Extranjera Update: May 2019 (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)

May was a-MAY-zing (see what I did there?)! Friends visited me (always a win), I started putting the wheels in motion on a years-long pipe dream, and I began a surprisingly empowering fitness journey…

Wander the Map comes to Mexico

Jenna and Micah Visit Puerto Vallarta

The month kicked off incredibly with the arrival of two of my favorite people in Puerto Vallarta: Jenna and Micah from Wander the Map.

In the Galapagos: Jenna and Micah in the nearest kayak, then Oksana and Max, then me and Diana, and Dave furthest away

We first met a few years back when we were on a blogger trip in the Galapagos with Galakiwi for a segment of Facing Waves, and have stayed in touch ever since.

Mexico City with Wander the Map and Drink Tea and Travel
If we had a band photo: Jenna, me, Oksana, Max.

They had also visited me in Puebla and Mexico City with Max and Oksana (who have recently opened up an INCREDIBLE eco hotel in Costa Rica) which I think means it’s definitely my turn to start visiting friends as well, rather than just making them visit me (“But I live in a beach town!” is always my excuse/lure).

All I Care is dog and drink wifi hotspot name
Random fact: My iPhone name was set by Max in Mexico City nearly two years back and I’ve never changed it because it makes me laugh every single time I connect

Having friends visit, for me, is always the ultimate opportunity to re-appreciate the place that you live. I had been feeling a bit ho-hum, but Jenna and Micah’s arrival turned it around. We visited so many new-to-me restaurants (along with a few old favorites), hiked from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas, spent an afternoon in Yelapa, and just hung out and talked and laughed. Like, a lot.

Bringing to Life My Retreat Dreams

I was feeling so refreshed and revitalized after Micah and Jenna’s visit that I decided to finally pull the trigger on a project I’d been contemplating and mentally planning for years. To paraphrase what a very inspiring friend in PV said to me: instead of planning and thinking and researching, why not just try and do?

Extranjera Experience: Connection and Community in Puerto Vallarta, Expat Retreat in Puerto Vallarta July 12-14
Extranjera Experience

I’d always wanted to organize a women’s conference for expats, as I know personally that one of the hardest parts about living abroad can be making connections. Plus, I just love retreats/conferences and find them so transformative.

I’ve been spoiled in Puerto Vallarta with some incredible friends and a very solid community, and I wanted to share that with others. Hence, the creation of the Extranjera Experience. Yes, planning a retreat with only 2 months lead time is totally crazy, but it’s been good-crazy and kept me busy (on top of, ya know, work and finishing my master’s and being in the midst of my college counseling certificate).

What’s New in Puerto Vallarta

As mentioned above: my upcoming Extranjera Experience retreat! If you’re an expat/immigrant woman in Mexico (or considering becoming one), you should totally come.

If you’re not able to attend the retreat but know someone who might be interested, I would love if you’d share!

Life Lately: Little Bits

Booster seat for dogs
Mickey living his best booster life
  • There are few things in life more satisfying than growing your own food. I’ve been growing my own herbs for months now and it is life- (and meal-) changing. It’s also easy to do and better for the environment (and your wallet).
  • I’ve now participated in my third clothing swap, and I am certain that I am friends with geniuses. Yet another simple but wonderful social activity/contribution towards the lessening of waste/decreasing mindless consumption.
  • Several of my friends have been working out with a personal trainer, and I decided to give it a shot. After just a couple of sessions, I already felt stronger. Is this psychosomatic? Probably. But I’ll take it. I feel more empowered (physically and mentally and emotionally) than ever before.
  • If you’ve got a little dog, a booster seat is a game-changer. I’ve been going on more mini-adventures with my two guys, and Mickey LOVES his booster. Yep, I’ve become that dog lady.

What I Read This Month

To me, there are few things in life more redundant than reading someone else’s book summary, so I’ll save you the pain and just list the titles. If something sounds appealing, I’ve linked to Amazon (who does a way better job than I ever could summarizing each book).

I didn’t read very much this month (as compared to my typical months), because I was so busy with school and planning a retreat and hanging out with visitors! But still, I loved the 3 books that I did read.

Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined

The Little Book of Hygge

This is How It Always Is

This is the second post in a new low-key series, designed to give a behind-the-scenes look into an expat life… which, honestly, isn’t usually that much different than a “regular” life! I still go grocery-shopping, take too many dog photos, and have work/school stress like everyone else. 

The Extranjera Update series is laidback and uncurated – sort of the opposite of everything going on in blogging right now. The photos are all taken with my iPhone (or, a friend’s phone), and unedited (though I do tend to go a bit collage-crazy).

With this series moving forward, I’m aiming to talk about a few main components/themes of my life that month, some little bits and bobs, what I’ve read, and what I’ve discovered here in Puerto Vallarta (or, wherever I end up moving forward).

As always, let me know what you’d like to see more (or less!) of by sending me an email. I love to hear from you.


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook



  1. Bahar
    July 22, 2019 / 8:16 am

    There is a positive energy in all of your photos, I really love it.

    • Steph
      July 22, 2019 / 9:33 am

      Aw thank you!

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