Palacio de la Música, Mérida – A Museum You Don’t Want to Miss

Located in the historic centre of Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico is the Palacio de la Música (Music Palace). It is not highly advertised around town, or online for tourists. The Palacio doesn’t even have a proper website, just a Facebook page, which isn’t even attached to Google. With plenty of tour companies providing excursions to cenotes and ancient ruins in the area, most would miss this hidden gem.

We stumbled across this museum strictly by fate. We had the whole day to explore but were keeping it cheap. As we were walking down a side street from the main town square, we saw a sign, “2 x 1 cervezas for $2.” Yes please!

We finished our beers and noticed a big square building beside us, that had an enormous atrium and no sign on the side we were viewing from. We even debated checking it out, thinking, if there’s no sign it must be nothing. But I won the debate and decided that the 30 seconds it would take to check it out was worth spending.

Photos from

Lo and behold, we found the Palacio de la Música. We had to check our bag at the door and sign in, and were directed down a ramp, without any talk of money. I thought it was polite to ask, “cuanta cuesta?” (how much does it cost?), the gentleman laughed and said: “nada!”

The month of January is Mérida’s founding anniversary month, so I’m not 100% sure if the price is always free to enter the museum, but that’s my best guess. In addition to the museum, they have workshops, concerts and events, and there are no prices or “buy tickets” options listed on their Facebook Page. It appears it is completely publicly funded!

Bienvenidos y Welcome

The entrance hall to the museum.

The museum is all underground, and is set up in different stages and rooms. You learn about music itself, different instruments, the history of human and Mexican music, music accompaniment to video, dancing, production and the current Latin America music industry (to name a few). The interactive exhibits were amazing. Massive video screens, holograms, sets designed to make you feel like you were in churches, town squares and theatres. I still find it hard to believe it was free!

While John sat and watched the big screen, I played around on the huge guitar in the middle of the welcome hall. It had projectors but was still somehow a touch screen. Far beyond my technological comprehension!

It taught us of the elements of music: rhythm, dynamics, melody, harmony, tone color, texture and form. It gave examples of the different aspects of each element and allowed us to play different instruments and melodies to help us understand. It was right up my alley, but would have been up anyone’s alley, even if they didn’t love musical theory, because they made it fun!

Music – Human’s Connection to the Universe

The first room had multiple infographics, displays and interactive sound stations, describing the study and history of music, and it’s obvious connection to a spiritual realm. It posed the question, what is it about a melody that connects humans to one another, and to our universe?

There were song examples from Catholic Church choirs and organs to indigenous chanting and drum circles. They even had some instrument artifacts found in Mexico from the Mayans and Aztecs, and had an interactive sound screen so we could listen to the sounds the instruments made.

Mexican Music

Mexico is a vast country which, pre-Hispanic settlement, was already full of many civilizations, languages and cultures, each with their own musical experiences and styles. They dedicated a large area to the celebration of the different civilizations musical experiences and how together, they have formed the music of Mexico.

Mexican musical conformation is the result of a long process of encounters and intercultural exchanges. With Independence, and as an act of resistance against the colonial past, it was carried out an attempt to build a national identity with a sense of unity for our culture, a spirit that extended its influence until the post-revolutionary period. However, from the acknowledgement that Mexico had a multicultural composition, based on the native inhabitants, all over the country the development of diverse musical expressions was promoted. This notoriously modified the sense of being Mexican.

There was a room set up to look just like the town square pictured in this video below (I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture), and they had step by step instructions on how to do the traditional Yucatán dance, La Jarana (pronounced Harana with the r rolled). There were MANY steps.

I practiced, and the gentleman who worked there said it was super easy, as he laughed at my attempt… it was not! He told me they learn the dance as kids in school, but it’s only really done at cultural festivals (not like in North America where our “traditional” country line dances are done at the local country bars).

El Chinito Coi Coi performing La Jarana de Yucateca

Latin Music of Today

I knew that the Latin American music industry was big, but I had no idea how big! In Mexico alone, there are artists bigger than Beyonce, that I had never even heard of.

One interactive exhibit I found hilarious was a game where I was a judge to find a new pop star of today. I had to guess what factors producers are looking for to make a star! See below:

Looks like talent means nothing these days in the Mexican music industry as well!

Our Review

If you’re in Merida, this is a must do! 5/5 stars on the experience front. Free and fun, ticks all the boxes!

We visited for 2.5 hours, and were kicked out with many others at its closing time of 4:30pm. We could’ve easily stayed another 30 minutes, possibly more.

Pros: a free museum experience with heaps of interactive exhibits and many interesting facts about music and Mexican culture. Each written exhibit has an English portion to help with understanding. Sometimes the translation was a bit off which made it like a code you had to crack, and was good for a giggle sometimes:

Genders or Genres?

Cons: most of the listening exhibits were in Spanish (which I enjoyed but it was hard for John). There was SOOOOOO much information that it was hard to take it all in. Would be cool to do over 2 days.

A Wonderful Afternoon

Travel constantly teaches us about other cultures and how humans live around the world. We are pretty selective about the museums we do visit because information overload happens and we end up taking nothing in.

This museum would be at the top of our list of all that we’ve been to, because although it was music based, it touched on Mexican culture and human history in a beautiful way we did not expect. We learned so much more than we expected and felt like we now were now beginning to understand a huge part of Mexican history.

If you’re ever in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, Merida is only a 4 hour drive or ADO bus ride away and absolutely worth a visit. It’s inexpensive and full of Mexican culture, and it’s safe and full of wonderful people, food and of course, music.

Stay tuned for our upcoming post, A Taste of Mérida, for more on our short time in the vibrant city.

Mexican music is a reason of national pride, thanks to the creativity and cultural richness that has nurtured it historically. It is so wide, that here we hardly address some of its themes and representations.

From this sample of individual and collective knowledge, in the Music Palace we aim to promote a collaborative effort to study, disseminate and value this important cultural heritage.

Mourn Music is an indication of what we are, memory and present witness of a pluricultural Mexico, in which endless preferences, expressions, interrelations, and human needs coexist, regardless of age, gender, geographical context, or social status.

lets make our sound universe flow, which is created and recreated in space and time. Here it is our music. We can discover it or rediscover it; analyze it and criticize it; but above all, feel and enjoy it.

After all, in the notes of our music, we listen to who we are.

Plaque upon exiting the museum at Palacio de la Música, Mérida

And with that, I leave you with one of our favorite styles of Mexican music, Mariachi!

Making Coffee: DIY From Tree to Cup

Imagine the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Maybe you’ve even got a cup in your hand right now. It’s an international favorite, yet so many of us know little more about coffee than how to turn on our machines at home, or how to order it at the cafe.

Coming from Canada and New Zealand, neither of us have been around the coffee harvesting and production process (although John and the rest of the Kiwi’s do know a thing or two about how to roast, brew and drink it). Sorry Canada, but Tim Horton’s doesn’t make the cut here.

We’ve been lucky enough to be living in the southern forest of Ecuador in the “Valley of Longevity” (more on that in another post), for the past 6 weeks and our property is blooming with…coffee trees!

So of course, we had to give the coffee making process a try for ourselves. It was super interesting, fun at the start, very time consuming, sometimes frustrating, but all-in-all a rewarding experience we will cherish forever.

