Meet our Rookie Traveler!!

We have reached our $300 mark!!!! As promised, I would like to introduce you to our Rookie Traveler!

Meet Christina!

Christina
John Witherspoon was on one of my first flights! This MUST be a sign!

“My name is Christina S. I am 25 years old, the youngest of 4, and new to travel. Growing up, I was terrified to fly because my dad would always say that he hated flying and it installed so many fears in me. My family took many vacations, but no matter how far we went, we ALWAYS drove. I was 22 years old when I got on my first flight and that opened my eyes up to a new world! It made me realize that my parents choice to not fly didn’t have to influence my choice to fly. However, I still have a slight fear of flying out of the country for the first time. But I am excited for this opportunity. I bought my passport JUST FOR THIS TRIP!

This opportunity means so much to me for a couple reasons.

Reason #1: I am a young mom. I was 17, fresh out of high school, and having a baby. This caused me to drop out of college after only one semester in order to find a job to support my daughter. I love being a mom, but single motherhood has brought on many challenges that have caused me to sacrifice many opportunities.

Reason #2: I am out of touch with my heritage. My father is African American and my mother is Honduran. My mother has never taken me to visit Honduras, probably because she has not gone back herself. But she had no desire, so I had no desire. But, it’s worse than that. . .My mom, her extended family, even my two oldest siblings speak fluent Spanish. I have tried for many years and taken many classes, and yet I still am unable to speak the language. Although this trip is to the Dominican Republic and not to Honduras, it is a culture that will make me feel that much closer to my own.

To all of the current backers and future backers of this trip, THANK YOU SO MUCH!! You’re truly changing my life.”

We still need your support to make this trip happen. Every dollar helps and will be rewarded with a gift from Insert(VERB)Here! Check out the video and details in the donation site to learn more. To donate to this project, click here.

©2013 by Ayana Martin

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You Are Cordially Invited

You are cordially invited to an open conversation with me, Ayana Noel Martin – Founder of Insert(VERB)Here. I received a lot of positive feedback 2 weeks ago when I announced the first project “Verb: HELP me give a trip away!“. I am deeply grateful for the help I have received thus far. But the action behind the positivity seems to have waned a little bit, and I would like to address that.

You may see the project and think “It’s a great idea. A cause wanting to help other people, trying to change the world. Noble, but cliché noble.” I get it. I’m one more pawn in the game…except I’m not. I’m the little engine that could. I believe in this more than anyone else, as I should. And when I get to the Bridge of Deliverance, I will cross it and deliver the exact message I wanted to make in the first place. I am dedicated to this mission and will be as creative as possible to make these ends meet.

You may also see the project and think, “I really want to help, but my contribution wouldn’t be anything significant so it won’t matter” or “Other people will help, so what difference will one person like me make?” I know those thoughts all too well. But I have learned that one person can make a difference. If research science has taught me anything, it’s that even a small difference can be statistically significant! (Shout out to the math, stats, and science majors who can appreciate that p<0.05!)

BARELY SIGNIFICANT

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credit: whatshouldwecallgradschool.tumblr.com

Since we are not dealing with the objective numbers, but rather subjective feelings, EVERY one makes a HUGE impact. So when I say, “I need YOUR help“, I mean that personally.

So let’s start an open conversation. Ask me any questions you’d like! I am willing to be an open book to prove to you that you can bet on me! Whatever it takes to assure you that this is a great (not just good, but great) investment. So ask away! You can post questions here on the blog, on Facebook, or Twitter (@_insertverbhere). I look forward to your questions!

©2013 by Ayana Martin

Verb: HELP me give a trip away!

The goal of Insert(VERB)Here is to challenge personal limits and fears. And I really want to give a great experience to someone who may not have had access to opportunities before.

I have designed the very first travel project of Insert(VERB)Here and selected one young lady who has barely left her own backyard! – Check out the video here – I am taking the challenge to the extreme: OVERSEAS! (What’s more out of the box than foreign soil?!) This project encompasses 3 goals for personal transformation.

1) Empathy Training (understanding the states of other people)
2) Eliminating stereotypes and stigmas (Black women do it too)
3) Public Service (passing on the blessings)

The entire trip will be documented with blogs, photos, and videos for all of you – my family, friends, and friends-to-come – to use as a blueprint to getting out to explore the world. And if you can’t get out and explore the world just yet, you can live vicariously through us until you can!

