I got the chance to interview the bloggers behind one of the best travel blogs for those who are intending to visit Costa Rica. Yeison and Samantha, the bloggers behind My Tan Feet, writes about the places of interest in Costa Rica, a lot of helpful travel tips and some of their personal insights about a variety of experiences that they go through as individuals and as a couple.
They met when Samantha has decided to join an university organization that volunteers in Central America. They met on the first day of the trip, Samantha as one of the volunteers and Yeison as a member of that organization. Their meeting then blossomed into a relationship and after maintaining a long distance relationship for a couple of years, Sam has decided to move to Costa Rica last 2012 to be with Yeison.
And since then, they have been traveling together and documenting their trips to help people who are intending to travel to Costa Rica.
Get to know more about Yeison and Samantha and join them in their adventure at My Tan Feet.
But before you leave this page, check out my short interview with Yeison and Samantha.
How did you discover your passion for travelling?
“First, it was out of necessity. To see each other, Samantha had to travel to Costa Rica because currently Yeison doesn’t have a visa to the US (he’s applied and was rejected a few times).
Travel pretty much was the essence of our relationship so to make it more interesting we would meet in different countries and travel around Central America. We met abroad in Nicaragua so from the beginning, travel was embedded in our relationship.
Yeison is a fairly seasoned traveler as he traveled for his job for a couple years and he discovered that he loved the feeling of being in a new and unfamiliar place.”
What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?
Yeison: “The most horrible experience I’ve ever had was getting robbed at gunpoint. I was with a group of volunteers with a bus full of our things and we stopped at a Subway to get lunch.
When we were all ordering inside, I noticed three men circling our bus and I ran outside to check what was going on. They pointed a gun at me and demanded all the luggage and personal items from the bus.
Shaking, I complied but as soon as they took off, I called the police and they tracked them down and we recovered all of our belongings.”
Samantha: “I had a long layover in Miami airport (12 hours overnight) and I was one of 5 people at my terminal. I had just my carry on and backpack with me and I planned to sleep on the floor with my luggage.
As I was watching a movie on my laptop, this man came over to me and would not leave me alone all night. I wanted to be nice and talk to him at first, but that small talk became much more uncomfortable and it kept going on for the full 12 hours.
Looking back, I really should have called security but I felt so awkward since there was no one else around us. Somehow he found my contact information and kept calling and messaging me and I had to block him.”
What’s the best travel experience that you’ve ever had?
Yeison: “My best experience was when I met Samantha in Nicaragua. I saw her from the back while waiting in line at the hotel and I tapped her on the shoulder, thinking that she was another girl.
But nope, she turned around and it was definitely not the girl who I had originally been looking for. Thank God it was Samantha instead.”
Samantha: “I am obsessed with turtles and have always wanted to see one in the wild (sea turtles). One day, Yeison, me, my brother and our friends went snorkeling in the Golfo de Papagayo in the Pacific side of Costa Rica and we saw three huge turtles! It was mating season for them so they were all up on each other. And to top it off, as I was snorkeling with my brother we saw a whale shark.”
What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling?
Samantha: “For me, it was a big deal coming out of the “bubble.” Growing up in the states, I was used to a certain way of living and traveling truly opened my eyes to the thoughts, lifestyles and routines of other cultures.
I think I realized that everything is so easy in the states and that comfortableness makes you lose a little bit of common sense (at least for me). I learned how to think and act fast in certain situations and to be more of a problem solver.
Traveling also gave me a greater and deeper appreciation for my own culture, being Taiwanese and growing up in the United States.”
Yeison: “The biggest realization is that it doesn’t matter how much money you have to be happy. On my travels, I have seen people with next to nothing but incredibly happy, poor families but the most grateful people, and indigenous people who live on a secluded island but loving life.
Then I have also seen people who have money to feed a whole tribe but still miserable and dysfunctional families with huge houses. Money is important but traveling has taught me that people can be happy with or without a lot of it and I have seen that with my own eyes.
You have to appreciate what you have and keep everything in moderation. Traveling has taught me how to keep a balance in life of work and pleasure and how to be grateful for what I have been given.”
What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
“Our motivation is just the thirst to know more. Our world is huge and even though we are all humans, the way we live, the way we think and the way we survive is completely different everywhere and anywhere you go.