We only wish we could share the experience with all of you first hand, but this is the next best way. And if you ever find yourself in a space with coffee trees, here’s our method for DIY coffee.

You Can Do It Yourself!

The process described below is for you to make coffee at home, from tree to cup. I have not gone into detail about how it is processed at a factory in large scale, although the techniques we used are similar. I have not described the different methods or any of the science behind coffee production, as it is quite complex and I still have plenty to learn.

This is simply the best way for you to see and understand the process and try it for yourself.

1. Pick Your Fruit

Coffee beans are actually found inside of cherries! The coffee tree is filled with coffee cherries of varying ripeness, so it’s up to you to pick the right fruit. Ideally you want to pick the cherries that range from bright to deep red. When they are slightly brown, they’re over ripe and will be starting to decompose. Leave those guys behind.

The coffee cherries here in Ecuador ripen at different times, on one plant, ensuring constant coffee harvest and production.

If you’re feeling adventurous, have a go at eating the coffee cherry! It’s decently sweet with pulp and the skin is slightly bitter. The beans are like pits, you can eat them too but they aren’t very satisfying.

2. Husk the Cherries

Now the fun starts. You need to get the beans out of the cherries! You can use a knife to cut the cherry open and take the beans out, or just squeeze the bottom of the cherry and the beans will pop nicely out of the top. Caution: sometimes the beans pop out at a high velocity and can be lost outside of your workspace, or attack others in the vecinity.

Once out of the cherry, you will notice that your beans are covered with a pulp layer and can be quite slimy. Place your slimy beans into a bowl.

Coffee Hack: you can dry your empty coffee cherry husks and use them to make a high antioxidant tea! You can dry up some of the coffee tree leaves to mix into the tea too.

3. Soak Your Beans

These beans are being drained after a day of soaking in water.

Once de-husked, your beans need to shed their pulp layer. The easiest way to do this at home is by soaking the beans in water. This should take between 24-48 hours, depending on how many beans you have.

Fill your bowl with water and mix around the beans. After about 24 hours, drain the beans with a sieve. You will notice that the layer of slime is mostly gone and the bean feels rough to touch. If it is not entirely gone, rinse the beans and then refill the bowl of beans with water and let soak for another 24 hours.

4. Dry Your Beans

Now that the pulp is gone, we need to dry the beans so that we can remove the bean from their parchment. If you’re in a place that coffee beans are growing, chances are you’ll have access to sun. But if not, food dehydrators work too.

You’ll know your beans are dried when the parchment layer cracks.

We dried our beans in the sun, flipping them every 5 hours or so, to avoid rotting. This took us about 2 days for the beans to be completely dry, because the sun was intermittent.

5. Remove the Parchment

Before the beans are dried it’s hard to see how you’ll be able to remove them from their parchments. But once dried, the parchment cracks and is almost inviting you to undress the bean. It’s a tedious job, so make sure you’ve got some music playing or a tv show to watch.

Not much can be done with the parchments. It’s biowaste at its finest. If you have a compost or chickens, toss it their way.

After the de-parchment process, you will be left with your coffee beans in their silver skin.

6. Time to Roast

In large production, the coffee silver skin is removed in a polishing machine to prevent the creation of “chaff,” which is the roasted silver skin byproduct. If you’re like us and you don’t have a polishing machine, or the patience to remove the skin by hand (I mean, this has already taken a few days of my time by now, just give me the damn coffee), you can roast the beans with the silver skin on.

Find yourself a pan and place your beans inside on a low heat, constantly stirring and raising the temperature every 2-3 minutes until you’re on a medium setting. You don’t want to burn your beans, but roast them slowly.

After about 30 minutes you’ll start to smell the right smell: roasted coffee beans! You get to decide how dark you want the roast, but you definitely want to make sure the entire bean is dark brown. Keep stirring continuously!

Once the beans are hot enough the silver skin will start to fall off (chaff), and then can be removed from your pan. If you can’t or don’t want to remove it, it doesn’t really matter, it’s non-toxic, it just alters the flavor of your coffee a little bit (I’m not entirely sure how, we left ours on and it tasted great)!

The silver skin falls off the bean when roasted.

We roasted for about an hour and found it to be a nice level.

7. Grind and Serve

Once roasted, your beans are like store bought beans and need to be kept air tight to last. Prior to roasting they can last weeks in the open.

Grind your beans with a coffee grinder or magic bullet like we did, and brew with boiling water. They’re perfect in a French Press! oy!

Now it’s time to enjoy!

Coffee never tasted so sweet.

Great Success!

If you were to go into mass production or sales of your homemade coffee, there are obviously more detailed parts to each step, e.g. humidities and temperatures. This DIY is just a “quick” and easy way for you to enjoy the fruits of your own labor.

And it’s also a reminder for the next time you’re annoyed waiting in line at the cafe, or for your water to boil. Think of the full process it takes to get those beans in your cup and be grateful you’ve bypassed all the serious steps and are just the one drinking it!

Monte Alban – A Guide to the Ancient Zapotec City

Founded in 500BC, Monte Alban in Oaxaca (pronounced wah-hah-kah), Mexico is one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica.

By approximately 100AD, Monte Alban became the Zapotec’s economic and political centre for close to 1000 years!  

There is a lot to be learned about this historical and archaeological site, and I’ve given a brief summary on what we learned below, but if you’re in the Oaxaca region, it is a tourist experience you definitely do not want to miss.

How to Get There

There are many tour companies operating out of Oaxaca de Juarez, grouping the Monte Alban tour with other excursions in the same day. Depending on your time limit, and style of travel, we recommend doing this one on its own. And it’s super easy to navigate without a tour company (not to mention it will save you money by doing it on your own)!

Autobuses Turísticos is the company we went with, and highly recommend to all. They are found across the streert from Hotel Rivera del Angel, which can be Google mapped, and is a quick walking distance from anywhere in Oaxaca Centro. The bus company does not show up on Google but the hotel does, so use that for reference.

Busses operate every hour, and are $60 pesos round trip per person. The journey is approximately 30 minutes east up the mountain from Centro. You can stay as long or as short as you want at Monte Alban, we were there about 3 hours.

Once You Arrive

The bus drops you off in the main parking lot, and you have to walk up the hill to the entrance. There’s a weird gravitational force up there, maybe it was the heat, maybe we had too much mezcal the night before, but either way the walk up was a tough 3 minutes!!

It’ll cost you $70 pesos per person to enter the site. There’s a museum, which is included in the entrance fee. They have some incredible artifacts and original carvings — and even a cast and replica of a skeleton and exact grave they found her in during an excavation (we think it was a replica)!

We went in here first before walking the site, and would recommend doing it in that order, because after a long day in the sun exploring, you probably won’t want to take in any more information. And it’s really interesting so you don’t want to miss it!

Exploring the Site

There are many ruins to explore, some you can climb up and even one you can go inside. There are plaques all around, mostly describing the architecture but some have descriptions of the structures themselves.

This large sun dial helped the Zapotecs to track their time and their seasons.

We visited on a Thursday afternoon in February, and we had the space mostly to ourselves, which was amazing. A few other tourists, but the space is so big we barely crossed paths with others.

