All posts by daniahabib

Live, let live. Experience.

Bhutan: A Magical Kingdom

When I choose my travel destinations, I normally try to pick places that not many people know of, or that few have traveled to. Why? Because everyone always goes to the same places, the safer countries, those that are cheaper etc etc. But what about the other countries, those that are mysterious, or scary? More than this, I try to pick destinations I feel most attracted to, and yes this is normally for personal reasons or it depends on my mood, or the year I am having, or the activities that I am passionate about and want to do there.
I remember the first time I heard of Bhutan: it was probably around 2010. A a friend of mine traveled there to work and visit some friends. I remember to this day how fascinated she had been about the country and its people. As she told me about her trip and experiences in Bhutan, I had said to myself: one day, I will be going there.
And that day came sooner than I expected.
This little Himalayan country, with a population of 750,000 people, is unknown to many people still. When I told people I was going to Nepal and Bhutan, they would say: “Nepal and where? Where is that?”
Located north of India, near the Tibet border, the small country is nothing but magical and still has much to be explored. The landscape is beautiful and very green and everything that is cultivated is organic. The country is built according to the mountains, so you can see many temples and monasteries built into them. This means that the roads are winding, anyone with car sickness, bring your pills!
I felt like I was in a fairy tale, as our guide talked to us about kings and queens, monasteries and flying tigers. Here, there are no traffic lights, and barely any tourists.
One thing that is very important for the country is their culture’s preservation. The government has preserved certain traditions by applying certain codes that do so. For instance, traditional architecture is mandatory. All homes and buildings must follow the architecture that was established by royal degree in 1998. The small arched windows and wood carved doors painted by hand are absolutely beautiful.
As well, traditional clothing is mandatory when working in Bhutan or during formal occasions. If people are simply with their friends and family, they can dress as they please. The kira (women) and the gho (men) are from the 17th century and made from woven fabric.
Bhutan is also unique for its Gross National Happiness indicator. Government policies are implemented according to these four pillars:
– Good Governance
– Sustainable Socio-Economic Development
– Preservation and Promotion of Culture
– Environmental Conservation
Measuring people’s happiness, rather than gauging a country’s economic health, brings in a whole new way to see the world. Although most Bhutanese claim that they are happy, according to the UN, the country remains one of the poorest. I will always remember when we visited a typical 17th century home in a small village, and I asked my guide if the people living there were considered poor. He answered me: No, they are not poor. They have a house, and family, and food, and everything they really need.
Comments like these make us think and question what happiness really means in the 21st century. Are we ever satisfied with what we have instead, or are we always wanting or wishing for more?
Thinking of visiting Bhutan? Check out my previous post with everything you need to know.

Post-Detox Reflexions

While I was doing my detox, I had several reflections about food. I wrote some in a previous post, that you can read here. However, after completing this intense detox, my reflections continued. Because sure, you detox to eliminate toxins from your, to re-balance your system, re-balance your doshas and to have a general feeling of lightness (not to loose weight) and so… then what? What is left from your detox experience? How else has it served you and what can you apply to your daily habits?

So, I decided to share some of my post-detox reflexions with you:

– It’s not always about food. Taking a step back made me reflect about our attachment to food. And I love the social part of it: cooking while having a glass of wine and talking, sharing recipes, etc. I just needed this experience to realise how much of my life revolved around food, and that is o.k.

– I appreciate the small things even more than before: my cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of wine, cheese. And these things are not to be completely eliminated (ever!!! Ahaha). Actually, most people might have found the detox or the diet requirements I am still on very difficult to maintain. But the truth is, they were not very far from my normal eating habits. So, yes, coffee, wine, and cheese were the harder ones to let go (and for now to reduce).

– I realise when I am full, or when I am satisfied. I am not a fast eater, which allows my body to know when I have had enough. But, after the detox, I feel like I have slowed down even more. As for wine, I seem to also have slowed down, enjoying every sip, and also realising when I have had enough: just simple awareness and appreciation.

-I don’t get in a bad mood because I get hungry. I used to wake up and right after brushing my teeth, I would make breakfast because I needed to eat within the first 30 minutes, otherwise I would get cranky. My meditation practice has changed this lately (10-20mins before breakfast) and my recent detox included additional morning rituals: pranayama, oil massages, tongue scraping etc etc. I do not get frustrated because I get hungry, I just acknowledge the feeling and am more patient.

Has anyone else done a detox before and had similar or different experiences or reflexions?

Detachment From Food

I have been feeling low energy and very tired, even when I sleep 10 hours a night. I saw my Ayurvedic doctor and she recommended I do a detox to balance out my kapha dosha, which is very high right now and shouldn’t be.

