Death, Movement and Stillness

This is the last month in which I can say “My dad died last year.” Yup, I’ve thought about that. Usually we count down towards the future in anticipation of something, but I know it has been eighteen months or a year and a half since my dad unexpectedly died; and in one month, it will be farther in my life’s rearview. IMG_2427-3.JPG

Isn’t it strange how we keep track of things according to time? I think so. Only when I stop to count do I realize how long it has actually been. Seriously…think about everything that’s happened in your life in the past year and a half. Pretty crazy, right? I’m utterly amazed at how far I’ve come. I could not have guessed that a year and a half later, I’d be sitting here, on a bus from Puerto Viejo to San José, Costa Rica. I couldn’t have told you that I’d continue moving forward – I mean, of course my only direction would be forward, but in that moment of death on June 7, 2013, my world stood still. I couldn’t have told you that my life of movement was just beginning.


Constant movement is my thing. My job requires it. My personal life requires it. I require it. And it is during this movement that I am reminded of my dad. I see him in the sunsets, I see him in the stars, I see him in the passing landscape, I see him in fellow travelers, and I see him in my adventures.

One can never anticipate death’s effects. It simply affects you – any time, any place, and while doing absolutely anything. You know what I thought of before bungee jumping 470 feet into the lush, green mountains of Monteverde? My dad. I blocked out everything else, even Christine shouting “I love you, man” and the guys counting down 5-4-3-2-1. It was Monteverde, my dad and me.


This makes me wonder if I chase that adventure high to feel him or, if in doing so, I am honoring him. I guess it could be both. In experiencing death, I realized I needed to be experiencing life. Again and again, I talk about time. Do we have enough? Or are we not using it wisely? My dad’s life being cut short jolted me alive. I could always be doing more.

I’ve been recognized for my energy – I multitask and am constantly moving. It’s been good and bad in dealing with death. A year and a half later, I am still moving forward and, consequently, am still shocked at how fast I do so. These moments of reflection make time stand still again – I’m back at the hospital, standing next to my dad. And losing him creeps back into my mind again. So I keep moving. Healthy? Ehhhh, not necessarily. Working? Yeah, pretty much.

I keep moving until I’m standing at the edge of a cable car platform, staring down upon the greenery below. And then I jump, spiraling downwards and rebounding upwards. My world literally turned upside down and when I was pulled upright, I was breathing deep because I felt so deeply. I was overwhelmed with emotion. When the cable car returned to solid ground, a fellow bungee jumper noticed that I looked more alive, and damn did I feel more alive.



The adventure highs I experience when I travel help me to feel my grief. I think they provoke it. In feeling alive, I feel pain. Opposing emotions brought together in the stillness of these moments force me to feel, to grieve. It is because of him that I continue to move forward, to experience and to travel. I am seeing him, feeling him, and honoring him whether he is physically a year and a half away from me or he is spiritually in the very moment closest to me. For me, my dad’s death has cemented my pursuit of movement, travel and newness. What I didn’t realize, however, is that his death has also affected my gratitude for reflection in times of stillness, even when I’ve tried my hardest to propel myself through them.


The original version of this post appeared on December 15, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

From Brain To Mouth: KB & codea Edition

Being back from our Central America trip doesn’t mean we have to stop blogging about it right?! Here are some preeetty funny, insightful, silly, and ridiculous things that we said during our time abroad. We hope you laugh, think, wonder, and wander while reading them. Also, enjoy the picture below, for it is priceless.


KB: Do you ever go through Instagram and think, “Wow that’s awesome”?

On the last day of the trip
CO: Wait you have a bar of soap?

KB: I don’t even remember which knob is for hot water. Is it the left one?

KB: How do people live their life in one place?

CO: Let’s check if there’s hot water.

CO: I just spilled beer in my hammock. And my bathing suit is absorbing it.

KB: What are you doing for New Years?
CO: I don’t even know where I’m sleeping tonight.

Entering our hostel dorm:
KB: Is there a light?
CO: There’s a lizard.

