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zane off of one direction Shayari, Status, Quotes, Stories, Poem

Best zane off of one direction Shayari, Status, Quotes, Stories & Poem.

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Never In My Wildest Dreams

You came into my world like high beams on some two lane highway in the middle of a desert night; just as I lost the fight between thirty more miles and pulling over for a nap until sunrise. Fracturing my momentary dream into a million pieces of panic and surprise as your light burned through the lids of my eyes and your horn’s noise grabbed at nerves that shook my insides alive.

I remember the giant halo of your glow and light coming head on, the fog in my brain was overwhelming, as muscle memory spurred both hands and they registered on the wheel. My grasp was wrapped tight and pulled sharply, sending me into a wrenching swerve; a sudden desperate attempt to avoid our impending collision, as you careened head long my way. In the moments that came, I couldn’t tell if you were slowing or attempting to avoid the obstruction of my vehicle that had wondered into your lane. I only knew the fear as my life flashed before my frozen, bulging eyes. I felt my knuckles strain, threatening to rip flesh, as they pulled against the tension of my grasp on the wheel.

I remember feeling my knee slam under the dash as terror took me and I over compensated. With pang in knee, I stabbed my foot back down at the break. I remember the feeling of gravity shift as my vehicle began to swerve and my body flatten into the door panel as I began the fight to regain control of my vehicle, careening down that lonely highway.

I remember my body recognized and felt something I couldn’t have truly felt. At least something felt different, this specific time, than any other before or after. Both the fear of loosing control and this new feeling are forever linked somehow. It was something I felt as my shoulder pressed into the drivers side door panel: the feel of the gravel beneath my tires, not in the normal sense of peeling out, or hot rodding around a turn, or when you are navigating a gravel incline and a tire slips, spinning a bit. But, I remember feeling every, single, piece, of gravel, as my tires slid over them, like they were brail desperately attempting to be read by someone with an untrained hand.

And suddenly, I remember, I was fighting gravity to avoid being thrown into the empty passenger seat next to me; with the dutiful assistance of my seat belt I remained square in seat. By this point my perspiration was beading at my brow and my palms were slick and damp. The smell filling my nose was terrible: rubber skidding across tar and the metal chemical burn of clutch mixed with burning metallic fumes of locked, red hot breaks. The noxious smoke produced from the instant tire tread wear of tires attempting to grapple with the texture of pavement at sixty miles per hour and the dust thrown up from the narrow desert road was thick in the air as my vehicle began to spin violently. This must have been one of my wildest dreams.

Your tail lights passed by my view out the front windshield a few times before I came to a slow, lazy roll backwards, eventually coming to a halt on the pavement; vision now dizzy and disoriented. My motion had not stopped however. The spinning had turned my head into one of those twirling carnival rides and transformed my extremities into shaking nerve noodles, who’s vibration emanated from my core.

Regaining my composure, I found myself immediately worried about who I had almost collided with and what state they were in; my concern seemingly met with reply as your hazard lights lit up from the tail lights of your vehicle ahead. I remember blood pumping in my temples as I raced toward your vehicle, grateful to be alive, and grateful you were still on the road and in one piece as well. Closing the distance to your flashing hazards just hoping you were okay. I felt embarrassed and foolish for putting myself, and you, at risk not stopping a few miles back. I prayed you were not scared or upset with me. Not knowing what to expect as I slowed to a jog nearing your vehicle, I took in the details of the multiple spins my vehicle completed as it whipped round and round directly down the center of the highway. I took in the sight of fresh tread on the pavement left by my tires, scrawled like a signature of some artist signing their work of near miss.

I remember as I looked up again to where your vehicle had come to a stop, that you too where now running my direction. As we approached each other I could tell we both did a quick visual assessment of each other, our vehicles, the tire tread scrawl on the road. We asked each other if the other was okay and learned no harm had come to the other other than shaken nerves and a bit of embarrassment on my part.

I remember hearing your laugh for the first time as we sat on the side of that highway in the middle of the night and lost track of time. We talked about everything, and nothing, as we watched the stars and smiled at each other honestly. Morning came faster than either of us expected announcing it’s a rival gloriously. The sunrise was exceptionally beautiful that morning. As we peacefully watched, finally pausing in conversation for the first time since we met, we took in it’s orange, blue, yellow, and pink shifting colors sharing glances at each other now and then, smiles and blushing cheeks as we did.

As the morning sun’s heat set upon our skin and the brightness of the desert view began to become overwhelming you turned to me with a smile. I remember taking your business card and the electricity fire through my fingertips as our hands touched for the first time.

Your touch felt so exotic then, like some distant land I had read a million books about and knew every detail of but had only learned from in the texts written in those pages. I imagine I looked like an adventurer, captivated and in awe, as they stepped of an old steam engine train onto a new landscape. Amusing the locals watching a new traveler standing starstruck seeing, smelling, and feeling the foreign environment they had read so much about but were only experiencing in person for the first time.

As I put your business card into my wallet, so many unknown feelings and pressing questions that I wanted to ask you were coming to my head fighting each other for place in line and internally pleading for one more second of your time. They were interrupted by one major new question I hadn’t considered so distracted by my internal conflict.

When would I would see you again? This question was followed by an even larger: Would I see you again? I was so caught off guard at their staggering weight I remember feeling intimidated by how much it meant to me. I chickened out. I didn’t ask and though in that moment didn’t know what to do with myself, or my shaken emotions, as we said our good byes.

Before you turned to depart I managed to make sure you too had my number and awkwardly, shuffled back, half facing you, half trying to walk away. I could tell you noticed in the words your smile always seemed to hold.

I remember you driving away and the stress I felt realizing we were going in opposite directions for the first time since we met and how something immediately felt missing in my world. I remember kicking myself not wanting to end up just some guy who you met and called you down the road or being just a story of a time you almost got hit head on by some guy in the middle a desert one night. A bit late, but just in time, I buckled my seat belt and decided not to become that guy. I threw my vehicle in drive and accelerated after you. Headed in your direction for the first time.

My heart raced as I drove fast to catch up to your vehicle once again and as I pulled up behind you, obnoxiously got your attention with my horn and the flashing of my lights. I couldn’t believe I had chased after you like a crazy! What would you think of this? Was I crazy?

As you stepped out of your vehicle your beauty was staggering and I confidently acknowledged, almost applauded myself; I had made the right decision. I jogged up to you on the pavement of that two lane highway and blurted out “When will I see you again?!”. Your laugh told me everything as it often did, I would learn.

I canceling my plans, my new job would have to wait, or I’d find a new one when I got to my destination. I suddenly had you placed at the center of my life’s main screen and didn’t for one second consider what else was on outside in my periphery. Everything seemed like it mattered just a little bit less than the focus my mind found when trained on you. I spent the day with you, headed in your direction. We played, both lost in the world together, on a new adventure, and loving every moment of it.

By that evening I was already in love, and knew it as for the first time I watched the sunset reflect forever in your eyes. I will never in my wildest dreams forget your smile when I admitted my love to you as we watched those stars again, together, that second night.

I also remember how we really met, and this isn’t it! Not even close! But it sure could have been. I mean, some things are similar to how we met all those years ago. You do remember don’t you?

The night we first met we were hurling in each other’s direction at a million miles per hour and barely missed colliding. That near miss put us into permanent dance as we orbited each other - dancing in and out of each other’s life, always friends, lovers, strangers, family; whatever we needed to be for the other at that specific moment in time. The first night we met I knew I had met the most amazing woman and I couldn’t believe that I had finally found you; never in my wildest dreams did I think you were really out there.

We did watch the stars and talked until the sun came up. We also spent the next day playing together and I really did watch the sunset reflect forever in your eyes. I did fall in love with you, only immediately, almost at first sight.

My love switch flipped the very moment you said “Hiiii” that way you did. Your mysterious brown eyes - strands coloring them wonderful, as your cheeks smiled for days. They reached into me latching onto my heart and I did not resist the comfort of your grasp. There was just something so familiar in the way you drew me in and made a place for me in your world. I felt like I had seen this smile of yours before somewhere and it belonged right after that “Hiiii”, and right in front of me. There was also something so familiar in the way you said my name, always smiling, you giggled a lot more back then.

I chased after you and that smile, following the echoes of that giggle from that moment on without any regret and loved every moment you chased me back laughing as we played. I remember how grateful I was getting to know you, and how grateful I always will be to have spent all the moments we shared through the years, building our story. The rest of that story and how we really first met is ours. A story to be remembered another time I think.


I remember the many other things that are similar in the story I have told but happened completely differently, to a completely different moment, in a completely different part of our story that I’d like to share in this letter to you. I think it is supposed to help...telling you these things, we always shared our deepest feelings with each other and It’s hard holding them all by myself. I’m working on it, love, I promised. Writing these letters to you and the chapters of our time together contained within.
In this part of our story, the true part of this story, and part of our chapters I’m sharing in this letter is a moment where I remember a collision that happened head on and it all started with a phone call.

I remember we were both asleep at the wheel and wholly unprepared as I raced down the highway to you. I remember how sudden the impact came after I reached your side. I remember the pain and jarring as your light in my world, that light that engulfed my vision completely, was in a moment no longer present. I remember my confusion as my momentum came to a complete, and immediate, stop. I remember that I didn’t even have time to scream or brace myself as everything in my world shattered in a devastating explosion and all it’s shiny pieces showered into the air around me. I remember that I didn’t even have both hands on the wheel as my life turned upside down. I remember that there was no seat belt to fasten me in as my breath choked in my throat, stalled, as if suspended mid air.

I remember the look, taste, sound, smell, touch, and feeling of every, single, thing, in that hospital room. I remember the smell of my tears in your hair. I remember how soft your skin was and that your fingernails were not painted like they normally were as I held your hand. I remember the feeling of my nerves as they achieved complete pandaemonium within me. I remember I was trembling as I struggled to breath between crying, then breathing, then crying, tasting the snot running from my nose mixed with the salt that clung to my face as I sat at your side. I remember hearing the sobs in the room as your heart rate monitor stopped blinking. I remember that exact moment you left me. I remember all of the feelings I felt at that moment as my emotions burned deep within and imprinted them as if by brand, permanently emblazoned on my soul. I remember not having the words for them then and I still do not have words for them now.

I remember every single detail, reflected in the pieces of my world as they crashed to the polished surface of the tiny room’s grey and white checkered tile floor. I remember that for the first time in a long time we were no longer running toward each other, or in the same direction together, and you weren’t there to make sure I was okay. I remember praying that you would be okay but my heart didn’t hear the echo of yours anymore to be sure. I remember hoping you were not lonely just minutes after you left and began crying: differently, because I didn’t know how to be there for you like I promised I always would be. I remember wanting so badly to chase after you, especially in the months that followed your funeral to keep that promise I made. I remember wanting to make sure you weren’t alone and be by your side as you took off on this new adventure to make sure you got under way okay. I remember trying to lighten my mood and joke about you making a new friend jealous, telling them about a guy that loved you unconditionally in another life. But, I remembered I could not chase you this time; I couldn’t be there to hold you if you happened to fall in love with him and he broke your heart. There was no catching up to you minutes down the road, just to see your smile again and hear you laugh at me for being silly. There was no way to pick you up off the ground and piece your heart back together with pieces of mine if it was broken this time.

I can only hope you receive all the letters like this one and that you are able to answer my call when I get home. We can meet in the middle of some two lane highway in the clouds, talking about life down below, or everything, or nothing, and laugh at the concept of time.

I can’t wait for that moment I see you again and we can remember all the years since the night we first met and remind each other how that story really went. I want so badly to be reminded exactly how it feels seeing the sunset reflect forever in your eyes like I used to.

I remember you every single day and wrote this letter to remind you: that more than anything, I patiently wait to learn how we finish our story, because never in my wildest dreams, could these stars be as beautiful as I remember, all those moments, I spent watching them with you.

10 Love
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2 Years of Nojoto Can you write a patriotic story?

This question was asked to me on Quora which is a social media app for asking questions and getting answers

Read the answer below

PRAKASH:

……………….

Year 1958 somewhere between Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan-

In some Pakistani school-

“Did you see that triple hundred scored by Hanif Mahamad?”

“Absolutely. He is a God”

“I wish I can bat like him one day”

“Stupid. First you need to register yourself to a cricket coaching camp”

“How do I do that? My father is labourer. He works for Khan saab. My father can't afford that. He barely puts foods on the table. It's a pipe dream which never going to be real”

(Silent crying)

“Don't be sad Prakash. When there's a will there's a way”

Couple of years later in Karachi-

“Alam Sir, I want to play cricket”

“Hmm. What is your name?”

“Prakash Sharma”

“Hindu!!! Wow!! I never thought I would see one in Pakistan!! Why are you people even here? Go back to your fucking Hindustan”

“You mean India!?”

“Yeah, whatever fancy name British gave. It will be always Hindustan to us. The point is Indians can't play cricket. Indians are lazy, idiots and unathletic superstitious dirty people. And you want to be a cricketer?!? Go be cobbler or something. That's more practical. Stupid Hindus”

Poor Prakash was broken hearted. He sat under one tree and cried his heart out.

When he went to his home, he saw his mother was quarreling with his father-

“If you send Asha to marry that bearded mullah. I will kill myself. He is old and already have five wives. Are you even human anymore?”

