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“I’m in love with this planet, I’m in love with life, and my gift is expression. I share my time, my experiences, and my travels openly and lovingly with all of you.”

Elaine Mercedes Mendoza

About Elaine

My name is Elaine Mercedes Mendoza and I’ve been traveling the world since I was six years old-as a first generation American.   I am Venezuelan born but raised in the Washington D.C. metro area.  From that moment I first stepped into the USA, I developed life long skills in compassion, curiosity, a thirst for the unknown and understanding different cultures.

This website will hopefully inspire you to live YOUR best life-whatever that means for you.  I am living proof that I did not win the lottery but I am still traveling the world and writing about it.  Hopefully, I will convince you that you do not have to just be a reader.  Go out there! See the world!  I’m not saying quit your job and become a travel writer.  I’m just saying, you can travel no matter what your circumstances are. Read more…

Latest Blogs

What My 40´s Year Old Self Would Tell My Younger Self

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND YOU ARE ENOUGH: Seriously, you look great but of course you do not know that.  As a matter of fact, you will later regret not knowing that you were this beautiful in your 20´s. How you look at 25 is very different than how you will look at 35.  You have health right now, which will be drastically taken away from you in your 30´s.  See, you are about to make some poor choices in love and career that will have you taking a wrong turn in life.  This will affect both your health and your body.  Enjoy being 25 at the peak of your beauty, but also start to figure out whom you are on the inside because ultimately that is what will take over.  We ALL fade physically, but our essence can become brighter and more beautiful the more we work on ourselves. Also, you do not know this right now, but YOU ARE ENOUGH.  You got out of college and now you want to prove to yourself that something will come of it.  Let me tell you something, success is not something you achieve as if you will get everything that you want in that next relationship or that next job.  There is not anything OUT THERE that will fill the void inside of you.  It will take you a long time to learn this, but in the meantime, enjoy making all of those mistakes that you are about to make because ultimately you WILL learn and you will be a new and changed person because of it. 2. THE NEXT 20... read more

HOUSING OPTIONS YOU ARE OVERLOOKING

The biggest decision we will make after we decide what destination to visit is HOUSING.  It will most likely take the biggest chunk out of your travel budget and can also make or break your vacation.  Have you ever stayed at a five star resort that was under construction or have an AirBnb nightmare story?  There are many other options out there that people are not considering, but that can save them big money.  Here are five alternative housing options that you can look into: 1) Monasteries:  You do not have to be religious or into spirituality to stay at a monastery.  There are many around the world that have been welcoming travelers.  In some of these places, you can volunteer to serve food or help with chores in exchange for a free stay.  It does not matter what your background is, there is a monastery waiting for you to discover its serene and peaceful welcome. Staying at a monastery is cheaper than a hotel or short-term rental and will provide the safety that you want.  Monasteries come in all shapes and for all budgets.  From the luxurious and pristine to the basic and rugged–surely you can find one that suits your needs and travel style.   2) Yoga Retreats: It seems yoga retreats are popping up all over the place at exuberant prices.   For those of you looking for the spiritual side of life, there are also yoga retreats all around the world that will offer you everything that you need during your personal retreat.  You do not have to pay thousands of dollars on a spiritual getaway.... read more

The Un-Life of a Train Conductor Vs. Trump’s America

When I tell people I was once a train conductor I get a big gasp of disbelief.  It seems I am not the image of a train conductor and I am pretty sure I do not look like Tom Hanks.  However, I really hated it when people didn’t have their ticket or when passengers wanted to use some lame excuse as to how I was “singling” them out because of some irrelevant yet a hot trending issue.  It is not easy being around hundreds of people every day.   Managing different personalities with lack of sleep combined with the over-worked lives of our travelers is a skill that cannot be taught. However, the position taught me how to observe people from all walks of life and how to eventually be able to write articles like this one. The truth is that at one point I LOVED being a train conductor.  I was able to use the train for free and I took advantage of that very much.  I was able to go from one side of the country to the other.  I was able to hop in my car (yes, my car) from Virginia to Florida as I wined and dined on the Auto train.  It was a magnificent time and I enjoyed every minute of it—until I didn’t.  See, riding the train and working on one are two totally separate experiences. I wrote this article to honor all the railroad employees and  staff from the Engineers to the Snack bar employees and Train conductors.  I call it the “un-life” because so much of our everyday lives are sacrificed.  From... read more