I need YOUR help to make this happen. You can donate any dollar amount because every little bit helps! Every dollar will receive a reward from Insert(VERB)Here. The tiers are as follows:

Bronze Level: $1-25 Insert(VERB)Here Magnet
Silver Level: $26-75 Postcards (7) from each day of the trip + Bronze Level benefit
Gold Level: $76-100 Insert(VERB)Here T-shirt + Silver Level benefit
Platinum Level: $101-250 Authentic personalized souvenir (TBA) + Bronze Level benefit
Diamond Level: $251-500 Skype date + Insert(VERB)Here T-shirt

Donate at https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/dT9A8 !! Live updates will also be posted on the Fundrazr campaign page!

©2013 by Ayana Martin

The Climax – DR Part 3

We apologize for the long cliffhanger! The lives of a business owner and graduate student are never dull. But we’re back with the final leg of our story. Enjoy!

After our miraculous arrival to Hotel Jimenoa, we were certainly prepared for any adventure that came our way. First up: River Rafting! When we first pulled up to the ranch, we had a multitude of emotions in us, mainly feeling courageous and invincible. We wanted to get our gear on and show that river who’s boss ASAP! Well we had to jump through some hoops first. First things first, we had to marry the adventure (no pre-nup!) and sign our lives away on the liability release form. As one of our guides, Max, was explaining the form, all we heard was “you could lose an eye, a limb, or your life” (not literally those words but that was the gist of what he was telling us). Alex, still floating on her cloud of courage, quickly signed the form while visions of surrender danced in Ayana’s head. As Ayana hesitated to grab the pen, Alex forcefully advised her to “(Wo)Man up and take it like a G!” After Ayana married the adventure, Max escorted us to the provided breakfast buffet (equivalent to our last supper???).

After breakfast, we watched a demonstration video apparently produced by the Dominican version of GQ. With strong men like that to rescue us from any disasters, all our worries dissolved. However, as we took a look around at our actual guides for the day, most of them looked like high school and college students (X_x). All panic flooded back to us as we headed to our launch point. As we got closer and closer, our nervous chatter quickly grew to silence. When we reached the launch point, Max assigned us to our boats and guides. God heard our silent prayers because our boat assignment included us and 3 guides! (The other boat had 4 tourists and 1 guide.) Alex was seated in the front of the raft next to David-in-the-front, Ayana was seated in the middle next to Wiz, and the raft was steered by David-in-the-back. We reviewed the 4 words that would keep us safe on the river: Pa’lante (paddle forward), Pa’tras (paddle backwards), Pare (stop paddling), and Abajo (get down in the boat). As David-in-the-back was giving a final overview of the directions for the river, Ayana had a question about what to do with the paddle in the event of falling out of the boat (since they made it VERY clear that this could happen). David-in-the-front’s response: “F*@K the paddle!” Well, alriiiiight! So we FINALLY get to get our feet wet, literally J

As we are paddling up the river, we see our first rapid approaching. PA’LANTE!! PA’LANTE!! (This was our theme song) We feel the rush of excitement as we survive the first rapid, thinking, “That wasn’t so bad!” We conquer a few more small rapids (and by conquer, we mean ABAJO while our guides paddle us to safety), and our guides inform us that our break is just around the riverbend! What they fail to tell us is there is a HUGE rapid right before our break spot (-__-) When we see what is ahead of us, we are filled with terror and IMMEDIATELY begin to paddle backwards (PA’TRAS)!!!  But our efforts didn’t make a dent in the forward momentum of the raft. We knew it was serious when our guides shouted in unison ABAJO!!! We ducked down just in time, but that didn’t save us from rolling in the deep. Alex’s description of the rapid: “It was like we were a tiny dinghy going over Niagara Falls!” The whole raft was submerged! David-in-the-front held onto Alex and Wiz held onto Ayana to keep us in the boat. But the pressure of the water was too much! When the boat forced its way back to the surface, we lost Wiz and David-in-the-back! Ayana was screaming for Alex and Alex was pale and bawling (you could actually tell the tears from the water on her face)! Alex’s account of the horror: “I saw Jesus! I met Him! HE IS REAL! I saw my whole life pass. . .I saw my favorite moments with my family, and my friends! I just knew I was dead!” When Wiz and David-in-the-back made it back into the raft, we floated to the small bank where we could break from the rafting. We both got on hands and knees to kiss the ground and try to recollect ourselves before we had to get back in the boat.