KB sees an apple next to Christine, who is laying on her stomach. KB picks up the apple. KB puts the apple on Christine’s butt, and proclaims it: Apple bottom.

CO: I got chocolate all up in my garganta.

KB: I just wanna let you be and watch you burn.

While consuming chocolate drinks, KB and CO simultaneously say:
KB: We’re about to be so hyper.
CO: This isn’t as chocolatey as I wanted.

CO: My abs hurt so bad…I’ve never said those words before.

KB: What time is it?
CO: It’s almost happy hour.

CO: I never wanna be phased by travel.
KB: Travel matures you.

KB: We have to wake up at the asscrack of dawn.
CO: I love the asscrack of dawn. It’s my favorite asscrack.

CO: If you wanna go somewhere, ya fucking go.

CO: What’s your favorite thing from this meal?
KB: I’m eating friend plantains and a meatball on a stick right now.

KB: I’ve never brushed my teeth under the stars before!

When CO couldn’t finish her plantain:
KB: No plantain left behind.

CO: I feel like we’re crashing a party right now…
Hostess of restaurant: Do you guys mind sitting in the front of the restaurant? This is a private event.

CO: I wish I could Instagram what my leg feels like.

The original version of this post appeared on December 19, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

Nicaragua & Costa Rica: Top 10 Most Ridiculous Things That Really Happened

We miss being abroad. We’d re-live all of these moments in a hot sec:

1. The bus driving away with our backpacks and passports on it. And us engaging in a bus chase with a taxi.

2. Leaving our passports in the first hostel we stayed in in Nicaragua.

3. Christine chased a Nicaraguan kid down the street in attempt to get her camera back. It didn’t work, but she tried.

4. Getting dropped off in a dust cloud in the middle of a highway in Liberia. Bienvenidos a Costa Rica, ladies.

5. A woman breastfeeding next to Kerianne on the bus.

6. Our entire border crossing day. We thought that salted peanuts might be our last meal on this earth.

7. Our rafting guide throwing Christine in the river Balsa and dragging her along using her paddle.

8. Peeling and eating hard boiled eggs on the bus to Manuel Antonio. And on the bus to Puerto Viejo.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 9.58.23 AM

9. Being recognized at lunch by a bystander at the club the previous night. He told us things we didn’t know happened.

10. We ran into a couple from Washington, D.C. three times, in three different cities, in a span of five days.

Things that didn’t make the list, but are on the same level of ridiculous:

Christine packed two left flip flops for this trip.

We used bug spray as perfume.

When Kerianne wears 4 different neon colors of clothing at the same time.


The time the iCloud burst and none of our alarms went off.

When Kerianne put an apple on Christine’s butt and said, “Apple bottom.”

Evey single time we washed our clothes and hung them up to dry…they never dried. Ever.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 9.42.59 AM

Kerianne didn’t have a footstrap to do the superman zipline, and her legs had to be held in the air by one of the guides. All the way across the Cloud Forest.

Kerianne bought a water bottle at the airport right before boarding the plane, and then they asked her to throw it away before getting on the plane. She was not happy.

Our tent neighbor in Arenal asked us to “please stop laughing.” WHO SAYS THAT?

Lots of love and wonder,

KB & codea

The original version of this post appeared on December 22, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

9 cities, 14 days

We’re not sure if our brains have the capacity to talk about the last two weeks right now. It’s been one adventure after another. In a nutshell, this is what the last 14 days entailed:

1. Volcano boarding down Cerro Negro in León, Nicaragua.
2. Watching a sea turtle nest, and relocating its eggs. #SaveTheSeaTurtles #PoacherNoPoaching
3. A two-hour course of zip lining, rock climbing, scaling rocks, and rappelling in Rincón de la Vieja, Costa Rica.
4. Horseback riding to a 40-foot waterfall, and then jumping off of it.
5. Mud bathing, rinsing off in the river, and then relaxing in a natural hot spring.
6. Rappelling over four waterfalls from 45-165 feet.
7. Whitewater rafting the Balsa River and jumping off small cliffs along the way.
8. Getting a tour of the Monteverde Cheese Factory from the granddaughter of one of its founders, the people who named the town Monteverde.
9. Hiking the forest at night and seeing tarantulas, ant colonies, vipers, kinkajous, sleeping birds, and katydids.
10. Ziplining, Tarzan swinging, superman-ing, and bungee jumping in the Cloud Forest.
11. Kayaking and snorkeling in Manuel Antonio.
12. Playing with monkeys at a Jaguar Rescue Center in Puerto Viejo.
13. Learning how to make chocolate on a cacao plantation. And eating all of it.
14. Sleeping in hammocks.IMG_9600.JPG
15. Exploring a new country with nothing but a backpack and each other.

