ABCs of Travel with Lisa Hoashi

Today is the 4th edition of our guest post series called ABCs of Travel.  This is a listing of 26 prompts (one for each letter of the alphabet) that lets you tell a little bit about your travels: best, worst, and memorable.  Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition.

Lisa at home in Catalunya
Lisa at home in Catalunya, Spain

There are people that go on adventures and then there are adventurous people that seem to take life by the horns and play by the rules that they have set for themselves.  I would describe Lisa Hoashi as the latter.

Originally from Oregon, Lisa now resides with her Spanish husband on their farm in Catalunya where she runs a life coaching business in between adventures.  Go on and read about her nine-month wilderness survival course, South American hitchhiking trip, and touching experience in a Syrian refugee camp.

Oh, and if you have even the slightest inkling of doing something you’ve been dreaming of but just aren’t sure how to go about it, I’d recommend signing up for Lisa’s free online event “Six Steps to Launch Your Dream” this Thursday, October 29.

A.  Age you went on your first memorable trip

I was about six when my parents took my baby brother, older sister and me to San Francisco.  My dad, who traveled a lot for business, used his airline miles to splurge on a stay at the St. Francis Hotel.  My sister and I had our own suite that connected to our parents’.  There was a rooftop indoor-outdoor pool.  This was unbelievable luxury.  We rode the trolley up the steep San Francisco streets and my parents let me and my sister ride standing on the outer step, inches away from touching the other cars in traffic.  This was real adventure.

B.  Best beer you’ve had and where

Anything on tap at Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River, Oregon.  This is the favorite post-skiing, post-hiking, post-mountain biking hang out of my Oregon gang.  I love our ritual of pizza and beer after a fun day playing outside in my home state.

C. Cuisine (favorite)

Mexican, hands down.

An ideal Mexican meal
An ideal Mexican meal

D.  Destinations.  Favorite?  Least favorite?  And why?

My favorite destinations are those with the magical combination of sun, water, fun people and amazing food.  I’m obsessed with Mexico.  I love Hawaii and Thailand and can’t wait to go back to both.  I’m very happy at home here in Catalunya too, where I get all these, plus the Pyrenees.

E.  Event you experienced while traveling that made you say “wow” 

I used to work in humanitarian aid, in communications.  In March 2013, I went with one of my organization’s board members to visit Zaatari, the largest Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.  It’s now home to some 80,000 refugees.  I’d been in tent camps before, when I worked in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.  These camps must be some of the hardest places on earth to live.

A Syrian family agreed to do an interview with us.  They opened the door of their U.N. issued tent.  They removed their shoes before entering, as did we.  We sat on the floor in a circle.  They were a middle class family from Damascus.  They described the nightmare of fleeing Damascus, and nearly losing their teenage son.  They no longer knew what the future held for them or their children.  All their worldly possessions were now in this tent with us, neatly stored in plastic bags off to the side.  They served us tea.  The hospitality and dignity of this family in the midst of such hardship still makes me say, “Wow.”

F. Favorite mode of transportation

Hitchhiking, especially in Chilean Patagonia, where locals actually stop to apologize if they don’t have room for you.

A stop along the Carretera Austral
A stop along the Carretera Austral

J. Journey that took the longest

In my 20s I promised myself that I’d save up my money and travel the world.  But, for a lot of reasons, I never did.  When I hit 30, I realized it was now or never.  Four more years went by before I summoned the courage.

In May 2013, I finally took off on the biggest adventure of my life:  a year-long sabbatical.  It transformed me.  I found love, moved to join my now-husband on his farm in Catalunya, Spain, and started my own life coaching business.

My year off also included the super fun adventure of meeting my German friend Caren, who had the crazy plan to hitchhike down the length of the Carretera Austral, Chile’s southernmost scenic highway through Patagonia, cross into Argentina on foot, and continue to Torres del Paine.  It took us two months.  Slow travel.

I’ll be sharing more about my sabbatical at my free online coaching event “Six Steps to Launch Your Dream” on Thursday, October 29.  Check it out if you’re interested!