“You don't understand Shanti, we need money desperately. I can't carry this family anymore. He promised to give me 100 Pakistani rupees. Can you imagine 100 Pakistani rupees!!? That's a lot. They have money. Asha would be all right”

“You are selling your daughter”

“Yeah, what are the our options? No. Tell me Shanti. What is our option? We barely have any Hindus anymore after partion. Those who are here either begging or doing some slave job in Hyderabad. Asha would be okay marrying the Khan saab”

Prakash was already sad. He couldn't take this anymore. He went into his room and shut the door.

5 years later-

One morning-

Prakash was preparing to go in the paddy field as usual. Suddenly, he heard his old mother was crying.

“What happened?”

“They killed Asha. She wasn't young anymore. So they killed her after torturing her for so many years. They even sold her daughter to nearby ‘bayt daeara' (Brothel)”

Poor Prakash was feeling so helpless. He went to that bayt daeara to look for her niece.

But it was already too late. He found out that she was already sold to a Suadi Arabian theatre group. And they already were gone from Pakistan.

Poor Prakash thought at first to kill himself. Then he just bought a cheap wine from local illegal shop and got hammered.

He woke up hearing a lady voice.

“Bastard!! Get the hell out of here. Look he is sleeping here as if he owns the place”

(A lot of lady laughter)

Prakash was hung over from last night so he could barely see what was going on. He got up somehow. His head was still spinning.

He sat beside a nearby tree and again went to sleep. When he woke up, he heard a female crying voice. It was night time. He realised that he slept the whole day.

He went to look for the crying voice. He found one hole in one of the rooms where from the sound was coming. He peeked through the hole and he saw one guy in expensive salwar kameez was beating up one girl. He forced himself onto her.

Prakash could not watch anymore. He puked all over the place.

One hour later-

He again peeked through the hole and saw that the girl was still crying.

“Hey, behan (sister), do you want to get out of here?”

Girl was shocked.

“No. Who are you? Get out of there. If they saw you talking to me, they will kill you”

“Don't worry about me. I am coming from Punjab. I can take you out of here very easily. Now do you want to or not?”

“Why should I trust you? You are peeking through a hole?”

“Let's be honest, how much dangerous I can be, you are already going through hell everyday here”

“I don't know….”

“Don't think, just do it. We don't know when the guards would come back. I can't help you then”

“How do I get out of here?”

“Just jump from the window. I will catch you”

She did and Prakash managed to catch her.

But there was obviously sound. And guards were awakening.

“Come on, we don't have time. Let's run. We have to reach the station before they catch us”

While running both of them were hearing guard's realisation that one of their girl escaped.

They got on one compartment of a train. But the problem was that train wasn't moving.

“Saab, why the train isn't moving”

“Are you not from here? This train takes time to leave the station”

She was scared.

“Guards will be here and they will catch us and kill us”

“Shut up. Don't make any sound. It would be wise not to create any attention towards us”

One longest and insufferable hours passed-

Guards were searching through the station. They were searching all the trains including the one they were on. They were almost about to search their compartment. Both of them were sitting without taking any breath almost.

Suddenly, train started to move and leaved the station.

It was huge relief for both of them. They almost felt as if they were born again.

“What is your name?”

“Nusrat for now”

“What do you mean for now?”

“I was a hindu. They took me from home one night. And from then on I was living in that hell hole. I can't remember my actual name anymore”

“My name is Prakash Sharma. I will call you Archana from now on”

“Okay. Prakash ji. But where are we going?”

“My home”

When they reached their home and talked to Shanti and told her everything-

“What did you do? Now where do I keep her? I understand that you feel bad for the girl. But we can't keep her here. What will the neighbor say? Already there's a lot of social isolation because we are hindu. All kinds of things people say about us every other day. Now you bring her from bayt daeara!! I mean bayt daeara!!! You have lost your head”

“Just look at her eyes, mother. Just look at her innocent eyes and tell me that I didn't do the right thing”

Shanti could not hold herself back looking at sad innocent eyes of Archana. Both of them started to cry on each other shoulder.

Archana stayed there as Prakash's fake wife. Their relationship was just that. They never even spent in one room together.

Few months later-

People started to talk. One hindu nosy neighbour started to suspect something.

One day police came. They started to ask all kinds of questions about Archana.

Prakash managed to convince them otherwise. But police didn't look totally convinced.

Prakash realised that their nosy neighbour did this. When he confronted them about this.

“Sorry, Prakash, we live in good neighborhood. We don't want any unwanted attention here. It is always better to stay the good side of police”

Prakash was about give them his hard piece of mind but then he saw one of the police was talking to one of the guards from that bayt daeara in their police car.

He realised that there was no point arguing.

He came to Shanti and told her everything.

“Oh my god! What do we do now? Your father passed away. We just used to have both of us. Now because of Archana, we about to lose everything”

“I don't see that we have much options, mother. We have to escape to India. That is our only chance”

“What are you saying? How is it possible?”

“I have one friend in Lahore who illegally sell cows to India from border area. He has an understanding with the Pakistani border guards. I believe he can get us passed. We are childhood friend. He won't even take any money from us”

Archana heard everything.

“Thank you so much for everything. But it's time I return back to wherever I came from. I knew this won't last long. I can't put your family though anymore trouble because of me”

“What are you talking about, Archana? I didn't rescue you from that place to further sent you there. No, we are leaving Pakistan. I don't know where we would end up in India. But it would be better than Pakistan any day. I don't want to hear any negetivity from you”

“But why are you taking so many chances because of me? Is only because pity?”

“It was initially like that. But now I can't think my family without you”

“And why is that? What am I to you?”

“Someone close”

“Is that worth to take all this risk?”

“Absolutely”

Shanti was listening to both of their conversation. And last conversation put a smile on her face.

She was thinking, “These two don't even know that they like each other”

That night-

“What is going on, Prakash? Why your whole family is here?”

“Ali bhai, my friend, we are in serious trouble. We need to leave Pakistan immediately. Please help bhai. We will give you everything we have”

“No. No. Money isn't an issue. It's just that there has been more security tightening on the border than before. You know Kashmir issue has made everything more tensed between Hindustan and Pakistan. Cow smuggling is one thing but human!? It's completely different and risky. Let's see what I can do”

“Thank you so much bhai”

In India Pakistan border-

“I just talked to the border guards. They told me we just have one minute. If anyone sees us, we will be shot to death. Sorry, my friend. I can't help more than that”

“You have done so much already. I will always be grateful to you, my friend”

“Hey, you never know I might also settle in India in the future. The way things are regressing in Pakistan. Anything is possible”

“Absolutely, bhai. Absolutely”

All these rush made Shanti's old heart pumping. She realised that she was having heart attack.

“Prakash, you two go. I can't anymore. My heart is in tremendous pain”

“You have given birth to me, mother, I will never leave you. I will carry you on my shoulder, mother. Come quickly Archana”

But the road was too dangerous to carry Shanti. Prakash fall down crossing the border. Suddenly, bullets came flying in like rain.

One of the bullets took the head off Shanti.

Archana was about to shout through sheer shock but Prakash blocked her mouth with his hands and jumped across the border together leaving Shanti's dead body behind.

After getting close to Indian military camp, they both went unconscious because of all the stress and anxiety.

One day later-

Archana woke up.

“You finally woke up. I was starting to get worried. We are safe. I talked to Indian army, they are taking us to Delhi”

One Indian solder came.

“My name is lietenant Saeed Khan of Indian army. I have heard everything from Prakash. You are really brave and extremely lucky to be alive. I just talked my superiors and they have talked to the home minister. You are going to be awarded in Delhi. Your stories are all over the newspapers. Everyone is cheering your name in India. Wait for a big welcome in Delhi”

Prakash said, “Thank you so much Saab but we just want some peace and quiet place to stay.”

…………………………………………………………………………

Mordern day some where in India-

A laud cheer was going on in the press conference

One journalist asked, “Mr Rahul Sharma, today you are the captain of Indian cricket team. Best cricketer in the whole world. Some are even saying that you are the all time best ever. You are the most popular cricketer today. Yet we didn't know anything about your family past. How did you manage to keep this tragic yet such interesting past secret?”

Rahul Sharma replied, “I also didn't know anything about my great grandfather Prakash Sharma's struggle. Until few years ago in our old house I found the diary of my grand father's father who wrote this after hearing from his mother Archana Sharma. I then decided to publish this book. I had to share this with everyone”

(Another loud clapping sound was going on)

THE END

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6 Love

PRAKASH:

……………….

Year 1958 somewhere between Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan-

In some Pakistani school-

“Did you see that triple hundred scored by Hanif Mahamad?”

“Absolutely. He is a God”

“I wish I can bat like him one day”

“Stupid. First you need to register yourself to a cricket coaching camp”

“How do I do that? My father is labourer. He works for Khan saab. My father can't afford that. He barely puts foods on the table. It's a pipe dream which never going to be real”

(Silent crying)

“Don't be sad Prakash. When there's a will there's a way”

Couple of years later in Karachi-

“Alam Sir, I want to play cricket”

“Hmm. What is your name?”

“Prakash Sharma”

“Hindu!!! Wow!! I never thought I would see one in Pakistan!! Why are you people even here? Go back to your fucking Hindustan”

“You mean India!?”

“Yeah, whatever fancy name British gave. It will be always Hindustan to us. The point is Indians can't play cricket. Indians are lazy, idiots and unathletic superstitious dirty people. And you want to be a cricketer?!? Go be cobbler or something. That's more practical. Stupid Hindus”

Poor Prakash was broken hearted. He sat under one tree and cried his heart out.

When he went to his home, he saw his mother was quarreling with his father-

“If you send Asha to marry that bearded mullah. I will kill myself. He is old and already have five wives. Are you even human anymore?”

“You don't understand Shanti, we need money desperately. I can't carry this family anymore. He promised to give me 100 Pakistani rupees. Can you imagine 100 Pakistani rupees!!? That's a lot. They have money. Asha would be all right”

“You are selling your daughter”

“Yeah, what are the our options? No. Tell me Shanti. What is our option? We barely have any Hindus anymore after partion. Those who are here either begging or doing some slave job in Hyderabad. Asha would be okay marrying the Khan saab”

Prakash was already sad. He couldn't take this anymore. He went into his room and shut the door.

5 years later-

One morning-

Prakash was preparing to go in the paddy field as usual. Suddenly, he heard his old mother was crying.

“What happened?”

“They killed Asha. She wasn't young anymore. So they killed her after torturing her for so many years. They even sold her daughter to nearby ‘bayt daeara' (Brothel)”

Poor Prakash was feeling so helpless. He went to that bayt daeara to look for her niece.

But it was already too late. He found out that she was already sold to a Suadi Arabian theatre group. And they already were gone from Pakistan.

Poor Prakash thought at first to kill himself. Then he just bought a cheap wine from local illegal shop and got hammered.

He woke up hearing a lady voice.

“Bastard!! Get the hell out of here. Look he is sleeping here as if he owns the place”

(A lot of lady laughter)

Prakash was hung over from last night so he could barely see what was going on. He got up somehow. His head was still spinning.

He sat beside a nearby tree and again went to sleep. When he woke up, he heard a female crying voice. It was night time. He realised that he slept the whole day.

He went to look for the crying voice. He found one hole in one of the rooms where from the sound was coming. He peeked through the hole and he saw one guy in expensive salwar kameez was beating up one girl. He forced himself onto her.

Prakash could not watch anymore. He puked all over the place.

One hour later-

He again peeked through the hole and saw that the girl was still crying.

“Hey, behan (sister), do you want to get out of here?”

Girl was shocked.

“No. Who are you? Get out of there. If they saw you talking to me, they will kill you”

“Don't worry about me. I am coming from Punjab. I can take you out of here very easily. Now do you want to or not?”

“Why should I trust you? You are peeking through a hole?”

“Let's be honest, how much dangerous I can be, you are already going through hell everyday here”

“I don't know….”

“Don't think, just do it. We don't know when the guards would come back. I can't help you then”

“How do I get out of here?”

“Just jump from the window. I will catch you”

She did and Prakash managed to catch her.

But there was obviously sound. And guards were awakening.

“Come on, we don't have time. Let's run. We have to reach the station before they catch us”

While running both of them were hearing guard's realisation that one of their girl escaped.

They got on one compartment of a train. But the problem was that train wasn't moving.

“Saab, why the train isn't moving”

“Are you not from here? This train takes time to leave the station”

She was scared.

“Guards will be here and they will catch us and kill us”

“Shut up. Don't make any sound. It would be wise not to create any attention towards us”

One longest and insufferable hours passed-

Guards were searching through the station. They were searching all the trains including the one they were on. They were almost about to search their compartment. Both of them were sitting without taking any breath almost.

Suddenly, train started to move and leaved the station.

It was huge relief for both of them. They almost felt as if they were born again.

“What is your name?”

“Nusrat for now”

“What do you mean for now?”

“I was a hindu. They took me from home one night. And from then on I was living in that hell hole. I can't remember my actual name anymore”

“My name is Prakash Sharma. I will call you Archana from now on”

“Okay. Prakash ji. But where are we going?”

“My home”

When they reached their home and talked to Shanti and told her everything-

“What did you do? Now where do I keep her? I understand that you feel bad for the girl. But we can't keep her here. What will the neighbor say? Already there's a lot of social isolation because we are hindu. All kinds of things people say about us every other day. Now you bring her from bayt daeara!! I mean bayt daeara!!! You have lost your head”

“Just look at her eyes, mother. Just look at her innocent eyes and tell me that I didn't do the right thing”

Shanti could not hold herself back looking at sad innocent eyes of Archana. Both of them started to cry on each other shoulder.

Archana stayed there as Prakash's fake wife. Their relationship was just that. They never even spent in one room together.