The original version of this post appeared on December 12, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

Travel is Relative

We received travel vouchers for successfully completing our Peer Mentor internships with API, and we used them to purchase our flights. We booked them in October after continuously searching for flights to anywhere. We decided on Costa Rica because we had heard wonderful things from #hAPI study abroad students – we added Nicaragua in because, why not?


So, we embarked on a two-week journey to Nicaragua and Costa Rica with an intensely researched, yet loose itinerary. You can only research so much about a place – especially in Central America – before learning that you just have to ask around to find what you need. We wanted a backpacker lifestyle. We wanted spontaneity. We wanted adventure.


When we told family and friends about our plans, they were shocked at how long our trip would be. “Two weeks, woah! That’s pretty long.” We already knew it wouldn’t be long enough. These qualms were confirmed upon meeting other travelers and backpackers who had been traveling for three weeks, one month, three months, eight months, eighteen months. When asked how long we were traveling for, we shamefully responded with “only two weeks…” For a traveler, this is a tease. Two weeks is barely enough time to get to know one place, much less a few cities spanning two countries. We knew it, but we jumped at the opportunity anyway. Travel is worth it no matter how long.

Back home, two weeks away seems long; but while traveling, it seems short. When I studied in Spain for a year, I felt it wasn’t enough time, but people’s wide-eyed reactions proved different – “A year! That’s so long!”

Time is relative, and it’s all about perspective. Well, everything is relative, and everything is all about perspective. Travel confirms this over and over again. It wakes you up, shakes your senses alive. It puts you in your place, brings gratitude to the forefront. It challenges you, pushes you past your perceived boundaries. Outward movement aligns with inward reflection. Time passes in a much different way when you are conscious of your surroundings and of how you react to them. It is a continuous learning period. Time traveling is time growing.

Stories are some of the most inspiring moments while on the road. It’s not like it was in college, where everyone had more or less the same trajectory up until the previous night, when they may have gone out to a different bar. It’s not like it was while abroad, where other students had more or less the same reason to be living in a foreign country. It’s completely different and unassuming. You start from square one with questions, and open your ears to the most intriguing stories. You can assume nothing and expect everything.


This is why I am in love with movement. This is why I want a life of travel and adventure. Because I could not live my life in just one place. There are too many buses to catch, too many sunsets to watch, too many cities to appreciate, too many local dishes to taste, too many stories to hear, too many languages to learn and too many people to meet. I want to move forward in life appreciating the time I have to travel, to move and to change, because time is truly all we have.

With wonder and wander,
KB + codea

The original version of this post appeared on December 11, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

Questions We Have For Nicaragua

Why do you wear pants in 90 degree weather?

Why are we the only ones sweating?

How do you know when to cross the street?

Why can’t you open cab doors from the inside?

How do you feel about foreigners?

Why does it say ‘alto’ instead of ‘para’ on the stop signs?

Do you just play American music when you see us walk into your establishment?

Do kids have bedtimes?

What do the different numbers of car beeps mean?

How did you figure out that you could fit 4 people on one bike?

How do dogs know when to cross the road?

Are you sure it’s safe to just get in and out of cars while they’re still moving?

Do people actually have this for breakfast?


If you have any answers, please let us know.


The original version of this post appeared on December 11, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

(Snowboarding – Snow) + Volcano

Volcano boarding. Two words we never knew could go together. Well, in Nicaragua, they do. And we did it.


