How I Can Afford To Travel!

My most REVEALING post to date! If you've been wondering how the hell I've been able to last traveling this long, well here it is! All secrets are out in the open! This post tells you how I do it, and how YOU can do it too!

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On Being Featured In A Documentary

I somehow managed to get myself featured in an upcoming documentary about "Voluntourism". This may be the big break I've been waiting for! The trailer is out - and I'm in it! It looks so good, I'm so excited! See for yourself... watch it here!

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Scotland: My Favorite Country In The World

I've been to many places in several different continents, and have seen spectacular beauty... But every time I visit Scotland, every other country pales in comparison. Read this post to find out why at this point, Scotland was and still is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on Earth...

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On Finding My Bliss In Italy

When you go on big trips like this, however cheesy it sounds, you always do end up 'finding yourself'. And there are moments... difinitive moments when you achieve clarity, contentment, and pure happiness. This all happened to me in Italy. Read my most soulful post to date, inspired by the full moon in Italia...

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The 2014 Rio Carnival!

I've seen, done, and experienced crazy things in my life... but nothing will EVER compare to the sheer MADNESS of the Carnival in Rio De Janeiro. It is a bloody miracle I came out of it alive! Everything you've ever heard about it - alcohol, drugs, sex, and SAMBA... they're all true! Read about how I managed to survive the most insane festival I've ever attended...

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An Epiphany At Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in Italy. We hiked 5 villages in one day, and it was breathtaking! But something completely unexpected happened on the hike... An encounter with a complete stranger made me realize possibly one of the most important things I need to do with my life...

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

On What It’s Really Like to Work for a Cruise Ship


I’ve been asked this question a lot lately. And although working for this industry for the past couple years doesn’t necessarily make me an expert, I think I may be credible enough to shed some light on this very mysterious and elusive career.
See – the problem is that quite a few people probably have a very misguided idea of what working on a cruise ship is like. Some think it's glamorous - for good reason. The ships are beautiful… they travel to all these exotic places… there’s constant booze and entertainment… overflowing with delicious food… Which is all true.

For the guests.

Not for the crew.

On the other hand, some of you may have the misconception that crew members are treated like slaves in a floating prison. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration too.

It's a little better than prison.

So please allow me to set things straight – both for the curious cats who are interested, and also for my fellow crew members who are wrongly perceived. It’s time they found out the truth.



Let’s Start With…


THE PROS


1. THE VACATION.
 



Truly, for me, the best part about working for a cruise ship is THE VACATION. If you are living in the United States – you only get about 2 weeks of paid vacation per year. With tenure, some lucky folks get to accumulate more the longer they stay with the company. Still doesn’t beat this though.

My rotation is 4 months on, 2 months off. Which means I get about 4 months of vacation total per year. The majority of the crew members on my  current ship work 5 months on, with a 5 week vacation right after.

But I have to admit, my ship is a little different from the rest.

The crew members on the other ships usually work 6-9 months on, 2 – 3 months off.
Still not bad, right?

2. YOU GET TO SAVE MONEY --- If you’re smart.

When you’re at the ship, everything is paid for. Food, lodging, laundry, EVERYTHING. I can technically go for a full contract without spending a dime.

I do not have an apartment or a mortgage. Sold my car before I did my round theworld backpacking adventure. I don’t have any utility bills or insurances that I need to worry about. Nada.

So for me, this set-up is ideal. That even if the salary is lower than my previous corporate job, my take-away or my “cash on hand” is either even, or a little higher because I am factoring out the bills I used to have to pay.

If you are in the Philippines, or somewhere in South East Asia, or Eastern Europe, or South America, or the Caribbean– the salary is even better because you earn in US Dollars, not in your currency. Great opportunity to save and send money home to your families and loved ones. 

Now – if you are American, and you still have a mortgage, or an apartment, or bills to pay, and nothing changes in your lifestyle, and you decided to work on the ship --- this may not be the job for you if your sole purpose is to try to save some money. I would whip out a calculator and make a huge analysis before I take this job. Some positions make this worth it though… say if you were a higher ranking officer or a manager. Otherwise, I would think and calculate.