We want to know more about different cultures, languages, and food (favorite part). Traveling is very fun and people see it as a “permanent vacation” but there is more to it than that.
You’re consistently on the road, sometimes in uncomfortable situations, and in unfamiliar places and that it is work as well. It takes a lot of perseverance and determination to keep traveling as much as seasoned travelers do.
On the internet, you can find pictures of places of almost everywhere in the world and when we see those pictures we think “Man I wish I could see that in person.”
It’s important to work hard in life but we don’t want to come to the end of ours and look back just to regret that we didn’t travel and see more of the world.”
This is a silly and hypothetical one. If you would be given a chance to travel with a popular person or a celebrity, who would it be and why?
Samantha: “Shay Mitchell. This is kind of embarrassing but I’m obsessed with the show Pretty Little Liars (it’s my guilty pleasure) and she is one of the actresses on the show. She has great fashion style and I think we have similar personalities so we’d have a lot of fun, just two girls hanging out and traveling together.”
Yeison: “Adam from Man Vs Food, no question about it. I love food so we would have an awesome time talking about food and enjoying it together. Plus I eat a lot so it would be really fun to compete with him in eating competitions around the world.”
Where’s your favorite place in this planet and why?
“Our favorite places on this planet are the places we plan to travel to in the future. It seems backwards but it excites us and makes us want to explore and know more.
Maybe it’s the expectation, or the hype or the fantasies that we get when we think about visiting new places but it is what gives us the most inspiration to keep doing what we’re doing and loving life.”
What’s your best tip for newbie traveler?
“To be flexible. You can plan out every minute of every day but things happen and might not turn out how you think or want. You can’t get upset at everything that doesn’t happen according to plan or else you won’t have a fun trip.
And sometimes the best days you have while traveling are when things are a little bit crazy and unscheduled. You never know what will happen and sometimes you just have to go with the flow.”
What’s the funniest and silliest thing you’ve ever done while travelling?
Samantha: “When I was in Taiwan, I was at this aquarium/cultural center with a camp I had joined for children of parents with Taiwanese descent. There were a few performers dancing and singing outside in the plaza and I decided to join them.
They gave me a traditional hat and bells and everything. I had no idea what song they were singing (it was in Taiwanese not Mandarin) but I went along with it anyways.
It brought me back to my childhood when I would perform traditional Taiwanese dances at Chinese school and I had a great time reliving my childhood memories and just letting loose.”
How do you keep yourself safe on your travels?
“First, we always use our common sense. It seems pretty simple but I have seen many travelers and tourists lose their cell phones, purses, wallets, and other valuable items because they don’t think about it.
They set their phone down on a chair for one minute but that one minute is all a person needs to snatch your phone away. And this can happen wherever you are, in the States, in Canada, in Europe.
When you’re traveling, you always have to remember that you’re in a foreign place. And you can stand out as a tourist so you don’t want to draw unneeded attention to yourself.
If we know a place is more dangerous at night time, we don’t bring anything unnecessary or bring lots of cash. We try to avoid all possible dangerous situations.”
What do you think about yourself?
Yeison: “Well I know I’m a little chunky right now… but I love to eat. I’m a very open minded person and love to try new things which is probably the reason why I love to travel.
I don’t get mad very easily but I do have my grumpy moments. I’m the kind of person who believes in taking chances because you only live once.”
Samantha: “I consider myself a fairly adventurous girl and I don’t say no to many things. I’m a huge animal lover so I am sometimes a little shy around new people and will always want to be in the company of dogs.
Hmm, I would consider myself much more Asian than American (no white washing here) and am very proud of who I am. If I could, I would be in the ocean all day and just swim and hangout with the animals.”
“Our blog is about our travels and adventures together, predominantly in Costa Rica and is meant to be more than just a travel blog but also a lifestyle, personal, opinion, information guide, adventure blog. We want it to be a resource for anyone who is in the same position as us, whether it’s needing tips on how to make a long distance relationship work or what the best beaches are in Costa Rica. One of our main goals is to provide insight to life in Costa Rica from not only a foreigner point of view but a local point of view as well.” – Yeison and Samantha of My Tan Feet
Editor’s Note: All pics are provided by Yeison and Samantha.