Chapter 1: First month in the City of Boulder

Photo Credit: Mona A Ayoub

Today marks the first month since I moved to Boulder. I have left my whole family, my friends, my past and everything else. It looks like a new beginning right? Crossing seas and oceans, passing over continents, and letting go.

Why boulder? Because I am here for my non-profit business that I Co-founded with my brother from another mother, Andrew Baron.

Well, If am going to talk about the first month, I should split it into two parts: Business and Personal parts.

For business, the first two weeks were really stressful and overwhelming. I had to deal with pending issues and work hard to make things happen and I did. Its an exciting and challenging experience. I really likes it, managing things overseas.

As you probably know, Boulder is well known for being one of the best ideal cities in the States for different aspects such as the quality of life, its weather, its people, and its openness. Everyone is warmly welcomed over here!

Exactly a year ago, I was spending my vacation in Nice, France and visiting a person that I truly loved. At the same time, I was preparing and thinking about my first trip to the United States of America. I finally made it on the 23rd of September 2016 were my feet ever touched America’s land. Since then i fell in love with this country. I got to visit Four States in only 15 days. I was lucky to get to know in person bunch of great people like Ginger in LA and my great friends Natalie and Julia in Nashville. In Boulder I spent 9 days and was the tourist. Anyway, my first trip over here was magical. I may need to write another post about it.

Lets talk now about my personal experience throughout this month. I got to follow a new routine in my daily life. I am waking up early at 6 am, working out, having my breakfast, taking a shower (of course) and going to work. Let me explain to you how it works:

Waking up early at 6 am is something I haven’t experienced for almost 4 years now. I feel more energized and healthy for waking up early as well as sleeping early.

Here comes the best part, working out every morning for an hour and being lucky AF for witnessing the sunrise every day with magnificent landscape views. This part is a whole different story! OMG! I feel so blessed for this grace I am living daily. Something really special about Boulder is that you get the chance to see the mountains from any spot. I am sharing some of the breath-taking landscape views in this post so you know exactly what I am talking about.

Boulder is very well known for its healthy food. Almost everyone here is vegan or vegetarian. This is what I was looking for years! Its the best place to start a new diet and clean your body. Since I have been here, I have eaten chicken twice and meat only once. I am looking forward to cut off chicken and meat. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find places to eat what you desire. There are plenty of restaurants serving all types of cuisines. You’ve got your options!

Going to work here is one of favorite things to talk about. I get to either bike it to work or bus it. Biking here is incredibly exciting! You get to see amazing natural scenes and ride the bike trails which are perfectly networked. However, its hard to use bikes in winter, so taking the bus is a good substitution.

Wondering about the social life in Boulder? Ha. Its so easy to build your own social life over here. As I mentioned before, everyone is welcomed here. You only need to move your butt, go out and socialize. Personally, I don’t recommend using social apps. Nothing is better than meeting people at work place, meet ups, events, cafe shops, bars or even on the street. I made cool new friends over here and we hang out about 3 times in a month. I got to watch the American football game with them last Thursday and it was really fun. My friend Will is going to teach me the rules so I can enjoy watching it.

Speaking about football, yesterday I had a work meeting at the Broncos stadium in Denver which is one of the best football teams here. I think they won the Super Ball last season. Well, that’s pretty good information for a person who spent her whole life in the Middle East. No?

Nightlife in Boulder is kinda dandy. Again, it all depends on your preferences. There are few night clubs, variety of bars and breweries. My favorite place so far is Boulder House, place where I met my friends, and The Hookah House. But if you are a picky person and you’re into concerts, Denver is your next destination.

During this month I got to witness the Solar Eclipse of the Sun which was so epic. I also met with my friend Alex, her husband and her dog in Denver. Not to forget the amazing picnic at the Eben Park, Boulder Creek with Ash and Katie.

Only one thing to take into consideration is that Boulder is a bit expensive than other cities but it worth living here. I feel relieved currently for living with my bro, Andrew until I hook up myself with a roommate or something.

