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Je t’aime Paris!

Happy Bastille Day!

La Vida Sunshine

In early 2012, my husband (then boyfriend) invited me to Europe for the first time. He asked if I wanted to go to Paris? We were in the early stages of falling in love and I think he was surprised I didn’t want to go. Who doesn’t want Paris in the Springtime with their lover? Isn’t it the most romantic place on Earth? Isn’t it the city of love?
Truth be told, I never bought into all that Paris mumbo jumbo. I didn’t dream of going to Paris as a little girl, teenager, or adult. You would think, me, of all people would. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. Because of all of my hopelessness in all things romance, the idea of Paris seemed so cliché and cheesy, for our first trip together.
Fast forward to 2015.
We were trying to decide where to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. After traveling…

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La Vida Sunshine's NOLA Experience - St. Louis Cathedral

La Vida Sunshine’s NOLA Experience

I was looking forward to going to New Orleans, LA, for the 1st time. Then, I landed up getting Vertigo. It is some kind of crazy, dizzying, off balance, and at times nauseating sickness. It comes from out of nowhere and no one knows how long it will last. Mine lasted about a whole week. I haven’t had it since thank God!

I called the doctor and she prescribed me some pills that mostly put me to sleep. I took those and got on the plane. Luckily going to NOLA for us is only an hour flight. When I say, I was out of it, I mean I was OUT OF IT. I wasn’t going to let Vertigo ruin my first NOLA experience. Thank goodness, for my husband, who was extremely patient with me. I couldn’t have made it on the plane or enjoyed anything without him taking care of me.

We stayed at Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. It was fantastic! We had an extra large room and away from Bourbon St, which is exactly what we were looking for. It was peaceful and quiet, but close enough to be able to walk to the party scene in the French Quarter. We had a view of the river and the French Quarter from our room. I would definitely stay there again and recommend it to others, as well.

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La Vida Sunshine’s NOLA Experience

La Vida Sunshine’s NOLA Musts:

Gumbo Shop was our 1st stop to fill up on gumbo and jambalaya. For those unfamiliar with Creole food, it is a beautiful mix of African, French, Spanish, and Caribbean styles of food. This is what we come to New Orleans for, to discover this piece of history and culture that is exclusive to NOLA.

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La Vida Sunshine’s NOLA Experience @ the Gumbo Shop – It’s all about Jambalaya for me.

 

Johnny Sanchez the baby of famous chefs John Besh and Aaron Sanchez. 1 word: Awesome! It was such a delicious and flavorful Mexican taqueria in the middle of New Orleans. We went back to eat and drink there twice. This has to be my most surprising discovery in NOLA. It’s also outside of the French Quarter, but still walkable in the downtown area. It’s worth the walk and reservations are accepted. I’ve been telling everyone about this place. It’s become my top recommendation because it’s completely different and unexpected to New Orleans cuisine.

NOLA Restaurant gets a big Yaaaasssss, from me! One meal here and I remember why Emeril Lagasse is a world renowned Chef. We had an unforgettable dinner here. The portions are more than generous and left us wobbling out the door. The wine list was extensive and the service was fantastic. I highly suggest reservations.

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La Vida Sunshine’s NOLA Experience @ NOLA Restaurant

Saints and Sinners probably more famously known for its owner, Channing Tatum. Yep and we were told every time he’s in town, he’s usually enjoying the party. I’ll forever remember this place as the 1st place I tried Crawfish. A Southern staple. Since living in the South this was my first, but not my last time enjoying crawfish.

Pat O’Briens is the place to be to start the party since 1933! By the time we got here, I was feeling better from my Vertigo and was ready for a Hurricane or two. What’s a hurricane? Well, it’s Pat O’Briens signature drink, a mix of Rum and their own famous Hurricane mix.

Gordon Biersch Brewery my husband is a beer enthusiast through and through, meaning anytime we can stop and enjoy a pint or two we do. This place is a great mid day or evening stop for a late night beer. They also have food, but we never ate there as it was only a stop on the way to wherever we were going next.