We brought a bottle of mezcal to enjoy with the scenery, channeling the elite that would have drank and looked down on the valleys below many years ago. There were no signs saying we couldn’t bring in mezcal, so we didn’t break any rules either!

We saw a lady meditating on the top of one of the structures. To each their own, but it definitely did not feel like a calming spiritual space to us. You could feel the energy, but it was full of human torture and sacrifice!

John made me watch Apocalypto the night before we went, so I found it hard to be at peace when we walked past the sacrificial structures! Pass the mezcal please!

There are also men selling little artifacts throughout the site, but they are super chill and polite, a huge contrast to the salespeople in Zocalo.

At the end of the day we visited the cafe attached to the museum. The views are fantastic, but vaguely different to the ones we had during our mezcal break. The prices however, were incredibly high and the food was sub par. Would not recommend visiting the cafe.

Save your money for one of the hundreds of incredible and affordable restaurants back down in Oaxaca.

What We Learned

  • Monte Alban was the largest pre-Hispanic city of the region, and also the first urban plan on the American continent!
  • Monte Alban was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
  • The flora and fauna was vastly different during its occupation – it was green and lush!
  • There was an excavated ”ball court” stadI un, built like other ones found in many ancient Mesoamerican civilizations. This sport was often played with heads as “balls,” but there is no evidence of this at Monte Alban. The elite were slightly more civilized.
  • There are multiple carvings found throughout the site, the “Danzantes” being the most common. Named “the dancers,” these carvings represent tortured prisoners, most likely the conquered leaders of neighboring cities.
  • It was continuously occupied by humans for over 13 centuries, and after its abandonment had a few more go’s with opportunists trying to resettle using old buildings. Needless to say, it didn’t work.
  • Monte Alban’s original Zapotec name is unknown, as it’s abandonment was many years before any written record or history.
  • A large part of Monte Alban’s economy was based on tributes paid by the communities below, in The Valley of Oaxaca.
  • It is one of the few world sites where a the rise and separation of State and it’s people is represented physically. The elite literally built their city above their people so they could look down on them below.
  • Monte Alban is a perfect example of what can happen with extreme socioeconomic gaps in society. Although the reason for abandonment cannot be determined with 100% certainty, the best theory they have is that the economy fell due to this gap.

When the elite remove themselves completely from the middle and lower classes, but depend on them for their construction, their inventions, their farming, sewing, handiwork etc, they are doomed to fall. We’ve seen it many times before, and we will most likely see it again. Hopefully we can learn from history…

Visit Monte Alban, and Oaxaca!

If you get the chance, trust us, this is a place to visit! Not just Monte Alban, but Oaxaca City and Oaxaca State!

Many people head to Mexico’s resort towns and miss out on the incredible culture and history of the rest of the country. We’ve barely even touched on what Oaxaca has to offer but we will be sharing more with you, hoping to convince you to get out of your comfort zone and visit our favourite city in the world!

Why we’ve been away…

Hey followers! Just a quick post for you all.

You may have been wondering why we haven’t posted in AGES! If you’re following our Instagram, @theendlesshoneymooners you’ll most likely have seen that we were in Canada from November-December (which meant lots of family & friend time, but almost no computer time), and then mid January, we got robbed!

Nicole’s computer was taken, amongst a few other replaceable electronics! We were left completely unharmed and nothing of true value was taken. But that means the blog is suffering until we hear back from insurance (as blogging on an iPhone is truly no fun!)

We have had so many exciting adventures we do want to share with you, so please standby, and thank you so much for your patience and for sticking around and following our journey!

For the quick photo updates on our adventures, follow us on Instagram! 🙂


Visiting Ometepe Island

We have had a wild last couple of weeks, first with almost no internet (and a couple of amazing new friends, so the computer was the last thought) in Las Peñitas, and then 30 hours of travel up to Mexico… so our posts are a bit behind schedule!
We have plenty more coming your way, but here’s one that I’ve been wanting to post for awhile, about travel to Ometepe Island!

At the beginning of October we headed to Ometepe Island, a place we highly recommend to all.

Situated in Lago Cocibolca (the indigenous name), otherwise known as the great Lake Nicaragua, lives the isolated island made up of 2 volcanoes. The active Concepcíon and the extinct Maderas are joined by a thin stretch of land.

You may only be a 1 hour ferry ride away from the mainland, but Ometepe Island feels disconnected from the world, in the most beautiful way.

We only spent 6 days on the island, but could have spent much more time here. October is the rainy season, and we experienced it at its fullest, having to miss out on a lot of the wonderful sites we had heard of —  a perfect excuse to go back!

Map of Nicaragua

Planning your Trip

There are plenty of helpful travel sites that can give you an idea of where to go, where to stay, and what to do on the island, but a lot of the advice is different from blog to blog and can be a bit overwhelming.

Having read the blogs, done some research, and been to the island, the best advice we can give is to not overwhelm yourself with reading. Just get to the island, stay for 2 nights in Moyogalpa, and plan the rest of your island adventure from there.

Traveling to Ometepe Island

03_03_IsladeOmetepeYou can fly or you can take a ferry.

Flights are $50USDpp one way
Ferry is $1.85USDpp (50C) one way

The ferry goes from San Jorge port in Rivas (and if the lake is high enough, they operate a ferry out of Granada. They closed it in 2018, so maybe 2019 rainy season).

The ferry operates pretty much every hour, but they sometimes skip a departure time in order to fill up the boat more, so make sure you have a lot of time for travel in your day.

You can find the Ometepe Island Ferry Timetable here. Keep in mind there are 2 ports on the island – Moyogalpa and San Jose del Sur. We recommend going to Moyogalpa.

If you do decide to fly, here’s the Ometepe Flight Schedule. They only fly Thursday – Sunday.

We arrived in Rivas at the mercado bus station. I imagine there are busses out to San Jorge, but we decided to take a taxi, which cost $10USD.


IMG_5272There are many little restaurants on the outside of the port gates, with owners ready to help you with their bags, taking you to sit down for lunch! If you have time, the views are nice, and the lunch was cheap ($3USD for a plate of rice, beans, salad, plantains and choice of chicken or pork). BUT – they don’t serve beer. So if you want beer, you need to head through the port gates pictured above.

It’ll cost you $1USD to get through the port (for use of it, of course), and then you pay for your ferry ticket once you’re on board the ferry and half way across the lake.

Travel Tip: The verb “to buy” is “comprar” in Spanish. The verb “to change” is “cambiar.”  They are similar sounding in English, but very different en Español. Learning a new language is hard.


Walk down the path to your ferry, pick a seat, and you’re on your way! They even sell snacks on board, in case your $3 lunch doesn’t fill you up!





We were lucky, but we’ve heard that the journey can be a bit rough, so make sure you’ve got your anti-nausea medication ready just in case!

Docking in Moyogalpa


Welcomed by the bright colours and cloudy skies, Moyogalpa’s ferry terminal/dock is in the exact same location as the chicken bus station.

There are tuk tuks available to drive you to your hotel, but town itself is pretty small, so if you have little luggage, you can wander your way to your accommodation.