Overcoming Claustrophobia in Rio Secreto

Welcome to Rio Secreto– A Nature Reserve that is no longer a secret outside of The Playa del Carmen area.  Hands down, this will be one of your most spectacular life experiences.  Imagine an underground world that stayed hidden for millions of years until an Iguana Hunter accidentally stumbled upon it in 2006.  The experience has been compared to walking on the moon and The Mayans believed that this underground cave was a pathway to the afterlife. Rio Secreto is a once in a lifetime experience worth having.  However, I was not entirely at peace before the adventure, and confronted my claustrophobia head on.  When people ask me, why am I afraid of dark and enclosed spaces?  I am not entirely sure, but I do have a theory.  I was personally in The World Trade Center on 9/11 and it is quite possible that the thought of being there that day and knowing the fate of the Trade Center affected me.    For many months after that horrible day, nightmares of being inside of a falling building affected me and my therapist at the time thought I was having symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress.  Wherever my claustrophobia came from, Rio Secreto helped me overcome them.  I knew that it would be dark and I knew that in some areas the space would be constricted, but it is so breathtakingly beautiful that I forgot about my phobia and instead embraced its mystical beauty.  The guide Núnez  was such a charming and informative gentleman that my nerves quickly normalized and I was able to enjoy this magical experience.  You will walk,... read more

Holbox An Island on the Verge….

Dreamy, sleepy, enchanting, and peaceful are just a few words to describe this island on the verge of becoming a major tourist attraction.  I am blessed to know it before it officially has streets, traffic lights, and bustling tourists from every corner of the earth. The irony of finding a gem is that what makes it so special is also just “about” to morph and change into a town where people will stand in line to take a photo in front of the letters that spell the beach town.  However, I am happy to share my experience with all of you so that you are ready for your first visit. First comes first: GETTING THERE FROM PLAYA DEL CARMEN:  The good news for those of you that want to experience Holbox, is that you no longer have to take a bus to Cancun and then transfer to another bus. There is now a direct bus that leaves Playa Del Carmen at 9:20am (Juarez Station only) and the ride lasts two hours and 20 minutes. It arrives just in time for the noon ferry! The ferry takes about 18 to 25 minutes. ***Special Hint: the red ferry is nicer and quicker. It also costs the same as the blue one. Getting to this island considered as 1 of 5 most peaceful in the world—just got easier! LODGING:  I stayed at Tribu and I am so glad I did.  There were like minded individuals there ready to explore the island and to share memorable times with.  I am aware that the hostel environment is not for everyone, but you can get... read more

YUMMY Restaurants in Playa del Carmen Cheat Sheet

1)TACOS: El Fogon Tacos al Pastor (Pork tacos with pineapple) Tacos with Chorizo and queso Tacos with Arrachera (steak) Carnitas Teresita for Tacos de Chicharron or Kastacan as they call it in this region. For more Info: Carnitas Teresita 2)  ARRACHERA (Steak dinner) HC de Monterey & El Fogon both have excellent steak dinners 3) FRESH FISH FILLETS & AWESOME CEVICHE La Tarraya has been a local favorite for over 20 years.  Any of their fish dishes are a winner.  From fish in garlic sauce to Pescado Tikinxic—try them all;)  Winner ceviche with fresh homemade totopos (word here for tortilla chips).  For the health conscious a lot of their dishes are grilled. 4) FRUIT AND VEGGIE JUICES El Nativo Although this place is known for their amazing juices at very affordable prices, their lunch and dinner specials deserve to be mentioned as well.  A local favorite—I cannot stop going here whenever I need authentic meals on my nomadic budget;) 5) BEST COFFEE AND TERRIFIC BRUNCH Cafe Chou Chou:  For more info:  Cafe Chou Chou 6) ITALIAN FOOD WITH FRESH HOMEMADE PASTA: Romeo´s 7) VENEZUELAN FOOD: Kaxapa Factory:  Breakfast, fruit juices that you have never tried like “Venezuelan Lemonade” and awesome overall menu all day.   For more info: Kaxapa Factory 8) ENCHILADAS Piknik (65 pesos Lunch menu) 9) DELICIOUS DESSERTS: Ah Cacao (elote cake) and any of the desserts at Chez Celine.  The corn bread dessert at Kaxapa Factory is delicious too! 10) LOCAL DRINK: MICHELADA (a local favorite).  Order it anywhere!  It is not always on the menu but they will make it for you everywhere. ***BONUS:  MY FAVORITE FINE DINING... read more