3. IT IS DIVERSE 




It is seriously a United Colors of Benetton advertisement, when you are sitting at the crew mess having dinner with a dude from Jamaica, a chick from Peru, a guy from South Africa, and a nice lady from Nepal. These companies take on crew members that hail from all over the world, and it’s really super fun to get to meet all these people and learn about their cultures.


 When I just got started and I was working on one of our International ships, meeting people from all over the world was definitely one of my favorite things about the job --- it made me feel like I hadn’t stopped traveling. 



My current ship is sort of unique in that we are the only US Flag ship in the world, so by law, we are required to have about 75% American workers, and 25% International.

But… it’s still fun… you know… getting to know someone from… uh… Delaware…




Shenanigans at the Crew Bar

4. YOU GET TO TRAVEL

And I mean this in 2 ways.

1st – If you get assigned to a ship that has an amazing itinerary, then it’s a win-win! Some of our ships go to Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and pretty soon – China. You may as well toss out your piggy bank because there’s no way in hell you’ll be able to save money if your itinerary is any of the above. How can you resist NOT seeing those places if your ship takes you there? You have to take advantage of the opportunity – I mean I would. I took this job so I could continue to travel! And being assigned to see those places is a dream.
My first ship took me to the Caribbean - and I hadn't seen any of those places before, so --- score!
This was in Cozumel, Mexico


I think this may have been Costa Maya or Roatan in the Honduras. I can't even remember anymore.


2nd – If you get assigned to a ship that has an itinerary that you don’t really care for, then you can save up the money you earn and travel during your 2 month vacation! Which is exactly what I do!

I am permanently assigned to our Hawaiian ship, and it’s pretty spectacular! But if you’re there year round, you can hardly consider that traveling anymore, especially if you look like a local. So after my 4 month contract, off to wherever-else-I-haven’t-been-to I go!


Beautiful photo I took of the Napali Coast in Hawaii

THE CONS


1. YOU WORK 7 DAYS A WEEK – NO DAYS OFF.


I’m not kidding. This is basically a 24/7 job. No rest for the wicked, type.  On average, a crew member works about 10 hour days, 7 days a week. You’d think it’s all fun and games, but it’s really not. It’s hard work.

In fact, some days, I find myself staring into the ceiling of my small cabin, wishing for at least one day off. Out of my 4 months. I was wishing for 1 day out of 4 months. And my contract isn’t even that long. The other crew members who are working 8 – 9 months are probably wanting to throw their shoe at me right now.
It’s a lifestyle that you have to get used to. No weekends. No “Happy Friday’s”. Those don’t mean squat.



2. LIVING ARRANGEMENTS – Dorm style.
Like in college, only worse.

It’s not going to be easy for most to have to adjust to living with 3 or 4 other people in a small confined space, especially if one has never lived with other people before.
Because of the position that I am in, I am one of the more fortunate ones who get to enjoy the privilege of having a solo cabin. It’s small – but it never really bothered me as long as I was by myself.
This is my current cabin. And that's Falcor, my dog.

 The majority of the other crew members live with 2 to 3 other people in a very small living space, and that could be a major issue for some people. If you are lucky, you get roomed with people who are fun and you actually get along with. This is the dream. 

Essentially, this is what a (contraband) Cabin Party looks like, in a normal Crew Cabin :) It's nice and snug.

If not… If you get roomed with someone weird, or messy, or OCD, or someone who is downright crazy --- then, good luck.

A friend of mine said she woke up in the middle of the night to her roommate staring at her. Naked.

This story gave me nightmares for weeks.

3. CABIN FEVER

Sometimes you're too busy, and you have a crap schedule, that you don't really have time to get off the ship. And sometimes because you're so busy, that even if you do, you'd rather sleep. Living and working and eating and breathing inside the ship can make one go a little crazy if one doesn't take care of one's self. You don't really have the luxury of driving out to a pub to meet up with your friends after a hard day's work. All you have is the crew bar. And you have to watch your alcohol intake, because cruise ships have a very strict alcohol policy (Your BAC can't go over .04). 

Let's see... What were my favorite things to do on land after work, that I couldn't really do while I'm on the ship:
  • Grocery Shop and then Cook
  • Go and watch a movie
  • Happy Hour Thursdays with my friends
  • Happy Hour anyday with my my friends
  • Boxing & Muay Thai 
  • Watch a concert/show
  • Go have a picnic in a park
Yeah. I miss all of that. But at least I don't do the dishes. And I don't do my own laundry.
Silver lining!