I am extremely excited for the upcoming month to explore new things, do more activities and socialize more. The fact that I am going to be here in Fall and Winter is awesome.

So excited to write the Chapter Two and share it with everyone.

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When Yoga, Arts and Music Meet Humanity

When Yoga, Arts and Music Meet Humanity

The first thing that comes up to your mind, what is the link between Yoga and humanitarian activities? It was the first time I hear about Yoga Activism when Shayma defined it to me with full excitement after 3al Autostrad humanitarian day with refugees that took place on May 7th 2016 in one of the Syrian refugee camps at Beqaa Valley – Lebanon.

Shayma and Sharon, Yoga teachers with their friend Myrna had a strong eager to do something for humanity, specifically with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. I met Sharon couple of months ago to introduce her to Humanwire. It was a cold rainy Thursday evening after her Yoga class at Shiva Lila Yoga Space. We brainstormed together many ideas until we came up with a good one which is to choose one camp and specify their needs and wants. Throughout the follow ups, I was astonished by the excitement and motivation the three ladies had to make this event happens. Our target was a small camp which includes 10 tents with around 15 families.

Four months later, everything we planned for was ready for the big day. By everything I mean pretty enough food parcels, bread boxes, hygiene kits, brand new clothes, toys, colors and coloring books for kids to sustain them for minimum two months.

Our day started with a meet and greet between the refugee families and the organizers, volunteers as well as friends. Toys and brand new clothes were distributed to the kids. Looking through the kids eyes while hearing their names to receive toys and clothes bags was completely a different happiness perspective.

The peak time was when all the kids gathered around Shayma to participate in a basic Yoga session. The scene was indescribable! It was like the kids were waiting such kind of activities to release their energy. Everyone was counting, smiling and enjoying the session. “During and after the event the feeling was priceless, cannot express it” Shayma says. “I have always wanted to do any kind of humanitarian work. But I got really inspired and decided to do something when I was introduced to Yoga Activism” she added.

Humanwire’s minivan arrived with food parcels, bread and hygiene kits. Volunteers from Salam NGO, organizers and friends all worked together to make sure every family get its parcels. Myrna took the lead in carrying boxes and she seemed tired less and extremely happy. Later on she grabbed the opportunity to do a face painting session for kids and draw giggles on their angelic faces. “3al autostrad was not an event, it was a life changing experience.” Myrna says. “The purpose was designed as an aid program for the refugees, raising funds to provide them with the necessary supplies they need, preparing a long day to be spent with the families and kids entertaining them and maybe put a smile on each of their faces and so it was.”

Belime band joined us and began to play music. They absolutely added a sweet taste to the atmosphere; everyone was singing and dancing. Sharon was entertaining the kids eventually all the day.  “I felt that by being at the camp, surrounded by all these refugees, I was not wasting oxygen on earth – on contrary, I was actually making a difference because helping others in always possible. It is the most genuine and rewarding feeling ever! 3al Austostrad is just the beginning!” She said.

Lunch time has arrived and refugees were ready to grab their plates. We have distributed enough food portions per each family. A unique incident grabs everyone’s attention, most of them refused to eat until the rest of the family members are gathered. This action touched us and taught us a moral that family comes first, no matter in which situation we are.

Group images, selfies and videos were a must before saying goodbye to cherish and save the moments. “None of the event organizers nor of the volunteers who participated wanted to leave” Myrna said. This event is planned to occur on yearly basis. Join the folk and follow your heart. In humanity we are one.

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How Syrian Refugee Crises Changed My Life?

How Syrian Refugee Crises Changed My Life?

It’s pretty normal how the Syrian refugee crises had a huge impact on Lebanese citizens whether positively or negatively. I am one of millions been influenced by the refugee crises.

At the beginning of the war, my head couldn’t accept the fact that a war is happening in Syria; the land of peace. I was stubborn that Syrian citizens shouldn’t leave their country, shouldn’t let strangers interfere with the biggest lie of “Arab spring” and devastate Syria. Regardless whether I was right or not, deep down there was a volcano to explode.