Cafe Fleur De Lis usually has a line out the door. I promise it’s worth the wait. It serves only breakfast and lunch. It doesn’t take reservations. I don’t suggest going with a big group. It’s pretty tiny on the inside. It’s a great way to start the day with a big ‘ol Southern breakfast!

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La Vida Sunshine’s NOLA Experience – Cafe Fleur de Lis

Cafe Du Monde has been in NOLA since 1862! It’s open 24 hours a day. We enjoyed our beignets late at night on a walk around the French Quarter. It’s a NOLA must and easy to understand why it’s been around for generations. The one, the only Cafe Du Monde…

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La Vida Sunshine’s NOLA Experience – Cafe Du Monde

 

We celebrated Easter Sunday in New Orleans. We went to mass at the famed St Louis Cathedral.

First of all, I’ve never seen an Easter mass as I experienced it in NOLA. It was bright, colorful, and every single person was dressed to impressed. There were several parades throughout the entire day. They were all full of music, beads, and plenty of costumes. I love a good old fashioned NOLA parade.

My other favorite New Orleans must is actually away from Bourbon St and the French Quarter. It’s a short cab ride away called, Frenchmen Street. This is where the over 25 crowd hangs out. It’s abundant with live music, signature cocktails, and plenty of art to be experienced. It’s the grown-up version of Bourbon St. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected.

I took away that this city is proud of its history. Seeing how far they have come from Hurricane Katrina is uplifting. I would suggest don’t just visit New Orleans, experience New Orleans. Eat as much as you can. Drink as much as you can. Sing and dance as much as you can. Just make sure not to step in a bourbon puddle.

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La Vida Sunshine’s NOLA Experience @ Bourbon St

 

Did your favorite NOLA eats or sights make the list? If not, let me know where you love to eat, drink, and hang out in New Orleans? Cheers!

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What does La Vida Sunshine mean?

In honor of my blog turning 2, here’s my 1st blog!

La Vida Sunshine

It means the way I try to live my life. An eternal optimist. Crazy, I know. Especially in today’s world, but someone has to find a reason to smile. I believe it’s possible to spend more days happy than sad or angry. I was given the nickname, “Sunshine”, which is another reason as to why I named my blog, ” La Vida Sunshine.” My belief is you can find joy in any situation, rich or not rich, coupled or single, CEO or stay at home wife. Happiness has always been a choice for me. If it’s something you want and believe in, you work at it like anything else.

I’ve thought a lot about happiness and what makes me happy. I recently married the most wonderful person for me. Everyone wishes you a lifetime of happiness on your wedding day. I know, I couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear…

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True!

Since I was in High School and first learned about Machu Picchu, from my Spanish teacher, I’ve wanted to go to Peru.  She was Peruvian and had shared with us about her people, culture, and history. Being raised in a proud Mexican-American family, I was fascinated with this other group of Latino history. Life went on… but I always thought about Peru, and especially Machu Picchu. I figured it was one of those places that I put on my bucket list and go to before I die. Whenever someone asked, where do you want to go? I would always without hesitation answer Machu Picchu.

Imagine my surprise when it became a reality before I was ready to visit the Almighty. We originally had planned on going to Germany for Oktoberfest in Sept 2015. We landed up buying a house and had to cancel that trip. Then, our very good friend told us she was going to Peru for Thanksgiving in November. That’s when we invited ourselves on her trip home. We had to jump on the opportunity to experience Peru. I have to admit, other than our wedding, there was never a trip I was most anticipating in my life.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! We arrived in Aguas Caliente!

 

We landed in Lima on Friday. We flew to Cusco on Monday. I took the pills to help me acclimate to the altitude, which I highly recommend. We also drank plenty of Coco de Mate, which helped me immensely. We took the 2nd train to Machu Picchu on Tuesday morning. It was a 3hr, slow train ride to Aguas Caliente.

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! Welcome to Machu Picchu!