We booked our place on, and unfortunately the man tried to tell us our room was double the price, that the website got it wrong. But we were in luck with it being quiet season, we walked down the road and got a wonderful room at Hospedaje Central for $11USD for a private room with a bathroom. There is no shortage of accommodation in Moyogalpa, which seems crazy because the town is so small. But you have many options, they are not luxury, but if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re best to stay on the mainland.

What to Do, Where to Stay?

As previously mentioned, there are a lot of blogs with different opinions, and an infinite amount of things to do! If you have time, dedicate it to the island, you won’t regret it. Ask your accommodation hosts for ideas, but don’t be afraid to get out and venture on your own!

Definitely take the chicken bus – it is so cheap and pretty easy travel. It’s basically just a school bus, and it stops multiple times, but on the island, what does time matter anyways? Just sit back, relax, enjoy the views, and buy the cheap tasty treats from the vendors!!

We only stayed in Altagracia, and climbed Volcan Concepcion, before we were rained off the island – but we did do some biking, and have heard wonderful things about other places, so some of our mini-recommendations are below:

  • El Ojo de Agua (The Eye of Water) – we didn’t have a chance to visit due to the rain, but all of the photos we’ve seen and stories we’ve heard say it is worth the visit! $3USD to enter, and you can spend the day there. You can bike here from Santa Cruz or Altagracia, but if you’re coming the Altagracia way, just be prepared for a big long downhill on the way there (and an even bigger uphill on the way home).
  • Santa Cruz –  we rode our bikes here for an afternoon and were trying to make our way to Playa Santo Domingo but the sun started going down and we weren’t sure if it was a good idea or not to be on bicycles in the middle of a Nicaraguan island in the dark! There are plenty of restaurants and hotels in this area, and they are not luxury but they are really boutiquey. Most have a lake view, and would be a close distance to the beach. We will definitely stay in this area when we go back.
  • El Zopilote – Organic Farm Retreat – another place we wish we had the time to go to. They have a yoga studio, they’re in the jungle surrounded by animals, and we’ve heard the staff are incredible! Without a doubt, we will be staying here next time!
  • San Ramon Waterfall –  you need to have a scooter or motorbike to get out here, but we’ve been told it is worth the drive! A $3 USD entry fee allows you into the park, and you will have a little hike to go before experiencing the beauty.
  • Volcano Climbing – we climbed Concepcíon, which is a story of it’s own. We’ve heard Maderas is a bit easier – but still very difficult! If you love hiking, these are still more than a regular hike in North America or Europe. Just be prepared for rain, slippery ground, and a few spots where you actually have to rock climb up. The ascents are hard, the descents are harder. It’s more of a mental game on the day (can take up to 12 hours to the top and back of Concepcíon, we did it in 9.5) – and the 2 days after it is all pain. But worth the challenge, if you like things like that.
  • Queso! – Fresh cheese available at the markets and in the little tiendas. Fry it up for a lasting treat. They have it all around Nicaragua but it was extra delicious on an island.
  •  Altagracia –  although there is not much to do or see, just being in the small town with pigs running around the streets and loose cows everywhere, is an experience in its own. You can visit for the day, or spend a night or two in the area. There are a lot of low-cost accommodation spots and the people are absolutely wonderful. I felt absolutely safe going for morning runs into town and back out to our hotel, about a 2.5km stretch, and going into town on my own to get food/drinks etc if it was ever needed.
  • Anywhere on the island!!!!! The tranquility and simplicity of Ometepe Island are what makes it so magical. It is not completely untouched, but there’s a special energy about the space. However — if your accommodation is located near a main highway, be prepared for chicken bus beeps starting at 5:30am! Ah, the serenity.


Even with horns beeping, we absolutely recommend checking out this island,
and we truly cannot wait to get back out there!!!
We are not sponsored by anyone we linked to,
we just wanted to share the best advice we could find,
to help you have the best experience out there!


Turning 30

It’s hard to predict life. Even with goals, schedules, and events, we rarely know what a year will bring.

If you’d asked me a year ago, “what will you be doing for your 30th birthday?”, I doubt I’d have said I’ll be climbing an active volcano in Nicaragua. Truthfully, if you’d asked me two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have expected it’d be the plan either.

I’d booked a spa-hotel in Granada with a beautiful pool for my big celebration. Time ticked closer and it didn’t feel right. I became stressed. Would it be memorable enough? Would it be exciting? Soul enriching? I knew it’d be relaxing. But it wasn’t going to bring the joy I was looking for.

Looking back, the plans weren’t the problem. The problem was me.

We spent September in a house in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Surrounded by jungle, howler monkeys and the occasional bat. We had a yoga and workout studio to ourselves. In fact, we had most of the country to ourselves. There was a pool with a bridge over it. For the most part, it was peaceful. Apart from the labourers tending to a neighbouring house. Loud music and hammering cut the morning air. It didn’t matter. The loudest space in that jungle paradise was my mind.

A loud mind can make even the most tranquil spaces deafening.

We made that house our home through September. It will forever hold a place in my heart. Not because of its beauty or the party sounds of toad mating calls as dusk was breaking, but because of it’s provocative nature. Being away from the world meant I had to spend time with myself, to address myself. I had to relearn to trust myself, unconditionally love myself and let go.

The past five years were filled with rapid changes. Many permanent ones. 2018 has been a year of commitment. Leasing our property. Quitting my career. Selling the business. Selling the cars. Leaving home [again]. Getting married. Endless honeymooning.

Don’t get me wrong, it was exciting. But changes bring conflict to the mind. It tries to protect you. It wants safety. It wants routine and assurance and repetitive similarities. It thrives and grows and learns with change. But it will trick you into thinking change is fatal. And for many, it succeeds.

I was afraid to turn twenty. That year got to me. I was losing my childhood and gaining nothing. At twenty-one, I would be able to go to Las Vegas and drink and gamble. Twenty was no twenty-one. Twenty was just a number.

A week after my 20th birthday, I vowed never to feel that way about a birthday again. Each birthday would be a chance to celebrate a privilege denied to many. They would be a representation of how much I’d grown, a chance to reflect on what I’d learned from the past, what I’d learned for the present and what I’d be experiencing from the future.

Turning thirty was no exception. I was excited. My 29th birthday was spent cleaning our house before tenants moved in, eating Chinese takeaways on the floor, sleeping in our empty room that last night. My 29th year saw a promotion at work. I became a landlord, ran four half marathons, successfully planned and hosted a wedding. I left the country I’d called home for five years and embarked upon the greatest adventure of my life with my new husband. 

Twenty-nine was amazing. Thirty was going to be even better, 

Since my 20th birthday, each year of my life has gotten better. I don’t know whether there is truth in that statement, or if it’s simply a reflection of the work and practice I have put into my perspective on life.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

-Wayne Dyer.

I’ve had my share of negative situations. I’ve lost Grandmothers, friends and pets, I’ve been turned down from job opportunities, I’ve had injuries. I’ve had breakdowns. There’s been negative inner chatter. I’ve created narratives and anxieties. I’ve felt like throwing the towel in. I’ve felt too weak to carry on.