Today we woke up early and explored León. We saw the Catedral de León, got smoothies, and made scrambled eggs with tomato and zucchini at the hostel just in time for the 9 am volcano boarding call.

Forty of us–ranging between 9-70 years old–sat in the back of two trucks which took us to Cerro Negro, the youngest volcano in Central America. Its last eruption was in 1995, and it lasted from November 19th to December 4th. Not that long ago for a volcano.

Though it may be young, it certainly is big for a cinder cone volcano. At 728m (2,388 feet) high, we looked up in awe with a flash of terror. We were going to hike to the top, and then board – well, sled – down it. Commence our favorite “phrases,” woah…dude…look. At the bottom of the mountain, we looked up and asked ourselves how we came to be so lucky to find ourselves here today. We never found the answer, but regardless we’re grateful.

The views alone made the trip worthwhile as we ascended the volcano. Upon reaching the top, we looked out over the crater and felt the hot ash surrounding it. We breathed it all in. Not the sulfur, of course; but the volcanic ash drop off, the lush greenery surrounding the volcano, and the clear, blue skies we felt closer to.


The feeling of utter appreciation is unmatched. And so is the feeling of exhilaration. Our guide taught us the positions of volcano boarding. Position one: Sit up straight and hover your feet to go slow. Position two: Lean back without shredding your backside on the rocks to go faster. Position three: Lean back with it and stretch your legs out straight, still hovering, and gun it.

Fun fact: volcano boarding Cerro Negro is number TWO on CNN’s “Thrill Seeker’s Bucket List,” second only to co-piloting a fighter jet in Russia for $70,000. Yeah. We consider ourselves plenty blessed.

We put on our orange jumpsuits–we’re pretty sure they get them from detention facilities AKA jail–and masked our shirts around our faces for protection. We felt ready. So ready, in fact, that we jumped up to the front of the “line” to make sure we’d see a few fellow riders go first so that we could sled down before our nerves got the best of us.

Looking down the volcano at the track we stood before, we couldn’t see the bottom of the mountain. It was like being at the top of a roller coaster, just before the drop, with no way of knowing what was ahead…or below. “For those of you who are nervous,” our guide said. “Please try your hardest not to be. You only get one chance to do this, and it’s FUN. Enjoy yourself.”

Christine went first. There was nothing else to feel but adrenaline and hope to make it to the bottom in one piece. It went by in what felt like one or two minutes. She fell (only!) twice and clocked a speed of 38 km/h and joined the five other brave souls at the bottom of the volcano.

Kerianne followed and fell a total of zero times (#nailedit). She was smiling wide and feeling the rush the entire time. And when she reached the bottom, she looked up behind her and her eyes widened: “We just boarded down that volcano.”

We sat in the sun sharing stories with fellow travelers and watched the rest of our thrill-seeking compadres fly down the mountain. We swapped questions, answers, travel advice, recommendations, and dream destinations. There is a certain bond and camaraderie between young world wanderers that is hard to explain. We share this sense of excitement and true interest in each other’s adventures, and this overwhelming craving to cover the world in our footprints. These are connections that we can find only on the road. And with the brief crossing of our paths, we carry on, without a doubt that maybe they will cross again.

“The only danger is never leaving.”


Once everyone made it to the bottom, there were cold beers waiting for us. We stood as a team, cracked them open together, and screamed “salud” to having just crossed off the second most thrill-seeking adventure, well, according to CNN.


With wonder and wander,
KB and codea


The original version of this post appeared on December 10, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

We’ll Cross That Border When We Get There

The moment you set an alarm for 4:30am, you deserve an interesting day. We got nothing short of that on the day we crossed the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica.

Here’s our attempt at describing what was the longest, sketchiest, most entertaining Cross The Border Day.

When we climbed out of our bunks at 4 am to shower, we discovered that the shower was occupied by a couple in the shower, doing what couples do in the shower at 4 am.

We watched the sunrise over Lake Nicaragua, and hailed a cab to catch our bus. The cab driver starts blasting Candy Shop by 50 Cent. At 6 am.

