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What the First Day of My RTW Trip was Like

It was May 12th, 2009 and I was about to embark on a round-the-world trip with my first stop being Beijing, China. As I was going through security I turned around to wave good bye one last time to my family. I noticed my brother in the distance crying and at that point I broke down inside. For a minute, I thought I was making a huge mistake. I was nervous and scared. I wanted to turn around and not go. I had been planning this trip for so long time and here I was. I stayed on the line and held in my emotions the best that I could.


I was an ambitious backpacker ready to take on any challenge, but I quickly realize I was really unprepared. I had directions printed out to the hostel to take public transportation out of the airport. It was around 4am in Beijing and buses were not running yet because it was too early. I had to wait a few hours for the buses to start, but the directions I printed were unclear which bus to take. There were a couple buses I thought that maybe would take me where I ended to go but even if I knew the bus, I didn’t know when to stop.A man came up to me and asked if I wanted a taxi. I pretended to act cool and said no thanks. I realized though I had no idea what I was doing. He goes on to say 500 RMB to take me downtown. I learned from my research to bargain down so I thought I’d try 200 RMB. He says 300RMB and then I said yes. Being the idiot that I was, I had not bothered to convert that before entering the taxi. I later realized it was a $50 taxi ride which is a huge markup simply because I’m a stupid tourist that didn’t do enough research.


I got into the black taxi and gave him the address. He had no idea where it was but he was familiar with the temple that it was close by. I was calm during the ride confident that I’d find my way somehow, but my calmness didn’t last long once I arrived. The taxi driver had no idea where the hostel was and decides to drop me off at the temple to figure out where the hostel was on my own. There was an issue where he didn’t have enough change so I lost even more money, but I didn’t want to deal with it so I walked out.

I walked around the block a few times trying to figure out where I was according the map I had printed out. Nothing made sense. I began thinking I may have to sleep out in the streets that night (it was only 6am). I was exhausted, tired, and jet-lagged which mean I was not in the right state of mind. I had just arrived and I was already lost.

A few hours later stores finally began to open and I asked for directions. While no one spoke English anymore, I eventually found someone that was able to point me in the right direction by pointing to the street I needed to be on. The hostel was down a short narrow road that I would never found on my own. I checked in and immediately slept for a few hours before starting my day. Once I woke up, I felt relaxed once again and quickly got use to my new life out on the road. I’ll never forget saying goodbye to my family for the first time and how unprepared I was for my trip.

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Everything led me to this point

Want to know a secret? After coming home from one-year around the world in 2010, I applied for jobs at retail stores. My blog wasn’t making any money yet and I completely ran out of cash. I was about to walk into BestBuy with my application and thought to myself “what the fuck am I doing?” I turned around and decided that I needed to keep traveling, have freedom, and do things that I love to do. I am so glad I did that.

I started this blog in December 2008 with the intention of writing about my travels. I loved writing but part of what kept me going was creating the site itself. I taught myself everything that had to do with WordPress. Sometimes I would break this site just to see what would happen. I got into the code and experimented while teaching myself everything, all of which I did while traveling.

It grew into an obsession to learn everything there was to know about the technical side of the blog. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about WordPress, programming languages, and the tech scene. I created my own plugins and had always designed and coded my own themes (such as this one). Eventually I found myself helping other travel bloggers throughout Facebook, Twitter, and Email.

For awhile I volunteered to helped anyone that needed assistance with fixing their site, advice on plugins, or code snippets. As more people started travel blogs, so did the demand. Most often I was recommended by other travel bloggers. Demand continued to increase and at some point people were asking how much and started to PAY me to work on their sites. It eventually became part of my regular source of income.

It was 2011 when I started Art of Travel Blogging. Initially it started as a community forum for travel bloggers and technical services. The technical services quickly became popular and the focus of the site.

In January 2013 Art of Travel Blogging merged with Travel Blog Success! This was huge for Dave and I and the start of something really good that we continue today. I took the lead in offering technical services and revamping the website. I’ve learned a lot at TBS. Collaborating as a co-founder in a successful business is no easy task along with having many contractors, making schedules, tasks, supporting our products, building a community, business partners, sponsoring events, and managing our expenses. No other project or business I have ever run taught me as much as being a co-founder of TBS.

When I started traveling around the world writing this blog, I had no idea it would lead me to become a WordPress wizard. I created a path to do things I love.

In April 2014 I took a full-time position at WooThemes to help support a very popular WordPress plugin called WooCommerce. I love my job and the people I work with. The money coming in from the new job has given us the opportunity  to save money and make a home in Seattle.

Would any of this had happened if I didn’t follow my dreams? It’s hard to know but I’m pretty darn happy where everything has lead me.

WooThemes Team
My friends and co-workers. The entire WooThemes crew in San Francisco. Photo credit TheRoamingPint
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I took a break from travel blogging

I had been blogging non-stop since December 2008. There were a few breaks but I always felt extremely guilt not writing an article for longer than a week or two. This blog has by far become the longest “job” I have ever had.

I’m not sure when I started to feel this way but it hit me sometime last year. I didn’t want to my travel blog to be my career anymore. It stopped being fun for me. The problem was that I felt like others would judge me as a failure if I were to stop so I kept on going. I lost motivation and my writing suffered as a result. The content I wrote sucked. It felt like a chore having to write an article here. Rather than writing an article I felt inspired to write, I wrote boring sponsored posts and forced out crappy articles to make my weekly quota of having content up on the site. I hated this.