In these trying times, I’ve learned to shift my focus. To take the pain, struggle, negative voices and self-hatred and turn it into drive. Don’t let the fear win. Watch it. Know it. Welcome it. Learn from it, then defeat it. It’s not always easy. It doesn’t happen quickly. It’s about learning, growing, changing each day and knowing the best version of yourself. We can always be better than who we were yesterday.

Ten days before my birthday, the spa-hotel plan felt inadequate. I started pitying myself for feeling this way over birthday plans. I was in an inner turmoil that made no sense to me in the moment. I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t know what I wanted. There was no clear picture in my mind and the thought of failing a plan I didn’t have was terrifying. Planning my 30th birthday was just a metaphor for my life.

We had been [and still are] working on a few different goals and projects while in San Juan del Sur. Career-changing, passion driven projects to help us live our best lives, find the life/work balance, and live outside the 9-5 drain. We got ourselves this far, with our goals from the past 5 years, we could do it again. My problem was, I’d been working so hard to get to where I was, I’d forgotten to formulate my next destination. I had dreams and ideas. But dreaming is different to knowing what you want and working towards it. Good things do not come to those who wait. They come to those who work for it. And those who work for it need to work smarter, not harder.

In my head, I had my desired results. I didn’t have my purpose or plan. I was shooting for the stars, hoping I’d end up on the moon. Things don’t work like that.

Purpose is a loaded word. My whole life I’d struggled to find mine, or so I thought. I was looking for one thing. A purpose and passion that drove my entire being and defined me. That’s why I could never find it.

My amazing husband found me this article (Unexpected Ways to Find Your Purposeand after reading it, a light went on in my brain. One that had always been there. One I’d used before, but had been waiting to illuminate all of me.

Next, he gave me a list of things to work on for the day:

  • Recognize that purpose and fulfillment come from finding passions and DOING.
  • Drop into your heart and write out 5 things that give you happiness and get you excited – take as long as you want/need to do this
  • Make a vision board. Go onto Google and search images of the things you would like to have in six months, one year and five years. Collaborate them onto a word document. Have fun with this – just put anything you would like to have – it can be family, a boat, pick a picture of the kind of house you’d like to live in, the car you’d like to drive, the clothes you want to be wearing – anything. Just enjoy it. As though you are picking from a catalogue of anything you want and collaborate them all onto a sheet. Use your imagination, allow your wildest dreams.
  • Watch the Tony Robbins seminar Rapid Planning Method and continue to learn.
  • Exercise. Even though the body might tell you that you’re too tired or sore. Those are the days you need it the most. Don’t let your overactive mind win. Challenge yourself, get energy in motion and control your emotions.
  • Breathe. Deep into your lungs, not into your shoulders. Be present, and breathe.

Writing down 5 things I am passionate about brought tears to my eyes. Making the vision board was fun and exciting. The Tony Robbins seminar was nothing short of INCREDIBLE.

I already had this knowledge within me. Over the years I had learned these things and practiced many of these methods. I needed to remember them, all at once, to ignite my fire again.


This quote embedded itself deep within me. For the days that I can’t go on. The days that I’m disappointed in myself for feeling that way. The days that throw me curveballs and I’m not sure if I can swerve out of the way fast enough. If I strive each day to be a little better than who I was yesterday, how can I go wrong?

After my day of lows and highs, I remained on the high, but in a more manageable, lasting way. I was clear headed. I now had my passions written down. I knew my purposes. I now know exactly what I want, and there’s 1001 ways to get there.
You need to know where the destination is first, if you ever want to get there.

When it came to planning my 30th birthday, I now knew what I wanted. I wanted to challenge myself. Set the tone for my 30th year, push myself to my limits and prove that there is no goal I cannot achieve. I wanted to be in nature. On an island. On a lake in Nicaragua. I wanted to climb an active volcano. And I did.

About an hour into our 9.5 hour journey, it started to pour with rain. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a wider smile. It was exhilarating to be in a jungle, on a volcano and climbing through pouring rain. I felt connected to myself, my husband, nature and the people who had climbed before us. I was connected to all of humanity, and the universe in it’s entirety. It was a meditation like no other. I experienced the oneness of it all.

The earth was hot at the top of the crater. The smell of sulphur surrounded us. Our view of the lake and sister volcano was obstructed by the cloud – but the view wasn’t the purpose of the climb.

Descending the volcano was as exhilarating as making it to the top. It took far more focus and determination. It demonstrated the practice of “where focus goes, energy flows” (Tony Robbins).

The homestay’s puppy came for a visit when we returned. We fed him, tucked him in and pat him to sleep. I felt beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to experience the lows before the highs. Without lows, we really aren’t able to appreciate all of the good in our lives. Sleeping in a spa-hotel was paradise after squishy, bug-filled beds on Ometepe Island!

Turning 30 was amazing. I’m more excited about the next 30 than I have ever been before. There will be hills to climb and descents to be wary of. There will be hard days, easy days, challenging days and exciting days. There will be laughter and tears, but there will be learning and growth too. There is a deeper drive to become a better version of myself. There is passion, purpose and gratitude.

If you’re still here, thank you. Thank you for being a part of our journey. Thank you for letting me share my challenges and successes with you.

There are an infinite amount of resources in this universe. It is not a competition. We can all be a part of this journey together. Love yourself first, and the rest will fall into place when you work for what you want.

Be specific. There are many incredible resources available online. Find what speaks to you. And know you’ve got the power within you to live your best life.

“We either learn to fail, or we fail to learn.” -Tal Ben Shahar

And a special thank you to my amazing husband John, who is wise beyond his 30 years, and helped me enter my 30th year in the best way I could ever have imagined.
I am so lucky to have had him next to me climbing that crazy volcano, and through all of our crazy adventures in life, never telling me my ideas are crazy,
but supporting me and joining me in them.

His patience, his compassion and his love for life inspires me each day.
Please check out his website 

Traveling Safely to Nicaragua in 2018

When a country is in political turmoil,
a tourist can never be 100% sure of their safety.

When a country isn’t in political turmoil,
a tourist can never be 100% sure of their safety.
Don’t let your worry overrule your desire to see and experience the world. 

We had been in Costa Rica for 2 weeks when we finally decided we wanted to come back to Nicaragua (we were here in 2013). The number of stares, laughs and dropped mouths we received from Tica’s and internationals alike, were countless. “Why would you go there?” was the most common response.

It made ‘pushing the red button’ all the more enticing. “Why not!”

I’d be lying if I said we each didn’t have our own moments of apprehension. When I was freaking out, John was calm. When he was worrying, I had the steady hand. We were going into a country where the US and Canadian embassies had pulled out months ago, and the NZ, Canadian and US Travel advisories still say “avoid non-essential travel.” There had been politically fuelled protests and rioting back in April and May, and too many Nicaraguan nationals had been killed in the process.

We struggled to find enough reliable news online about the unrest. It made the apprehension stronger and the mystery greater. Was it better or worse than its online portrayal? After reading a number of journalist reports, I took to instagram, searching #nicaragua. It seemed silly, but I felt it would give us a more accurate view of the day-to-day life of the Nicaraguans.

My search showed a few political posts, but there were thousands more photos each day of Nicaraguans leading normal lives, out with friends, at the beach, having a drink. With smiles and sad eyes, they captured moments where they and their country are working to find their way onto their feet again. It was inviting. We were sold.