4. MISSING YOUR LOVES

It's definitely difficult being away from your loved ones. I have a relationship with my phone, which is reliant on WiFi on the ship that is expensive, even for crew. I've seen my little nephew grow up via photo messages and video chats. I can't even imagine how much harder it is for crew members who have families and kids back home, being gone for months at a time. It's definitely a sacrifice.


Look at that CUTIE!!!

IN CONCLUSION


This job is not for everyone. It's a lifestyle choice, and it either suits you or it doesn't. Having said that - I really do think that the experience of working at the cruise ship is what you make of it. I know a lot of people who have made a lifetime career out of it, that allowed them to pay off debt, buy a house, and send their kids to college... not to mention, travel the whole world!

I also know people who quit after working for a day. Claustrophobia or something. And good for them... better quit earlier than endure something you clearly don't like. 

As for me -- at the moment, it works. I think at the beginning I resisted the idea. I thought I was only going to do one contract... and now I'm on my fourth. Time flies...

I don't know how long I'm going to be able to do this, but I'll stay as long as it works for me and my chosen lifestyle.

My first instinct on my first few days on the ship was to quit. So I went from hating it... To tolerating it... to appreciating it... to -- now, not thinking it's so bad after all. I focus on the perks... The reasons why it's great... I focus on the PROS.

Besides... once you've gotten used to the long hours, the 70 hour work weeks, the cabin fever and the sea sickness... Working at the ship can actually be a lot of fun.

Well, I... at least make my own fun. ;)







Have you worked for a cruise ship? Are you interested in working for my ship? Leave me a comment below and I'll help you get started!





Thursday, August 18, 2016

On Traveling Through Air, Land and Sea





Almost 2 years since the last time I wrote. I don't know what to say, as I am a little ashamed of this prolonged absence.

All I could offer as an excuse is that - life happened.
Too cliche'? It doesn't make it any less true though!!!
Friends, I urge you not to dwell on the past and move past this. The past is in the past, and so let us focus on what lies ahead! (See what I did there?)
I am sorry for disappearing... Really... But I am here now. I missed you guys! Besides, I refuse for my post about getting into the cruising industry be the last thing that anyone ever remembers about me... because there truly is a lot more to say... A mountain of stories yet to be told... And I am not done. At least not yet. :)


WHERE I AM NOW

I am writing this in the middle of the forest in Maryland, at a training center for my ship. Yes, I still currently work for a cruise ship, same position as a trainer, but a different ship with a different itinerary. After a brief stint in the Caribbean, I was assigned to our American ship that is primarily based in Hawaii!

Alohaaaaa!



Yes – I have been a Hawaiian for more than a year now. It works pretty well though because I totally rock the Hawaiian look. People think I’m local… And my ukulele? I mean come on. It’s like the mother ship called me home.

I would like to say that all I do is surf on the beach and jam on my uke with the locals all day, grazing around in my grass skirt with flowers in my hair…
Alas… the only thing that is true about that statement are the flowers in my hair. 



BOOM. Tangled, anyone?
Work is still work, and although I enjoy seeing Hawaii whenever I get the chance, I do still work long hours inside the ship.

Every now and then, I do allow myself the pleasure of hanging out with my turtle friends... I mean, come on. How can I not?





I am in Maryland now, assigned temporarily to our training facility that feeds the ship new crew members.  I’m back on the ship in September.

ON TRAVEL

Truly, the best part about my job is the vacation. When I was moved to the Hawaii ship, my contract changed. I now work on a 4:2 rotation… which means 4 months of work, 2 months of vacation – year round. It’s really hard to beat that, don’t you think?

And during my 2 month vacation  (since the last time I wrote, there have been three vacays)  I did travel quite a bit. Of course I did.

I went back to Europe

Hola, Sevilla!

Explored bits of Eastern Europe



That is the glorious landscape of Sarajevo
At one point, I went back to the Philippines
Lalalaaaa....Palawan you're so beautifuuuul...

And Europe Again...




Berlin!



So I’m happy to say that travel is still a very significant part of my life. I think it always will be... just not the same way it has been while I was backpacking.