We rode the “chicken bus” to Rivas. In Nicaragua, “chicken buses” are basically school buses that pick people up along the street until the bus is full. It also served as a paper route of some sort: we stopped to buy newspapers that we dropped off at another stop. People got on to sell food, vitamins, medicine, pills, etc., and then got off a few stops later. Those few hours definitely gave us a taste of the commuting lifestyle in Nicaragua.

In Rivas, we found ourselves surrounded by a bunch of taxi drivers and bus operators asking us where we needed to go and offering us rides. One taxi driver, Jordi, basically said, “I’ll drive you to the border for $20.” We, as risk-takers and cheap recent college grads, decided that his offer sounded like a great option. So we hopped in his cab and made our way to the frontera. As we snacked on salted peanuts, I swear I thought they would be our last meal on this earth.

Turns out we might live to see another meal. When we got to the border, Jordi basically passed us off to a dude named Julio. In the rush of the moment, we paid Jordi partly in cordobas (Nicaraguan currency) and partly in dollars. He gave Julio our backpacks and the only directions he gave us were: “Don’t take your money out here” and “Follow Julio, he will take you to cross the border.” We looked at each other and held on to our daypacks for dear life and began following Julio, a small dark man wearing a lime green and white striped Aeropostale polo. The next few minutes are unclear to both of us, but we think we walked through what looked like a street with stores on the right side, a wall on the left, and people just standing around all over. Julio asked for our passports to fill out paperwork, and we both got ready to chase after him in case he decided to make a run for it. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Whew.

We walked through a little gate, and Julio took us to two different ticket windows and told us to give three different people different amounts of money. This is where KB and codea totally fail at almost everything. We don’t know what we paid for, we don’t know how much we really gave, and we don’t know much, period. We found ourselves in what looked like a parking lot/bus terminal/dead end. After a few minutes, we were sitting under a tree with Julio, where he told us we would wait until the bus came. We shared our salted peanuts with Julio, but what we really wanted was beer. It was 9 am.

When the bus came, we said goodbye to Julio and thanked him. We tipped him with all the cordobas we had left, and a few dollars. To this day, we don’t really know who he was or what he did, but our lives were in his hands and hey, we’re alive and well. So thanks Julio, for getting us to Costa Rica.

So there we were, finally on a bus to Liberia, Costa Rica! Just as we got comfortable, the bus stopped and we were back to being lost, but we followed the crowd. We took our belongings and went through security and immigration. Back to the bus. Kerianne sat next to a mother breastfeeding her child, and I next to a not-so-great-smelling human. It was just as awesome as it sounds.

The bus ride ended as quickly as it began. They played Thor and just as we were getting into it, the bus stopped and they called for passengers getting off in Liberia. We were the only two to stand up. We got off the bus and found ourselves in the middle of a highway, dirt and dust swirling around us, blinding our eyes. Kerianne had to climb into the bottom of the bus to dig our backpacks out because, of course, they were buried all the way in the back. And taxi drivers were bombarding us with questions about where we were going. With tears in our eyes from the dust cloud that welcomed us to Costa Rica, we picked a taxi and had him drop us off at a bus station.

We stopped at one bus station before realizing it was the wrong one. When we finally got off at the right bus station, we bought tickets to Tamarindo, and headed straight for the little restaurant we spotted in the terminal. We sat down and had no words to discuss the last few hours. We ordered empanadas and batidos and before we knew it, we were on the next bus of the day.

We laughed really hard for a long time on the bus to Tamarindo, trying to figure out how we got where we were. Still no explanation.

In Tamarindo, we checked into our hostel and headed straight to the beach to grab a beer with a fellow traveler we met on the way.

The rest is history. Our night began with beers on the beach while watching the sunset, and the next few hours involved several shots of chili guaro, Cuba libres, gambling at the casino, more shots with more strangers, dancing, and celebrating some guy’s birthday. Welcome to Costa Rica.

From Nicaraguan sunrises to Costa Rican sunsets, and lots of adventures in between,
codea + KB



The original version of this post appeared on December 10, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

A Love Letter to Sofia

When Andrés first told us that the hostel was “animal friendly” and that they had a cat and a dog, we didn’t think anything of it. And then when we first saw you as we walked through the gate, standing at the top of the steps waiting to meet us, we just knew. We loved you.