Few months later-

People started to talk. One hindu nosy neighbour started to suspect something.

One day police came. They started to ask all kinds of questions about Archana.

Prakash managed to convince them otherwise. But police didn't look totally convinced.

Prakash realised that their nosy neighbour did this. When he confronted them about this.

“Sorry, Prakash, we live in good neighborhood. We don't want any unwanted attention here. It is always better to stay the good side of police”

Prakash was about give them his hard piece of mind but then he saw one of the police was talking to one of the guards from that bayt daeara in their police car.

He realised that there was no point arguing.

He came to Shanti and told her everything.

“Oh my god! What do we do now? Your father passed away. We just used to have both of us. Now because of Archana, we about to lose everything”

“I don't see that we have much options, mother. We have to escape to India. That is our only chance”

“What are you saying? How is it possible?”

“I have one friend in Lahore who illegally sell cows to India from border area. He has an understanding with the Pakistani border guards. I believe he can get us passed. We are childhood friend. He won't even take any money from us”

Archana heard everything.

“Thank you so much for everything. But it's time I return back to wherever I came from. I knew this won't last long. I can't put your family though anymore trouble because of me”

“What are you talking about, Archana? I didn't rescue you from that place to further sent you there. No, we are leaving Pakistan. I don't know where we would end up in India. But it would be better than Pakistan any day. I don't want to hear any negetivity from you”

“But why are you taking so many chances because of me? Is only because pity?”

“It was initially like that. But now I can't think my family without you”

“And why is that? What am I to you?”

“Someone close”

“Is that worth to take all this risk?”

“Absolutely”

Shanti was listening to both of their conversation. And last conversation put a smile on her face.

She was thinking, “These two don't even know that they like each other”

That night-

“What is going on, Prakash? Why your whole family is here?”

“Ali bhai, my friend, we are in serious trouble. We need to leave Pakistan immediately. Please help bhai. We will give you everything we have”

“No. No. Money isn't an issue. It's just that there has been more security tightening on the border than before. You know Kashmir issue has made everything more tensed between Hindustan and Pakistan. Cow smuggling is one thing but human!? It's completely different and risky. Let's see what I can do”

“Thank you so much bhai”

In India Pakistan border-

“I just talked to the border guards. They told me we just have one minute. If anyone sees us, we will be shot to death. Sorry, my friend. I can't help more than that”

“You have done so much already. I will always be grateful to you, my friend”

“Hey, you never know I might also settle in India in the future. The way things are regressing in Pakistan. Anything is possible”

“Absolutely, bhai. Absolutely”

All these rush made Shanti's old heart pumping. She realised that she was having heart attack.

“Prakash, you two go. I can't anymore. My heart is in tremendous pain”

“You have given birth to me, mother, I will never leave you. I will carry you on my shoulder, mother. Come quickly Archana”

But the road was too dangerous to carry Shanti. Prakash fall down crossing the border. Suddenly, bullets came flying in like rain.

One of the bullets took the head off Shanti.

Archana was about to shout through sheer shock but Prakash blocked her mouth with his hands and jumped across the border together leaving Shanti's dead body behind.

After getting close to Indian military camp, they both went unconscious because of all the stress and anxiety.

One day later-

Archana woke up.

“You finally woke up. I was starting to get worried. We are safe. I talked to Indian army, they are taking us to Delhi”

One Indian solder came.

“My name is lietenant Saeed Khan of Indian army. I have heard everything from Prakash. You are really brave and extremely lucky to be alive. I just talked my superiors and they have talked to the home minister. You are going to be awarded in Delhi. Your stories are all over the newspapers. Everyone is cheering your name in India. Wait for a big welcome in Delhi”

Prakash said, “Thank you so much Saab but we just want some peace and quiet place to stay.”

…………………………………………………………………………

Mordern day some where in India-

A laud cheer was going on in the press conference

One journalist asked, “Mr Rahul Sharma, today you are the captain of Indian cricket team. Best cricketer in the whole world. Some are even saying that you are the all time best ever. You are the most popular cricketer today. Yet we didn't know anything about your family past. How did you manage to keep this tragic yet such interesting past secret?”

Rahul Sharma replied, “I also didn't know anything about my great grandfather Prakash Sharma's struggle. Until few years ago in our old house I found the diary of my grand father's father who wrote this after hearing from his mother Archana Sharma. I then decided to publish this book. I had to share this with everyone”

(Another loud clapping sound was going on)

THE END

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3 Love
As always, everyone in this story is eighteen years or older. This is a completely standalone story totally apart from my intricately related other ones.

A heads-up for those with short attention spans: this is long. Look elsewhere for a quick fix. I won't judge you for looking for something shorter and please don't judge me.

A heads-up for the squeamish types too: there are equal parts incest and anal here. Hope that's your cup of tea.

Enjoy.

Words on Skin: A little sister can't say some things out loud

*~*~* Part I *~*~*

Lizzie watched as her best friend Jessica brushed past her brother again on her way through their kitchen. The house was packed full of people and there was plenty to eat and drink in every room but Jess still managed to find a reason to swing through the kitchen every fifteen minutes to flirt with her brother.

"Heya stud," Jessica smiled, "it really is nice to see you back around these parts again. I kinda missed you." She winked, nodded at Lizzie and wandered off again with a few gratuitous wiggles of her curvy hips.

Lizzie's brother leaned into her with the question she saw coming, "Okay, what's with Jess? Does she like me now or something?"

Lizzie smirked and waited until Jessica turned a corner out of earshot. "Let's just say she likes the kinds of things she could do with you."

"And what kinds of things might they be?"

"You're the dumbest smart guy I know but even you're not that dumb. Either take that frisky cheerleader friend of mine upstairs and find out for yourself or stay down here and hang out with your adorable kid sister. Sounds like a close one. Want me to get a coin for you to flip, Scooter?"

"Don't bother dog-girl, I'm going with plan A."

Lizzie watched her brother toddle after Jessica. As consolation, she took a long swig of her beer, swallowed, and howled softly to herself, "Bawoo."

Her brother Richard was a year older and actually was the dumbest smart guy she knew. Sometimes she swore he couldn't see the nose in front of his face. He was pure book smarts from head to toe. He'd steamrolled through high school - racking up the highest GPA in the school's history then nailed a perfect SAT. He'd even be finishing up his undergraduate ahead of schedule. Less than three years for a physics degree at one of the best programs in the country? Who the hell could compete with that?

Lizzie sighed. She was proud of her big brother but sometimes he made her feel small. All she could do was run. Ba-frickin'-woo.

The "dog-girl" and "bawoo" thing? That started when her middle school track coach came to visit their house after school eight years ago. Lizzie and her brother snuck to the top of the stairs to listen to the grown-ups talking down in the kitchen.

"You have a lovely home, Miss Robbins, and I appreciate your agreeing to see me. I know you're a busy woman so I won't take up too much of your time. I'm happy to tell you that you have a very gifted child."

"I'm quite proud of Richard, but I thought..."

"I'm not here to talk about your son. I'm here to talk about Elizabeth. I'm her track coach. I thought you should know that Liz is an excellent runner. In fact, she may just be the best I've ever seen."

"Really? I mean, I guess she has always been quick on her little feet. If I look away for a second she's gone."

Lizzie remembered beaming proudly at Richard upstairs. She took this as a big compliment.

"It's more than just that, Miss Robbins. Look, middle school kids? Even the fast ones? They're a mess when they run, all of them pushing and shoving to get up front, to lead right from the beginning. It's complete chaos. None of them have the maturity or the patience to pace themselves. To hang back and wait for the right time to make their move. Hell, most of them won't even figure that out in high school. But not Lizzie. She's... she's very special."

"How so?"

"You need to come to our track meets. To support her and see what I mean at the same time. Lizzie doesn't run. She... well... she chases." The coach's voice grew more excited, "She does it every race. It's a beautiful thing to watch. Less than halfway through, Lizzie falls in a few yards behind the lead girl. She tracks her. She... she drives her. Heck, she even baits her. Then at the very end, Lizzie simply runs her down. Honestly, I don't think I'd even call what Liz does 'cross-country.' She's not just running. She's hunting. Like a... like a little dingo."

Upstairs, Richard hugged her with one arm and teased her softly, "Sweet, Mom's going to buy you a flea collar, sis."

"Bawoo," Lizzie howled quietly into his shoulder and giggled.

It was her very first bawoo.

Of course, the coach's offhand nickname stuck with Lizzie and "Li'l Dingo" would eventually be stitched across the back of her track uniforms.

As the years went by, Lizzie ran and ran and her body changed. By high school, the quick little blonde pixie became a sleek and slender young woman. Lizzie looked like a gazelle but she still ran like a predator. Chasing. Hunting. Winning. In fact, she would win state finals in cross country each of her four years in high school, a feat unheard of before Lizzie.

People even came to track meets to watch her. And who could blame them? She was hotter than hell in her school's skimpy little track uniforms, long, sleekly muscled legs and bobbing little breasts. Her finishes were always spectacular too. After loping along patiently at the number two spot for three miles, she'd get this crazy little grin. Then her legs would stretch, they'd quicken, and Lizzie would start her race. Without fail, she'd chase that poor last girl down like something small and tasty.

Two months ago, when Lizzie broke through the yellow tape at her last high school race, she didn't have to howl for herself. Her coaches, her family, and classmates were doing it for her, for their favorite little dingo, "Bawoo! Bawoo!"

Lizzie snapped out of her reminiscing when Richard reappeared with Jessica. The curvy, raven-haired cheerleader winked at Lizzie as she led her brother upstairs. One of Jessica's hands was already playing at the bottom of her tight tank top, obviously itching to get it off. Jessica liked to show off her body and Lizzie didn't blame her. Speaking objectively, Jessica's breasts were spectacular and she had every right to be proud of them. Of course, half the guys in their high school class could draw them from memory. Perhaps Jess was a little too proud of her boobs.

Lizzie took the next couple of minutes to finish her beer then she set it down. She chewed her lip again, pondering, then decided to follow them. She was more than a little curious and she knew her brother well. Odds were that he'd be too distracted by Jessica's charms to shut his sticky bedroom door completely.

She crept up towards his bedroom and she was right. There was a quite peekable gap left. She sat herself tipsily down on the floor for a little bit of perving. Okay, a lot of perving.

From the look of things, Richard was having one of the best nights of his life. Jessica had always been that perfect cheerleadery mix of flexibility and eagerness that drove guys crazy.

At that moment, Jessica was topless and cupping her oversized, flawless breasts in her hands with her lips wrapped around half of Richard's cock. Lizzie gaped. Her brother's erection was impressive and while Jess was working her mouth down on it steadily, she was definitely struggling. Her full lips strained to fit around his shaft. When she finally swallowed his entire length, she groaned from her chest and bobbed slightly.

Lizzie had to admit, Jess knew how to please a guy. The curvy brunette never forgot to look up and keep eye-contact with her brother even as her hands slid down from her own tits and under her skirt to quickly drag a small white thong down and off.

Yep, Jess knew what she was doing. Lizzie watched as her gal pal ditched her skirt then scooted onto the bed on her back and spread her legs. Lizzie and her brother's eyes were both drawn to the same place. Jessica was shaved completely bare. Her tiny glistening sex was a perfectly smooth and pink invitation. Scooter paused only long enough to finish getting his pants off and quickly slid on top of her.

Lizzie watched her friend's mouth fall open as Richard eased himself into her. Jess shifted and pulled her legs up very high, limberly hooking them over Richard's shoulders. Yep, flexible and eager. Damn cheerleaders.

For the next half hour, Lizzie watched her brother make love to her best friend. She was appalled and excited at the same time. Jessica shivered through three separate and very satisfying-looking orgasms before Richard groaned his own release. Lizzie assumed they were done.

But they weren't done.

Jessica slipped herself off the bed and did something Lizzie didn't expect -- not from her eighteen year-old friend. Jess stood, turned, and bent herself forward at the waist with her upper body on the bed. She swished her little cheerleadery bubble butt temptingly.

"C'mere Scooter, I've got this other hole you missed."

Out in the hallway, Lizzie's eyes slowly widened. Partly because Jessica had just used Lizzie's nickname for her brother. And partly because Jessica offered what she did - Lizzie had no idea her friend did... well... that.

Mostly though, Lizzie was astonished because her big brother, her sweet and gentle Scooter who used to read her bedtime stories when they were little, didn't hesitate. He simply stood and moved behind Jessica and then gave her just what she asked for, pressing himself into her ass with no more than a nod. Jessica whimpered at the invasion but didn't move away. Worst of all, the bastard was good at it, judging from the very happy groans Jessica made over the next ten minutes.

It was wrong and dirty and nasty and... hot.

Peering through the crack into her brother's bedroom at the gleeful sodomy scene, Lizzie's surprised face slowly spread into the same determined expression she wore at the last 100 yards of every race she'd ever run.

Lizzie would chase. And she'd win. She always did.

Bawoo.

She wandered back downstairs quietly for another beer.

*~*~* Part II -- One year later *~*~*

Twenty-years and two days old, Richard woke to the sounds of sea gulls crying and surf lapping at the beach. But it wasn't either of those things that drew him out of his sleep. It was a slender little finger that did it. That finger was tracing letters across his back. It wasn't all that odd, his kid sister Lizzie liked to wake him up this way - writing words on his skin.