The feeling was similar to how I felt about my last corporate job. I left that job so I could have freedom to travel and to do what I love to do. I didn’t love it anymore and I hardly had the freedom to travel anymore. I worked 12 hour days and weekends didn’t exist. If I was on the computer, I might be losing money if I don’t do anything else but work. It was horrible because we were living in paradise in Mexico at the time and I didn’t go outside as often as I would have liked.

Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and decided something needed to change. I took a full-time job.

I’m incredibly happy to say that I now work for WooThemes since April 15 as a WooCommerce Ninja. And guess what? I still get to travel the world. In fact, I started my job while we were still living in Mexico. The only major difference is adjusting to a regular schedule which has turned out to be a very healthy thing to do. I LOVE my job and the people I work with.

The job is entirely remote thus I can live and work anywhere in the world. Our home is now in Seattle. We still have the freedom to go anywhere in the world but now we have a home that feels so nice to come back to. I feel like we nailed it. We’re both really happy and in love with Seattle.

Both of our careers have really taken off recently. The new job has allowed us to live a life that we have never had together. We have our own apartment, disposable income, savings, and a place to hang up our sovereigns.

What about the blog? Well you may have noticed (probably not) that I haven’t written an article in months. I feel like I owe it to everyone to at least write an article on what was going on. I’ve recently started to feel motivated to write again. Since this blog is no longer my primary source of income, I can focus on the enjoyable parts of blogging for awhile. Although traffic has only decreased slightly since I stopped writing (thanks Google), I can ignore the numbers. I’ll be doing my best to continue to write but I doubt it will be as frequent as it was in the past.

I love the friends I have made through travel blogging and I love the community we have. I will always be a travel blogger and this site will always exist. I’m simply taking a new direction and a much needed break.

A new era for Art of Adventuring starts now.

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I have officially been recognized as an Italian!

It has been a long and crazy process. I made my first call to the consulate in June 2011 to make the appointment to become recognized as an Italian citizen. Since then it has been a struggle getting paperwork, waiting patiently, and trying to reach out to the right people. I am happy to announce however that I’m now officially recognized as an Italian citizen.

This won’t change our plans right now though. We’re still in Seattle and we plan to stay here for awhile. Initially we had planned on moving to Bologna, Italy but the process took many more years than we expected. We had no idea when this process was going to finish and we couldn’t wait around to settle. It does mean we have the freedom to live in Europe whenever we choose to. I imagine in a few years we’ll travel and live all around Europe.

A special thank you to my family for supporting and helping me through this process. This wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of everyone coming together to find hard to get paperwork from the US and Argentina.

I am also extremely grateful for a wonderful grandmother that is alive and well in my life right now. She was born in Italy and made all of this possible.

To catchup on my journey, read the following articles:

I guess I better start learning Italian…

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We are Moving to Seattle!

On August 11th we’re flying to Seattle!

Read more about it here.

It’s an exciting new adventure for the both of us as it will be the longest contract and home we’ve been in since we’ve met. We’re by no means going to stop traveling but it’s going to be so nice to have a place to call home and hang up our souvenirs while we jet around.

My Italian citizenship is still in the process. I thought I would have had my citizenship by now but the process is taking longer than expected and it’s not something we want to wait for as it could take much longer.

As we call Seattle our new home, we would love to meet anyone else that’s in the area.

If you have recommendations on where to eat or where to go, please let us know in the comments!

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Guachimontones Pyramids

About 45 minutes from the second largest city in Mexico are the Guachimontones Pyramids and appear to not be getting much attention at all.

In 2008 the archaeological site was put on the World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites due to heavy looting in the area. It’s been several years since then so things may have changed dramatically. The clean and modern building and several employees throughout the park tell me there’s been some major funding in the area recently.

The site was discovered in 1970 but important research had only begun in 1996. It’s a relatively new site that doesn’t seem to be very popular despite it being a really cool place to visit.

You can visit as part of a day trip from Guadalajara. We drove there with our rental car from on our way to Puerto Vallarta which was a very easy drive with only a few minutes detour..

Entrance was inexpensive at only $30 MXN (~$2.30 USD) and even cheaper for students.

You only need about an hour to see the whole site. There’s only a few monuments and areas you could go to including a museum but it doesn’t take that long to see it all. There were many couples sitting on the top overlooking the view with a picnic which looked like a great idea had I known. I recommend staying at least a couple hours to take in the peaceful environment and views.

The town below is called Teuchitlán. There seems to have been some funding in the town square area as well with well-kept gardens and new looking street lamps and benches. Perhaps the tourists that come to visit the site are bringing in money to the town. There isn’t much to see in the town itself besides the pyramids so I don’t recommend staying in town for the night. There isn’t much for food options either but a few street vendors along the town square.

Unfortunately the Guachimontones Pyramids has no official website. Your best bet is to review the Wikipedia entry and look where it’s located on Google Maps.

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Guachimontones Pyramids
An empty museum with plenty of information about the area. The museum itself was nice. Keep in mind all the information is in Spanish.
Ballgame Court
Ballgame Court
Circle II
The most well preserved pyramid and is the second largest out of the three.

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Guachimontones Pyramids
Surrounding the pyramid
Guachimontones Pyramids
Smaller pyramid
Guachimontones Pyramids
The entire town of Teuchitlán.

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Guachimontones Pyramids

Guachimontones Pyramids
On top of the largest pyramid overlooking the second largest pyramid. In the background you have the town of Teuchitlán.

[disclosure] We visited Tequila with a complimentary rental car procured by[/disclosure]