Unfortunately, in Lebanon there are two parties, one support the Syrian revolution and the other extremely with Assad regime. I bet most of these people never thought of how it feels when you live inside a tent on a stormy day with no blanket or oil to get warm.

Personally I was passing through a serious dilemma and was not able to figure out who’s telling the truth until I began working with a local Non-Governmental Organization, Solace Foundation in an initiative called Lebanese for Refugees (L4R). At first, I worked as a Social Media Coordinator for a period of one year. I was virtually involved until the first distribution trip to the camps on January 2015 (Campaign to keep them warm)

This trip was a turning point for me. It took me 4 years to realize how difficult and miserable to be a refugee. Back in 2006, Lebanon passed through 33 horrible days! A war between Hizbollah and Israel. I am one of those who ran away to Syria during that period. I started asking myself, what if the 2006 war lasted for 4 years? What if my family and I were obliged to live in a camp with no means of support? Are we able to sustain? Plenty of questions pumped up my brain and wasn’t able to sleep for 2 days after the distribution trip.

A year passed and many things have changed in my personality, specifically after moving to Humanwire and began working as Executive Director of Operations. Being in direct contact with these people daily is so much different than watching them on television or reading their stories on social media platforms. It’s much more miserable and much more harder than you think. For instance, one family may pass two days without having anything to eat and sleep under the rain drops coming from tiny holes on the ceiling. This is horrible!

Working on the field  and following up on day-to-day operations with refugees, got me to change my perspective toward life as a whole. I turned out to be more grateful for everything I have, more humble and precisely a positive person.

Nothing is compared to the love, respect and prayers I receive from these beautiful souls whom they deserve to live peacefully in their own land.

Where Can You Travel with Your Brazilian Passport?

Where Can You Travel with Your Brazilian Passport?

Have you ever thought of traveling around the world with a Brazilian Passport?

Today, I will help you discover which countries around the world do not require a VISA (Visa-free) or require a VISA on arrival.


AFRICA

  1. Botswana (Visa-free for 90 days)
  2. Burkina Faso (Visa on Arrival for 1 month)
  3. Burundi (Visa on Arrival for 3 months)
  4. Comoros (Visa on Arrival)
  5. Cote d’lvoire (E-Visa)
  6. Ethiopia (Visa on Arrival)
  7. Gabon (E-Visa)
  8. Kenya (E-Visa)
  9. Madagascar (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  10. Malawi (Visa on Arrival)
  11. Mauritania (Visa on Arrival)
  12. Mauritius (Visa-free for 90 days)
  13. Namibia (Visa-free for 3 months)
  14. Rwanda (E-Visa)
  15. Senegal (Visa-free for 90 days)
  16. Somalia (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  17. South Africa (Visa-free for 90 days)
  18. Sawziland  (Visa-free for 30 days)
  19. Tanzania (Visa on Arrival)
  20. Togo (Visa on Arrival for 7 days)
  21. Uganda (Visa on Arrival)
  22. Zambia (Visa on Arrival for 90 days)
  23. Zimbabwe (Visa on Arrival for 3 months)


ASIA

  1. Armenia (Visa-free for 90 days)
  2. Cambodia (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  3. India (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  4. Indonesia (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  5. Malaysia (Visa-free for 3 months)
  6. Maldives (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  7. Mongolia (Visa-free for 90 days within 180 days)
  8. Nepal (Visa on Arrival for 90 days)
  9. Philippines (Visa-free for 59 days)
  10. Russia (Visa-free for 90 days for tourism purposes)
  11. Singapore (Visa-free for 30 days)
  12. South Korea (Visa-free for 90 days)
  13. Tajikistan (Visa on Arrival for 45 days)
  14. Thailand (Visa-free for 3 months)
  15. Timor-Leste (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
AUSTRALIA
  1. Australia (Online visitors E600-Visa, May apply online)
  2. Fiji (Visa-free for 4 months)
  3. Marshall Islands (Visa on Arrival for 90 days)
  4. Micronesia (Visa-free for 30 days)
  5. New Zealand (Visa-free for 90 days)
  6. Palau (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  7. Papua New Guinea (Visa on Arrival for 60 days)
  8. Samoa (Entry Permit Arrival for 60 days)
  9. Solomon Islands (Visitors permit on Arrival for 3 months)
  10. Tonga (Visa on Arrival for 31 days)
  11. Tuvalu (Visa on Arrival for 1 month)
  12. Vanuatu (Visa-free for 30 days)