ON LIFE AFTER THE ROUND THE WORLD TRIP

Truthfully, one of the reasons why I started writing again is because in the past few months, I've started reading my old posts. It's weird because it almost felt like I was reading about the adventures of another person. Isn't that wild? I almost didn't recognize myself. It was only then that I truly got what other people had been telling me all this time... That I was brave. Maaaaan, I had balls of steel!

I mean... my road trip through the North Island of New Zealand where I went through MORDOR was terrifying. Hitchhiking in Israel was pretty ballsy. Getting robbed in Buenos Aires was AGGGGHHH - annoying! And lets not forget, my otherworldly AYAHUASCA ceremony experience that killed me and brought me back to life. That's not even half of the stuff I did.





Reading about all of that was so much fun. I laughed out loud for the majority of them, maybe shed a tear or two for some... But mostly it made me reflect on how much what I did changed me. Going through all of that really and truly changed who I am. I am no longer the same person I was before I started all this.

Yeah, putting myself out there and living through those experiences does sound brave. But when I think about it and remember how I felt during those moments that required me to summon all the courage I had in me -- I realize that as humans, you really just do what you have to do to make the most out of the situations you find yourself in.
It's not necessarily bravery... I think it's just survival. 


No matter how big the fear - most of the time you have no choice but to plow through and keep going. Because otherwise... what's the point? That'st just life, isn't it? If you need to sleep in a basement full of cardboard boxes and dog food for the night to save some cash, or hitchhike instead of paying an exorbitant amount of money on a cab, or scrub toilets and make beds if it meant having a roof over your head and free food for a few weeks ---- You do it. You survive. Not because you want to... but because you have to.

This was my first Couchsurfing Experience. It looks bad but I met the BEST people!

It was my choice to put myself in those situations, and I knew those kinds of experiences were going to be inevitable because I had a small budget. I couldn't afford to be luxurious or picky. However what I didn't expect was how much I was going to gain, as a person, by going through all that. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Now - the question is... Would I do all of that again? Would I willfully put myself in those situations once more?

Ah... the answer is not so simple. Hahaha

LET ME TRY TO EXPLAIN

Reading about the things that I did made me nostalgic. I do miss the glorious RTW Backpacking days of yore. But as I get older - and as I find myself in a completely different personal situation than the past --- I realize that my preferences have changed.

Let me try to explain further.

Working for the cruise ship has afforded me the opportunity to work, earn money, and still keep traveling. I work for 4 months, and travel for 2 months. Remember when I gave up my worldly possessions? My car, my apartment, my stuff... Well, I still don't have any of that back... Still no bills to pay. And so I guess you can say - I work to travel! (Now isn't that just the dream??? Although my father would argue otherwise. Hehe)

Which means that when I do travel - I have a little bit more money at my disposal to NOT stay in a cardboard box, so to speak. And nowadays - I don't really travel by myself anymore (hint hint)... And so instead of staying at hostels, I find myself paying just a tiny bit more, to book accommodations at Airbnb... which is private, but still cheaper than staying at a hotel. 

This is one of my accommodations at AirBnB. Not too shabby, eh? :)

Because of skimping on basically everything when I did the RTW trip, having a little bit more cash now has allowed me to splurge JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE, on things like food, excursions here and there, or touristy things. And truthfully, when you're traveling with someone, those kinds of things are fun when experienced together. 

So now,  I am making brand new travel experiences! And I appreciate them as much as I did my old experiences... they are just different.


I am STILL cheap as hell though, just so you know. It's just now - I'm cheap by choice, not by default. If that makes sense.

NOW WHAT?

Now? I keep going. I'm going to do this until my body and mind and soul allows me to. I am still traveling. I am still in a pretty convenient situation where I can keep the lifestyle that I have chosen. I work, and I travel. I'm still in a position that is quite different from the norm - and for that, I am grateful. 

When the day comes that I go back "on land", I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing. Life is continually evolving... Things change so constantly, that as human beings, we just do what we can to adapt and keep up with whatever is thrown at us.

But for now, Earth2eartha's story isn't over.  The Round The World Solo Traveling chapter may have come to an end  - but another chapter has been written. All I need to do now is tell it.


Thanks for sticking around... :)






Sunday, December 7, 2014

My First Week Working On A Cruise Ship


I survived my first week!

