American in France but might as well be a refugee. Renting for this solo traveller is not easy.

Annecy, France, France, solo traveling, Travel

I thought it would be very easy to get an apartment in Annecy, France but although I show I have the money for rent to pay for the year I don’t have a contract with a company in France so real estate agencies won’t rent an apartment to me for a year. So I’ve been bouncing from hotel to hotel. I even caught myself going back on Airbnb to look for a place. After having a Airbnb horror story 2 years ago (I wrote about it in this blog) I promised never to use Airbnb again). But here I am…

On Airbnb home owners can declined your request to rent for any reason and there’s not a lot of rules for the home owner. I had a owner cancel my trip a day before it was scheduled because she changed her mind about having my dog in her place. One Airbnb that I stayed at had camera’s in the living room and I had to ask what it was, in order for them to turn the cameras around. The owners stopped by at any moment. But on Airbnb the home owner can decline your request for unknown reasons like your race, your dog or your negative past reviews that are lasting.

One home owner recently said her studio was booked suddenly after we were going back and forth about pricing And on her last message to me she put her work title in her signature randomly. She listed herself as an executive manager of some fancy hotel. Then the next day she asked if I wanted to have lunch with her. I am not going to pass an interview for housing, sorry. Not for a small studio maybe for a penthouse on the top of the Eiffel Tower. Of course there are no penthouses on top of the Eiffel Tower (yet) but wouldn’t that be great.

So much of this is racial I feel it would be a lot easier if my Airbnb profile picture was a Jennifer Lawrence look alike. I’m drifting into table talk and experiencing a little disappointment.

I checked out a French website similar to Craigslist to see if I could rent an apartment through the website however it’s filled with the same problems Craigslist has, scams. The website is called Le Bon Coin. It’s great for some thing’s I’m sure just hasn’t worked for me.

I’ve had help from a lot of people but still have yet to find a suitable place to live. I take French classes 3 hours a day here in Annecy. About 99% of the students are all refugees in my classes. They’re from all over the world. They are allowed to take classes for free but Americans have to pay for class but I understand this and I’m okay with paying. The fellow students hold me at a high regard as soon as they know I’m American. One student even saluted me. He said America is the top. It’s so funny because I don’t think I’m any better off then they are here in France. I don’t want to be insensitive In the least. However, The real estate agencies won’t take my money because I don’t have a contract here in France nor can I work in France with my visitor Visa. I asked some of my refugee friends after class what do they do for housing. Some are staying in a hotel with other refugees or an apartment by themselves that is rented out through a friend. But for me it’s just me and my dog and my weak American dollars against the Euro. What is a girl to do! I think it might be time to throw in the towel. The rules in France don’t make sense to me.

The irony is I find people houses for a living and now I can’t find a home. I thought I might have some good housing karma stored up in heaven somewhere but I’m not sure now. There’s so many people reading this that are probably so happy that my year travels to France have not worked out as planned two months in ( probably ex boyfriends family members, ex co workers, past friends strangers and then on the other side supporters that are disappointed in me as they look to me for inspiration. I’m all out of inspiration for the latter group but I hope to have a serendipitous turn to this living “situation” very soon. That’s all I have for today.

Drake Concert in Paris! The Assassination Vacation Tour

concerts, France, Paris, Travel

4D8BF4A6-C27E-4E36-81DC-5AC266D11FD9Y’all know I like…love music all kinds from each end of the spectrum including my commercial top 40 rap. The worlds best Black, White, Canadian and Jewish rap star ⭐️ is at the top of my list he’s some of everything. I’ve loved him since before 2009 every Summer it seemed like he had the Summertime hit. So many memories I’ve tied nostalgically to songs by Drake! So say what you want I👏🏾 don’t 👏🏾 care👏🏾. For example, I posted a tweet on Twitter about being at the Drake concert and got some backlash saying that Drake’s music is not real music. Say what you want it’s real to me!!

Back to the concert// The warm up act was really good by Tory Lanez. I didn’t know his name but I have heard some of his songs and now I know who he is and subsequently followed him on Instagram! The stage was huge and both Tory and Drake had to be in wonderful shape to work the stage like they did. Drake took a little break, maybe he was tired?! Non? And Tory came out and preformed again….

