Welcome to the first official edition of my new monthly series called Pause The Momentos.
Before I move on to what exactly Pause The Momentos is, I should note that this idea of sharing my monthly momentos was inspired by Niall Doherty of Disrupting the Rabblement, one of my favorite blogs and one of the very few bloggers that I actually really enjoy reading.
So what is Pause The Momentos anyway?
Pause The Momentos will be a monthly post with a bunch of short excerpts, stories and moments from my life as I continue to follow my dreams and pursue my goal of living life to the fullest. I think you guys will really enjoy this series and I hope it will have you coming back for more.
Since I’m just starting this series now and it’s April (Seriously? Time flies), it’s going to be one big wrap up of the first quarter of 2015 (Jan-Mar).
As I said, starting next month I’m going to be doing this monthly so be sure to stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter if you want to never miss another Pause The Momentos update.
Oh, January. Where do I begin? At this point I had been living in Puerto Vallarta since September and while I enjoyed the last five months I spent in PV, I just couldn’t stop comparing it with the previous 8 months when living on the opposite coast of Mexico in Playa del Carmen.
I was yearning for Playa like never before but I was in sort of a bind. You see, in just a few months time I found myself with a hell of a lot more responsibilities than I’m used to.
Firstly, for those of you who weren’t following along on Instagram back in October, we rescued a street dog who we ended up naming “Vida” (the Spanish word for life) and slowly but surely nursed her back to life. Our initial thoughts were just to save her and find her a good home but you know how that works. Long story short, we decided to foster her and take her in full time until we could bring her back to the states to find her a good home. Again, you know how that works. Easier said than done.
Secondly, I was dealing with some personal issues (hint: relationship issues) so making the move back to Playa just wasn’t in the cards at the time.
I did, however, book a last minute trip to California to hang with some friends. I remember thinking that it would probably be the best idea for me at the time. Turns out it was.
Running on adrenaline
Arrived in San Diego and instantly felt the excitement of being on the road again. After spending the majority of 2014 living in Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta with very little travel outside of the country, it was like being on the road for the first time again.
I spent my first three days of the trip staying at Hotel Vyvant, my favorite little gem of a hotel in downtown SD. During my time there I explored downtown San Diego, went on a TJ Maxx and Marshalls shopping spree, and met up with my friend James who I had originally met at my first ever travel meetup in San Diego back in 2013.
Reuniting with an old travel friend
Headed up the coast to Encinitas to meet up with my old friend Brennan. I originally met him back in 2011 while trekking a volcano in Nicaragua and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He had just purchased an old camper which was sitting on the side of his little surf shack just steps from the beach in Encinitas. He told me I could crash in the camper as long as I wanted so I took him up on his offer and spent a couple of cold California winter nights in the new rig. Overall I really enjoyed my time in Encinitas and it’s always awesome to catch up with old travel buddies.
Hotel Tonight FTW!
I booked a last minute room at the Best Western Plus in Dana Point using some leftover Hotel Tonight credit that I had lying around. The process couldn’t have been any smoother and it reminded me why I love apps that make travel planning simple.
For those of you who are out of the loop, there’s an app called Hotel Tonight which helps you find discounted hotels for spontaneous last minute stays. I love it and I think you will too. You can save $25 off your first stay if you download the app and enter the promo code: RGARGIULO5.
Finding Peace at Carlsbad State Beach
Spent the evening sitting out on the jetty at Carlsbad State Beach feeling more free and at peace than I had felt in a long, long time. I reminisced about the good old days; from travel memories, to my family and more. Looking back, I did a lot of thinking that evening and the thoughts that ran through my mind were the same ones that helped me solidify a lot of decisions that I had been previously up in the air about. I slowly made my way back to my rental car feeling accomplished. It was a solid night of solitude to say the least. Now it’s time for some Inn-N-Out.
Although I’m not a fan of L.A., there was no way I could pass up meeting up with some old friends of mine who live in Van Nuys. Those of you who have been following along with me over the course of the last few years will probably remember me talking about these guys (Araseli & Mike) when I rolled through LA on my Pacific Coast Bicycle Tour.
In any case, I had an amazing time hanging with them as usual. If I had to describe the weekend in a few words, I would say it was filled with lots of laughs, delicious food and great conversation.
After a short stay in L.A., I decided to head out to the coast to visit one of the best destinations on Earth when it comes to people watching. No, really. If you have never strolled Venice beach, you’re really missing out on some of the highest quality entertainment that California has to offer.