Making the Plan

In no country, is a government solely responsible for the safety of the individuals within it – whether they claim it or not. It is up to the individual to take responsible action in order to have a better prospective of safety.

We decided to book an AirBnB for a month in a town called San Juan del Sur.
Travel Tip: During low seasons, private message owners to negotiate a better price for long term stays

San Juan del Sur is near the border, on the coast, dependent on tourism, a road well-traveled by foreigners, and has had no political drama during the unrest. It is a highly recommended spot for your first Nicaraguan location, as it will ease you into the culture of the country, with all of the luxuries of your home country available to you if need be. We even found a bar that served Caesars  (only truly exciting if you’re Canadian).

If you’ve been following our instagram you’ll have seen that we are beyond happy about our decision to come into this beautiful country. We have felt safe every minute we’ve been here.

We are inspired by the Nicaraguans. Their positive spirits, their friendly demeanour, their hope.

They need tourism to come back to their country, and we feel so privileged to be a part of the movement. We want to help in any way we can, to bring it back! It is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, and truthfully, you would be remiss if you didn’t visit Nicaragua.

The struggles for the nation are not over, but as a tourist you are more welcome and safer here now than ever before. The people are not playing political games. They need an economy to survive. You will not feel like a walking dollar sign. You are a sign of hope. Of restoration. Of the future.

We’re so excited to share with you our experiences through our blog and our instagram, and some of our tips and tricks, to help you feel safe about exploring this wonderful country.


1. Fly into Costa Rica

Fly into Liberia or San Jose. If you can get to Liberia, we recommend this. It is a smaller town, and it is closer to the border. San Jose airport is actually about 40 minutes away from San Jose city – and the city itself isn’t very inviting. If you fly direct into Liberia, you can catch a bus across the border the same day and be at your destination in Nicaragua by the afternoon.

2. Catch a bus across the border.

If this is your first time heading into Nicaragua and you’re a little apprehensive about the land-border crossing, we recommend booking with TicaBus. You can book your ticket online, direct from Liberia or San Jose.

Have a read through our Guide to TicaBus, from Costa Rica to Nicaragua post for more important information for your journey.

3. Take transport to your destination.

Chances are, your bus won’t take you directly to your accommodation. That’s ok!

There are many local buses you can hop on too if you’re feeling adventurous. Now that we’ve been here awhile, we wouldn’t take anything but! They are between $1-$2USD (30C-60C) for the whole ride, and there are many stops along the way. Drivers are friendly and if you let them know where you’re headed, they will let you know when to get off! Also there are vendors that bring food on board from time to time – buy the food!!! It is cheap and incredibly tasty! Now that we’ve been here for awhile we feel very safe riding these buses, and would recommend them to even the newcomers.

If you’re not in the mood for a local bus, there are taxis everywhere. Prices are generally fair without needing to negotiate – but if you’re feeling up to it, you can always barter down. It is roughly $1/minute for a taxi.

4. Relax, interact, enjoy.

fullsizeoutput_7531You’ve made it! Even the safest journeys are still journeys, and demand some rest and relaxation after a day of transit. So have a $1USD Tona or Victoria beer, get a cheap and fresh ceviche or plantain chips, and cheers to your next greatest adventure!

Then get amongst. Practice your Spanish (or help the locals practice their English). You will meet so many wonderful people, kind and welcoming, ready to yarn and share their beautiful country with you. Enjoy.


//stay tuned to our blog for more posts on our adventures in honeymooning, our travel experiences and our personal, professional and marital growth.//

Guide to TicaBus: From Costa Rica to Nicaragua

So you’ve decided you’re going to travel your way to Nicaragua! You will not regret it – but you will need to be ready for the interesting experience of crossing the border!

The whole process felt extremely safe, but it takes time and is slightly disorganized.

We decided to go with TicaBus as it is a well recognized, Costa Rican coach company, which travels all through Central America (from Mexico to Panama). They have an easy to use website, with booking and route options, and although you cannot get a refund, they allow you to make as many changes to your booking necessary, free of charge! Having a TicaBus ticket booked before entering Costa Rica is a good idea, as sometimes the customs agents will ask for your proof of exit (you have 90 days), but you can change your bus ticket to earlier or later if need be!


We have provided what seems like a lot of information, but it will all be helpful to prevent you from wondering or worrying about what is going on during your processing across the border.

Arriving at the Bus Station

  1. You will give your bag to a gentleman who will tag it and take it from you, giving you the second half of your tag.
    HOLD ON TO THIS. It seemed strange, because all of the bags were together and we were wondering, how are they going to know when we’re getting off or when we need our bags? Don’t worry. Trust the system. You have to take your bags off the bus at the border, THEN they sort out your departure location.
  2. You will stand in a line at the bus station, show your bus ticket and passport, and pay $7USD pp to exit Costa Rica.
    Often the payment is handled at the border, but your driver will take care of all payments for you.
  3. You receive your Nicaraguan entrance papers.
    They need to be filled out before you reach the border, but not at the bus station. Do not panic. Your bus driver will take the papers before you cross the border.

Riding with TicaBus

  1. Ticabus has free WiFi
    It isn’t the best service, but it’s decent. You can check your email, Facebook, and Google Maps, but watching Netflix wasn’t happening. The password is at the front of the bus on the top right of the window.
  2. Free movies on the screens!
    The first movie was in English with Spanish subtitles, then the next 2 were in Spanish, but it was still fun to watch!
  3. Bring your own toilet paper!!!!!
    The coaches have bathrooms, which is awesome. But they are not luxury by any stretch. Bring your own toilet paper to wipe down the seat and your bottom.

The Costa Rican Border

  1. Exiting Costa Rica
    The bus will drive past an insane amount of shipping trucks parked on the side of the road. Upon stopping, everyone exits the bus, but you leave your luggage below. Bring your valuables, but your driver stays with the bus so you don’t have to bring everything off.
  2. Costa Rican Customs
    You wait in a long lineup, while many people yell at you “CAMBIAR, CAMBIAR CAMBIAR!” (Change, change, change!) They will have lots of money in their hands. They are the ‘currency exchange’ and they are decently aggressive, but not dangerous. Just keep saying “No, gracias.” You’ll have to say it to probably 15 guys by the end of it all.At the end of the line you’ll meet the agent. You’ve already paid your $7, and you have a little receipt in your passport to prove it. The customs agent will stamp your passport, and you’re free to go back on your bus.
  3. Back on the bus.
    Your driver will now come around and ask for $14USD/pp for entrance into Nicaragua. He will take your passport. It is safe to trust him!