L. Let-down sight, why and where

Crater Lake, Oregon.  Don’t get me wrong:  Crater Lake is truly a gem.  But a visit there basically consists of driving of the rim, taking selfies and stopping for a glass of wine at the lodge.  The few hiking trails they have are only open in late summer.  Not the awesome outdoor adventure my husband and I hoped for on our honeymoon.

Honeymoon selfie at Crater Lake
Honeymoon selfie at Crater Lake

M. Moment where you fell in love with travel

My paternal grandparents were from Japan, and when I was 12, my parents took us there.  Japan was so foreign.  As a novice traveler, I often confronted cultural differences with a negative (and very teenage) attitude.  I wasn’t sure I “liked” Japan.

Then one afternoon we took a train to Takayama, a small city in the mountains.  Raindrops streamed across the train windows, streaking the sight of mountains of the most amazing, verdant green I’d ever seen.  We arrived at dark to Takayama, and wandered the quiet, dark, puddled streets to a modest hotel.  Later, I ventured down to the hotel’s small onsen, a public bath.  I had it all to myself.  I sunk into the hot water, the green of the mountains still before my eyes, the peaceful enchantment of this mountain city hushed around me.  I loved that such beautiful places existed – and that by traveling I could find them.

N. Nicest or most unique lodging you’ve stayed in

Several years ago I challenged myself to a nine-month wilderness survival immersion course (and wrote a blog about it).  Our homework was to build our own survival shelter and spend the night in it without a sleeping bag.  I didn’t sleep much.

My survival shelter
My survival shelter

O. Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?

Markets!  My favorite pictures have been from the central market in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico and in Florence, Italy.

Central market in Florence, Italy
Central market in Florence, Italy

R. Recommended sight, event, and/or experience

Couchsurf!  I joined Couchsurfing during my sabbatical year.  As a solo traveler on a budget, Couchsurfing helped me meet locals and see a new culture up close, and it helped with my limited budget.  I stayed with amazing people in both Europe and South America.  I used its message boards to connect with locals and other travelers to attend events, meet for a drink or language exchange.  I met my husband through this network, and have made wonderful friends.  We continue to host Couchsurfing travelers at home.  Our most recent guest was a charming man from Tunisia who was riding his bike around Catalunya.

S. Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling

Random outdoor excursion, especially involving white water.  On our hitchhiking adventure, my friend Caren and I ended up in the internationally known whitewater heaven of Futaleufu, Chile.  We were surrounded by crazy U.S. kayakers who were running Class IV and V+ rapids on a daily basis (for fun).  Caren and I, who were on a $5/day food budget, splurged on a whitewater rafting trip that blew my mind.  The Futaleufu is the mightiest river I’ve ever been on.  You ride waves that make you think you’re in the great wave troughs of the ocean and that you’ll never come out.

Crazy kayakers getting ready for the Futaleufu
Crazy kayakers getting ready for the Futaleufu

T. Touristy thing you’ve done

I was skeptical about doing the sunrise climb of Mt. Sinai in Egypt, but it was beautiful and magical, even though we nearly froze.

W. Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?

Lucca, Italy:  A glass of Tuscan red under the stars, in the tiny plaza beside the wonderful Ostello San Frediano, a former convent.

X. eXcellent view and from where?

French Valley Mirador, near Campamento Britanico, in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile.  My friend and I backpacked the “circuit” of Torres Del Paine, a 53-mile seven-day trek.  The French Valley Mirador, which is like an amphitheater of sharp, colorful mountain peaks, was the most unexpectedly breathtaking sight along the way.

X - French Valley Mirador, Torres Del Paine
French Valley Mirador, Torres Del Paine

Z. (Most) Zealous sports fans and where?

The mushroom hunters of Catalunya!  Right now (September-November) is prime mushroom hunting season.  There are lots of edible varieties here in the foothills of the Pyrenees.  Wherever you go people are talking mushrooms:  who found them, how many, where, and what a delicious dish they made!  I swear, during this time of year, mushroom hunting is more popular than soccer.  I’m a perfect fit for this sport because it involves two of my own favorite pastimes:  walking in the mountains and eating!

One of my new favorite mushrooms, Ous de Reig
One of my new favorite mushrooms, Ous de Reig

Thanks for your entry, Lisa.  Don’t forget to sign up for her free online event this Thursday, October 29 if you are up for it!  You can also catch-up with her at:

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