During my two days in Venice Beach I wandered the promenade in attempt to take in as much of the weirdness as possible. I spent a lot of my time hanging out at the Venice Beach Skatepark watching people of all ages shred the bowl and grind the handrails. It brought me back to the old days when I used to cruise around on a skateboard although the only difference was that I was horrible at it.
One of the highlights of my day at Venice Beach Skatepark was when I got to watch Asher Bradshaw, (a 10 year old professional skateboarder) tear the park up and show up all the older guys. Fun Fact: Asher is the youngest person ever to land a 900 (a 2½ revolution aerial spin) and the 12th person ever to land the trick (Tony Hawk was the 1st to land the trick).
Oh, and did I mention the 1960’s Vintage Trailer that I booked through Airbnb? While it was a little cold at night due to the lack of insulation, I must say it was hands down one of the most unique Airbnb stays to date.
Pedal to the metal
Excuse the quality of the photo. Typical camera phone night shot. Anyway, I finally got the opportunity to reunite with my best friend from high school who now happens to be living in Southern California. He rolled up to dinner in his new Ferrari 458 Italia as I pulled up in my Toyota Corolla rental car. Ugh.
After dinner we took a late night whip in the Ferrari and all I can say is the car is absolutely insane. The only thing I can somewhat compare it to is when you’re on a roller coaster and it’s rolling slowly and all of a sudden it kicks into high gear and the back of your head hits the headrest and you feel as if it’s glued there. Yeah, it’s that insane. Not to mention that it sounds like a racecar when you step on the gas pedal. Oh wait, it basically is one.
After spending two weeks in California, I flew back to Puerto Vallarta for a week to grab my belongings and wrap up some business I needed to take care of. Overall, it was a great to be back in PV, at least for the moment. The week went a lot smoother than expected and I genuinely enjoyed spending what I would later find out to be my last few days with someone I spent the last 7.5 years with. After saying my goodbyes, I jetted off to Phoenix for Superbowl Weekend.
My friend rented this 6 bedroom mansion (shown in the collage above), complete with it’s own private beach bar, guesthouse, heated pool, and more. Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos from the weekend but what I can say is that it was a damn good time.
On Friday night we hit up the Playboy Party at the W where we rubbed elbows with the rich and famous and their young, smoking hot playmate girlfriends. At one point I was standing next to Shaquille O’Neal and his girl who looked like she could have been his daughter due to the height difference and the fact that she graduated college in 2010. Nelly hosted and performed at the party alongside Jamie Foxx, and a list of other celebs. While I wouldn’t normally listen to Nelly, it was cool to hear some old throwback tracks from highschool.
Saturday consisted of a day at the Phoenix Open which was an absolute mess. The entire golf course was covered in beer cans, and empty food containers. The place looked like one giant landfill full of stumbling drunks. Coincidentally enough, Waste Management was the main sponsor of the tournament.
On Superbowl Sunday I got to watch my team, the New England Patriots win their fourth Superbowl under the Brady/Belichick era. What a weekend!
Bye bye Phoenix, Hello Playa!
After a few crazy days in Arizona, I hopped on a flight to Cancun and then on to Playa del Carmen. Sigh. I really wanted to feel beyond excited to be back in Playa but unfortunately my head was in a completely different place.
Prior to arriving to Playa I reached out to a good friend of mine who offered to rent me a room in his very centrally located two bedroom condo. I jumped at the opportunity as it meant I wouldn’t have to hit the streets looking for an apartment for myself and I also wouldn’t have to lock myself into a lease knowing that I’ll be heading to Europe for the summer.
As usual, it took a couple weeks to get settled into Playa. I don’t know why that’s always the case, but it is. I ran around doing errands, picking up the necessities, meeting up with old friends and even started to delve into Playa’s nightlife scene.
It was just two days after the worst Valentine’s day in history that I was invited to visit Sian Ka’an with some friends. Beautiful white sand beaches, friends, drinks, food and fun in the sun. I mean, how can you pass that up?
To say I had a good time that day would be an understatement. We spent the entire afternoon chatting, laughing, drinking, telling stories and even practicing handstands. Oh and myself and a friend may or may not have polished off an entire bottle of Kraken that afternoon.
Fun Fact: Kraken Rum featured my photo on their Instagram.