Criminal of Birth

CRIMINAL OF BIRTH Written by Elaine Mercedes Mendoza 2001 I am a criminal of birth. My sentence is indefinite. My whole family moved here when I was only a child and since then I’ve managed to keep my “American” spirit alive. Now I’m feeling like I’ve been brainwashed all these years. After the initial shock I did see stars. True colors are starting to appear. I’m red with anger, and white isn’t the color of your lies but I assure you the bruises on my spirit are of the deepest ocean blue, and today I question you like a lover will you do for me as I have done for you? It all started way back “then.” In Elementary school. I was taught that I was “In the land of the free and the land of the brave.” I even recited the morning speech, ” A pledge of allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America.” Now these words run mockingly through my head now I’m no longer “American” I’m a criminal instead. Now I’m a criminal without a name because an A# has taken its place. Thomas Jefferson wrote that “All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” But now Jefferson is probably not resting in his grave, but you could say I’m feeling like a modern day slave. I’m being “traded back” for free cause the flight of deportation has no charge. I have no Lincoln to save my day. I’m only like Churchill alone against... read more

The Nomadic Blues

It sounds ungrateful to say anything negative about my life.  After all, I live two blocks from the Caribbean, my rent is one/sixth of what I use to pay in the USA and my lifestyle is full of freedom.  However, I like to give an honest opinion of what it feels like to live a nomadic life.  It is not always endless drinks at the beach or romantic sunsets.  There is a lot more to this story or this lifestyle. The nomadic blues hits all of us in one way or another.  We are surrounded by beauty no matter where we go but we are also surrounded by emotions that surface when we least expect it.  Perhaps we see a couple holding hands along the Seine in Paris.  Other times we may notice the new bride getting her professional pics taken along the banks of Venice.  All of these triggers remind us that we are somehow alone in this great big beautiful world. The nomadic blues surfaces when our old belief system meets the new one that we have not yet defined for ourselves.  We are told that by a certain age we should be married, have a mortgage that has locked us in for 30 years, and kids that we are working hard for.  What happens to your mind when you do not have any of those things?  That part of you that comes from that predictable world is now face to face with this new world we have created for ourselves and we are being judged.  The irony is that it does not matter who is judging... read more

2016 Report Card: The Good, The Bad, and The New Vision Board

Last year, I created a list of everything that went beautifully and what can be improved upon. I thought after completing my second year as a nomad that I would continue the tradition of writing everything down.  I strongly suggest that you write down all the moments that were successful which in turn increases your gratitude. To me, success is just whatever makes you happy. Success means to live a life that you love.  It has nothing to do with money, fame, or recognition.  If it makes you happy, you are successful. Below, I chose five items for each topic but they are in no particular order. Five Things I get an A+ on 1) Traveling. 2016 Started with a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, a return trip to Prague, and a new town in this beautiful country called Karlovy Vary. I always try to discover small towns wherever I go. Then, I went to London, Ibiza, Formentera, Barcelona, Tarragona, and Sitges. Finally, my European adventure for 2016 ended in Paris, France (as it usually does). After Europe, I returned to The Riviera Maya and climbed Coba before it closed and discovered the dreamy island of Holbox. Speaking of Mexico, it brings me to my #2 accomplishment. 2) Travel Organizing: The Riviera Maya tour 2016 was a success! I took a group of people to experience some of my favorite places, beaches, and food in this part of the world. Judging by the laughs, glasses of wine, and the sore legs after climbing a pyramid, the trip was a joy for everyone. I do not just create budget friendly trips,... read more

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Resources

After some thought (and your wonderful requests) I am working on a handy resource/helpful guide. As soon as I have some information, I will upload it for your enjoyment.

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