I met some wonderful people at the concert. Next to me was a French couple who loved to travel all around the United States and they only found out who Drake was when they traveled to Miami last year and everyone was “hype” when they played Drake in Miami so they had to check him out when Drake came to Paris. I really enjoyed talking with them but the wife, I think felt a little left out and she found better seats a few rows down🙃.

Behind me there was a couple who introduced themselves to me but then they started fighting and the man yelled “you women need to know your place”. The woman replied Then I will get on a plane and take this P¥$$¥ home then. And after that I just ignored them and the nice couple asked me more about travel, but when the concert started the fighting couple were dancing and having fun like nothing happened. So all was well.🤷🏾‍♀️

There was definitely weed filling up the whole building and I’m pretty sure I had a contact high although I don’t smoke. For whatever reason I don’t mind that smoke but cigarette smoke I can’t stand. So it was all good with me.

Now back to Drake. He rushed through a melody of his songs over the last 10 years. It hasn’t felt like 10 years have gone by since Drake has become mainstream. I would’ve enjoyed a longer walk down memory lane but sound bites were good enough too for time sake, I guess.

At one point a guy… not sure if he was an athlete or not or what his name was but he got up on stage to shoot some basketball shots for a prize of money. Then he actually proposed to his girlfriend. In all honesty it was the worse proposal ever to me and if it were me I would’ve said try again. He said something like sorry for all the years I treated you bad I’m sorry. He continued to say it was the third time he asked her to marry him and would she say yes this time. I don’t know it wasn’t a good proposal I was like oh no, what is he saying he cheated and treated her bad, do better. Anyway here’s some clips below of the concert. The stage and graphics were phenomenal unlike that proposal. Drake said he loves Paris and now his son lives there I thought it was sweet!

 

 

 

 

“The proposal”…But the ring was nice though!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April in Aruba!

Travel

Ahhh Aruba, I will never forget my time on this happy island! I was having so much fun my phone took a deep sea dive in the water so I have limited pictures however I will share some pictures below if I can find some.

I absolutely loved going to flamingo beach it’s a private island. It was a short boat ride to the island and there were 4 flamingos and a restaurant. I enjoyed some pina colada’s and fun in the sun. I also had a lot of fun on a UTV tour I drove the UTV myself! The whole UTV group was impressed by my driving skills. I’m a realtor, driving is in my job description hahahah. This trip was a solo travel trip. A lot of couples asked if was traveling alone! The men mostly said they could never do that. I found traveling solo to be liberating and got me out to find adventures and meet new people. Aruba is said to be one of the safest and truly happiest islands around. I had the best time.

I enjoyed the snorkeling tour as well the fish And shipwreck I saw on the snorkeling trip were unforgettable. I visited the casino and won a total of $5. But I spent more than that. Casino wins are tax free in Aruba!

Aruba is a Dutch island and they speak Spanish English and the native language, Papiamento. For transportation I took the local bus to get around it’s much cheaper than cabs just $2 if anything, lol . The water was so blue and the sand never gets truly hot so you can still walk on it without feeling the burn. I came back to Charlotte with a renewed spirit and it was truly a wonderful trip! “One Happy Island”

After the UTV tour!!after UTV tour

🍔That’s all folks!!!🤣😂😭

Out and About With Tina: Afropunk Festival Paris 

France, Out and About with Tina, Travel

I love all types of music. Except for heavy metal! That’s why while I was visiting Paris for 6 weeks a friend suggested I check out the Afropunk Music Festival . Before then I had never heard of it. I decided to see what this music festival was about.  The Afropunk festival is an annual two-day concert which tours nationwide. This time Afropunk took place in the La Villette district in Paris. I never caught any of the big music headliners that were supposed to be there performing either because I missed them or they were not there at the Paris location event. Either way, I did see a lot of creative artistic people and fresh eclectic music artist. I also discovered ginger beer for the first time! I digress, Afropunk is worth it check out afropunk.com for the next concert near you! 

