One woman's travels
I am fortunate to be exposed to so many new and interesting people throughout my life. Whether it be people I met through diving, our businesses or mom life. I am truly inspired by those around me and I LOVE to share their stories. Perhaps one may even inspire you, my friendly reader.
Kali T. is one such person. I "met" Kali online through a common business (ain't social media grand?) and I've been loving watching her travel all over the world. Her adventures are amazing, her photos are breath taking and her stories are inspiring. She is now a PADI Dive Professional at Captain Morgan's Dive Center in Utila, Honduras and I get to watch her underwater adventures unfold. Kali, like many of us, heard the siren song of the ocean and as many of you know, when the ocean calls, you answer.
Read on to find out more about Kali and gather your own inspiration....
Kali, tell us a little bit about your background. Who are you? Where are you from?
Hello Dive Momma blog readers, I am Dive Master Kali! I am from Virginia, born and raised in a small town called New Kent County. I went to a small liberal arts school for college, Christopher Newport University, where I obtained a business degree. Since graduating I have worked in food and beverage and hospitality. My last "real world" job was working for a major resort in Williamsburg, Virginia. Now, I am currently living in Utila, Honduras, a small island in the Caribbean. I came here to earn my Dive Master certification, the plan was to stay here for two months; 7 months later I'm still here! I work for Captain Morgans Dive Center as a dive master and I also manage the shop's office. I have no date to leave here but would like to be in Africa by the end of 2019.
What inspired you to start travelling the world?
A break up. After we split, I realized that I had been planning my life around his goals and had forgotten about mine. I had been working really hard at saving to buy a home and with that money I decided to invest in myself. I was in the car with two girlfriends on the way to a concert and verbalized, "I could just travel for a year" and then after doing a little research I saw that this could really be an option for me if I was brave enough to just do it! The idea that I no longer had to be tied down to any certain area to live or a job I didn't enjoy was so freeing. I still remember the stoplight where this conversation first began. When I went home on my last visa run (Honduras will only allow you in for 90 days at a time) I was with my mom driving through the city and told her that this intersection is where my life changed.
How many countries have you visited on your travels?
On my big year long trip I went to 33 different countries, toured through 145 towns, had about 15 flights, a handful of train rides, and took way too many buses to count. I started my trip in Belize, worked my way down through Central and South America all the way to Bolivia, then flew to Spain. From there I went to Malta and then traveled most of Eastern Europe. I also touched on a few countries in the Middle East before flying home through Paris.
What are some of your favorite places?
Egypt! I encourage everyone to go there. The history is so rich, the people warm and welcoming, and the diving is amazing!
Peru was beautiful and full of outdoor fun. I did a trek to Machu Picchu, it included mountain biking, white water rafting, ziplining, and hiking the Inca Trail.
Colombia is out of this world. It's not well traveled yet so the locals are super curious about you. I learned to dive in Taganga so the country will always be special to me.
I spent 5 weeks in Guatemala and loved every second of it. Markets, chicken buses, home stays, Spanish lessons, and volunteering with kids filled my time there.
Greece is pure paradise. The food is so fresh and tasty, the Fix (beer) at the local taverns is always cold, and the history is plenty.
What challenges have you faced during your travels?
I had a phone stolen from me while I was sleeping in a hostel in Ecuador. Buying a new phone was not the easiest task on the limited Spanish I knew at the time. Of course transportation could be a challenge. You can wait hours at a bus stop and everyone will say it's coming and it might not show up, or it could be full and then you have to stand the entire time. And overpacking! I can't seem to trim my bag down enough.
What is the most fascinating thing about traveling to you?
The people that I've met or watched along the way. And no matter where in the world you are, people really are good and kind. I can't count how many times a stranger has helped me, whether it was to cross a busy street in Cairo or to tell me to get off the bus at the right stop.
A lot of us have the desire to travel but, there's something holding us back. Money, family obligations, fear. What advice do you have for these people?
JUST DO IT! You will never regret traveling! My first night I just told myself get through the night and you'll be fine. And I was. If big trips scare you, start with something small. You'll be much happier spending your money on experiences instead of things, that I can guarantee. My family have been my biggest supporters, of course they miss me and are nervous for my safety but they also see how much I've grown and that validates everything else for them.
You're currently a PADI Dive Master based in Honduras. What made you decide to enter the world of professional divers?
I learned to dive in Taganga, Colombia. My first confined session I wanted to quit. I stuck with it though and went straight to advanced. I dove in Galapagos, Corfu, Greece, and the Red Sea during my trip. Each time I enjoyed my dives more and more. A girl I met early on in my trip had the idea we go somewhere and do our Dive Master training together. I had looked up flights to Honduras one day when I was getting the blues about my trip ending, and it was cheap. I had heard about Utila from other travelers I met along the way and everyone raved about it. Once we got here we did our Rescue course and started the DMT (Dive Master) program. When I first started it I thought it was just going to be something fun to do for two months and maybe when I traveled long term again I could possibly find a job. I was offered a job at the same shop and jumped at the opportunity to stay on the island longer!
Why did you create a home base in Honduras?
I fell in love with the island. There's some gravitational pull here that sucks people in. Even when backpackers come through with a planned itinerary, they typically stay longer. Also, there's something about doing something that everyone tells you not to do. The mainland of Honduras has been through a lot of political unrest but the island is like a different country. Most people here speak English. I have stayed this long because I work two jobs here and I'm able to cover my bills without dipping into any money I have saved.
What is your favorite thing about diving?
I love watching the excitement of new divers. Most of the divers I lead have just finished their Open Water course and watching them see things underwater for the first time is magical. I also really enjoy seeing how the fish interact with each other and that they have "homes" just like we do!
Thank you Kali! You are so inspiring! I love your advice about traveling, JUST DO IT! Start small and build from there.
Isn't it wonderful how many fascinating people you meet in this world! I completely agree with Kali, wherever you go, people really are kind and helpful. And there's always things to learn from each other.