There is so much to say, and I don’t even know where or how to start. I’m trying to organize my thoughts here, but my sea sickness has turned my brain into mush and it’s hard to think!

As always though… I’ll do my best. And so here it is… My first week as a Norwegian!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

There are too many Filipinos. Hahaha! Feels like I went back to the Philippines, I swear. I think the ship is made up of about 48% Filipinos, 8% Americans, 10% Indonesian, 5% Caribbean, and ___% everybody else. 

The ship is like a big, beautiful, and mobile hotel. Everyone talks about either going home (when their contract ends), or FOOD. The primary reason they go out during “port days” is to go out and eat food. Which to me, as a novice, is pretty weird, since they HAVE amazing free food on the ship every single day. Why the heck would anyone pay to eat anymore?
I guess I’ll find out after a few months? Right now I still think it’s pretty crazy.

The Atrium...


MY MOTION SICKNESS IS OUT OF CONTROL. The first two days were the WORST. I could not function. There’s SO MUCH to learn, and my brain wouldn’t cooperate because there’s too much bile on my throat. And apparently, the whole week we were sailing on pretty calm waters! UGH! I hope I get used to this… It’s getting REALLY ridiculous!

THE ROUTE


My ship is called Norwegian Dawn. Currently, we are on a 7 day Caribbean cruise that takes us from New Orleans to Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya.  I believe I’m going to be on this rotation for at least a couple months… and from what I understand, I may be transferred to the Pride of America, which is the ship that goes around the Hawaiian Islands. My schedule is sort of up in the air, but as long as I stay at this ship, Norwegian Dawn, I’m gonna be going on this Caribbean loop for a while.



MY JOB


First of all, let me explain what my job is.
I was hired as a Training Specialist. As a trainer, my primary job is to train the crew on various things like Orientation, Safety, Medical Familiarization, Customer Service. Etc.  This part is easy. I’ve been training people for more than 10 years, I can do this with my eyes closed.

The difficult part is familiarizing myself with the ship, the organization, the culture, and how everything works… because part of my job is to be an expert on all aspects of ship life. The crew looks up to me as a source of information… And right now? I know squat.

MY RANK

So apparently, my position on-board is equivalent of that of an officer. They gave me a uniform, and I have these things called “epaulets” that you attach to your shoulder, like a shoulder pad. The number of stripes you have on your epaulet signifies your rank.
OBVIOUSLY my first command as an officer was to change my name tag!!


MY PERKS

OK this is my FAVORITE part of the position… the privileges that come with it!!! So apart from the automatic fear/respect that it commands, I get to enjoy the following:

1. Solo Cabin – Albeit a little small (Cupboard under the stairs, type), I actually really appreciate the privacy.


2. Housekeeping – My room is cleaned by the housekeeper everyday

3. Laundry – My clothes are washed and pressed for free – anytime! All I need to do is put them on a laundry bag outside my door, and I get it back on the same night.

4. FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE – We all basically work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. But I can schedule my classes so that I can go out for a few hours during Port Days to explore some of the islands... Then just work till I hit the number of hours I need for the day/week!

5. GYM USE --- The crew has a gym, but it’s not the nicest. The Gym for the guests on the other hand is really nice… and YES I am allowed to use it!

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet… but YAY! I think I landed a pretty sweet deal!

THE CHALLENGES

Well, like I said, my motion sickness is getting in the way of EVERYTHING.  I’m wearing these motion sickness bands on my wrists that I got at the pharmacy. I have a whole bunch of Dramamine, AND I have these pregnancy pops that my sister in law gave me. They’re ginger candy things that helps with morning sickness.
NOTHING WORKS.
Apparently I just have to get used to it. L


The hours are long and weekends don’t exist. I have a feeling the whole 24/7 work thing is going to start getting to me pretty soon. Right now I’m still a little overwhelmed with all the information I have to digest... but I've been blessed with a really knowledgeable and patient partner who's teaching me and holding my hand through the process, every step of the way.
The people I work with are generally pleasant and nice, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them even more.

I'm worried about the holidays because this is going to be the first time I won't be celebrating Christmas the way I'm used to celebrating it...

BUT... all in all, I think I'm going to be okay... Hopefully.

It may be a couple weeks till my next post --- unless something REALLY interesting occurs. ;)

But yeah... All is well, so far.

