Two Girls One Goa

Not to shabby of a timeline to get my India photos up here to share!  Well done, Stephanie, well done.
A small collection to buzz through here...

after hours of flying, we land in Goa
with taxi windows down we take in our first breaths of Indian air on our way to Afonso House


Chapel of St Sebastian in the Fontainhas hood of Panjim
down the street from our guest house

friends who love and live for tea

quick stroll around the neighbourhood
we accidentally take a 5 hour nap and wake up to darkness, just in time to find dinner

headed south to Agonda Beach for a day trip
the drive was 1.5 hours and i was having a hard time breathing in all the pollution

Agonda Beach

Drove my first scooter about 30 minutes further south to take a peek at the recommended Palolem Beach
much busier and less quiet, happy that we booked our place in Agonda for the night

Our sweet little hut for the night at Agonda White Sand

early morning on the beach with the cows
this beach was so beautiful, I would absolutely recommend visiting Agonda

back in Panaji for one last night

Catholic shrines on every corner

Spice Farm on our way up North to Mandrem to meet the wedding party
henna from shopkeeper Kumari in Agonda

Native to Goa, India, this spirit is distilled from the Cashew Fruit

Basilica of Bom Jesus
St Francis Xavier has been in his coffin here since the 1500's
...or so they say....

Riva Beach Resort, Mandrem
after a day of sight-seeing and a lot of driving, we arrive in North Goa

group walk to the market


the beautiful bride and groom

fireworks and lantern releasing

i decided to not bring my camera along on what ended up being my favourite day in Goa
perhaps the universe meant for me to savour it instead of attempt to capture it

... now that you've reached the bottom, feel free to check out the entire Gallery HERE!




Eat Drink Love in Mexico: A Day in Sayulita

OY.  It is truly taking me forever to get through these photos and blogging with a handful of other projects and the usual Family Life on the go!  The vacation halo has officially worn off!

The wedding finished off with comfy clothes, lots of water, a few coffees and chatting until almost 4am.  Ok, maybe a few instances of nameless barfers (whether from food poisoning or drinking, we will never know…) but all-in-all a nice chill easing out of wedding mode.

The next day was a free for all.  I had anticipated the wedding night would have hit new heights of celebration.  With this in mind while designing their wedding itinerary trifold (a separate post to come…) I made the 29th RECOVERY DAY.  It was.  The morning was slow but lovely.  Pretty much everyone had plans to go into town, myself especially!  I needed to take the bus back to PV  at some point that day, so I was in a hurry to explore the town as much as possible.  Breakfasts were being cooked up on both the bride's side and the groom's side, coffee and VIP view included.  I took my plate outside and enjoyed the warm morning sun, overlooking the town with bridesmaid Dorothy.  Everything about this trip has been unreal.  Absolutely everything, all the people I got to spend time with, to freely enjoy both worlds, one-on-one adult time and a few doses of family/kid times.  As ridiculous as it may sound, having garlic fried rice and mango with my omelette and bacon totally made my morning.  It was such a treat because even though I grew up with these foods (Filipino-Chinese background) and fusions of Asian-Western food, I don't ever integrate it into my own life.  I might start replacing my morning egg + toast with egg on garlic fried rice.  And maybe eat more fresh mangoes in the morning once they are no longer $8 each at Thrifty's…  

I got dropped off in town with my camera bag.  My suitcase was taken to store over at Edwin + JP's place in town so I wouldn't have to climb the daring hill back to wedding headquarters when it was time for me to catch the bus.  It was like a tiny downtown Vancouver, except cobblestones, sometimes with questionable liquid that made me cringe to roll my baggage over.  I spent the first while going through the first few shops, taking careful notes of things I wanted to get before deciding what to splurge on.  I had no checked baggage and therefor very limited space in my camera backpack and carry-on sized roller suitcase.  My predominant obsession was the stuffies.  Like, I don't even want to post them because I am so greedy, I don't want anyone else to have them.  If I had the choice, I would have bought every single last one in Mexico.  Also, I kind of have plans to just start making my own…  I also was tempted 100 times to buy the pom-poms but I kept reminding myself of the 10 POM POM DIYS I already had on Pinterest.