They'd written messages like this for each other since they were children. It was their mother's idea. When they were young, their family went on long car rides to visit their grandparents. Little Richard and Elizabeth would get noisy in the back seat along the way -- two hours of nonstop tickling, poking, fighting, laughing and crying. Normal kid stuff, really. Unfortunately, their father was a bit high-strung and those long drives to see his in-laws only made him more tense.

Their mom did what good moms do. She buffered. She taught her children skinwriting to keep them occupied. "Give her your hand, Richie," his mother nodded at his sister from the front seat. "And close your eyes."

"Okay, now you think of a word, Liz. A small one. But don't say it out loud, honey. Ready? Now spell it on your brother's palm."

Liz nodded and traced each letter of her word with her tiny seven year-old finger. She had to write it twice before he could get it.

"Cat?" Richard finally guessed.

Liz giggled and their mother smiled. "Very good, you two. Lizzie, keep going until Richard guesses wrong. Let's see how many words you can get him to say."

Over the next two hours, their parents listened to the more peaceful sounds of elementary school vocabulary coming up from their backseat. "Dog." "House." "Truck." "Chicken, but you forgot the other 'c'."

Their mother's strange little improvised game was one of the many things that built a strong bond between Richard and Lizzie over the years. They had their tiffs and their struggles but they stuck by each other more than other siblings they knew. That bond grew even tighter when their family shrank a few years later. Their father died of a heart attack. No one was surprised -- he'd always been wound pretty tight. Their Mom missed him but she was leading an active, happy life again.

Richard focused on his sister's finger as it traced the three quick letters of her ritual puzzle before moving on to what she was going to make for breakfast.

The puzzle? He'd never solved it. Feeling what was for breakfast? That was easy.

"Pancakes," he muttered into the mattress.

"Good boy. And the other thing?" she scratched the thick brown hair at the back of his head.

"I still have no fucking idea what the hell 'imu' means."

"Ooh, poor little Scooter. Don't worry, you'll get it someday. You're the smartest dumb guy I know," she patted his back and left him alone to get dressed.

Stupid "imu" puzzle.

Eight years ago, he'd told her that she'd misspelled 'emu' and described the little ostrich-like bird. She'd laughed and shook her head, "Uh uh."

Seven years ago, he'd guessed that she'd cheated and skipped the apostrophe for "I'm U." Some sort of funny poetry thing. This of course made no sense. She'd laughed harder.

Lizzie's hardest laugh came three years ago when Richard, fresh from his first few weeks of high school physics had figured out that "I" was the letter for electrical current and the Greek letter "mu" was the symbol commonly used for a coefficient of friction. Thus, "I mu" meant "current friction" referring to how her finger was rubbing across his skin.

Lizzie had nearly wet herself laughing, "Dumbass, I wrote that for you when I was ten years-old. I barely understood what you just said now. How the hell could I have meant that then?"

She had a point.

Richard sighed into his pillow. He knew he was smarter than average and that he was pretty good at figuring things out. The fact that his little sister had stumped him for so long was a sore point.

Well, Lizzie was right about one thing -- pancakes sounded perfect for their first day at the beach.

By the time he splashed some water on his face and pulled on a bathing suit then made it to the kitchen, Lizzie had already finished cooking and was pouring coffee.

Amend that, pouring coffee in a bikini. Good god, his heart skipped several beats.

Lizzie's back was turned to him and the little black bikini's strings were knotted loosely at the middle of her back, her neck, and each hip.

Richard had long since made peace with the fact that his kid sister was far and away the prettiest girl he knew. Blonde with gigantic, soft, bambi-brown eyes, she was a gifted long distance runner and it showed. Basically, everyone agreed she looked like a gazelle. Her long, slender legs swept up into an equally sleek little ass. Her slim, tight upper body matched her lower half.

Lizzie Robbins was built for speed. And bikinis. She looked amazing in that suit.

He snapped out of his daze when she turned, golden ponytail swinging, and handed him a cup of coffee.

"How late did you get here last night?" she asked as she slid into her seat at the table. The motion made her round breasts sway slightly in her top and he only looked away with effort.

"Oh, a little after two. It took me that long to sober up from the birthday party they threw me at school. I'm going to need a lot of coffee today. Thanks." As proof, he took a long drag from his cup. His eyes flicked down her body again before he could stop them.

This time she caught him looking. "Like my new suit?" she needled him a bit, eyebrow cocked coyly.

"S'not bad," he shrugged. "It's just funny seeing you wearing it in the kitchen. My shy kid sister used to wear t-shirts over her suit right up until we got to the beach."

"That had more to do with Mom being around than being shy, dummy," she half-smiled, "No mom around to harass me now."

They ate breakfast and stepped out the back door and onto a patio overlooking a beach that they had all to themselves. Lizzie said her fiancée's parents rented the beach house for them for the last month of the summer, but he'd gotten dragged away to help with his Dad's company.

Lizzie... and her fiancée.

Wow, it even sounded weird. His little Lizzie, just one year into college, was getting married? And she'd never even brought the guy home to meet her family. She'd always been independent and headstrong but this was ridiculous. He only found out when she called him late one night from school with her engagement news that spring. He'd answered the phone and, before he'd even said hello, she just blurted it out.

"I'm getting married."

"Wah - huh?"

His sister giggled over the phone. "Married, Scooter. I'm getting married."

"Who? When? Why?" A bad answer to that last question popped into his head, "Oh god, you're pregnant aren't you?"

"Relax silly, I'm not preggo. His name is... okay, don't make fun... his name is Chip."

"Chip?!" he laughed, he couldn't help it. "This is some kind of sick joke..."

"You're really going to talk smack about names, Scooter? For real, his name is Chip. And he's a great guy. We're going to get married this summer. At the beach."

"Lizzie, I told you -- pot or tequila. Never both. You really can't mix them and keep a grip on reality."

"C'mon Scooter, I'm sober. Well, mostly sober. But more importantly, I am serious. I really am getting married. He just gave me a ring tonight and everything. Wait until you see it. It's fucking huge."

It finally sank in, she wasn't kidding. "Wow. Okay. So what did Mom say?"

"I haven't told her yet."

"You called me before Mom?"

"Of course silly, you're my brother. And brothers come first."

Brothers come first. That one tugged at his heartstrings because there was some history to it.

Richard had given little Lizzie her first kiss. It had been her idea and it was very innocent. She'd said she was worried about making a fool of herself with her first boyfriend.

"C'mon Scooter, please?" She'd pleaded with him. "I brushed my teeth and used some of Mom's mouthwash and everything. No cooties, I swear." But then she'd looked at him seriously and said something that had never even occurred to him back then, "Just don't do anything gross like put your tongue in my mouth, okay?"

He did like she asked, he kissed her. Their young lips merged hesitantly in a tender way for a long moment. Actually, it waskinda nice.

Lizzie had smiled hugely afterwards. "See, that wasn't so bad was it? Now you'll always be the first boy to kiss me. Cool huh?" She darted in and pecked his cheek in a more sisterly way. "Thanks, Scooter. You know, I think brothers should always come first."

But that would change soon. She'd be someone's wife. It was all happening too fast.

Richard pushed these thoughts away and focused on the now as he and his sister crossed the beach then swam out about forty yards into the surf where the waves just began to curl. They were both comfortable in the water and Lizzie was practically fearless when it came to picking her waves. The bigger the better.

They picked out their respective spots, alternatingly bobbing, waiting and surfing. Later, when Lizzie came back from her last wave, she swam over to him and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Mind if I hang on you, bro? Can't touch bottom here like you," she pouted, "not tall enough. And I see you're catching the nicer rides from here." It was true. The largest waves were just beginning to curl where he could barely stand. Just a few yards further in, Lizzie had to duck under them because it was too late.

 

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The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017, if your new year resolution is to Travel
Time to start packing your bags: 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for budget travel. The dollar is enjoying historic highs — meaning your money goes much further in many destinations around the globe — and according to an American Express Global Business Travel report, airfares are expected to fall in 2017.



1. Mazatlan, Mexico

Why: The current exchange rate ($1 = 20.69 Mexican pesos) makes Mexico one of the most affordable destinations.
For the frugal traveler who wants to enjoy more culture than they might in the Riviera Maya, my top pick is Mazatlan. As the shrimp capital of Mexico and a foodie paradise, Mazatlan is teeming with awesome eateries and fresh, interesting dishes. Hotels (including all-inclusive properties) are extremely inexpensive and authentic since most aren't part of the huge chains. El Cid Marina has awesome pools that are perfect for families, great food and huge rooms. (Rates are as low as $100 for a family of four.)
You can also enjoy superb dining at a top-notch restaurant like Casa 46 for less than half what you'd pay in the United States.
Side note: Sinaloa (the state where Mazatlan resides) grows the bulk of produce in Mexico, so Mazatlan produce is unbelievably cheap as a result. You see this reflected in top restaurants all the way down to street markets.



2. South Africa



Why: In South Africa, the exchange rate is in our favor, but so is the fact that it's a developed tourist destination with a solid infrastructure. In spending a month in Cape Town earlier this year and relying on Uber to get me to and from meetings, activities and lunches, I averaged under $20 in transportation per day — a major win.
Hotels are cheaper, too: Take a standard room at Taj Hotels & Resorts in New York, and you are out about $786 a night, whereas in Cape Town, a room at a similar luxury property costs $266. Remember, South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite: Consider going in low season (our summer) when hotels and safari lodges are even less expensive.
Airbnb and private villa rentals are also reliable and cheap options in the major cities. Travelers should also consider booking domestic airfare in advance for the greatest cost savings, since flights on South African Airways can sell out quickly.
The best value of all is the wine: Travelers can order a glass of one of the best locally produced varietals for less than the cost of a can of soda. For more information on travel in South Africa, watch "Michaela's Map: First Timers' Guide to Southern Africa."



3. San Juan, Puerto Rico


Why: The best way to get a deal in the Caribbean is to travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December) to destinations that have direct and frequent fights from your gateway; plenty of hotel inventory; and economies that aren't euro-based.
Puerto Rico fits the bill, and I'm a big fan of San Juan, which I think is seriously underrated as an easy and affordable getaway, especially for visitors from the East Coast of the U.S. Old San Juan oozes charm, and if you stay within the old city's two-square-mile radius you won't need a car rental to access great restaurants, sightseeing and shopping.
U.S. citizens can save themselves the cost of a passport since it's not required to visit, and since the U.S. dollar is the legal tender, there's no money lost on currency exchange. Hotel Casa Blanca and Villa Herencia are two of my favorite high-style/low-cost boutique hotels.



4. Chile



Why: Europe is on everyone's list of value-added trips this year and for good reason — the exchange rate is more favorable for American travelers than it has been in years. But the destinations I most dream about and long to return to are in South America, a destination that has long given travelers great value for money.
In Chile, I love Santiago for its vibrant food and wine scene — think tucked-away wine bars, delicious tapas and hip hotels in a beautifully chaotic city. For a lesser-known and truly special corner of the world, I love the small lakeside town of Puerto Varas. It is part of the lakes district in Chile and the northern start of Patagonia.
It is easy (and cheap!) to rent a car and explore this area. There is a surprising German heritage, so you'll see signs for "kuchen" (cake). With Puerto Varas as a hub, you can explore great places within a two-hour drive from the city: going to the top of a volcano, exploring waterfalls, finding the best cakes and food.
This area sees very few American visitors and everything is CHEAP. It's one of those places I almost want to keep to myself, but it's so special that I can't.



5. Crete

Why: With the U.S. dollar strong against the euro right now and the economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe, it’s the perfect time to visit the beautiful island of Crete. Crete is a foodie dream come true.
A place where farm-to-table isn’t a new fad, it’s a way of life. The people here often live to be well over 100 years old so they must be doing something right! With truly stunning natural beauty (like Balos beach) and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, you are bound to have the trip of a lifetime and save a few dollars at the same time.



6. Morocco


Why: For many, Morocco is the ultimate dream trip, and yet cost tends to keep most from visiting. But what you might not know is that it's one of the most affordable African countries, particularly when comparing flight costs. R
eaching Marrakech from cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Paris may only set you back $40 to $100 roundtrip with many budget airlines. And this past Black Friday, flights from New York were a mere $400 roundtrip.
Food is by far my main reason for visiting as often as I do, and typical meals can range from $2.50 to $15 for two, which includes appetizers, entree and unlimited mint tea. For vegetarians and vegans, the country is especially great, as veggies are cheaper than meat and fresh fruit smoothies are barely $1.
Souvenir shopping can get a bit intense when you realize leather goods such as wallets, handbags and weekenders run from $5 to $60. (A shopaholics dream!) When it comes to accommodations there's something to fit everyone's budget, my favorite being Riad Yasmine (only $80-$160 per night).
For those looking for Moroccan luxury while still on a budget, my go-to is Riad Kheirredine, which will have you living like a queen without breaking the bank and even provides a cell phone during your stay to ensure guest safety.



7. Belize



Why: Modern conveniences and history collide in Belize. It's a perfect place to take a budget romantic vacation. Many of the four-star hotels offer extras, like bicycle rentals, included in their low rates, as well as Belize's excellent local wines.
Some affordable resorts to check out are George Hardie's Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye. Both can be booked for under $100 per night.
Meals are also crazy cheap, but delicious. Two can eat at an upscale restaurant for less than $30, and much less at an everyday venue.



8. Vietnam



Why: Affordable upscale accommodations, cheap and remarkably healthy food and beautiful sights make Vietnam a standout among budget-friendly South Asian destinations.
Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone's wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night.
Don't miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths.
You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming "pho" noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.