Here is some history on the Afropunk festival from the official event website:

AFROPUNK FEST PARIS IS A FESTIVAL AND CULTURAL MOVEMENT THAT CELEBRATES EMPOWERMENT, DIVERSITY, AND INDIVIDUALITY. THE EUROPEAN COUNTERPART TO THE BROOKLYN EDITION, THE FESTIVAL CELEBRATES URBAN AND SOUL MUSIC AS WELL AS VISUAL ARTISTRY AND PERFORMANCE. 

With roots amongst the Black community and culture, AFROPUNK welcomes an array of new music and styles. The popularity of this event has resulted in an expansion that has embraced New York, Atlanta, Paris, and London.

Previous acts have included Angel Haze, Lianne La Havas, Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, Keziah Jones, Saul Williams, Michael Kiwanuka, Sky & Ross From Morcheeba, Leon Bridges and Lion Babe.

Here are some pictures of my experience below!


Young or old the majority of Parisians smoke it was shocking to see and hard to breath

Me in my sundress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airbnb Fail: ​They Took back the fan….

Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Finally, I made it to France. I was ready to settle into my Airbnb French abode. So  . Ready 123…I was so happy to arrive. The host’ main language was Portuguese. They were a husband and wife team from Brazil. The language created a small barrier to communication but we were able to get through it. I arrived in a personal cab. Although I was scared for my life and my wallet. But, the cab driver seemed alright despite his body odor! I didn’t have cash so the taxi had to take me to the nearest ATM once we arrived at the Airbnb location. The host husband told me later not to take personal cabs because they could be part of the mafia. He suggested that I take Uber instead. The host wife couldn’t make it out to meet me so the husband went over the house instructions. After 30 minutes I was ready for a nap!  I felt like the place was pretty clean and I was happy the place was as pictured. Just a couple of things arose…..

I noticed some ants on the kitchen counter but it didn’t seem that bad. Coming from living in the south in Miami, Florida, I was just glad the ants weren’t roaches. If there’s one creature I can’t stand that’s a dang roach. Those things don’t even deserve life. I digress, the ant problem continued. so I decided to get the bottom of it. There was a loaf full of breadcrumbs left in the bottom of the toaster and sugar cubes in a gappy container left on the counter as well. I opened the sugar container and a bundle of ants flew out. I kept saying to myself at least it’s not a cocka-roach, at least it’s not a coca roach, Amen. So I emptied the dish of sugar and the breadcrumbs from the toaster and voila, no more ants!!  Problem solved….. I also purchased some bug spray. 

I noticed that there was not a flat sheet on the bed just a comforter and the under sheet. I’m not a sheet expert but there were two sheets there. I was used to 3. I thought maybe it was a difference in culture perhaps. I looked in the closet and there were a few folded sheets with some hair on them and the sheets smelled of smoke but I just brushed it off and put the sheets on the bed since it was getting late. I was getting a little hungry but didn’t even know how to get to the nearest store. Luckily there were a few leftover unopened snacks in the fridge and the host husband gave me a bottle of water, a bottle of wine and 3 rolls of fluffy toilet paper.  It was the best I was going to do for the first night. I eventually found out that everything in this secluded part of town, La Ferté-sous-Jouarre,  closed early so if I wanted food then I had to get it before dark.  Everything was going normally for a few days and then the garage door broke. It started to just go in all different direction and then it just didn’t move at all. Apparently, this has happened before. 

The neighbor came by and started working on fixing the garage door. At first, I was like what a nice neighbor! His wife stopped by and I was able to practice my French as the neighbors didn’t speak any English. The garage door eventually was fixed and the neighbors invited me out to dinner. I was so happy because I still didn’t find where all the food was and it was great to meet some nice people. We were able to communicate just fine over a bottle of wine and Chinese buffet. That’s my kinda night! It was July 14. Which was Bastille Day in France. It’s the French equivalent to July 4th. So after dinner, the neighbors and I went to see the neighborhood fireworks! How fun…..But things quickly headed in a different direction a few days later…..