I trekked down to the beach in between my indecisive stuffies anxiety.  I had whizzed by the beach on the back of the golf cart on the way to the wedding the previous day and was determined to check it out.  It ended up being an overcast day despite the initial sunny morning, so not quite the hot beach I was hoping for.  Still, it was beautiful.  Super crazy crowded but really so beautiful.  Lots of people catching waves, lots of families just playing in the surf.  I wished countless times that my fam could be with me to soak in all of this excitement and beauty, to run into the waves with my kids and laugh our butts off, to see whether Malcolm would love or be terrified of the waves, to see Kevin relaxed and enjoying himself for once in his life... but with each wish, I reminded myself to let go and to enjoy the freedom of being on my own, on my own schedule, on my own terms, JUST ME.  It was almost an out of body experience not being with the family for 5 days straight.  I have never done that in all the time that I have children.  And even before having children, I went only as far as Vegas a couple of times with Kevin and then to Cuba for our Honeymoon.  It was definitely a deep and very holy breath of fresh air for me after 7 years of motherhood.  

I retreated from the beach and just happened to run into Jade who taught me how to haggle.  I was impressed with her haggling and needed to see it in action because I am a PUSSY.  By the end of the day, I left with a mermaid, a unicorn, a giraffe, a crocodile and a donkey.  I got a great deal on the unicorn, but ripped on the donkey + crocodile from another table because I had gone to the table 3 times and it was pretty clear that I was in love with them!  Dude knew the Asian with the black hat would be coming back, he saw the suffering in her soul, that she could not live without his crocodile + donkey hahaha!  

We eventually ran into Rob and his gang in the town square who then walked me to their place to grab my luggage.  I hadn't planned to stay much longer but I ended up catching the 8:30pm bus in the end!  On the way to grab my luggage, we passed a cafe where the photographers/videographers were lunching with a few other pairs of photographers.  I was waved over and I said I would be back.  It was a while before I returned but I eventually found my way back just as they were finishing up.  They invited me back to their headquarters, Las Cupulas, which was friggin BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!  It is now lodged in my brain that I would like to stay here the next time I am able to visit with a few other people!  

I said farewell and thank-you to the photo crew and ventured back into town.  I had to pick up those last two animals!  I had to!  I also hadn't found Evoke the Spirit yet, the popular store to check out with all the cattle skulls.  I wanted one so badly but there was no way I could have carried it around with me and I was nervous whether or not I would be penalized or have it confiscated at the airport since it was an actual animal.  Plus, when I came home and told Kevin, he said he hated it and would not have let me put it up hahaha.  I guess it doesn't really match the mid-century look we're going for.  I found a good little street with all the flags and NO cars for a picture.  I checked out a few more stores and then decided to walk to the busstop to check how late and what time the busses were running.  They went quite late and I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast so I went back into town via the beach to find a place to eat.  I was propositioned by an eccentric looking dude as I trudged through the sand:

Do you have a lover?!!
Yes, and 3 kids!
Oh ok! ok! I love you!  I love you!

I was getting stressed, super nervous about the possibility of getting sick.  It was dark now.  I eventually found Burrito Revolution after walking up and down the streets and waited a really long time for fish tacos.  They were worth it.  I put all three sauces on, mild medium and hot, and then stopped to take a few crappy photos, and drink my margarita, and savour all the flavours.  I'm mad at myself for not taking any night time photos of the town.  So mad.  I messaged The Stones that I would be on the 8:30PM bus back to PV and started walking back to the bus station.  

Me waiting at the bus station.  So sad to be leaving so soon, but so happy and so invigorated to have had the opportunity to explore the little town all on my own with no binding schedules or little lives to put before my own.  I boarded the bus which filled up quickly with tourists and locals mashed down the aisle.  I asked the driver a few times to let me know when we got to the Wal-Mart, but he still took me past it and all the way to the airport.  I had to loop around back and cross the street.  I felt bad, not realizing the Little Stones were in the car, probably very restless and impatient!  We headed towards their second dwelling, a family friend's place.  It was dark, but going out onto the patio and looking out, I knew I was in for another breath-taking view in the morning...


