was 40 minutes straight up the mountain, and I realized that if I got a hiking site there was no way I’d be able to lug all my stuff up the mountain and I’d have to get rid of as much as I could.

HIking into site

Sophia showed the elements of the aqueduct, we met the water committee, sat with the women and learned how to make a chakara, pasear-ed with the gente, and played soccer with the girls. It was a packed set of days, and I was exhausted. The slow pace of life became more apparent too; Sophia hosted a bread-making charla that was supposed to start at 8 but no one showed up until about 10, and then it took another 4 hours after that.

When I first learned about all the different cultures of Panama, I thought it would be amazing to be immersed in the Darien (region of Panama bordering Colombia). After visiting the Comarca in Chiriqui, and being a good halfway point between Panama City and Bocas del Toro (a popular tourist beach region on the Caribbean side, close to Costa Rica) and only 15 minutes from the beach on the Pacific – I think the CNB is the ideal place for me.

Ngobe children
Creepy Crawlies & The Comarca {Month 2 – August 2017}

Creepy Crawlies & The Comarca {Month 2 – August 2017}

I was stirring peacefully in my bed this morning, as the sun’s rays were peeking through my curtains and not a sound to be heard from the bar next door. Slowly awakening from my slumber, I was looking forward to finally having an ice cold shower with running water to wash my sandcastle of a hairdo. Bucket showers the past couple days have not sufficed to tame the medusa mess on my head. 

My eyes immediately shot open to the sound of a loud buzz next to my ear and I violently whipped my head to the other side to get away, yet it only followed. Immediate panic set in, was there some kind of insect stuck in my ear? Is it going to lay eggs and then in a day or two my ear will vomit a plethora of new beings into this world? 

And then, all was silent as I settled back into my pillow. I lay motionless in bed as my eyes carefully inspected my mosquito net, waiting for the enemy to make its next move. I heard a slight whimper of a buzz and saw from the corner of my eye that there was a beetle the size of a dime stuck in the ends of my tangled hair, attempting its final getaway, buzzing its last cry for battle. It dropped back to the earth in defeat, and it was no longer. 

 I sighed in relief, picked myself out of bed, and shuffled over to the bathroom hoping for running water. As I was looking at myself in the mirror, only being able to see from my mouth to my eyebrows, I whispered to myself, “this is my life now,” as I combed the beetle out of my hair and shouted “buenas” to my host mom. 

As I wiggled the knob for the shower, water began to stream through the nozzle. I took a deep breath before braving that first second of ice on my skin, then smiled at the thought of having running water. Today will be a good day. 

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I’ve been slowly adjusting to the world of tarantulas and cockroaches visiting me in the middle of the night along with ice cold showers, eating patacones (and not enough vegetables) almost every meal, and chasing down the “Pan Van” for chicheme.

The first week of August each of us PCT’s (Peace Corps Trainees) got to visit a current PCV at their site to get a taste of what life is actually like in-site. I visited Sophia in the Comarca Ngobe-Bugle of Chiriqui, which is a self-governing region of an indigenous people in Panama. She lives high up in the mountains where you can see the ocean from afar. I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the surroundings. My language teacher said that based on where we go for our volunteer site visit foreshadows where we’ll be placed for our service. If that’s the case, I’m super excited to be going to the Comarca, but we’ll see! Read more about my volunteer site visit here.

Volunteer Site Visit
Learning how to make a chakara bag with the Ngobe women

In mid-August all of us WASH volunteers headed back to the Comarca for Tech Week at another PCV’s site! The past month we’ve had tons of sessions on the work we’ll be doing at our future sites, so during Tech Week we finally got to put our new skills to work. It was a great experience to finally learn hands-on how to build an aqueduct, latrines, and make endless amounts of ferrocement. Plus, for me, being in the Comarca feels more like home than the training community in the city so I was happy to be “home.” Read more about Tech Week here.

Presenting a charla on latrines in the local school
Post-soccer game
A beautiful morning in the Comarca
Throwing the concrete plancha for the aqueduct tank

Finally, at the end of the month we found out our sites! I am so excited that I’ll be living in the Comarca Ngobe-Bugle for the next two years! Having already visited two sites in the CNB, I know I’ll fall in love with the culture, gente, and overall beauty of it all. In early September I have my site visit and I can’t wait to see what life is life.