While we sat, David-in-the-back climbed up a small cliff overlooking the river. We thought he was up there to enjoy a nice view and breeze, but in the blink of an eye he had disappeared! We heard a crash below in the water and realized he jumped! Wiz and David-in-the-front had also jumped from two smaller cliffs. As they swam back onto the bank, they coaxed us to do the same. The other tourists had joined us and gladly went to the cliffs. We couldn’t look like cowards after the mom and daughter team jumped, so we ascended the smallest cliff, took a deep breath, and took the leap of faith hand in hand. We became re-invigorated for adventure after the rush of the jump. We wanted to experience the highest peak so we climbed the peaks one more time. Ayana, being slightly afraid of heights, couldn’t make it past the middle peak and stopped there. Alex dared to go further. She jumped with the daughter and experienced the longest fall of her 23 years.  Meanwhile, Ayana was stuck at the middle cliff because the way down isn’t as easy as the way up. Alex came up to jump with Ayana because the break was over, and jumping was the fastest way down. As we floated towards the sand bank where our raft was, Ayana slipped off the edge and was swept downstream! Alex tried to grab her and pull her back, but was swept away too! David-in-the-back swam after us while David-in-the-front and Wiz got the raft to pull us into. Well David-in-the-back must have been a fish in his former life, because he got to us with a quickness and got BOTH of us to the raft! We also never should have doubted the strength of our guides. David-in-the-front pushed Ayana into the raft with so much force that Wiz had to catch her. David-in-the-front dead-lifted Alex out of the water in one fell swoop. The Dominican GQ productions ain’t got nothing on our guides! The rest of the rapids were modest. When we made it to the end, our guides were showered with besos for saving us after cliff jumping and getting us to the end without our boat flipping.

Once back at the ranch, we had a Victory Lunch, and a few cuba libres to reward our bravery. Alex was still shaken up from meeting Jesus and was ready to go home. David-in-the-front had taken a liking to Alex and wanted to talk a little longer after lunch. Ayana had a mystery admirer resembling Johnny Bravo who also wanted to chat for a little bit. We had no other adventures planned, and Ayana still wanted to explore the city. Johnny Bravo and David wanted to take us out dancing later that evening, and agreed to pick us up from our hotel on motorcycles! Well when they came to get us from the hotel, David was there with a friend, but Johnny Bravo was nowhere to be found. David brought his friend, Juice, instead. They walked us out to their motorcycles, and we must admit, we were impressed! They were sleek and clean, plus all the lights worked and all the odometers moved! The ride was invigorating. Wind in our hair, open road, hands wrapped around a cutie 😉 When we got to the bar, it was cuba libres for everyone.  Things got a little interesting when Johnny Bravo showed up. He was upset because he got played to the left by David! We later found out that David purposely showed up early to our hotel with a different friend to better his chances with Alex. Too bad it didn’t matter because all of them were strangers, and we don’t roll like that. Anyways, we had a great time “dirty dancing” the night away (theme song #2). We had an extra cuba libre for the road because, as noted, EVERYONE was drinking (including our drivers). We didn’t want to feel it if skin met asphault.

This concludes the account of our Odyssey in DR. Unfortunately, there are no pictures from river rafting 😦 Our cameras were not waterproof and we found out at the launch point that their camera was broken. Womp womp. But please enjoy the remainder of our pictures from the beautiful Dominican Republic!

The adventure never stops if you know where to look! Now that we are apart, we are experiencing separate adventures until we are reunited somewhere in the world again. (P.S. There WILL be a return trip to DR in 2013!)

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Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to the videos included in this post.

©2012 by Alexandria Dotson and Ayana Martin

DR Part 2 – Journey to Jarabacoa

I hope we haven’t kept you waiting too long! Names have been changed

Since Ayana was visiting for a short amount of time, Alex planned the first half of the week (DR part 1) as the “when in Rome. . .” portion. Ayana did her best to blend in: drinking El Presidente beers and Cuba Libres (rum and coke), sweetly turning down suitors, even giving the directions home to taxi drivers, “Necesitamos ir a la Zona Universitaria”! For the second half of the week, Alex planned a grand adventure in the mountains: white water rafting! We were both excited for the adventure, but little did we know just HOW MUCH adventure was awaiting us at every step of the way.Read More »