Eat Drink Love in Mexico: THE WEDDING

Woke up in my room to a beautiful view.  I took one more stroll around ICON before The Stones dropped me off at the Walmart bus station.  I arrived just in time and found a seat before it got packed.  The bus ride to Sayulita was about an hour, pushing through town traffic before continuing through a more rural route.  A pair of buskers climbed on with guitars and did a rad version of Proud Mary, the ballad in Spanish followed by the wild head shaking portion in English.  The boy had the high voice, the girl had the low voice.  It was pretty cool and I wish I had taken a photo or video, but the bus was crammed and I didn't want to be THAT tourist.

There had been some confusion between texts with Jade prior to my departure.  Technically there was an hour time difference between PV and Sayulita, but our clocks were possibly not in sync.  Anyway, by the time I had arrived there was nobody to pick me up from the station.  No problem. ADVENTURE TIME.  I walked into town and with the itinerary map I had created and was soon put in the quickest direction to the wedding party's headquarters by one of the kind locals.  I came to a crossroads and must have stuck out like a sore thumb as being lost.  I was quickly approached by two generous ladies and their dog who were out puttering around in their golf cart, they kindly offered to help me out.  We got lucky as hell.  The driver managed to figure out which way we were going, but the golf cart's battery died halfway up the winding hill.  I left my baggage with their dead cart and ran up the rest of the way to see if it was indeed wedding headquarters or if I was royally screwed.  After some yelling, a head popped out of the 3rd floor balcony and confirmed I was saved!  I skibbled back down the cobbled path, thanked my tour guides (and tried to pay them off…), and broke a mean sweat hauling my camera bag and roller luggage back up the hill.

Just as I arrived at the front gate, another golf cart pulled up behind me with the videographers, Tomasz and Brian, with whom I would very quickly fall in love.  Super friendly, laid back, and respecting of my shameless showering in full view of people I have never met.  I said HELLO to the girls and fell in love just as quickly with the photographer, Jen.  Sweetest lady with no guard up, easy going, flowing in and out, and really just another one of the girls.  When the fussing was finally over, I jumped into the back of a golf cart with Mr Barcelon, Tomasz and Jen in front.  I don't know how these golf carts don't have a better reputation considering their crazy ability to blast and climb through cobbled streets and up gnarly hills.  I would compare it to riding the Wild Mouse roller coaster at Playland, super sketchy yet super fun.

And I think the wedding speaks for itself…  I cried so many many times.  It was such a gift to be able to witness a wedding with so many raw feelings from people I have known since I was a child.  Sometimes I have to wonder if these post-children weddings are a little more real, because the stuff you gotta push through with kids is definitely a true test of what your relationship is made of!  I remembered to make and pack my own place card which was perfectly located at THE PARTY table.  I only found out that the crazy guy I was sitting beside is the cousin of one of my BFFS, Caela.  Wish I had known so I could have given him a harder time.  The night was filled with tequila shots, margaritas, more tequila shots, limbo, and more tequila shots until they finally rolled out the Taco and Churro Bar.  Notable songs: Mariah Carey's Fantasy and Boyz II Men's I"ll Make Love to You.  Thank you Dorothy, thank you...


Fully Gallery Here

Thank you to Jen + Hugh and Tomasz + Brian for your kindness, encouragement and tips allowing me to shoot throughout this incredible day.

Rob + Jade
on making your love official and allowing me to be part of your breathtaking tear-jerking drunk in  love wedding.  i still can't believe 2 of my favourite people from so very long ago have found their happiness in one another.  i love you and your little family so very very much and feel so blessed to be part of your lives.