The host wife wrote me on Airbnb and said they will make sure the garage door was fixed and not to worry. She would check the door on Sunday.  She told me she wouldn’t enter the home and she had extra keys to the house. I told her okay I had an event to attend and would not be there. The previous day the neighbor fixed the door and had been knocking on the door all day for me to look at each update.  The door had been fixed before Sunday, so I didn’t think the host would come and check the door. I was a little jet lagged still and didn’t get out to my event as early as I planned. I was napping, (my favorite hobby) and all of a sudden I heard knocking at the door. I wasn’t expecting anyone and I wasn’t presentable to come to the door as I was half asleep. Still, the knocking persisted and soon it turned into banging on the windows. I heard someone yell up to the window in a sweet soft voice– TEEENA TEEENA. I then got an e-mail notification I had a message on Airbnb from the host. The wife said, Tina, we are at the door we just wanted to drop off some items for the house… I was still under the covers.  The knocking got louder and louder at this point I didn’t want to open the door because I felt invaded. I jumped out of bed opened the door and I said yes? I am just about to get into the shower. I closed the door. The knocking persisted. and when I was done with my shower I started packing to leave. I opened the door again and the host rushed in with the items. All the while I heard all the neighbors talking in French about me they were all gathered outside the door. I felt so upset at this point that I started packing the rest of my things. The house owners had moved on to the couch with the house items an iron, ironing board, fan, hot water maker and some cleaning rags. They were putting together the fan. I said well, I am going to my event. and we all moved out of the house. I left my things packed hoping that Airbnb would let me out of my 5 week rental agreement before I returned.  I left to go to my event hoping that was the end of that terrible and uncomfortable invasion of boundaries. 

The host wife wrote me a note on strict instructions that she was unhappy, She explained how I have to close the security door and lock the door that needed a million twisted and turns to lock. As a Realtor, it was even hard for me to lock it. But I thought the security alarm and the steel door and window shutters would be enough. It was so hot I left the top floor windows cracked open on the tall two-story home. I didn’t think anyone would jump to the top floor to break in and they would have to be Superman to do that. But the host wife was very upset about what she saw… me not closing the top windows and not locking the tricky door although the steel door was secured. She said look at it from her perspective. I definitely understand having a stranger in your house for 5 weeks and not being able to have access to your own house. Scary…well if they wanted to still have access to their house then I could’ve just have been a house guest, not a paying renter with rights. right?  I wrote her and explained that if I didn’t look at it from her perspective I would never have replied to her email and I would’ve left immediately.  I said if she wanted to stop by just drop me a note as most likely I would not be there. The wife said in spite -well enjoy the rest of your trip! But she continued to watch every story on my Instagram feed. She requested to be Instagram friends but she didn’t allow her Instagram feed to be open to me. I started to put two in two together. French people aren’t that friendly (at least initially).  The neighbors didn’t take me out to dinner because they were being gracious they were taking me out to dinner to ensure I didn’t write a bad review and they were monitoring me. That’s when I noticed the windows had steel shades that were half drawn. There was no way to move the shutters up or down but when I looked out of the shutters I could see the shutters were exactly in line with the neighbors window. When I took shower I saw another neighbor looking in the bathroom window in the shower. I know how this sounds! But seriously, every time I took a shower, I looked at the old man neighbor down the street he looked away like he wasn’t looking and every time I checked back he was looking again. There were also cameras in the house. When the host husband was showing me the house on day one, I asked him what was that camera there for. and he took it and turned it around to face the wall……

Airbnb didn’t get back to me until days later to address the owners smooth attempt to overtake moi, a napping jetlagged renter. Airbnb said they couldn’t move me to another place without checking in with the host to mediate first. How good would that be for someone in their house?  I said just forget it… Since then the neighbors never came out of their house, if I did see them they would turn their backs to me. The host also said oh, the fan didn’t work we took it back. I had a heat rash because t was so hot but eventually, I bought my own fan! Petty boots!! (and I left it there as a parting gift at the end of my very long 5-week visit).