The Nicaraguan Border

  1. Getting off the bus.
    Here is where everyone disembarks again, but this time, you take ALL OF YOUR LUGGAGE. The pieces from below too. You carry them through the doors and past the customs agent. Make sure to have your Nicaraguan paperwork in your hands.
  2. Passing the customs agents.
    You won’t need to speak to anyone, because your driver has handled it for you. You will see the agent stamping all of the passports for the people from your bus as you just walk on through.
  3. X-ray machines and finally giving your paperwork away.
    Passed the customs agent there are large x-ray machines. The people manning these machines will take your customs declaration paperwork, and you will place all of your bags onto the machine, and retrieve them from the other side.
  4. Exit the building, and you’re back to almost where you started. Do not go back to where your bus is, follow the crowd and go to a new bus stop point and wait for your bus there.
    There are many street vendors walking around here, and they are all extremely friendly and not pushy (in contrast to the Costa Ricans)! We recommend purchasing food if you are hungry – it is super cheap and tasty!
  5. When your bus arrives around the corner…
    You put your luggage on, based on where you’re departing. The driver will call out locations, the last stop being first. Wait your turn, and if you don’t hear your location called, just ask. After your bag is aboard, you go back to wait -you can’t get on your bus yet! Follow the crowd, keep your eyes peeled for a customs agent walking with a bunch of passports to the door of your bus.
  6. The customs agent comes out and stands by the door of the bus. Get there quick and listen intently, they will not yell your name but say it gently.
    They go through the passports for all of the passengers, and once your name is called, go up to them, they will check that it is you in the photo, hand your passport back to you and you can safely go back on the bus and find your seat. As you climb back aboard, your bus driver will check off your name to ensure that you’ve arrived back on safely.
  7. Keep the Nicaraguan Border Receipt that is hiding in the pages of your passport!
    Nobody tells you this, but you need this paper to exit the country! Hold onto it with your passport, keep it safe. I’m not sure what the penalty is if you lose it, but it probably isn’t worth finding out. Once in Mexico, John lost his exit form and it was $75USD to sort a new one (thankfully we found it hiding in a ‘safe place where it couldn’t get lost.’).
  8. Leaving the bus.
    When your stop comes around, you will get off and give your luggage ticket (that you better still be holding on to) to the luggage handler, and he will confirm that your bags are your bags, and you’re free to go!

Thanks for reading! Subscribe to our blog to get more travel tips, read about our different travel experiences, and our endless honeymoon journey, through life and love and everything in between.  

Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

‘Buy the ticket, take the ride… and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well… maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.’

– Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


Travel has become a modern day accessory. It holds its own in braggadocious garden-party conversations, weaving seamlessly amongst updates on new cars, pretty new dresses and the latest jetskis. A deep tan used to be the mark of a hard days work in the field. Somewhere along the line it became a badge of honour, primarily to be worn in the winter of one’s home country, and flaunted to express the expendable income and flexible working arrangements that come as pre-requisites to any tropical getaway.

When did this happen? When did our main purpose for travel become bragging rights over headfirst plunges into the unknown? To risk it all, for no other reason than to relish a moment in which we knew our fears and witnessed our courage as we stepped into them? When did we lose our appetite for adventure? I don’t mean feigned adventure. Not the contrived kind we’ve fallen into. Cuddles with stoned tigers in dingy cages. Waiting in line at ancient temples like we’re at bloody Disneyland. Standing with arms spread wide at peaks of natural monoliths, working on camera angles to hide the guard rails from photographs.

We know how to buy the ticket. We’ve forgotten how to take the ride. There are repercussions for this. They are not immediate. They will fester behind poolside margaritas and resort mariachi bands. A part of you knows it’s not real. Every country has more to offer than management-approved entertainment and rentable sunbeds. Beyond resort walls lies the reason you flew to that country in the first place.

Something will find you outside the comfortable. It comes through breezes in jungle canopies. It’s written in stars above endless deserts. It’s woven into smiles on the faces of children who have nothing but the clothes on their backs. It finds you when you’re alone. It comes softly. Without warning. It will rob you of words. There is no mistaking it. You will not forget it. If you are lucky enough to find it, you will not be the same. It is the reason we live. Moments of magnitude in which we know ourselves as minuscule and monstrous at the same time.

Wait for it beyond the safety net of comfort. Beyond the city sprawl and highways that split the desert in two. Find the way that few have gone. At the end of the road, when the track turns to dust and the brush gets so thick, you need to cut your own path – wait for it there. Wait in silence. Move if you have to. When you get disheartened, know that it’s waiting for you. Speak to it. Hear it in the birds call and the blood pulse through your ears. Tell it of heartache in purpose and loneliness in meaning. Tell it of your struggle and it will find you.



Don’t wait until you’re old. Don’t rock in a wicker chair, grey hair blowing in the breeze, and wish you’d found it. Find it now. Let it find you. It will meet you beyond the reasonable. You are not the first. You won’t be the last. When you meet another, bask in their awkward attempts to describe it. But you’ll know. And their eyes will tell you that they know too. You need nothing more than that. Because you’ll know. And once you know, you’ll never be the same.

Don’t ask others to help you. Don’t scuttle behind tour guides or bow before gurus. You won’t find it with them. It won’t be woven in the threads of new garments, nor coiled in the networks of wiring behind phone screens. It does not lie in the outward. Not in schedules or deadlines or safety standards. It waits in empty deserts. Cold nights on snowcapped peaks. Oceans that could swallow you whole. It waits there.

Go beyond the others. Run from trends. Avoid the plights of the common man. You will not find it with him. Find the strange and indescribable. Drink with pirates and savages and those who have given it all. Know gentle women and careless men. Trust with no reason to do so. Make mistakes. Walk without direction. Speak without agenda. Lose your way and rejoice in doing so. You’re closer to it there.

When it finds you, stop. There will be no mistaking it. It will soar through your chest and catch in your throat. Spend time with it. Speak to it. It will not be there forever. It will not be there for long at all. Relish the moment. Let it humble you. Take note of the space that it found you in. Do not take pictures. They won’t capture that moment. Be still. Know that you found it. And know that it found you.

This is where true travel leads you. To a glimpse of something greater than yourself. You will stay silent for fear of ridicule. It’s for the best. Description is a fruitless endeavour. The stakes will be high and the walls will be low. Let it change you. Let it wash away your fear and know what it was to live. Recognize yourself in the banks of snow on the mountainside and when the rains washes it away, recognize yourself in the river. And when the kikuyu grass grows from the Earth, know yourself in it. And in the cherry blossoms in Japan in Spring. And the storm swells over the Pacific. Hear yourself in the howler monkey’s call and the beating drums of distant parades. Don’t follow the common man. There’s nothing for you there. You will find it where his feet never trod and his eyes never gazed.

You will find it. And when you do, you will never be the same.


John is currently finishing his first novel in Nicaragua. The novel discusses the travels of a young man who is struggling to understand the death of his best friend and uses travel as a way to get closer to answers on death. We will be travelling to New York in December to pitch the novel to publishers. If you would like more information on this novel, please send an email to 


Fill Your Own Cup First

This is not a bartending post! (that will come another day).
This is a well-being/inspirational post of sorts.
Each day we see multiple posts circulating on Facebook about mental health struggles, and we wanted to share our own experiences and some ways we work on ourselves to keep our own cups full. We hope this will inspire you to “fill your own cup first” and bring much positive energy and lightness into your life.

You are not alone if you feel like you’re always giving your time and energy to others. You may feel depleted and drained at the end of each day. Your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy sources take a hit and you struggle to fill them back up before they’re being taken from again.

Then it becomes hard to give to others, because you’re giving to them from your empty cup. You may become resentful, unsympathetic and bitter. You may become angry that people are taking from you and you have nothing to give. Don’t they know that you’re depleted?