We love how perfectly you fit next to us during your impromptu cuddle sessions.

We love your swag.

We love your (literal) puppy dog face when you wanna join our hammock party.


We love the way you love us.



We love your enthusiasm.

We love that you are calm, cool, and collected.

We love the way you blend in with your surroundings.

We love that you think you’re a big watchdog, when in reality you’re just our baby nugget.


Here’s to you Sofía. We love you. Thanks for being our very first friend on the road.

The original version of this post appeared on November 30, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.

So. Many. Feelings.

Goooooooood morning Nicaragua. What a pleasure it is to wake up within your borders.

We woke up on top bunks today, to the sun shining in our faces and the sounds of español as the locals greet each other a good morning outside our window.

We’ve been in Managua, Nicaragua, for 12 hours now, and I think we never want to leave. Partly because that’s how we always feel when arriving in a new city, but mostly because food.

Our first meal in Nicaragua was surreal. We exit the gated hostel, follow the receptionist’s directions and end up at El Garabato, heaven. It was serene. It was peaceful. It was relaxing. And then we read the menu. Score: There was everything our cab driver suggested we try.


Last night we ate a late dinner at a restaurant called El Garabato. We don’t know if we were granted a preview to heaven in the form of a meal, but we think that might be what happened. We followed a path through the restaurant and discovered an incredible patio area in the back. There were Christmas lights and lanterns lining the sky. A quote on the wall that read “En Managua hay un lindo paraje que es todo un ensueño.” (“In Managua there is a beautiful place in which everything is a dream.”)

And the only words we exchanged were a combination of the following phrases:
Where are we
Is this real life
How did we get here

I think that was all we said in the next fifteen minutes. Then we ordered “Michelada,” Nicaragua’s national drink. The waiter brought us mugs and a bottles of Toña beer. The bottom half inch of the mug contained a mixture of salsa inglesa (Worcestershire sauce), hot sauce, lemon, tomato juice, and peppers. He poured the beer into the mugs and mixed the two around before handing them to us to drink. Kerianne likes hot sauce. Christine does not like hot sauce. Logically: Kerianne likes Michelada. Christine does not like Michelada.

Next, we ordered something called Caballo Bayo and Queso Fundido. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that you cannot die without trying these two things, especially the first. Caballo Bayo is kind of like a weird version of a fajita. They give you tiny, chip-sized cuts of tortilla, with which you build your own delicious concoction of a baby taco with any (or if you’re like me and Kerianne, all) of the following:
– chorizo
– shredded beef
– fried pork loin
– shredded chicken
– pico de gallo
– hot pickle onions: a yellow, delicious, ridiculously spicy sauce that Kerianne almost died from tasting
– cheese
– sour cream
– cole slaw
Queso Fundido was a whole other story. Cheese fondue with tomatoes, chorizo, and bell peppers, served with refried beans and cheese. This is all also put inside tiny tortillas.

The waiter left and we spent the next twenty minutes stuffing our faces exchanging these advanced vocabulary words:
What is this

And then we were full. Of food, of glee, of newness, of life. We knew how lucky we were, to sit there, in the center of Managua, enjoying a classic Nicaraguan meal, and to actually appreciate the meaning behind our being there. Our love for exploring cultures, cuisines, and countries brought us together to show us how important it is to travel, and to try. At one point, I looked up and Kerianne was scooping the cheese fondue and literally talking to it. “Hi guys, how are you doing?” I think I heard the cheese respond, but I don’t want to start making things up. I’ll never be sure though, I think it was all a dream.

Do you ever stop and think, “How did I even get here?” We sure did. We’re in Nicaragua and we have a long (seriously), very long gratitude list. And API tops it. If it weren’t for out crossing of paths in Austin at API Peer Mentor orientation, we wouldn’t be sitting side by side drinking Michelada, digging into Caballo Bayo and affirming our realization that life is about movement.

Wondering | Wandering,

The original version of this post appeared on November 29, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.