While I was still renting I’m the home I didn’t contact the host for a few weeks until I needed to get some mail. She said all the mail comes to the house if I put the correct address on the package. (petty shade) Then she sent me a note with a screenshot of all the accounts I use she said I sent it to her but I did not send it to her screenshot had my accounts including Evernote, Hotmail, and my internet provider it was weird. Still hoping I would get my package at this very moment. (as I am writing I will not post this until I check out of this place for sure!) At times I wished I could have handled it differently I wish I could have upheld my boundaries while still respecting hers without offending anyone. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the time. I felt my boundaries were pushed. I feel like I could have considered her feelings as it was her home but not respecting my own. I wanted to save face with the neighbors as maybe they were just being nice after all. The host said I have never dropped over items before… Perhaps I did overreact? At the very least I wish I wrote her back online at the time and said I’m in the shower and unable to come to the door please leave the items in the storage cabinet in the garage I’ll get it when I come back from my event. I sometimes think of better ways to handle weird situations after the situation happens. I’m getting better at finding on time solutions. If I handled with a direct email then my privacy would not have been invaded and I would still respect hers….. my rule still stands as Kermit says when you at my door knocking and you didn’t call first!!..you ain’t getting in! That’s the best I could do for that day. It doesn’t matter how bad you are at first at setting your personal boundaries but as long as you start somewhere.

When I returned to the states the owners attempted to charged me for a broken front door that was already broken into from the previous neighbors, according to the owners who revealed this to me in a written Airbnb online message. They claimed there was dog poop left, however, I cleaned up after my dog and I took out the trash 3 times a week and I even took out the trash for the previous guest who the wife host told me were so messy. Apparently, this is her go-to phrase as she said the same thing after I left although the house was perfectly clean. Her vacuum was disgusting and I didn’t know how to work it so I had to sweep the dog hair up and a lot of it was hard to retrieve but that was the only thing that needed to be cleaned up. She went through Airbnb to request money from me for the “damages” she requested $600. I sent pictures of the home cleaned as I knew this was not the end of this situation so I took pictures of the home right before I left as I had a feeling I would hear from them again. Airbnb did not protect me, the renter. The house was so far out from Paris I wasted a lot of time and energy in this prison with locked windows, doors and cameras and on the time to take the train going to Paris. I removed my credit cards from the Airbnb site and they were not able to collect payment from me so they said they would drop all attempts to collect the money as they should of done from the start. 

 I felt that their response should have been we see you’ve done nothing wrong and we are not going to attempt to collect any money from you because you were not at fault based on the evidence you have provided including picture and emails.  

All in all, looking back, trying to positively reframe my experience I’m glad that I experienced the town of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, as no one spoke English there and I spoke a lot of French that way. The hour train ride into Paris allowed me to gain perspective on my day.  I learned about my personal boundaries and that it’s probably best to just get a hotel at the end of the day and that’s what I did the next time I visited Paris!

Here are pictures of the Airbnb, the peeping tom window that I covered to take a shower, the cameras, the items the owners brought as they sat on the couch to put together, and pictures of the town me and Webster

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Paris Eats: Le Comptoir du Relais

Paris Eats, Uncategorized

Le Comptoir

9 carrefour de l’Odéon – 75006 Paris, France.

Le Comptoir is a popular French bistro located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris in St Germain.  I Googled recommended restaurants to dine alone, but, don’t feel sorry for me as I found the perfect place.  I was able to skip the long waiting line because I just needed a table for 1.

The restaurant that came up in my search was called L’avant Comptoir which is standing room only. However, because I wanted to enjoy the people watching and 3 courses I walked a few steps away to Le Comptoir. Both restaurants are owned by the same family just next door to each other.

Le Comptoir was full of Americans and bilingual staff.  I asked the waitress for menu recommendations and she didn’t lead me astray! I started with a glass of white wine, Bien sur.   Next course was Foie Gras, a French staple. Later I would find out this choice did not sit well with me… I’ll leave it at that.  Luckily, I was able to easily continue on to the next course. Cochon De lait Braise de roti lentilles de ragout was outstanding and highly recommended. I’ll admit it does not look like much but it definitely favorably ignited my pallet.  I’m a sucker for some apple pie a la mode. The next course, dessert, is the French version of Apple pie called Tarte Fine aux Pomme,  Glace Vanille. Amazing choice.  Even though they charged me for water although I’m sure I said sink water and the Foie Gras was not my jam I highly recommend Le Comptoir! I will definitely check it out the next time I’m in Paris.  Check out the menu, prices, and pictures of my plates below!