Let's see what happens, shall we?

Tchau!

My partner, Terrie, and I



Thursday, November 27, 2014

On How I Managed To Get Hired To Work On A Cruise Ship


Secret's out! I'm goin' on a Cruise! 
The inspiration came when a friend of mine sent me the Yahoo News article, How I saved $24,000 While Traveling The World. He said the article made him think of me. 

This is Wandering Earl

This guy, Derek, from the website, Wandering Earl, describes how he earned that much money while working for a Cruise Line. When I read it, it just hit me. BAM! That's it! That's what I'm supposed to do after Brazil! I could work for a Cruise Ship for 6 months, save some money while traveling, and then use the money to travel again! DUH! So simple! How hard could it be to get a job working on a ship? It should be really easy, right? Right?

Wrong.

Boy, was I so wrong on so many levels.

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

I started applying to all the Cruise Ships at the beginning of August - right around the time the article was sent to me. I even bought Wandering Earl's E-book about how to work for a cruise ship, to help make sure I had all the bases covered.



I went all Type A on it, I swear. I could not have been more anal about what I did. I basically made about 10 different versions of my resume. One resume for each position I applied for... with a Cover Letter to accompany each application. There were openings for Guest Relations Officers, Group Coordinator, Program Coordinator, Receptionist, Hostess, Shore Excursion Staff, Training Specialist, etc. These were the positions I had the experience for -- but not necessarily qualified for.

Most of these positions I mentioned required experience working for a cruise ship, OR a 5 star restaurant or resort. PLUS... almost all of them needed the applicants to speak several languages FLUENTLY. English PLUS Italian OR Spanish OR Portuguese OR German OR French.

Sure, I could get by in Brazil with the little Portuguese I knew... And I have a little French tattoo on my wrist... My Spanish was pretty decent in Peru - but it all dissolved when I started learning Portuguese. English was all I really had --- and even THAT was deterioration... Deteriorates... Deterior?

Screw that. I applied anyway. I applied to ALL the Cruise Ships with job openings... Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Royal... 18 of them to be exact. All with a tailor fit Resume AND Cover Letter. I rocked it. I OWNED the applications!

THE REJECTIONS

After NOT hearing from any one of them for a month, apart from ONE rejection letter... Well, my confidence just sank. It didn't help that when my friend, Eduardo, applied, he practically got job offers a week after. He didn't take the job though, but still... It just reinforced the fact that my lack of languages and experience in the hospitality industry made me unqualified to work for the ship.

In my head, I just quit. I got a little depressed after that. 
Just a little. 
No, I lied. I reached my lowest point, I turned bipolar. 



I just thought I had everything figured out. I thought I had a new path and a new journey ahead of me that will allow me to keep traveling... but the plans crashed and burned.

I needed a new plan.

THE NEW PLAN

What I really needed AND WANTED was just to earn money. I needed to work and save some money for a few months so that I can travel again. So I decided I would go back to The Philippines. I could go home, get a job, and live at home with my parents, who will let me live and eat there, free of charge... they'd even lend me a car! And I could get a corporate job... A temporary one, just for a few months so I could save up... Then pack my backpack and travel again!

YES! It was a GREAT plan! I spoke to my friends, they've started looking for job openings for me... and just like that, I had potential jobs lined up for me in Manila! Beautiful! My friends are awesome!

Because it was going to cost me a few hundred dollars more to fly straight from Brazil to Manila, AND because I wanted to meet my brand new nephew (who was born in September)... I booked my ticket to LA first. The plan was to stay there for a couple weeks, and THEN fly to Manila. It was cheaper that way. Besides, I REALLY wanted to see my brother's baby.

WHEN LIFE DOESN'T GO THE WAY YOU PLANNED

I booked my ticket from Sao Paulo to Los Angeles... but I didn't book my ticket from LA to Manila. I stalled. I figured I'd book it later. For some weird reason I didn't feel like it just yet.

Well, a couple days later, I figured out why.

Norwegian Cruise Lines had responded to my online application, and they wanted to move forward with it. After almost 2 months of not hearing from anyone (apart from one rejection)...SURPRISE!!! All of a sudden, I was back in the game!