9. Costa Rica


Why: Costa Rica is the one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and to be able to see this on a shoestring is an incredible opportunity.
There's a ton of national parks to explore, for instance, that only cost a few dollars to enter. Once there, you can then enjoy free self-guided walks that won't cost you a cent, but will deliver some great encounters with amazing wildlife like tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws.
Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks are two of the best. Public transport is also super cheap in Costa Rica, with buses generally less than $10, even for an eight-hour ride. This makes traveling between destinations in this compact country very affordable and means you can see a lot in a short amount of time.
In addition, budget accommodation in Costa Rica — even at some of the best surf beaches — can be as little as $6 per person. And a "plato tipico" (local dish) can be enjoyed anywhere for as little as $2-3.



10. Portugal



Why: Portugal is a pocket of affordable travel in contrast to the rest of Western Europe, especially if you get off the highways and take the back roads (where you can also avoid tolls).
A bottle of delicious port and a plate of the day with a glass of wine can be found for around €5 each. Nowhere else in the world can its "California Highway 1 meets Tuscany" landscapes be enjoyed on such a budget, especially now that the dollar is strong against the euro.



11. Ecuador



Why: Although Ecuador is not quite as inexpensive as Peru to the south, it’s an easy and affordable destination to travel to, especially if you stay a bit off the beaten path. It’s a short cheap flight from Florida with budget airlines like jetBlue and TAME, and accommodation is pretty cheap.
Shop at your local market and you can get a week’s worth of groceries for $10. And Ecuador has lots of variety; from surf beach towns like Montanita, to the volcanic Banos with famed hot springs at the gateway to the Amazon basin, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca in the high Andes, there’s a lot to see. The bus systems are good and domestic flights cheap and plentiful. F
ind a free accommodation option like house-sitting or volunteering, and your trip can be even cheaper.



12. Barcelona



Why: Barcelona is ranked right up there with cities like Paris and London as one of the most popular European cities, but it is by far the most affordable. This is thanks to low-cost tapas restaurants, endless free attractions and affordable things to do.
Have a meal of tapas and wine at El Xampanyet for around €10-15. Soak up the rays on the beach at Barceloneta. Get lost in the La Boqueria Market.
And take the tram up to Tibidabo (only €5) for sweeping panoramic views of the city; it's also where you can experience a vintage amusement park and a gorgeous cathedral.



13. Where: Guatemala


Why: Often bypassed in favor of nearby Costa Rica, Guatemala is unique unto itself in Central America. And because it's a bit more "off the path" in the region, it's also easy on the budget and a nice place to splurge.
The villas and hotels rimming Lake Atitlán have all the beauty you could want for a small fraction of the price you'd pay in Europe or elsewhere. From the lake, you can then delve into the country's unique culture by visiting the indigenous markets and villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
Lush Atitlan is a gorgeous, affordable place to stay in San Marcos La Laguna, the prettiest and most culturally interesting of Lake Atitlan's villages.


14. Bonaire & Curaçao


Why: In the deep Southern Caribbean, Bonaire and Curaçao are always out there on the edge of everyone's Caribbean consciousness. Both are known for scuba diving, but also for other water sports, hiking and amazing secluded beaches.
Vacation villas that let you live like a local are plentiful and affordable on both islands, but chain hotels like the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino are an option on Curaçao (great if you're using points).
Bonaire gets its very first chain hotel at the end of 2016 when a Marriott Courtyard opens.



15. Las Vegas



Why: If you can avoid the slots, there are lots of free things to do in Vegas: The Flamingo's flamingo habitat, the fountains and conservatory at the Bellagio and the outdoor movies at the Container Park are just a few.
You can also find many places for cheap eats if you are willing to get off The Strip to do so. Check out the nearby Crown and Anchor, which serves up delicious British favorites, and Ninja Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go for fresh-made amazing sushi rolls in a no-frills setting.



16. Cambodia



Why: Sadly, the average income in Cambodia is about $950 per year. What does this mean for international travelers? Your international airfare might be expensive, but once you are in Cambodia, you can live well. Tuks tuks (a combo bike/taxi) and food cost just pennies. Even international hotel chains and luxury river boats down the Mekong are more affordable than other Asian destinations.
Before visiting, I suggest doing your homework to support luxury companies like the Shinta Mani Resort, whose foundation plays a large role in its community, building water wells, schools and farms and providing the best healthcare in the country to its employees. Culturally conscious companies like Aqua Expeditions sustainably introduce their guests to the communities along the Mekong River, including the floating markets and the farmers in the rice fields; the company can even arrange a conversation with a local Buddhist monk to discuss the significance of his journey from childhood to monkhood.




17. Bali



Why: If you're looking into an exotic long-haul trip, Bali offers a ton of high quality experiences for a great value. You can easily stay in a private villa overlooking stunning rice paddies with a private pool for around $50 per night. (Airbnb is a great way to go).
However, if you want to splurge a bit but not go overboard, a stay at a high-end luxury resort will still cost you less than a stay at a luxury resort, for example, in Maui. Not to mention, spa and transportation costs are quite low relative to other exotic locales, as well as the amazing and healthy food options that end up being a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.



18. Greece



Why: The weakened euro has made any trip to Europe more affordable, but this is especially true in Greece. The struggling economy craves tourist dollars and makes it known with affordable pricing on everything from hotels to food.
In Athens, you can book a three- or four-star hotel for well under $100, like 360 Degrees, a nice and modern hotel with a huge breakfast buffet included and an awesome location directly on Monastiraki Square.
Throughout the countryside, prices may be even better. Best of all, you can sit down to an amazing Greek meal with drinks (Mythos or Ouzo?), appetizers (Saganaki, anyone?) and entrees of your choosing for less than half what you'd pay in the States. Heck, you can pick up Souvlaki or a gyro for $1-$2. Souvenirs are insanely cheap, too.



19. Albania

Why: This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise very touristy and expensive continent.
With fantastic beaches along its coastline, including the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives visitors the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price. Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are similarly well priced.
There's also some fascinating historical sites across Albania that are either free to enter or cost only $2-$5. From the moutainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is definitely worth visiting before the crowds do.



20. San Luis Potosí, México


Picture a perfect class III white water rafting experience through a limestone canyon of turquoise waters, a visit to a living garden of eden, complete with art sculptures, hidden pools, butterflies and waterfalls, a hike to the largest known cave shaft in the world, which you can rappel into, and a series of waterfalls for cliff jumping.
Top this all off with a plate of homemade tacos and a local beer for $2, and you've got yourself a piece of adventure paradise on a budget.
Still very much under the radar to anyone outside of Mexico, San Luis Potosí could be compared to Costa Rica in terms of adventure and Cambodia in terms of affordability. Since Election Day, the dollar has been especially strong in Mexico, offering an even better excuse to travel south of the border.



21. Quebec City, Canada

Why: Take advantage of the weak Canadian dollar and travel north for a 25% discount on prices.
Enjoy a slice of Old Europe without the jet lag or the cost of a transatlantic flight. Indulge in some of the best French food outside France — steak-frites, oysters and pastries at a bargain price. Stroll and shop in the narrow cobblestone streets of the picturesque Old Town and enjoy night parades and ice canoe races during the colorful Winter Festival in January and February.



22. Buenos Aires



Why: One of the world's most intoxicating cities, Buenos Aires has only grown in popularity, but it's still relatively cheap compared to European and Asian capital cities. There are many green parks, French-inspired architecture, late-night dancing, custom leather shops and fantastic food.
Taxis are relatively cheap (around $5-8 a ride), but you should also walk for miles in all of the distinct neighborhoods, like Palermo (try Salon Canning, a super casual milonga, or dance hall, after midnight). Must-try cheap eat in Buenos Aires: anything dulce de leche. It is everywhere — inside crepes, drizzled over grilled bananas and in gelato.
Tip: Bring a ton of American cash and you'll get better deals in many places. For example, I bought my custom leather jacket at a shop called Uru Recoleta (close to the famous Recoleta Cemetery) and was able to buy it for much less than using my credit card because I brought American dollars.
On Sundays, the place to be is the San Telmo market for browsing leather, antiques, watches, jewelry and more.



23. Haiti

Why: While Haiti still remains under the radar as a travel destination, many people have been flocking to the vibrant country, and I can see why: The island provides all the stunning Caribbean characteristics without the high costs. Outside of holiday seasons and the later part of the summer, flights from New York range from $300 to $500, and even cheaper when flying from cities in Florida.
The real gem is how cheap the hotels are, with many starting at $50 to $150 per night including airport transfers. Even the newest Marriott Port-au-Prince will only set you back $130 to under $200 a night for larger rooms.
One of my favorites is Wahoo Bay Beach, which has epic mountain and ocean views from its stunning pool and rooms. You can take small boat tours around the area for a couple of dollars per person. Lobster, conch and crab can be caught right from the water and prepared for you without costing more than $10.





24. Santa Catalina Island, California

Why: Santa Catalina Island is one of my new favorite places. It is way more than a weekend SoCal jaunt. Hotels are quaint and average under the $200 per night mark. The Avalon Hotel is a charming choice. It’s right in the center of town, making it an easy walk to almost any activity. There is plenty to do, like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking or just beach sitting.
The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit stop to get the full story of the island's fascinating history, including its Hollywood connection. Food and shopping choices are extensive.
And you don’t need a rental car. Getting to the island is easy: Catalina Express Ferry whisks you to there from three different ports, Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro. I prefer Long Beach because flights there are often lower priced than neighboring LAX.



25. Indonesia



Why: With 17,000 islands, you are bound to find the ideal paradise to suit your travel and budget in Indonesia.
There are stunning untouched beaches that offer world-class snorkelling and scuba diving in Raja Ampat, fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century in Yogyakarta and — everywhere you turn — the friendliest locals. In Raja Ampat, we found a homestay that included breakfast, lunch and dinner — plus it was right on the beach for around $29 USD per person per night. For more, see Food Fun Travel's "Bali Food Guide."



26. Bulgaria

Why: The entire Balkans region is an excellent option for budget travel, and if you haven't been before, I recommend starting with Bulgaria.
From wine country to snowy peaks to the Black Sea coast, it's an adventure playground that every budget can afford. In Bulgaria's wine country you can get a full winery tour with multiple tastings plus bread and cheese for about $5 (check out Villa Melnik winery), take a hike through Bulgaria's famous sandstone pyramids and then sleep in a beautiful authentic style hotel like Zlaten Rozhen with breakfast included for about $30.



27. Cusco, Peru



Why: Most people who pass through Cusco are en route to the very popular Machu Picchu, but you should make sure to spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks in this colorful city. Not only is the city absolutely stunning and oozing with culture, most accommodations range from $20 to $100 a night. Peruvian textiles are extremely affordable and the vibrant colors are stunning.
Eating out in Cusco can be extremely cheap, if you know where to eat. Restaurants are quite affordable compared to most American and European restaurants, but street food here is the real winner. I'm personally addicted to ceviche and can't find it cheaper than $15 for a small portion in the states, but in Cusco's San Pedro Market you can find ceviche plus Peruvian fried rice for only $3.
On my last trip, I had steak and ceviche nearly every day and never spent more than $15 for two including a drink and soup.



28. Georgia
Why: Meagen Collins: This ancient European country is starting to grab the attention of travelers from all over the world. Georgia has so much to offer — beautiful scenery, unique culture and tradition everywhere you look, and the food will leave you drooling for more.
Add to that the fact this country lays claim to being the birthplace of wine (winemaking here goes back 8,000 years) and you have the ultimate new travel destination.
In Georgia, you can get a full meal plus copious amounts of wine for two people in a higher end restaurant, with live entertainment and still spend less than $30 — total. But get there fast: Word is getting around about this little gem and it won’t be tourist-free for long.



29. Mozambique



Why: This country is one of Africa's best budget travel destinations, with some extremely affordable accommodation situated along white sand beaches and next to an azure ocean. (Check out Villa Sands or Terraço das Quitandas.)
There's great scuba diving, too, and you can easily feel like a millionaire here for nothing! For more ideas, see Big World Small Pocket's "17 Incredible Budget Travel Destinations Still On My List (That Should Be On Yours Too!)."



30. Dallas, Texas



Why: Dallas is often overlooked, but packed with fun, food and great places to stay at prices far below the national average. (The city was voted the most affordable destination in the U.S. last year by Priceline and continues to remain a great value.) Downtown buzzes with excitement and culture, and the nearby Design District is exploding with eclectic shopping for home décor.
The high-rise Omni Dallas has rooms with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the city starting at just under $200, putting you in the center of the action. With a rental car, you can fully explore everything the city has to offer. Look at fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano for the charm of small towns of yesteryear with main street shops and eateries.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine is convenient to DFW airport and offers full-out luxury at rates around the $200 mark.

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Never In My Wildest Dreams

You came into my world like high beams on some two lane highway in the middle of a desert night; just as I lost the fight between thirty more miles and pulling over for a nap until sunrise. Fracturing my momentary dream into a million pieces of panic and surprise as your light burned through the lids of my eyes and your horn’s noise grabbed at nerves that shook my insides alive.

I remember the giant halo of your glow and light coming head on, the fog in my brain was overwhelming, as muscle memory spurred both hands and they registered on the wheel. My grasp was wrapped tight and pulled sharply, sending me into a wrenching swerve; a sudden desperate attempt to avoid our impending collision, as you careened head long my way. In the moments that came, I couldn’t tell if you were slowing or attempting to avoid the obstruction of my vehicle that had wondered into your lane. I only knew the fear as my life flashed before my frozen, bulging eyes. I felt my knuckles strain, threatening to rip flesh, as they pulled against the tension of my grasp on the wheel.