Site placement!

Check out next month’s round-up: Officially a Peace Corps Volunteer {Month 3 – September 2017}

Quote of the Month: “So, do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? So, do it. Breathe in. Breathe out. And decide.” – Meredith Gray

 

Top Things to do in Panama City on a Budget

Top Things to do in Panama City on a Budget

As PCV’s we’re always looking for the cheapest things to do and since we’ve lived relatively close to the city during PST we had many weekends of exploring. Here is a compiled list of top things to do in Panama City on a budget!

  1. Wander Casco Viejo: With Spanish Colonial buildings, Casco Viejo is filled with rich history everywhere. Be sure to grab a snowcone for $0.50 from one of the cart vendors! They fill a giant styrofoam cup with shaved ice, freshly squeezed passion fruit juice, and drizzle with icing.
  2. Grab a pint from La Rana Dorada: One of the best (and cheapest) places to grab a beer and pizza in the city during Happy Hour on Saturdays from 12 PM – 6 PM when all the house beers are half-off. The location in Casco Viejo is preferred over Via Argentina because it has a more open, inviting feel.
  3. Eat ceviche in Mercado de Mariscos: Nothing beats a meal of fresh ceviche for $3 and $1 beers to go with it! There are so many combinations, from shrimp to octopus to sea bass with a plethora of vegetables mixed in.
  4. Get a haircut on 5 de Mayo Street: Getting off the metro at 5 de Mayo, there are shipping containers blasting music, all lined up along the street and converted into spots where locals give haircuts. You can get the latest Panamanian styles for $5 and can even add-in designs.

What do you guys think? Have anything to add? Comment below!

Playa Farallon

Playa Farallon

Pre-Service Training (PST) is an intense three months of integration into Panama and learning about everything Peace Corps. All of us were feeling a ton of pressure and felt the need to decompress, so we headed to the beach! The best beaches from Panama City are only 2 hours away, so we hopped on a diablo rojo and then took a chiva to reach Playa Farallon. Playa Santa Clara is right next door, and is deemed one of the best beaches in all of Panama, but we decided to go somewhere a little off-the-radar.

The beach was exactly what we all needed to relax, and us WASHers had a great time getting to know SAS as well. In the past groups, WASH and SAS spent a lot more time together in PST, but since our group was split from the get-go into our training communities, we hadn’t had much time to bond.

Playa Farallon is a bit on the dirtier side, with trash everywhere but if you go to Playa Santa Clara it’s a lot cleaner since there are resorts nearby, it’s more centered for tourism, and there are a lot of water sports if you’re looking for more activities. We found a tienda close-by to buy some snacks for lunch to keep things on the cheap side.

Towards the end of the day, a storm rolled in suddenly; one minute it was bright and sunny, the next it was downpour. We all scattered for shelter and were trying to catch a chiva back to the city but none would stop. We waited two hours until a busito finally gave us a lift. Pro tip: Always bring your jacket in buses because they keep the temperature a frosty 50 degrees, and since we were soaked from the rain it made the ride even worse.

On the other hand, it was a magical day for other unexpected reasons that will be revealed in time…

“I like to live my life like I’m in the ocean, surfing the waves how they come, or just being one with the sea. You just have to let it flow.” -Arturo Arzon, 30 July 2017

Oh, and we decided to start a WASH calendar as a fundraiser for our projects. What do you think of Mr. July?

A First Look at Panama {Month 1 – July 2017}

A First Look at Panama {Month 1 – July 2017}

So it’s been awhile since I’ve actually been on a computer so I’m a little late on the updates but from here on out, I hope to regularly post once every 2 weeks when I go to town to gather supplies. Let’s start with my first month in Panama!

It was 4 AM on July 10th and I arrived at the airport with my bags packed for staging in Miami. My heart was racing, so many thoughts were going through my head. I was ready for a new chapter in my life, but had no idea what was waiting for me on the other side.

I had a lot of great things going for me, or what you would call “living the American dream,” but I wasn’t happy; I felt that there was something waiting for me, like I had a greater purpose in this world and I hoped that Peace Corps would help me find that fulfillment by leaving it all behind.