Eat Drink Love in Mexico: Part I

Last Sunday, I booked a last minute ticket to Puerto Vallarta via Los Angeles.  Our family had been invited to the wedding of Rob + Jade.  I met Rob in Kindergarten and became especially good friends with him in the last years of elementary.  Jade, a few years behind, joined our school in grade 4 with the most adorable bangs and bob.  Highschool broke us all up.  While Rob disappeared into VC boy gang life, Jade contributed to me and Kevin's romance (the two ended up at St Pat's), being a carrier for our love letters or saving me a spot on the bus home from LFA to Richmond.  Little did any of us know that the two of them would find happiness in one another and that our lives would be intertwined once again thanks to our firstborns being only 2 months apart, Jade's incredible talent with hair, and ok Facebook.     Funny how having kids pulls you back with old friends!  Must be the primal urge to join in packs and form villages for survival and sanity...

We were excited to visit Mexico for the first time and with our kids whom we knew would love the cultural experience.  As winter approached as did the time to book our tickets.  Kevin had just lost his job and so our plans sadly fizzled out.  A week before everyone would fly out for the big day, I helped to design a few of the wedding stationery items.  Having Jade over to finalize and collect all the product really broke my heart.  Being the sweet understanding guy he is, Kevin pushed me to take the trip on my own while he would stay at home with the kids.  It was a very easy and very tough decision, but it was made.  Malcolm cried in the car as I waved good-bye to him, and I cried as I ran into the airport.  I would have never left my other two kids for that long at such a young age.  Actually, this was my first time going off on my own EVER and I could not have found a better ticket.  My ticket had a 24 hour overlay in LA on the way to and from Puerto Vallarta which meant I could visit my sister in Cali!  In addition, my good friends, The Stones, just happened to be enjoying a 2 week vacation in Puerto Vallarta at the same time.  They generously welcomed me to stay with them upon arrival and before departure to/from LAX.  And right smack in the middle of my visit, I would join the wedding party in their digs at wedding night's end.  Perfect.  

I arrived in LA at 7pm.  We stopped by Forever 21 to grab a hat and sunglasses (I completely forgot to pack my own…) and ordered Italian takeout.  It was a brief visit but such a joy to squeeze my big sister and blast old school HIP HOP down the freeway, just like the good old days when I would fly down to visit her in my pre-family days.  It's been 8 years!

The flight to PVR was FANTASTIC.  I DIDN'T HAVE ANY KIDS WITH ME AND I got to sit in peace with a coffee and a chocolate croissant and watch James Bond Spectre completely undisturbed.  In fact, I didn't even get to see the last minutes of it because the flight was over.  Luxury. 

We landed.  My head was tingling, electric currents seemed to be gently running up and down my arms as I walked through the corridors of PVR to its arrival gates.  I spotted Brock behind the glass and I ran.  I made it!  I was really here!  This was really happening!  I was in shock as we hugged and walked out into the blinding sunlight.  The heat started to sink in and it felt glorious.  We hopped into their Green Ferrari (a tiny little 90's style Chevy) and booted it to their Dad's high-rise condo... 

We headed out to Old Vallarta for dinner.  I sat in the back with the boys, checking out the architecture, the little shops and kids riding in the back of pick-up trucks, palm trees palm trees palm trees.  We parked and walked down "The Seawall", enjoying the warm evening breeze and a fiery sunset.  My diet for 3-4 days was Margaritas/Tequila Shots and Tacos.  I'm still not over it.  We took turns eating and minding the boys.  I took my Margarita in a TO GO cup because I had barely dented it and was already quite tipsy.  We took a walk around town, stopping into a bar that was advertising karaoke.  The boys bravely sang BEAT IT and LAND DOWN UNDER!  Definitely something to cross of their Bucket List!  

This trip was off to a great start…  Next up THE WEDDING!


Mini Cali Vacay

Thought I'd share a few photos from our weekend trip to visit my sister in Cali.  We stayed at in San Diego at a beach house to be closer to Lego Land where we would be taking Moses on his birthday the following day.  It was so beautiful!  Sadly, it was cold and windy on the day we arrived and did not get the opportunity to hit the beach and waves.

The rest of our time was spent relaxing at my sister's home.  The kids got to spend quality time with their fave Auntie, and when they were not, you could find them in the hammock, building legos or mesmerized for hours in front of the television.  It was a rough week of weaning them off when we returned home!  

And next year we will have a 5 month old baby