 

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Missing The South of France

Travel, Uncategorized

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I’m missing France, especially the South of France.  I miss the beach.  Perhaps the company or attention…. I’m missing all of it but who wouldn’t.  I thought of 100 ways I could go back there this afternoon but none of them worked in reality. So I’m here looking at pictures I took just a few weeks ago. Now I’m across the world back in the USA.  Don’t get me wrong I appreciate having my own bed, car, a paycheck and the option to fall back on my first language but the beach neva’ did anything wrong to me and I miss it. That is all.

Letting Go a Little Tiny Bit at a Time. 

Real Estate, Uncategorized

In the past, I held on to everything, old receipts (where the print had become virtually undetectable), obscure electronic plugins (that I have no idea what electronic item they actually attached to), old clothes, socks and earrings without a match. EVERYTHING! However, at the age of 36 years old I was seemingly ready for a new life. It seems so easy writing it now, I’m ready for a NEW LIFE, yeahhhhhhhh! READY 123. But it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life.

This life transition was a process that started before I even knew it began.   I think I started to become Slightly aware I just signed up for a life change when I was smacked dab in the middle of the transition. I had been working on a real estate project for Tiny houses in Charlotte. The Tiny house project inspired me to research this minimalist lifestyle. That’s when I found the movie Minimalism on Netflix. The movie was a game changer. I began to slowly get rid of small items in my environment and clear my space. Again I had no idea the journey I was embarking on at that point. I thought I was just doing some research!

After months of delays and project setbacks, the tiny house deal fell through. Okay more like I fell through the deal. A change of direction was abruptly implemented, the change was me. I didn’t like how I was treated and I didn’t like how I responded to the way I was treated and either did the builder and his Best buddy the loan officer. I cried in front of my boss. I felt unprotected.  More on that painful life lesson later! …Long story short the tiny house project never took off and my former real estate agency is no longer working on the tiny house project at all. In fact only 1 house out of the initially projected 80 to 60 homes have been built. Although I support the tiny house movement (in theory) leaving after it wasn’t working out was truly a blessing in disguise. I ended up selling a home to a young first time home buyer who initially was interested in purchasing a tiny house ( she attended my tiny house party event). Her beautiful full sized home I sold her was for the same price of a tiny home! But I digress…  That wasn’t the real journey.  I was still on the journey I was intended to be on,  the one I didn’t know …I was on.  I just didn’t know that the tiny house project was simply a catalyst for change that helped me focus on my true journey. Comprenez vous?  I had to separate from the project I was entangled in because I never would have let go if the choice was left up to me. I wish there was another way but I have trouble letting go….

Back on my journey, the one that I didn’t know I signed up for or couldn’t find the initial details to what I was to do exactly, that’s the one. I began to move on to what I felt in my heart. I followed my gut. My last words after my… let’s call it “a change in direction meeting” in a teary voice I simply said I want to travel and write. And that’s what I did. I started to see what else could be eliminated from my life.  I needed to eliminate everything that was holding me back from my future. I sold my very own home and everything in it.  It was a deal I never wanted to make. I would be fine just continuing on in my life as it was, but it wasn’t the life that was intended! So after being pushed to the corner just before the ledge, I jumped, I let go screaming & kicking all the way …UP

“The truth is unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

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12 Month Visa To France!

Travel, Uncategorized

Finally, I received a 12-month visa to France. But A lot has changed in the months that I set out to move to France for 12 months. I put so much work into getting the visa that I feel a celebration is in order, however…. at this time the 12 months stay in France has been reduced to just 6-weeks! I know- that’s great! I don’t know a lot of people that would complain about spending 6 weeks in France. My plan was to sell everything become a Minimalist, practice and learn fluent French, and write my books. I needed the 12 months!! Now I am scurrying to do everything in the time I have. By “scurry” I mean sleeping in and staying up watching french tv all night.

None the less- I managed to join a writing group and start writing in a span of 7 days. Perhaps this 6-week “time constraint” was the way it was intended all along…!

Let me share my experiences and travel stories as a solo traveler in France, well by solo I mean traveling with my dog Webster and I! Welcome.

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