Staging in Miami was a blur; I spent 3 days doing ice breakers and meeting 48 new Peace Corps Trainees that I was going to be spending these next two years with. Most of staging was an introduction to Peace Corps, its mission, and putting us into the mindset of living in Panama. We were given money for meals, and a lot of PCT’s spent all of it, but my advice is to save as much of it as you can because the dollar goes a long way in Panama.

Staging in Miami

Stepping off the plane in Panama City, everything was thrown at us all at once; we met the country director and our “greeters,” current PCV’s who are our guides for the week to help us get acquainted. We were immediately shuffled onto a Diablo Rojo called ‘Mama Chacha,’ which are old US school buses that are converted into colorful modes of transportation in Panama City. WASH (Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene) and SAS (Sustainable Agriculture Systems) were separated into different training communities, where we met our host families for the next three months. Night fell, and I was finally settled-in and on my bed in silence. I was in awe thinking, “This is it. I’m finally here and this is actually happening.”

Learning about the Comarca Ngöbe-Buglé culture
Diablo Rojo, Mama Chacha

The first few weeks in Panama were spent in training sessions about Peace Corps policies, Spanish language and Panamanian cultural sessions, and technical classes about our future work in Panama. We had a lot going on with homework, projects, and learning Spanish with our host families, but we managed to have a few outings in our free time; two of my favorites were spending the day in the city and going to Playa Farallon.

Learning about Emberá-Wounaan culture in the Darien
Panama City

After so much time waiting, I am excited to begin my Peace Corps journey here in Panama and to see what stories will unfold. Read about my Top Things to do in Panama on a Budget, Playa Farallon, or Creepy Crawlies & The Comarca {Month 2 – August 2017}!

Quote of the Month:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Playa Farallon

Peace Corps Panama Packing List

Peace Corps Panama Packing List

As it is very popular for Peace Corps bloggers to post a list of what they packed for service, I plan on doing the same! After a few months in, I plan on adding an updated list of what I should have brought as well. Some of the items I added a link to and the quantities are in the parenthesis next to the item where applicable.

CLOTHES:

  • Formal outfit for swear-in (1)
  • Blouses for office days (2)
  • Jeans for office days (2)
  • Tank tops (3)
  • Long sleeve Columbia shirt (1) **
  • Short sleeve Columbia shirt (1) **
  • Cropped running tights (1)
  • Gym shorts (1)
  • Jean shorts (1)
  • T-Shirts for work days (3)
  • Prahna field pants (2) **
  • Long sleeve mid-weight thermal (1)
  • Patagonia rain poncho (1) **
  • Patagonia light puffy jacket (1) **
  • Casual dress (1)
  • Underwear (14)
  • Bras – Regular (3) Sport (2)
  • Socks – Short (5) Boot (2)
  • Bathing suit (2)
  • Wide brimmed hat (1)
  • Buff (1)

ACCESSORIES:

ELECTRONICS:

*Items qualify for Peace Corps discount

**Only qualifies for discount if you find it on Backcountry.com

Sacramento, California

Sacramento, California

Sacramento was my home for almost a full year, and it really grew on me over time and I began to love the whole “Midtown life.” I had so much fun living down the street from tons of trendy restaurants, coffee shops, and being able to walk everywhere. Below are some of my top places in the Sacramento area to check out!

Photo by Diana Elena

Temple Coffee

I grew up on Starbucks my whole life, but after being exposed to Temple Coffee, which also happened to be right across the street from my apartment, I was hooked. Not to mention, it’s such a fun and trendy industrial atmosphere, and the floor is made out of pennies! Try their Affogato Nitro Float for a shot of quality espresso with some delicious in-house ice cream.

Photo by Diana Elena

Lowbrau

Located in the gay district of Midtown, it’s rather amusing they put a sausage restaurant in the middle of it all. This intersection with the nightclub Faces along with all the other bars and restaurants is the place to be on a Saturday night! I definitely recommend the bratwurst on a pretzel bun with a side of duck fat fries paired with their beer cocktail, the Shandy.

Man, I’ve turned into such a foodie living in Midtown…

Photo by Diana Elena

Biergarten

Another German place down the street! Yes, a German beer garden with all sorts of great snacks! They’re known for their beer slushies, where they give you a giant boot of beer topped off with slushie deliciousness. And you have to try either their garlic fries or the giant pretzel!