The detox’s total length is 5 days, plus another month during which I have to avoid certain foods. On the first day, I was getting familiar with the supplements I needed to take, and doing groceries (which was hard when you can’t eat most of it and your husband wants everything in the store!). I also started cooking the basic recipes I was sent. The first day went well overall. I had a few moments when I would open the fridge and see the beautiful, red strawberries right in my face and had to avoid them (ahaha).

On the second day however, after certain morning rituals (regular ones and also others appointed by my doctor), I made the second pancake recipe I was given. The maca pancakes were absolutely horrible, I literally spat out the pancake and couldn’t eat it. I felt bad throwing the batter out, but even after trying to “fix” the recipe, it just didn’t come out right.

And so, on this second day, I started thinking a lot about food, and my relationship with it. I made 3 salads for my husband, and some mashed potatoes, and took out some meat (which I don’t care about because I don’t eat it anyway). It was weird not tasting the potato mash to make sure that the salt and pepper were ok, or to make a salad and not grab a small bite of tomato or cucumber.

Then I started thinking… about how much of my day revolves around food. Maybe this is because I work from home, so it is always around me: I always have a cup of coffee or tea with me, and enjoy baking between translations or editions I am working on. So I started calculating and realised that I spend so much time looking for (or at) food recipes online, grocery shopping, organising food for the week, making new recipes, adjusting old ones, changing ingredients to make healthier versions of everything, taking photos to post on Instagram or on my blog, having meetings at coffee shops, post-workout smoothies in between meals… I mean, the list just goes on and on.

So my second day, is all about detachment: opening up the fridge and seeing the strawberries right in front of me, not being able to have one, and not letting it affect me or my mood whatsoever. Detachment is also what yoga teaches us after all, is it not? The practice of acknowledging certain thoughts and feelings, but not going deeper into them, and being able to let them go. Maintaining our state of inner peace, or of inner contentment no matter what external events.

I normally get into a bad mood when I am hungry, I sometimes cannot control it. On another day, those horrible pancakes I tried to make this morning would have made me angry or frustrated. I had been up for over an hour (doing my other rituals such as tongue scraping, cleaning my sinus, oil body massage, pranayama exercises, my daily meditation practice etc, etc). But no, I did not get mad at the pancakes, or at myself, for tasting horrible. I did not get desperate when I saw the bananas on the counter and couldn’t have one to just calm myself and the hungry down. Instead, I made the other pancake recipe I am allowed to have this week, it took me double the time to make breakfast, and in the end, I enjoyed it.

So far, not being able to have the food in the kitchen (it does help that I am avoiding opening up the huge cabinet will all the delicious stuff I can’t have), or not being able to prepare and eat food I make, or just the fact that I am on a mono-diet and eat the same thing every day, has made me appreciate the simplicity in what I am eating, as well as the extra time I have to do other things (like writing this long blog article).

We will see how things go on my third day. My craving for cooking is kicking in, but I do get to cook a new recipe for the last days of my detox.

I will keep you posted and follow my Instagram stories for more insights on my day-to-day detox experience @lacholaahabibii

Anyone else ever done an Ayurvedic detox? Any tips, thoughts, or comments you would like to share?

Thank you for reading


What to eat/drink in Northern Spain

The Northern version of traditional tapas. These are actually double or triple the size than the ones I remember having in Andalusia. You can get wide varieties, from fish or seafood to cured ham. In San Sebastian, most restaurants offer pintxos, it is their way to have dinner.

This slightly sparkling, dry white wine is from the Basque region. Traditionally, this wine is served before meals, in a regular glass, and you only pour half an inch of it in everyone’s glass.

Jamón ibérico de bellota
The absolute finest cured ham available on the market. It is made from free range pigs that are on an acorn diet. This type of cured ham has been prized for its smoothness and rich, savoury flavour. 

Traditional sheep cheese
Known as Idiazabal, this pressed cheese is made from unpasteurised sheep milk. The cheese is aged for several months and you can try the smoked and un-smoked versions. It has a nut/buttery flavour and is typically served with quince jam.

Spain: 3 Must-See Basque Villages

If, during your Eurotrip, you are planning to go to San Sebastian, do not make the city your only stop in the Basque country. Of course, the coast is great and the beaches are nice, but make sure you also go inland and visit the country side.

The lush green valleys, the small villages, the cows and their bells in the fields are all part of a unique experience in Northern Spain.

We visited these 3 small towns/villages, and did not see ONE tourist. The people were nice, the food was great and I highly recommend them!