Aguas Caliente is the town directly below Machu Picchu. After getting to Aguas Caliente, we had to buy bus tickets to get up to Machu Picchu. Then, we had to go to the Tourism office for our admittance tickets to Machu Picchu. Yes, it would be easier if it was in the same place, but it’s not. They only accept cash, which is also important to know, as my husband had to find a cash machine when we found out they don’t accept credit cards of any sort.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! Welcome to Machu Picchu!

 

After that experience, we had to wait in line for the bus. There is only one station for this. The winding bus ride up the mountain is about 25 minutes. Everyone is excited and scared to death going up this narrow and steep mountain. It’s even scarier going back down.

 

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Welcome to Machu Picchu!

 

I think I prayed the whole way down the mountain. Alas, we arrived at the entry of Machu Picchu, and we didn’t see anything initially. They have a station where we could stamp our passports with a stamp of Machu Picchu, which has become my favorite stamp on my passport to date. We were approached by several tour guides. We found one that spoke in English, as we were with a non-Spanish speaking friend. He was an accredited tour guide, knowledgeable, patient, and knew where to take all the best pictures. He was well worth what we paid him. I felt he enhanced our experience because he was able to walk  us through and explain everything to us about the history and the Inca Empire.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True!

Machu Picchu is truly magnificent. There are really no words that could accurately describe it’s majesty. It has breathtaking views in whatever direction we looked.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! Team JP Travelers In Love.

 

 

I’m truly thankful my husband and I experienced this once in a lifetime experience together. It taught me, it’s never too early to pursue my dreams. Life is short. Life is unpredictable. It was not only an adventure of a lifetime but a spiritual awakening in knowing anything is possible. I felt on top of the world at Sun Gate. Now, excuse me, while I go update my bucket list and proudly scratch off my number 1. Mission accomplished.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! Look Ma, I’m on top of the world!

I’m living proof that dreams do come true!

 

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How a Ugandan lives in the world

What an incredible experience!

The Real Uganda

live like a ugandan

So this is how a Ugandan lives in the world.

I was hiking to a hilltop, where a Ugandan friend had planted a tonne of fruit trees. It was hot. We both had bottles of drinking water. When we reached, we looked for shade to rest a bit. We passed by a young tree struggling in the sunshine. My friend emptied his water bottle on that tree.

My first thought was “Wow, I would never do that.”

My next thought was “Damn, Ugandans instinctively understand that that tree will sustain 1,000s of people, but that bottle of water will only sustain one.”

My third thought was “Thank god I’m raising my son in Uganda.”

Want to know more ways Ugandans naturally sustain our planet? Click here and think about spending some time volunteering in Uganda. You might learn a thing or two!

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Thankful Thursday

Before the end of the night, I want to remember everything I’m thankful for:

1. My husband. We celebrated 2yrs of marriage on Tuesday. God has truly blessed me with a man who is equally yoked. He’s everything I have ever prayed for in a husband.

2. Our families. I recently had a death in my family, a young cousin passed at the age of 22. Not only did my whole family come together, but my in-laws were so supportive and sending their prayers to my entire family, as well. It’s amazing how much family love and support can help get us through the hard times in life.

3. Our home. I’m always still so grateful for our house. There’s truly no place like home and because we travel so much I love having our home to come back to. It has become one of my happy places and that’s pretty cool. I never feel the need to escape from home.

4. Our friends. We went to our friends house yesterday for dinner. They made us chicken mole, rice, beans, and carnitas. How blessed are we?? It’s been such a long week, so having someone else cook us up a feast is an honor.

5. My blog is growing. Little by little, but it’s getting better. More importantly, I’m getting better. I’m growing and learning. A little bit better each day. How exciting! Amen!

What are you thankful for this week?

TBT

This time 2yrs ago, we were at the start of our honeymoon at Secrets Maroma Beach Resort In Riviera Maya Mexico. It was divine! With this crappy weather in Houston, I’m just going to stare at these pictures a little longer… where did you spend your honeymoon??

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Secrets Maroma Beach Resort

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Secrets Maroma Beach Resort

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Secrets Maroma Beach Resort