I remember feeling my knee slam under the dash as terror took me and I over compensated. With pang in knee, I stabbed my foot back down at the break. I remember the feeling of gravity shift as my vehicle began to swerve and my body flatten into the door panel as I began the fight to regain control of my vehicle, careening down that lonely highway.

I remember my body recognized and felt something I couldn’t have truly felt. At least something felt different, this specific time, than any other before or after. Both the fear of loosing control and this new feeling are forever linked somehow. It was something I felt as my shoulder pressed into the drivers side door panel: the feel of the gravel beneath my tires, not in the normal sense of peeling out, or hot rodding around a turn, or when you are navigating a gravel incline and a tire slips, spinning a bit. But, I remember feeling every, single, piece, of gravel, as my tires slid over them, like they were brail desperately attempting to be read by someone with an untrained hand.

And suddenly, I remember, I was fighting gravity to avoid being thrown into the empty passenger seat next to me; with the dutiful assistance of my seat belt I remained square in seat. By this point my perspiration was beading at my brow and my palms were slick and damp. The smell filling my nose was terrible: rubber skidding across tar and the metal chemical burn of clutch mixed with burning metallic fumes of locked, red hot breaks. The noxious smoke produced from the instant tire tread wear of tires attempting to grapple with the texture of pavement at sixty miles per hour and the dust thrown up from the narrow desert road was thick in the air as my vehicle began to spin violently. This must have been one of my wildest dreams.

Your tail lights passed by my view out the front windshield a few times before I came to a slow, lazy roll backwards, eventually coming to a halt on the pavement; vision now dizzy and disoriented. My motion had not stopped however. The spinning had turned my head into one of those twirling carnival rides and transformed my extremities into shaking nerve noodles, who’s vibration emanated from my core.

Regaining my composure, I found myself immediately worried about who I had almost collided with and what state they were in; my concern seemingly met with reply as your hazard lights lit up from the tail lights of your vehicle ahead. I remember blood pumping in my temples as I raced toward your vehicle, grateful to be alive, and grateful you were still on the road and in one piece as well. Closing the distance to your flashing hazards just hoping you were okay. I felt embarrassed and foolish for putting myself, and you, at risk not stopping a few miles back. I prayed you were not scared or upset with me. Not knowing what to expect as I slowed to a jog nearing your vehicle, I took in the details of the multiple spins my vehicle completed as it whipped round and round directly down the center of the highway. I took in the sight of fresh tread on the pavement left by my tires, scrawled like a signature of some artist signing their work of near miss.

I remember as I looked up again to where your vehicle had come to a stop, that you too where now running my direction. As we approached each other I could tell we both did a quick visual assessment of each other, our vehicles, the tire tread scrawl on the road. We asked each other if the other was okay and learned no harm had come to the other other than shaken nerves and a bit of embarrassment on my part.

I remember hearing your laugh for the first time as we sat on the side of that highway in the middle of the night and lost track of time. We talked about everything, and nothing, as we watched the stars and smiled at each other honestly. Morning came faster than either of us expected announcing it’s a rival gloriously. The sunrise was exceptionally beautiful that morning. As we peacefully watched, finally pausing in conversation for the first time since we met, we took in it’s orange, blue, yellow, and pink shifting colors sharing glances at each other now and then, smiles and blushing cheeks as we did.

As the morning sun’s heat set upon our skin and the brightness of the desert view began to become overwhelming you turned to me with a smile. I remember taking your business card and the electricity fire through my fingertips as our hands touched for the first time.

Your touch felt so exotic then, like some distant land I had read a million books about and knew every detail of but had only learned from in the texts written in those pages. I imagine I looked like an adventurer, captivated and in awe, as they stepped of an old steam engine train onto a new landscape. Amusing the locals watching a new traveler standing starstruck seeing, smelling, and feeling the foreign environment they had read so much about but were only experiencing in person for the first time.

As I put your business card into my wallet, so many unknown feelings and pressing questions that I wanted to ask you were coming to my head fighting each other for place in line and internally pleading for one more second of your time. They were interrupted by one major new question I hadn’t considered so distracted by my internal conflict.

When would I would see you again? This question was followed by an even larger: Would I see you again? I was so caught off guard at their staggering weight I remember feeling intimidated by how much it meant to me. I chickened out. I didn’t ask and though in that moment didn’t know what to do with myself, or my shaken emotions, as we said our good byes.

Before you turned to depart I managed to make sure you too had my number and awkwardly, shuffled back, half facing you, half trying to walk away. I could tell you noticed in the words your smile always seemed to hold.

I remember you driving away and the stress I felt realizing we were going in opposite directions for the first time since we met and how something immediately felt missing in my world. I remember kicking myself not wanting to end up just some guy who you met and called you down the road or being just a story of a time you almost got hit head on by some guy in the middle a desert one night. A bit late, but just in time, I buckled my seat belt and decided not to become that guy. I threw my vehicle in drive and accelerated after you. Headed in your direction for the first time.

My heart raced as I drove fast to catch up to your vehicle once again and as I pulled up behind you, obnoxiously got your attention with my horn and the flashing of my lights. I couldn’t believe I had chased after you like a crazy! What would you think of this? Was I crazy?

As you stepped out of your vehicle your beauty was staggering and I confidently acknowledged, almost applauded myself; I had made the right decision. I jogged up to you on the pavement of that two lane highway and blurted out “When will I see you again?!”. Your laugh told me everything as it often did, I would learn.

I canceling my plans, my new job would have to wait, or I’d find a new one when I got to my destination. I suddenly had you placed at the center of my life’s main screen and didn’t for one second consider what else was on outside in my periphery. Everything seemed like it mattered just a little bit less than the focus my mind found when trained on you. I spent the day with you, headed in your direction. We played, both lost in the world together, on a new adventure, and loving every moment of it.

By that evening I was already in love, and knew it as for the first time I watched the sunset reflect forever in your eyes. I will never in my wildest dreams forget your smile when I admitted my love to you as we watched those stars again, together, that second night.

I also remember how we really met, and this isn’t it! Not even close! But it sure could have been. I mean, some things are similar to how we met all those years ago. You do remember don’t you?

The night we first met we were hurling in each other’s direction at a million miles per hour and barely missed colliding. That near miss put us into permanent dance as we orbited each other - dancing in and out of each other’s life, always friends, lovers, strangers, family; whatever we needed to be for the other at that specific moment in time. The first night we met I knew I had met the most amazing woman and I couldn’t believe that I had finally found you; never in my wildest dreams did I think you were really out there.

We did watch the stars and talked until the sun came up. We also spent the next day playing together and I really did watch the sunset reflect forever in your eyes. I did fall in love with you, only immediately, almost at first sight.

My love switch flipped the very moment you said “Hiiii” that way you did. Your mysterious brown eyes - strands coloring them wonderful, as your cheeks smiled for days. They reached into me latching onto my heart and I did not resist the comfort of your grasp. There was just something so familiar in the way you drew me in and made a place for me in your world. I felt like I had seen this smile of yours before somewhere and it belonged right after that “Hiiii”, and right in front of me. There was also something so familiar in the way you said my name, always smiling, you giggled a lot more back then.

I chased after you and that smile, following the echoes of that giggle from that moment on without any regret and loved every moment you chased me back laughing as we played. I remember how grateful I was getting to know you, and how grateful I always will be to have spent all the moments we shared through the years, building our story. The rest of that story and how we really first met is ours. A story to be remembered another time I think.


I remember the many other things that are similar in the story I have told but happened completely differently, to a completely different moment, in a completely different part of our story that I’d like to share in this letter to you. I think it is supposed to help...telling you these things, we always shared our deepest feelings with each other and It’s hard holding them all by myself. I’m working on it, love, I promised. Writing these letters to you and the chapters of our time together contained within.
In this part of our story, the true part of this story, and part of our chapters I’m sharing in this letter is a moment where I remember a collision that happened head on and it all started with a phone call.

I remember we were both asleep at the wheel and wholly unprepared as I raced down the highway to you. I remember how sudden the impact came after I reached your side. I remember the pain and jarring as your light in my world, that light that engulfed my vision completely, was in a moment no longer present. I remember my confusion as my momentum came to a complete, and immediate, stop. I remember that I didn’t even have time to scream or brace myself as everything in my world shattered in a devastating explosion and all it’s shiny pieces showered into the air around me. I remember that I didn’t even have both hands on the wheel as my life turned upside down. I remember that there was no seat belt to fasten me in as my breath choked in my throat, stalled, as if suspended mid air.

I remember the look, taste, sound, smell, touch, and feeling of every, single, thing, in that hospital room. I remember the smell of my tears in your hair. I remember how soft your skin was and that your fingernails were not painted like they normally were as I held your hand. I remember the feeling of my nerves as they achieved complete pandaemonium within me. I remember I was trembling as I struggled to breath between crying, then breathing, then crying, tasting the snot running from my nose mixed with the salt that clung to my face as I sat at your side. I remember hearing the sobs in the room as your heart rate monitor stopped blinking. I remember that exact moment you left me. I remember all of the feelings I felt at that moment as my emotions burned deep within and imprinted them as if by brand, permanently emblazoned on my soul. I remember not having the words for them then and I still do not have words for them now.

I remember every single detail, reflected in the pieces of my world as they crashed to the polished surface of the tiny room’s grey and white checkered tile floor. I remember that for the first time in a long time we were no longer running toward each other, or in the same direction together, and you weren’t there to make sure I was okay. I remember praying that you would be okay but my heart didn’t hear the echo of yours anymore to be sure. I remember hoping you were not lonely just minutes after you left and began crying: differently, because I didn’t know how to be there for you like I promised I always would be. I remember wanting so badly to chase after you, especially in the months that followed your funeral to keep that promise I made. I remember wanting to make sure you weren’t alone and be by your side as you took off on this new adventure to make sure you got under way okay. I remember trying to lighten my mood and joke about you making a new friend jealous, telling them about a guy that loved you unconditionally in another life. But, I remembered I could not chase you this time; I couldn’t be there to hold you if you happened to fall in love with him and he broke your heart. There was no catching up to you minutes down the road, just to see your smile again and hear you laugh at me for being silly. There was no way to pick you up off the ground and piece your heart back together with pieces of mine if it was broken this time.

I can only hope you receive all the letters like this one and that you are able to answer my call when I get home. We can meet in the middle of some two lane highway in the clouds, talking about life down below, or everything, or nothing, and laugh at the concept of time.

I can’t wait for that moment I see you again and we can remember all the years since the night we first met and remind each other how that story really went. I want so badly to be reminded exactly how it feels seeing the sunset reflect forever in your eyes like I used to.

I remember you every single day and wrote this letter to remind you: that more than anything, I patiently wait to learn how we finish our story, because never in my wildest dreams, could these stars be as beautiful as I remember, all those moments, I spent watching them with you.

10 Love
4 Share
2 Years of Nojoto Can you write a patriotic story?

This question was asked to me on Quora which is a social media app for asking questions and getting answers

Read the answer below

PRAKASH:

……………….

Year 1958 somewhere between Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan-

In some Pakistani school-

“Did you see that triple hundred scored by Hanif Mahamad?”

“Absolutely. He is a God”

“I wish I can bat like him one day”

“Stupid. First you need to register yourself to a cricket coaching camp”

“How do I do that? My father is labourer. He works for Khan saab. My father can't afford that. He barely puts foods on the table. It's a pipe dream which never going to be real”

(Silent crying)

“Don't be sad Prakash. When there's a will there's a way”

Couple of years later in Karachi-

“Alam Sir, I want to play cricket”

“Hmm. What is your name?”

“Prakash Sharma”

“Hindu!!! Wow!! I never thought I would see one in Pakistan!! Why are you people even here? Go back to your fucking Hindustan”

“You mean India!?”

“Yeah, whatever fancy name British gave. It will be always Hindustan to us. The point is Indians can't play cricket. Indians are lazy, idiots and unathletic superstitious dirty people. And you want to be a cricketer?!? Go be cobbler or something. That's more practical. Stupid Hindus”

Poor Prakash was broken hearted. He sat under one tree and cried his heart out.

When he went to his home, he saw his mother was quarreling with his father-

“If you send Asha to marry that bearded mullah. I will kill myself. He is old and already have five wives. Are you even human anymore?”

“You don't understand Shanti, we need money desperately. I can't carry this family anymore. He promised to give me 100 Pakistani rupees. Can you imagine 100 Pakistani rupees!!? That's a lot. They have money. Asha would be all right”

“You are selling your daughter”

“Yeah, what are the our options? No. Tell me Shanti. What is our option? We barely have any Hindus anymore after partion. Those who are here either begging or doing some slave job in Hyderabad. Asha would be okay marrying the Khan saab”

Prakash was already sad. He couldn't take this anymore. He went into his room and shut the door.

5 years later-

One morning-

Prakash was preparing to go in the paddy field as usual. Suddenly, he heard his old mother was crying.

“What happened?”

“They killed Asha. She wasn't young anymore. So they killed her after torturing her for so many years. They even sold her daughter to nearby ‘bayt daeara' (Brothel)”

Poor Prakash was feeling so helpless. He went to that bayt daeara to look for her niece.

But it was already too late. He found out that she was already sold to a Suadi Arabian theatre group. And they already were gone from Pakistan.

Poor Prakash thought at first to kill himself. Then he just bought a cheap wine from local illegal shop and got hammered.