The best part about it was that --- out of all the jobs I applied for, out of all the Cruise Lines... This was the job I really wanted. It was for a Trainer position. A job I've known and loved almost my entire corporate life. In fact, on my little note pad where I wrote down a list of all the cruise ships I applied for, and what position, Norwegian Cruise Line had 2 stars next to it, with a little scribble that said, I want this job!!!
I kid you not.

Holy shit. I know, right?

As soon as I saw the email, I had a feeling. A gut feeling. A really good one. :)

TO CUT THE LONG STORY SHORT

5 weeks, 3 Skype Interviews and a Teaching Demo later, I was offered the position of On-board Training Specialist for Norwegian Cruise Lines.

On-board, meaning I train the staff and crew members (on Customer Service, Rules and Regulation, Safety, etc) on the ship! I get to join different ships as well... Ships that travel to different destinations.

My first assignment was supposed to be on a ship headed to Bermuda. But since I had a few delays due to my medical clearance,  my due date was moved a week later --- and so was my destination!

I am now leaving from Los Angeles to New Orleans to board a ship that is headed to The Caribbean, on Sunday, November 30th. 

I'm on a "26 Weeks On, 10 Weeks Off"contract that starts on the day I board.

I'm a little freaked out but also excited. I'm leaving in a few days but everything is still a big question mark. I haven't met anyone in the flesh, I don't know what my schedule is, I have no idea whether I'm going to like working there or not, I have really BAD motion sickness so I'm a little nervous, too... So yeah. I'm a hot mess... but all in a good way.


AND SO...

...when life doesn't turn out the way you planned, I have learned, that you should get down on your knees and thank the Universe... because most of the time... and in my case, ALL THE TIME... things turn out better than what you've ever even imagined.

I don't know what's going to happen once I board the ship on Sunday. I don't know if I'll like the job, or if the long working hours will drive me crazy, or if my 7 day work week will kill me... I have NO idea what to expect... But I know I'll make the best of it like I always do. I know I'll work my butt off and TRY... And I know I'll do my best in trying to keep this blog running while I'm on-board, if only to keep my sanity in tact. :)

So wish me luck, you guys! The next time you hear from me, I'll be bitchin' in the Caribbean... as my awesome friends put it. :)

Ahoy!!!!

Brilliant Image courtesy of Eduardo and Maria :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Life In Brazil



After not reading any posts from me for a few months, a friend of mine who doesn't have a Facebook account said to me -- "Éartha, I lost you in Brazil!"

Shame on me. I know. :(

But I'm still here!!! Alive and very well!

I'm so sorry for disappearing without warning. I don't have any excuse to offer apart from --- Brazil Happened. Really. Its lame, I know.

If you let me... I'd like to catch you guys up on everything that went on in the past 4-5 months I have been on hiatus. This will take a few blog posts to go through EVERYTHING in proper detail... but it will be worth it. :)

First, let me start where I left off...

AFTER THE WORLD CUP


To anyone who paid attention, Brazil was slaughtered by Germany... and it all went downhill after that. The energy in Sao Paulo died down, but the parties still continued. I've actually never seen so many Brazilians cheer for the Germans in the finals, considering the massacre that happened... but apparently that's just how much they didn't like Argentina. Germany won, everyone was happy again... and life in Brazil slowly went back to normal.



For me, that meant going full swing with my teaching!

TEACHING ENGLISH

Just to give you guys a little refresher... I got a job teaching English in Sao Paulo. I got hired by a few schools to give Business English lessons to intermediate to advanced students... Most of them worked for finance. Sao Paulo IS the financial capital of South America after all. I also got a few private students through word of mouth... And that's pretty much all I did for the entire time I was in Brazil!

I was very surprised at how easily it all worked out for me. I don't have any TOEFL certifications or whatnots... I didn't have a working permit either... None of that matters in Brazil though! All they were looking for were Native English speakers. Of course it helped that I had a teaching background --- but that only meant that working on lesson plans was a lot easier for me. A lot of my co-teachers didn't have experience whatsoever, but they were hired because they had the right passport! It's a little crazy... but I wasn't complaining! It meant I could survive and earn a pretty decent living in one of the most exciting countries in the world! I was golden!

My schedule was a little odd. I had to give classes either before work, during lunch time, or after work. Which basically meant I was at the students offices at 7am, 12:30pm, and 6pm... and I'd use the time in between to eat, commute, prepare classes, and sleep!