In the center of the town, the church dates back from the 15th-16th century. Today, Zegama is known for his cultural and sports events and festivals. Internationally, the town is renown for its world-class marathon that offers spectacular views and its challenging route. Local horse, cattle, and honey contests are organised during the year as well.



This town is so charming and has kept its medieval vibes. There are 5 main gates to enter the city and you can walk the cobble stone streets and admire every building on the way.  There are many hiking trails in the area. One that I would highly recommend is the Txindoki mountain (1346m): a great hike if you are in the area with the best views!


The view on the valley and the other small villages from here is really nice, especially on a sunny day like the one we had. We ate at a restaurant Ostatua. In 1711, this building was a municipal jail and it is the only one that has been preserved. This fact aside, the food was delicious.

In Zerain, there is a small museum that shows the small village and its people throughout in time. The museum disposes of many antiques of what people used in their every day life. Everyone here has their own farm, bee hives, and many are carpenters.


Feeling the Difference: 40 days of meditation.

“Our emotions, moods, and bad character traits are just temporary and circumstantial elements of our nature” (Matthieu Ricard “The Art of Meditation”, p.13).

My story with Meditation

It took me quite a while to get my meditation practice going. When I did my yoga teacher training in 2016, we had meditation every day and I found it so challenging. Sometimes, I would leave early, I felt uncomfortable seated for so long, I was bored, etc. After the training, I was not motivated to maintain this practice and I left it aside for several months.

So then, in February, after organising my first yoga retreat (to read more about it, click here), one of the girls was using Headspace. Every day she took 20 minutes aside, she had brought her own meditation pillow, and would put her big headphones on. I admired her for being so determined and dedicated to her practice. She seemed so blissful and mentioned how she absolutely loves it.

Thinking back, I realised that meditation had been surrounding me for years. So I started to wonder: why haven’t I been able to really practice it?

My trip to Nepal and Bhutan was coming up, where I would learn more about Buddha and his teachings, visit monasteries and temples, and be surrounded by a culture completely different from my own. I used this as my excuse, or maybe my motivation, to really try meditating.

I re-downloaded Headspace (I had done it before, so I tried it again) and did the free 10-day trial. Although 10 days is a nice way to initiate yourself to meditation, I knew that having the membership would help keep me going. Having a tool like this one makes it easier to keep the practice constant, especially when it is not a habit yet.

Now, I can say that I am on my meditation journey, and every day I learn something new.

Small meditation facts

First of all, meditation is NOT trying to blank out your thoughts. Let’s face it, that is impossible.

As athletes train the body and muscles, every single one of us can train our brains. Meditation is a practice that teaches you how to “re-program and re-wire your mind”. It is scientifically proven that different parts of our brains (like the hippocampus, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex for instance) are al positively affected by a regular meditation practice. Repeated thoughts and actions create circuits in our brain that allow for the brain’s function and structure to change.

With only 20 minutes a day, you can feel benefits like reduced stress and anxiety, reduced tendency towards anger, and increased attention, emotional balance, and inner peace.

Differences I have noticed after 40 days of daily meditation

  • I am more relaxed, calm
  • I am not so easily affected by situations, people, or things around me.
  • Perspective
  • A more positive attitude towards everything.

If after only 40 days I can already observe these little changes…. what will it be like in another 40 days? or in a year? I will keep you posted!

Have you meditated before? Share your experiences in the comments below 🙂

Check out my instagram account @lacholaahabibii for a contest to win a 1 month voucher for Headspace.

Healthy Hot Chocolate

I usually don’t drink anything other than coffee, tea, and water. But once in a while I get these cravings for chocolate, or something sweet. Being the health nut that I am, I adapted a recipe I found online and made this healthy hot chocolate to warm up on this grey, Lima afternoon.

I several used Peruvian ingredients such as maca powder that has many health benefits like regulating hormones for example. The organic cocoa and the coconut oil are from the Amazon. Coconut oil is a natural lubricant for your body, especially joints and muscles, while cocoa powder is a great antioxidant.

Turmeric is originally from India and is a great detoxifier for the liver and anti inflammatory.

So there really is not reason to not have a cup of this delicious hot chocolate!

For one cup, you will need:

1 cup almond milk
1.5-2 tbsp organic cocoa powder
1tbsp maple syrup (to taste)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp maca powder
A pinch of which ever you prefer (or all): ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg

Heat the milk, coconut oil and maple syrup (in a saucepan or in the microwave). Remove it from the heat before it starts to boil. Whisk the other ingredients in and enjoy!

Top with grated chocolate.