EUROPEAN UNION

  1. Austria (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  2. Belgium (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  3. Bulgaria (Visa-free for 90 days within 180 days)
  4. Croatia (Visa-free for 90 days within 180 days)
  5. Cyprus (Visa-free for 90 days within 180 days)
  6. Czech Republic (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  7. Denmark (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  8. Estonia (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  9. Finland (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  10. France (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  11. Germany (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  12. Greece (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  13. Hungary (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  14. Ireland (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  15. Iceland (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  16. Italy (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  17.  Latvia (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  18. Lithuania (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  19. Liechtenstein (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  20. Luxembourg (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  21. Malta (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  22. Netherlands (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  23. Norway (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  24. Poland (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  25. Portugal (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  26. Romania (Visa-free for 90 days within 180 days)
  27. Slovakia (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  28. Slovenia (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  29. Spain (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  30. Sweden (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  31. Switzerland (Visa-free for 3 months during a 6 months period following the date of first entry to the Schengen area)
  32. United Kingdom (Visa-free for 6 months)
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES (Outside EU)
  1. Albania (Visa-free for 90 days)
  2. Andorra (Visa-free for 90 days)
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina (Visa-free for 90 days)
  4. Georgia (Visa-free for 360 days)
  5. Macedonia (Visa-free for 90 days)
  6. Monaco (Visa-free for 90 days)
  7. Montenegro (Visa-free for 90 days)
  8. San Marino (Visa-free for 90 days)
  9. Serbia (Visa-free for 90 days)
  10. Ukraine (Visa-free for 90 days)
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
  1. Bahrain  (Visa on Arrival for 14 days, can be obtained online)
  2. Egypt (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  3. Iran (Visa on Arrival for 30 days)
  4. Jordan (Visa on Arrival conditions apply)
  5. Lebanon (Visa on Arrival for 90 days)
  6. Oman (Visa on Arrival)
  7. Tunisia (Visa-free for 3 months)
  8. Morocco (Visa-free for 3 months)
LATIN AMERICA
  1. Argentina (90 days, ID Card Valid)
  2. Bolivia (90 days, ID Card Valid)
  3. Chili (90 days ID Card Valid)
  4. Colombia (90 days ID Card Valid)
  5. Ecuador (90 days ID Card Valid)
  6. Guyana (Visa-free for 3 months)
  7. Paraguay (90 days, ID Card Valid)
  8. Peru (90 days, ID Card Valid)
  9. Suriname (Visa-free for 90 days)
  10. Uruguay (3 months, ID Card Valid)
  11. Venezuela (90 days, ID Card Valid)
NORTH AMERCIA
  1. Antigua and Barbuda (Visa-free for 1 month)
  2. Bahamas (Visa-free for 3 months)
  3. Barbados (Visa-free for 6 months)
  4. Belize (Visa-free for 1 month)
  5. Costa Rica (Visa-free for 90 days)
  6. Dominica (Visa-free for 21 days)
  7. Dominican Republic (Visa-free for 90 days)
  8. El Salvador (Visa-free for 3 months)
  9. Grenada (Visa-free for 3 months)
  10. Guatemala (Visa-free for 90 days)
  11. Haiti (Visa-free for 3 months)
  12. Honduras (Visa-free for 3 months)
  13. Jamaica (Visa-free 90 days for business, 6 month for tourism)
  14. Mexico (Visa-free for 180 days)
  15. Nicaragua (Visa-free for 90 days)
  16. Panama (Visa-free for 180 days)
  17. Trinidad and Tobago (Visa-free for 90 days)

I hope these information were useful.
Thank you!

Mona 🙂