I would earn anywhere from 80 to 120 Reals per class, depending on the length of time or the distance... I worked Monday through Friday, and on my busiest day (which was a Thursday) I had 5 classes back to back. (I called it Terrible Thursdays) I got paid every month in cash, and for private students, they either pay me for a few classes in advance for a discount, or pay me after each meeting.

So all in all, I'd say it was a pretty good gig! I do love teaching and I loved my students. If you guys ever make your way down to Brazil, teaching English is a pretty sweet way to make some cash. I totally recommend it!

LIFE IN SAO PAULO


When I am not teaching... I have fun. Or at least I try to. :)
Sao Paulo is known for the night life, so my weekends are usually spent with my friends, going out to pubs or bars or karaoke joints around the city... Rua Augusta, Vila Madalena, Liberdade, Moema, pretty much everywhere and anywhere where somethings going on.... and Sao Paulo doesn't run out of it.


On sunny days, we hang out at Ibirapuera Park and make friends, play music, or go skateboarding...




On really REALLY sunny days, we go to the beach! Sao Paulo isn't a beach city like Rio, so beaches over there are a little farther. The closest one is about an hour by bus... The closest decent one takes about an hour and a half.



On occasion, I help my friends out by working at the hostel they own in Vila Madalena called, HBB Hostel. I work the night shift every now and then, and sometimes help them out on their events. Those are the MOST fun.
With Alessandra, My Brazilian mom - as we were working during a World Cup Event

Me, working as a Shot Girl on HBB's 1 year anniversary


ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END

I was only really only supposed to stay in Sao Paulo for 3 months... Then I extended it to 6... Potentially, I could have stayed longer if I wanted to... But I think as I was nearing my 5th month, I started feeling like maybe it was really time to go. That 6 months would be enough.

It's not that I didn't like it there - I loved it! The Brazilians are amazing people... They remind me so much of Filipinos... They're my peeps! But I was never meant to settle down in Brazil to begin with... It was never my intention. All I wanted was to experience it... Work, live, have a good time, immerse... make friends... make a difference! And I think I've managed to accomplish all of that... and learn a little Portuguese on the side!



Its just that --- things started to feel like a routine. Teach...Commute... Go out. Lather... Rinse... Repeat. Everything became familiar --- which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because I was slowly starting to blend in, and BECOME a local. People actually already started thinking I was a Brasilera! Which is a compliment!
But bad because I left my life in LA for several reasons... And one of them was because I was done with the whole "routine"... The "daily grind"so to speak.

When I realized that I put myself in a situation like that again... I had to plan my next move. I had to go. It was time to move on.

Besides... even if I was making a pretty good living teaching English, I couldn't save. I was literally breaking even. Yes I had enough to eat, live, and have fun... which would have been okay if I wanted to stay in Sao Paulo and live there forever --- BUT I didn't. I don't! I want to keep traveling... and I need to earn and SAVE money to do that.

And so I formulated a plan...  to help me do just that! A plan I will share with you in the next week...'
Earn and Save Money - to be able to keep traveling! I'll tell you what it is very soon, I promise. It's pretty exciting!

So anyway, I finished working at the end of September... Then I traveled around Brazil for a couple weeks to relax and decompress... Went back to Sao Paulo for my farewell party, and finally, said goodbye and flew out of there...


It was kind of bittersweet, my departure. Brazil is the longest I've stayed anywhere on this trip. I have made the most amazing friends... learned SO much about the country, the people, and myself. I will always have a home there now, and I will look back on these past 6 months with so much warmth and so much love.

THE STORY CONTINUES

I am writing this post from Los Angeles. Well... Orange County, actually. My brother's house... where I have been for the past few weeks, spending time with my family. It's SO GOOD to be home. I have to savor each moment because I don't have much time left. Pretty soon I have to leave again...
But that's another story all together. ;)

It's good to be back. Follow-up post will be on in a few days. YES a few days... not a few months. Haha :) Can't wait to share the good news.

Talk soon!

(P.S. -- I know I said this post was supposed to go up last Thursday, but my laptop - which is still in Portuguese by the way, crashed AGAIN. O_O  Black Friday is coming up. Let's hope a good Samaritan gifts me a new laptop.)