Photo by Diana Elena

Cantina Alley

This place just opened up down the street and I am hooked on their happy hour selection of Mexican tapas! It gets insanely crowded so expect to put your name down for an hour wait. My favorite is the elote, which is juicy yellow corn on a stick rolled in mayo cream, cotija cheese, and Mexican spices (my mouth is watering just thinking about it). Their La Sandia drink is the best, and dangerous because of how good it tastes. They serve the drink in a scooped-out mini watermelon with watermelon puree, silver tequila, agave nectar, and fresh lime juice topped with a sprinkle of Tajin chili-citrus salt for an extra kick. I’m also a huge fan of prickly pears from cacti so I love their bright pink prickly pear cocktail!

Photo by Diana Elena

Clementine Dam

Shifting away from food (I love food, if you couldn’t tell) I wrote a previous article on the Clementine Dam hike, and it’s a great place to check out for an afternoon hike. Read about it here!

Sunflower Fields

And if you get the chance to visit in the summertime (I encourage you not to though since it gets unreasonably hot), you have to see the sunflower fields of Dixon! The best time to take photos is at sunset since they always face East. Be careful though, farmers place hives next to the fields so there’s tons of bees.

California Road Trip

California Road Trip

A few weeks ago I went down to Southern California one last time to visit friends and family before departing for the Peace Corps. One of my cousins who had never been to California before came out to visit and I decided to make a fun road trip out of it of all my favorite sights in the Golden State. 

Day 1: Hollywood

Any first timer to California of course wants to check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame but honestly it’s a little disappointing and dirty. It’s still fun to drive down Hollywood Boulevard so they can see it, so we decided to do that and head to Melrose Avenue to do some shopping. Be sure to catch the sunset at the Griffith Observatory for a beautiful view of all of Los Angeles, including the Hollywood sign. Once night begins to fall, check out the street lamps at LACMA. Oh, and don’t forget some In n Out, animal style 🙂

Day 2: Santa Monica & Venice Beach

One of my favorite restaurants ever is True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica. It’s more of a trendy vegan eatery, but I love how fresh all the vegetables are and the dishes are so different! From there you can walk over to the Santa Monica Pier and then do some shopping at Third Street Promenade

Venice Beach is only a few minutes driving down the road for all things California and weird. People always say that Californians are crazy, but where does it come from? Yup, Venice Beach. From street performers, to people selling children’s reggae (The ABC song, reggae style? What?), and ridiculously overly buff people working out at Muscle Beach, it’s a must-see! 

Abbot Kinney is only a few blocks away, which has some trendy shopping and one of my favorite ice cream shops, Salt & Straw. Where else are you going to find goat cheese and olive ice cream?!

Day 3: Malibu

Growing up in Thousand Oaks, which is only about 20 minutes away, Malibu is the go-to place for the best beaches. Early in the morning we went surfing at County Line, and even though the waves were small it was great being out on the water. It reminds of the high school days; getting up at 4:30 AM to catch waves with my group of girlfriends before having to go to class. 

I met up with my favorite skin & hair care company, Organic Fiji, to do a photoshoot at Point Mugu beach. Rather than just having product shots they wanted to have someone actually using their coconut oil in the photos. You can get 25% off all their products with my code ‘annaharris25cocotribe’ 🙂 

There are so many interesting rock formations and sea caves in this area to explore! And after a long day at the beach, my favorite smoothie place near Zuma is called SunLife Organics. And to top it off, it’s always fun to grab your best pals and have a bonfire right on the beach while looking at the stars. 

Day 4: Up the Coast

The first place we stopped at road tripping up the coast was Ostrich Land in Buellton, where you can feed all the different ostriches and emus. Kind of a fun little spot to stop at along the way! Close by is the little Danish town of Solvang, and don’t forget to pick up some pastries like Kringle or Butter Ring!

My favorite place to get clam chowder is Splash Cafe in Pismo, where they have bread bowls toasted perfectly with butter. And down the freeway is San Luis Obispo, which is a cute little town and has the famous Bubblegum Alley. I think my favorite part was watching parents freak out as their little ones tried eating the gum off the wall. 

Last stop for this road trip was San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge! You can get a great view of the bridge from Baker Beach, but be cautioned! There are nudists! I had no idea until a large nude man started sprinting towards us out of nowhere…