He woke up hearing a lady voice.

“Bastard!! Get the hell out of here. Look he is sleeping here as if he owns the place”

(A lot of lady laughter)

Prakash was hung over from last night so he could barely see what was going on. He got up somehow. His head was still spinning.

He sat beside a nearby tree and again went to sleep. When he woke up, he heard a female crying voice. It was night time. He realised that he slept the whole day.

He went to look for the crying voice. He found one hole in one of the rooms where from the sound was coming. He peeked through the hole and he saw one guy in expensive salwar kameez was beating up one girl. He forced himself onto her.

Prakash could not watch anymore. He puked all over the place.

One hour later-

He again peeked through the hole and saw that the girl was still crying.

“Hey, behan (sister), do you want to get out of here?”

Girl was shocked.

“No. Who are you? Get out of there. If they saw you talking to me, they will kill you”

“Don't worry about me. I am coming from Punjab. I can take you out of here very easily. Now do you want to or not?”

“Why should I trust you? You are peeking through a hole?”

“Let's be honest, how much dangerous I can be, you are already going through hell everyday here”

“I don't know….”

“Don't think, just do it. We don't know when the guards would come back. I can't help you then”

“How do I get out of here?”

“Just jump from the window. I will catch you”

She did and Prakash managed to catch her.

But there was obviously sound. And guards were awakening.

“Come on, we don't have time. Let's run. We have to reach the station before they catch us”

While running both of them were hearing guard's realisation that one of their girl escaped.

They got on one compartment of a train. But the problem was that train wasn't moving.

“Saab, why the train isn't moving”

“Are you not from here? This train takes time to leave the station”

She was scared.

“Guards will be here and they will catch us and kill us”

“Shut up. Don't make any sound. It would be wise not to create any attention towards us”

One longest and insufferable hours passed-

Guards were searching through the station. They were searching all the trains including the one they were on. They were almost about to search their compartment. Both of them were sitting without taking any breath almost.

Suddenly, train started to move and leaved the station.

It was huge relief for both of them. They almost felt as if they were born again.

“What is your name?”

“Nusrat for now”

“What do you mean for now?”

“I was a hindu. They took me from home one night. And from then on I was living in that hell hole. I can't remember my actual name anymore”

“My name is Prakash Sharma. I will call you Archana from now on”

“Okay. Prakash ji. But where are we going?”

“My home”

When they reached their home and talked to Shanti and told her everything-

“What did you do? Now where do I keep her? I understand that you feel bad for the girl. But we can't keep her here. What will the neighbor say? Already there's a lot of social isolation because we are hindu. All kinds of things people say about us every other day. Now you bring her from bayt daeara!! I mean bayt daeara!!! You have lost your head”

“Just look at her eyes, mother. Just look at her innocent eyes and tell me that I didn't do the right thing”

Shanti could not hold herself back looking at sad innocent eyes of Archana. Both of them started to cry on each other shoulder.

Archana stayed there as Prakash's fake wife. Their relationship was just that. They never even spent in one room together.

Few months later-

People started to talk. One hindu nosy neighbour started to suspect something.

One day police came. They started to ask all kinds of questions about Archana.

Prakash managed to convince them otherwise. But police didn't look totally convinced.

Prakash realised that their nosy neighbour did this. When he confronted them about this.

“Sorry, Prakash, we live in good neighborhood. We don't want any unwanted attention here. It is always better to stay the good side of police”

Prakash was about give them his hard piece of mind but then he saw one of the police was talking to one of the guards from that bayt daeara in their police car.

He realised that there was no point arguing.

He came to Shanti and told her everything.

“Oh my god! What do we do now? Your father passed away. We just used to have both of us. Now because of Archana, we about to lose everything”

“I don't see that we have much options, mother. We have to escape to India. That is our only chance”

“What are you saying? How is it possible?”

“I have one friend in Lahore who illegally sell cows to India from border area. He has an understanding with the Pakistani border guards. I believe he can get us passed. We are childhood friend. He won't even take any money from us”

Archana heard everything.

“Thank you so much for everything. But it's time I return back to wherever I came from. I knew this won't last long. I can't put your family though anymore trouble because of me”

“What are you talking about, Archana? I didn't rescue you from that place to further sent you there. No, we are leaving Pakistan. I don't know where we would end up in India. But it would be better than Pakistan any day. I don't want to hear any negetivity from you”

“But why are you taking so many chances because of me? Is only because pity?”

“It was initially like that. But now I can't think my family without you”

“And why is that? What am I to you?”

“Someone close”

“Is that worth to take all this risk?”

“Absolutely”

Shanti was listening to both of their conversation. And last conversation put a smile on her face.

She was thinking, “These two don't even know that they like each other”

That night-

“What is going on, Prakash? Why your whole family is here?”

“Ali bhai, my friend, we are in serious trouble. We need to leave Pakistan immediately. Please help bhai. We will give you everything we have”

“No. No. Money isn't an issue. It's just that there has been more security tightening on the border than before. You know Kashmir issue has made everything more tensed between Hindustan and Pakistan. Cow smuggling is one thing but human!? It's completely different and risky. Let's see what I can do”

“Thank you so much bhai”

In India Pakistan border-

“I just talked to the border guards. They told me we just have one minute. If anyone sees us, we will be shot to death. Sorry, my friend. I can't help more than that”

“You have done so much already. I will always be grateful to you, my friend”

“Hey, you never know I might also settle in India in the future. The way things are regressing in Pakistan. Anything is possible”

“Absolutely, bhai. Absolutely”

All these rush made Shanti's old heart pumping. She realised that she was having heart attack.

“Prakash, you two go. I can't anymore. My heart is in tremendous pain”

“You have given birth to me, mother, I will never leave you. I will carry you on my shoulder, mother. Come quickly Archana”

But the road was too dangerous to carry Shanti. Prakash fall down crossing the border. Suddenly, bullets came flying in like rain.

One of the bullets took the head off Shanti.

Archana was about to shout through sheer shock but Prakash blocked her mouth with his hands and jumped across the border together leaving Shanti's dead body behind.

After getting close to Indian military camp, they both went unconscious because of all the stress and anxiety.

One day later-

Archana woke up.

“You finally woke up. I was starting to get worried. We are safe. I talked to Indian army, they are taking us to Delhi”

One Indian solder came.

“My name is lietenant Saeed Khan of Indian army. I have heard everything from Prakash. You are really brave and extremely lucky to be alive. I just talked my superiors and they have talked to the home minister. You are going to be awarded in Delhi. Your stories are all over the newspapers. Everyone is cheering your name in India. Wait for a big welcome in Delhi”

Prakash said, “Thank you so much Saab but we just want some peace and quiet place to stay.”

…………………………………………………………………………

Mordern day some where in India-

A laud cheer was going on in the press conference

One journalist asked, “Mr Rahul Sharma, today you are the captain of Indian cricket team. Best cricketer in the whole world. Some are even saying that you are the all time best ever. You are the most popular cricketer today. Yet we didn't know anything about your family past. How did you manage to keep this tragic yet such interesting past secret?”

Rahul Sharma replied, “I also didn't know anything about my great grandfather Prakash Sharma's struggle. Until few years ago in our old house I found the diary of my grand father's father who wrote this after hearing from his mother Archana Sharma. I then decided to publish this book. I had to share this with everyone”

(Another loud clapping sound was going on)

THE END

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6 Love

PRAKASH:

……………….

Year 1958 somewhere between Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan-

In some Pakistani school-

“Did you see that triple hundred scored by Hanif Mahamad?”

“Absolutely. He is a God”

“I wish I can bat like him one day”

“Stupid. First you need to register yourself to a cricket coaching camp”

“How do I do that? My father is labourer. He works for Khan saab. My father can't afford that. He barely puts foods on the table. It's a pipe dream which never going to be real”

(Silent crying)

“Don't be sad Prakash. When there's a will there's a way”

Couple of years later in Karachi-

“Alam Sir, I want to play cricket”

“Hmm. What is your name?”

“Prakash Sharma”

“Hindu!!! Wow!! I never thought I would see one in Pakistan!! Why are you people even here? Go back to your fucking Hindustan”

“You mean India!?”

“Yeah, whatever fancy name British gave. It will be always Hindustan to us. The point is Indians can't play cricket. Indians are lazy, idiots and unathletic superstitious dirty people. And you want to be a cricketer?!? Go be cobbler or something. That's more practical. Stupid Hindus”

Poor Prakash was broken hearted. He sat under one tree and cried his heart out.

When he went to his home, he saw his mother was quarreling with his father-

“If you send Asha to marry that bearded mullah. I will kill myself. He is old and already have five wives. Are you even human anymore?”

“You don't understand Shanti, we need money desperately. I can't carry this family anymore. He promised to give me 100 Pakistani rupees. Can you imagine 100 Pakistani rupees!!? That's a lot. They have money. Asha would be all right”

“You are selling your daughter”

“Yeah, what are the our options? No. Tell me Shanti. What is our option? We barely have any Hindus anymore after partion. Those who are here either begging or doing some slave job in Hyderabad. Asha would be okay marrying the Khan saab”

Prakash was already sad. He couldn't take this anymore. He went into his room and shut the door.

5 years later-

One morning-

Prakash was preparing to go in the paddy field as usual. Suddenly, he heard his old mother was crying.

“What happened?”

“They killed Asha. She wasn't young anymore. So they killed her after torturing her for so many years. They even sold her daughter to nearby ‘bayt daeara' (Brothel)”

Poor Prakash was feeling so helpless. He went to that bayt daeara to look for her niece.

But it was already too late. He found out that she was already sold to a Suadi Arabian theatre group. And they already were gone from Pakistan.

Poor Prakash thought at first to kill himself. Then he just bought a cheap wine from local illegal shop and got hammered.

He woke up hearing a lady voice.

“Bastard!! Get the hell out of here. Look he is sleeping here as if he owns the place”

(A lot of lady laughter)

Prakash was hung over from last night so he could barely see what was going on. He got up somehow. His head was still spinning.

He sat beside a nearby tree and again went to sleep. When he woke up, he heard a female crying voice. It was night time. He realised that he slept the whole day.

He went to look for the crying voice. He found one hole in one of the rooms where from the sound was coming. He peeked through the hole and he saw one guy in expensive salwar kameez was beating up one girl. He forced himself onto her.

Prakash could not watch anymore. He puked all over the place.

One hour later-

He again peeked through the hole and saw that the girl was still crying.

“Hey, behan (sister), do you want to get out of here?”

Girl was shocked.

“No. Who are you? Get out of there. If they saw you talking to me, they will kill you”

“Don't worry about me. I am coming from Punjab. I can take you out of here very easily. Now do you want to or not?”

“Why should I trust you? You are peeking through a hole?”

“Let's be honest, how much dangerous I can be, you are already going through hell everyday here”

“I don't know….”

“Don't think, just do it. We don't know when the guards would come back. I can't help you then”

“How do I get out of here?”

“Just jump from the window. I will catch you”

She did and Prakash managed to catch her.

But there was obviously sound. And guards were awakening.

“Come on, we don't have time. Let's run. We have to reach the station before they catch us”

While running both of them were hearing guard's realisation that one of their girl escaped.

They got on one compartment of a train. But the problem was that train wasn't moving.

“Saab, why the train isn't moving”

“Are you not from here? This train takes time to leave the station”

She was scared.

“Guards will be here and they will catch us and kill us”

“Shut up. Don't make any sound. It would be wise not to create any attention towards us”

One longest and insufferable hours passed-

Guards were searching through the station. They were searching all the trains including the one they were on. They were almost about to search their compartment. Both of them were sitting without taking any breath almost.

Suddenly, train started to move and leaved the station.

It was huge relief for both of them. They almost felt as if they were born again.

“What is your name?”

“Nusrat for now”

“What do you mean for now?”

“I was a hindu. They took me from home one night. And from then on I was living in that hell hole. I can't remember my actual name anymore”

“My name is Prakash Sharma. I will call you Archana from now on”

“Okay. Prakash ji. But where are we going?”

“My home”

When they reached their home and talked to Shanti and told her everything-

“What did you do? Now where do I keep her? I understand that you feel bad for the girl. But we can't keep her here. What will the neighbor say? Already there's a lot of social isolation because we are hindu. All kinds of things people say about us every other day. Now you bring her from bayt daeara!! I mean bayt daeara!!! You have lost your head”

“Just look at her eyes, mother. Just look at her innocent eyes and tell me that I didn't do the right thing”

Shanti could not hold herself back looking at sad innocent eyes of Archana. Both of them started to cry on each other shoulder.

Archana stayed there as Prakash's fake wife. Their relationship was just that. They never even spent in one room together.

Few months later-

People started to talk. One hindu nosy neighbour started to suspect something.

One day police came. They started to ask all kinds of questions about Archana.

Prakash managed to convince them otherwise. But police didn't look totally convinced.

Prakash realised that their nosy neighbour did this. When he confronted them about this.

“Sorry, Prakash, we live in good neighborhood. We don't want any unwanted attention here. It is always better to stay the good side of police”

Prakash was about give them his hard piece of mind but then he saw one of the police was talking to one of the guards from that bayt daeara in their police car.

He realised that there was no point arguing.

He came to Shanti and told her everything.

“Oh my god! What do we do now? Your father passed away. We just used to have both of us. Now because of Archana, we about to lose everything”

“I don't see that we have much options, mother. We have to escape to India. That is our only chance”

“What are you saying? How is it possible?”