The long and short of it is no. It isn’t up to others to know that your cup is empty. No, they shouldn’t be taking your energy to fill their own, but you can’t control others. It is up to you to fill your own cup first, and give to others from your overflow.

Our Experience

One of the most important lessons we ever learned as a couple was to “fill our own cups first.” Both of us worked in service – John as a physiotherapist and Nicole as an early childhood teacher. Both careers were highly demanding in the amount of energies we needed to give to others each day. It wasn’t long before we learned that we were both depleting ourselves and had very little energy left to give to each other in the evenings.

We began learning more about how to restore and replenish our own energies without expecting our partner to give to us, or from just taking energy from others. It is one thing that has helped make our partnership healthy and strong. We support each other, but we do not depend on each other for our own happiness. We give to each other, but not at our own detriment.

Working to fill your own cup first is not only for people in relationships, it is for everyone. When you learn to do this, it will strengthen your sense of self, and all of the relationships and human interactions in your life.

The internet can be a blessing and a curse. It is full of wonderful techniques and information on how to fill your energy stores. But be cautious of all of the posts and memes on Facebook that send out negativity. Sometimes, even the ‘self-help’ posts are actually negative. After reading a post, ask yourself, are you feeling validated in your struggles and are now more frustrated, annoyed or apathetic with people or situations in your life? Or do you feel inspired, light, free and excited to become a better, healthier version of yourself?

Try your best to decipher between the two, and share and give attention to only to the posts that answer ‘yes’ to the latter.


If you fill your own cup first, you will:

  • feel a sense of pride and independence.
  • know that you are in control of your own emotions and feelings – they don’t control you.
  • become responsible for your own happiness and wellbeing.
  • not be bothered by the way people around you are acting or behaving. You won’t be tied to their energies, because your own stores are full on your own accord.
  • no longer be resentful of others. You will enjoy human interactions.
  • be able to care for others and enjoy it.
  • have deeper, more meaningful friendships and relationships with the people in your lives. You will be more open and willing to let people in.
  • feel gratitude for all of the wonderful things life has to offer.
  • become more present and stop worrying about the past or future.


Hopefully by now, you understand why it is so important to learn to fill your own cup first. Where to start? Well, it will be individual. Each person has their own emotional, physical, mental and spiritual energy stores and some are depleted more than others.

Each of you will need to find your own ways to fill your own cup, without taking energy from others, but we’ve got some simple (and free) ways that we would love for you to try, to take time for yourself and begin to replenish your energy.
Remember, you’re doing this for YOU.

Once you start refilling, you’ll easily be able to find more ways to keep it going up on your own, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself along the way.


10 ways to try filling your own cup, that won’t cost you any money:


1. Exercise! It doesn’t have to be hours on the treadmill, just get off the couch and get your body moving! When your blood is pumping and your endorphins are flowing you will begin to fill that cup.
We enjoy the high intensity/short time Tabata workouts. Here is a beginner’s video if you want to try. The whole video from start to finish is 14:46 minutes, I’m sure you can find that time in your busy day!
Beginner Tabata Workout

2. Turn off your cellphone. Don’t just put it on silent, turn it completely off for an hour or two during the day – maybe longer! Learn to detach yourself from it. Texts and calls can wait a few hours, people will not worry if you do not get back to them instantly. And it isn’t about their needs, it’s about yours. It isn’t selfish, it’s taking care of yourself, so that when you do reply you are fully attentive to replying, and not being drained by it. Being present, focusing on where you are and what you’re doing will replenish your energy rapidly. Find family times to be unplugged together. It’s a lot easier than it sounds, and you’ll love it.

3. Sitting quietly on your own. Also known as meditation. Often when people hear the M word, they think “I can’t do that, only hippies and monks can.” Not true. But start small. Try sitting quietly for 5 minutes, focusing on your breathing and any time your mind starts to race, bring it back to your breath again. The best way we’ve heard it put – it’s like bicep curls for the brain. You won’t reach enlightenment in one go, so forget about trying to clear your mind and just try to be present with yourself. Ensure your shoulders are relaxed and you’re breathing into your stomach. You can do this at any time of the day and it is incredibly recharging. Follow the link below for a nice and easy breathing exercise.
5 Minute Breathing Exercise

4. A hot bath before bedtime.  Some people hate baths, but it’s only because they’re doing it wrong! You may want to find some natural oils, a bubble bath or a candle with a smell you like (nobody is judging, guys). Turn on your favourite music, or get a book, and just lay back and relax. The hot water relaxes your muscles and increases your body temperature, making sleep time a lot easier.

5. A cold shower. This sounds crazy, but the benefits of a cold shower are incredible! First, if you can maintain a calm breath during a cold shower, you really can combat anything! The cold will increase alertness in you and your cells and improve your circulation. Cold showers have been linked to speedy muscle recovery, stimulating weight loss, hair growth and healthy skin regeneration, and easing and relieving stress and depression.

6. Cooking your favourite meal. Sometimes a restaurant, or your Mom cooks your favourite meal the best, and you won’t be able to beat it. But that’s ok! There is something so special about putting in the time and energy into cooking on your own. It may take a bit of your time, so choose an evening or a Sunday afternoon to dedicate to you and your meal. Find the recipe and have fun with it! You will enjoy the meal so much more knowing how much time and love is put into the creation of it. (And make sure to wash the dishes as you go, so you don’t have a huge pile at the end of it all! Too many dishes are draining!)

7. Listen to your favourite song on loud and sing along. Whether you’re in the car, on a run, in the shower or just in your living room, turn your song on and pretend it is just you on stage singing to a bunch of your fans! (If you’re in the car, be safe!). There is something extremely liberating about singing your favourite song. You will feel like a kid again, free of experiencing judgement, and filling your cup with energy generated all from within.

8. Try yoga. Just like meditation, yoga can be daunting to people who have never tried it. Once you do though, you will love it! It is emotional, spiritual, physical and mental exercise, all in one. Learning to hold poses while keeping your mind quiet translates beautifully into daily life. And the beauty of today is you don’t need to join a studio to practice! Having an instructor in front of you is a great idea if you find that you love yoga, but for beginners, try 20 Minute Yoga for Complete Beginners by Yoga with Adriene. She’s incredible and has many more videos for when you want to take it further.

9. Go to the library. Getting a library card is free, and then you can go on a journey around the universe in an afternoon, flipping through books and picking the best ones to bring home. Reading the books when you’re at home are just as replenishing, but there is something special about being in a library, surrounded by books of every topic, and all of them at your disposal to learn and research things that make you tick. Check with your library about which online app they use for their eBooks! We use Overdrive with the Auckland Library, and we can download eBooks from anywhere in the world at any time of the day!

10. Garnish your real cup with fresh fruit. There’s something so pretty about a slice of fresh lime or pineapple on your glass. Whether it’s just water, soda/pop/fizzy drink, or an alcoholic beverage, decorating it gives you vacation vibes, and is instantly relaxing and rejuvenating. It’s simple, but try it! It will make your cup feel special and worthy of the fill.


If you liked this post, have any questions, or want to share more ways to “fill your own cup first,” please leave your comments below, or contact us here!

We would love to hear from you. Happy filling!