Pause The Moment x The Blonde Abroad
There were many memorable highlights in the month of March but unfortunately, I can’t speak about all of them. That being said, one of my favorite memories from March was a 48 hour visit from Kiersten of The Blonde Abroad.
We took full advantage of the short time we had together by starting our first night together on the town with a dinner at Aguachiles and post dinner drinks at Dolores, one of my favorite little dive bars in Playa.
The following morning we hopped in a colectivo and headed south to Cenote Azul, one of my favorite cenotes in the Riviera Maya. We spent a couple hours wading in the pools of the cenote and snapping some photos before heading back to Playa. As if we didn’t get enough color, we headed over to Mamita’s Beach Club to finish off a long day of fun in the sun.
The following morning we headed straight for the rooftop pool at the top of The Palm Hotel in Playa. While I normally wouldn’t spend 300 pesos for a chair in the sun, I have to admit this is hands down one of the best rooftop pools in Playa. As for the 300 pesos, it turns out that it’s not actually a cost for the chair but more of a credit towards the food and drinks you consume during the day. At the end of the day you end up spending somewhere around $20 for food, drink and sunshine at one of my favorite hangout spots in Playa. Money well spent.
Oh, and I should mention that the rooftop at the Palm is an amazing spot at night as well. Friday night is ladies night (free drinks 8pm-11pm) so guys, if you’re looking for a good (cheap) place to bring your date, this is the spot. You heard it here first.
It had been 10 months since I last visited home. I know, long time, huh? If there’s one thing I miss when I’m living abroad, it’s my family. I’m a family guy and I’ve always been one. While I might not come across as someone who is sensitive to these types of things, I can confirm that my family is the number one thing I miss when I’m on the road.
Why did I book my flight back to Boston in March knowing it was going to still be winter?
I’m not sure there’s anything I hate more than winter and this trip back home really sealed the deal for me. Not only do I hate the cold, snow and ice but I also came to the realization that there’s nothing for me back home other than my family and literally one or two friends. Would I make a short one week visit to Boston during the summer months? For sure. Winter? Never again.
My trip back to Boston was slightly uneventful as usual. Most of my time was spent either reuniting with family or going on shopping sprees for new clothes and new tech gadgets. Because, you know, buying clothes and technology in Mexico is not only outrageously expensive but your options are also quite limited.
During my time home I picked up a bunch of new clothes (I’m single. Gotta stay fresh), a pair of Van’s shoes, a pair of Nike SB Eric Koston 2 Max’s, a GoPro HERO4 Silver, a Tortuga Packable Daypack (highly, highly recommended), and an Anker Astro E5 Portable Battery Charger. Oh, and I dropped $1,000 on a new iPhone 6 Plus (64GB unlocked). Yikes.
Enough of my expensive trip home and back to what’s important. I was happy to be home to celebrate my brothers birthday this year. It’s not often that I’m home to celebrate anyones birthdays these days so it was really nice to get together with the fam.
My trip lasted exactly one week (March 12-19th). By the time the 19th came along, I was in a rush to get back home (to Playa) to catch some much needed rays and pick up where I left off with my new friends, my workout routine, new adventures, beach days and my new found love for Latin women. Nevermind that last part, there’s nothing new about it.
The photo above pretty much sums up the end of the month of March. I’m on FIRE!
I had just locked in two huge business deals that pretty much made my year and it was time to celebrate. My friend and fellow travel blogger/vlogger Mike Corey of Kick The Grind happened to be in town for the weekend with his girl and some friends so I invited them to come join my friends and I for a night out on the town.
We began the night at Dolores, made a quick pitstop into Shots Factory to suck down some shots called “Sex on Fire”, and got a table at Abolengo and danced to some old school tunes. After Abolengo we headed over to L’ambassad for a couple cheap litros before capping off the night at La Santanera, the best late night spot in town (generally doesn’t get going til’ around 1:30/2AM and runs til 6AM).
Well, that just about wraps up the first quarter of 2015. While it started off a little bit rocky, everything is now going smoother than ever before. Life has always been good, but it’s never been better than right now.
For those of you wondering what’s next, here’s the deal. I’ll be in Playa until late May and then I’m heading to Europe for June, July and part of August. After Europe, I plan on making Playa del Carmen my permanent home base. I will still be traveling a lot, the only difference is that I’ll be using Playa as my base moving forward. More details to come. Stay tuned!
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