“I have one friend in Lahore who illegally sell cows to India from border area. He has an understanding with the Pakistani border guards. I believe he can get us passed. We are childhood friend. He won't even take any money from us”

Archana heard everything.

“Thank you so much for everything. But it's time I return back to wherever I came from. I knew this won't last long. I can't put your family though anymore trouble because of me”

“What are you talking about, Archana? I didn't rescue you from that place to further sent you there. No, we are leaving Pakistan. I don't know where we would end up in India. But it would be better than Pakistan any day. I don't want to hear any negetivity from you”

“But why are you taking so many chances because of me? Is only because pity?”

“It was initially like that. But now I can't think my family without you”

“And why is that? What am I to you?”

“Someone close”

“Is that worth to take all this risk?”

“Absolutely”

Shanti was listening to both of their conversation. And last conversation put a smile on her face.

She was thinking, “These two don't even know that they like each other”

That night-

“What is going on, Prakash? Why your whole family is here?”

“Ali bhai, my friend, we are in serious trouble. We need to leave Pakistan immediately. Please help bhai. We will give you everything we have”

“No. No. Money isn't an issue. It's just that there has been more security tightening on the border than before. You know Kashmir issue has made everything more tensed between Hindustan and Pakistan. Cow smuggling is one thing but human!? It's completely different and risky. Let's see what I can do”

“Thank you so much bhai”

In India Pakistan border-

“I just talked to the border guards. They told me we just have one minute. If anyone sees us, we will be shot to death. Sorry, my friend. I can't help more than that”

“You have done so much already. I will always be grateful to you, my friend”

“Hey, you never know I might also settle in India in the future. The way things are regressing in Pakistan. Anything is possible”

“Absolutely, bhai. Absolutely”

All these rush made Shanti's old heart pumping. She realised that she was having heart attack.

“Prakash, you two go. I can't anymore. My heart is in tremendous pain”

“You have given birth to me, mother, I will never leave you. I will carry you on my shoulder, mother. Come quickly Archana”

But the road was too dangerous to carry Shanti. Prakash fall down crossing the border. Suddenly, bullets came flying in like rain.

One of the bullets took the head off Shanti.

Archana was about to shout through sheer shock but Prakash blocked her mouth with his hands and jumped across the border together leaving Shanti's dead body behind.

After getting close to Indian military camp, they both went unconscious because of all the stress and anxiety.

One day later-

Archana woke up.

“You finally woke up. I was starting to get worried. We are safe. I talked to Indian army, they are taking us to Delhi”

One Indian solder came.

“My name is lietenant Saeed Khan of Indian army. I have heard everything from Prakash. You are really brave and extremely lucky to be alive. I just talked my superiors and they have talked to the home minister. You are going to be awarded in Delhi. Your stories are all over the newspapers. Everyone is cheering your name in India. Wait for a big welcome in Delhi”

Prakash said, “Thank you so much Saab but we just want some peace and quiet place to stay.”

…………………………………………………………………………

Mordern day some where in India-

A laud cheer was going on in the press conference

One journalist asked, “Mr Rahul Sharma, today you are the captain of Indian cricket team. Best cricketer in the whole world. Some are even saying that you are the all time best ever. You are the most popular cricketer today. Yet we didn't know anything about your family past. How did you manage to keep this tragic yet such interesting past secret?”

Rahul Sharma replied, “I also didn't know anything about my great grandfather Prakash Sharma's struggle. Until few years ago in our old house I found the diary of my grand father's father who wrote this after hearing from his mother Archana Sharma. I then decided to publish this book. I had to share this with everyone”

(Another loud clapping sound was going on)

THE END

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3 Love
As always, everyone in this story is eighteen years or older. This is a completely standalone story totally apart from my intricately related other ones.

A heads-up for those with short attention spans: this is long. Look elsewhere for a quick fix. I won't judge you for looking for something shorter and please don't judge me.

A heads-up for the squeamish types too: there are equal parts incest and anal here. Hope that's your cup of tea.

Enjoy.

Words on Skin: A little sister can't say some things out loud

*~*~* Part I *~*~*

Lizzie watched as her best friend Jessica brushed past her brother again on her way through their kitchen. The house was packed full of people and there was plenty to eat and drink in every room but Jess still managed to find a reason to swing through the kitchen every fifteen minutes to flirt with her brother.

"Heya stud," Jessica smiled, "it really is nice to see you back around these parts again. I kinda missed you." She winked, nodded at Lizzie and wandered off again with a few gratuitous wiggles of her curvy hips.

Lizzie's brother leaned into her with the question she saw coming, "Okay, what's with Jess? Does she like me now or something?"

Lizzie smirked and waited until Jessica turned a corner out of earshot. "Let's just say she likes the kinds of things she could do with you."

"And what kinds of things might they be?"

"You're the dumbest smart guy I know but even you're not that dumb. Either take that frisky cheerleader friend of mine upstairs and find out for yourself or stay down here and hang out with your adorable kid sister. Sounds like a close one. Want me to get a coin for you to flip, Scooter?"

"Don't bother dog-girl, I'm going with plan A."

Lizzie watched her brother toddle after Jessica. As consolation, she took a long swig of her beer, swallowed, and howled softly to herself, "Bawoo."

Her brother Richard was a year older and actually was the dumbest smart guy she knew. Sometimes she swore he couldn't see the nose in front of his face. He was pure book smarts from head to toe. He'd steamrolled through high school - racking up the highest GPA in the school's history then nailed a perfect SAT. He'd even be finishing up his undergraduate ahead of schedule. Less than three years for a physics degree at one of the best programs in the country? Who the hell could compete with that?

Lizzie sighed. She was proud of her big brother but sometimes he made her feel small. All she could do was run. Ba-frickin'-woo.

The "dog-girl" and "bawoo" thing? That started when her middle school track coach came to visit their house after school eight years ago. Lizzie and her brother snuck to the top of the stairs to listen to the grown-ups talking down in the kitchen.

"You have a lovely home, Miss Robbins, and I appreciate your agreeing to see me. I know you're a busy woman so I won't take up too much of your time. I'm happy to tell you that you have a very gifted child."

"I'm quite proud of Richard, but I thought..."

"I'm not here to talk about your son. I'm here to talk about Elizabeth. I'm her track coach. I thought you should know that Liz is an excellent runner. In fact, she may just be the best I've ever seen."

"Really? I mean, I guess she has always been quick on her little feet. If I look away for a second she's gone."

Lizzie remembered beaming proudly at Richard upstairs. She took this as a big compliment.

"It's more than just that, Miss Robbins. Look, middle school kids? Even the fast ones? They're a mess when they run, all of them pushing and shoving to get up front, to lead right from the beginning. It's complete chaos. None of them have the maturity or the patience to pace themselves. To hang back and wait for the right time to make their move. Hell, most of them won't even figure that out in high school. But not Lizzie. She's... she's very special."

"How so?"

"You need to come to our track meets. To support her and see what I mean at the same time. Lizzie doesn't run. She... well... she chases." The coach's voice grew more excited, "She does it every race. It's a beautiful thing to watch. Less than halfway through, Lizzie falls in a few yards behind the lead girl. She tracks her. She... she drives her. Heck, she even baits her. Then at the very end, Lizzie simply runs her down. Honestly, I don't think I'd even call what Liz does 'cross-country.' She's not just running. She's hunting. Like a... like a little dingo."

Upstairs, Richard hugged her with one arm and teased her softly, "Sweet, Mom's going to buy you a flea collar, sis."

"Bawoo," Lizzie howled quietly into his shoulder and giggled.

It was her very first bawoo.

Of course, the coach's offhand nickname stuck with Lizzie and "Li'l Dingo" would eventually be stitched across the back of her track uniforms.

As the years went by, Lizzie ran and ran and her body changed. By high school, the quick little blonde pixie became a sleek and slender young woman. Lizzie looked like a gazelle but she still ran like a predator. Chasing. Hunting. Winning. In fact, she would win state finals in cross country each of her four years in high school, a feat unheard of before Lizzie.

People even came to track meets to watch her. And who could blame them? She was hotter than hell in her school's skimpy little track uniforms, long, sleekly muscled legs and bobbing little breasts. Her finishes were always spectacular too. After loping along patiently at the number two spot for three miles, she'd get this crazy little grin. Then her legs would stretch, they'd quicken, and Lizzie would start her race. Without fail, she'd chase that poor last girl down like something small and tasty.

Two months ago, when Lizzie broke through the yellow tape at her last high school race, she didn't have to howl for herself. Her coaches, her family, and classmates were doing it for her, for their favorite little dingo, "Bawoo! Bawoo!"

Lizzie snapped out of her reminiscing when Richard reappeared with Jessica. The curvy, raven-haired cheerleader winked at Lizzie as she led her brother upstairs. One of Jessica's hands was already playing at the bottom of her tight tank top, obviously itching to get it off. Jessica liked to show off her body and Lizzie didn't blame her. Speaking objectively, Jessica's breasts were spectacular and she had every right to be proud of them. Of course, half the guys in their high school class could draw them from memory. Perhaps Jess was a little too proud of her boobs.

Lizzie took the next couple of minutes to finish her beer then she set it down. She chewed her lip again, pondering, then decided to follow them. She was more than a little curious and she knew her brother well. Odds were that he'd be too distracted by Jessica's charms to shut his sticky bedroom door completely.

She crept up towards his bedroom and she was right. There was a quite peekable gap left. She sat herself tipsily down on the floor for a little bit of perving. Okay, a lot of perving.

From the look of things, Richard was having one of the best nights of his life. Jessica had always been that perfect cheerleadery mix of flexibility and eagerness that drove guys crazy.

At that moment, Jessica was topless and cupping her oversized, flawless breasts in her hands with her lips wrapped around half of Richard's cock. Lizzie gaped. Her brother's erection was impressive and while Jess was working her mouth down on it steadily, she was definitely struggling. Her full lips strained to fit around his shaft. When she finally swallowed his entire length, she groaned from her chest and bobbed slightly.

Lizzie had to admit, Jess knew how to please a guy. The curvy brunette never forgot to look up and keep eye-contact with her brother even as her hands slid down from her own tits and under her skirt to quickly drag a small white thong down and off.

Yep, Jess knew what she was doing. Lizzie watched as her gal pal ditched her skirt then scooted onto the bed on her back and spread her legs. Lizzie and her brother's eyes were both drawn to the same place. Jessica was shaved completely bare. Her tiny glistening sex was a perfectly smooth and pink invitation. Scooter paused only long enough to finish getting his pants off and quickly slid on top of her.

Lizzie watched her friend's mouth fall open as Richard eased himself into her. Jess shifted and pulled her legs up very high, limberly hooking them over Richard's shoulders. Yep, flexible and eager. Damn cheerleaders.

For the next half hour, Lizzie watched her brother make love to her best friend. She was appalled and excited at the same time. Jessica shivered through three separate and very satisfying-looking orgasms before Richard groaned his own release. Lizzie assumed they were done.

But they weren't done.

Jessica slipped herself off the bed and did something Lizzie didn't expect -- not from her eighteen year-old friend. Jess stood, turned, and bent herself forward at the waist with her upper body on the bed. She swished her little cheerleadery bubble butt temptingly.

"C'mere Scooter, I've got this other hole you missed."

Out in the hallway, Lizzie's eyes slowly widened. Partly because Jessica had just used Lizzie's nickname for her brother. And partly because Jessica offered what she did - Lizzie had no idea her friend did... well... that.

Mostly though, Lizzie was astonished because her big brother, her sweet and gentle Scooter who used to read her bedtime stories when they were little, didn't hesitate. He simply stood and moved behind Jessica and then gave her just what she asked for, pressing himself into her ass with no more than a nod. Jessica whimpered at the invasion but didn't move away. Worst of all, the bastard was good at it, judging from the very happy groans Jessica made over the next ten minutes.

It was wrong and dirty and nasty and... hot.

Peering through the crack into her brother's bedroom at the gleeful sodomy scene, Lizzie's surprised face slowly spread into the same determined expression she wore at the last 100 yards of every race she'd ever run.

Lizzie would chase. And she'd win. She always did.

Bawoo.

She wandered back downstairs quietly for another beer.

*~*~* Part II -- One year later *~*~*

Twenty-years and two days old, Richard woke to the sounds of sea gulls crying and surf lapping at the beach. But it wasn't either of those things that drew him out of his sleep. It was a slender little finger that did it. That finger was tracing letters across his back. It wasn't all that odd, his kid sister Lizzie liked to wake him up this way - writing words on his skin.

They'd written messages like this for each other since they were children. It was their mother's idea. When they were young, their family went on long car rides to visit their grandparents. Little Richard and Elizabeth would get noisy in the back seat along the way -- two hours of nonstop tickling, poking, fighting, laughing and crying. Normal kid stuff, really. Unfortunately, their father was a bit high-strung and those long drives to see his in-laws only made him more tense.

Their mom did what good moms do. She buffered. She taught her children skinwriting to keep them occupied. "Give her your hand, Richie," his mother nodded at his sister from the front seat. "And close your eyes."

"Okay, now you think of a word, Liz. A small one. But don't say it out loud, honey. Ready? Now spell it on your brother's palm."

Liz nodded and traced each letter of her word with her tiny seven year-old finger. She had to write it twice before he could get it.

"Cat?" Richard finally guessed.

Liz giggled and their mother smiled. "Very good, you two. Lizzie, keep going until Richard guesses wrong. Let's see how many words you can get him to say."

Over the next two hours, their parents listened to the more peaceful sounds of elementary school vocabulary coming up from their backseat. "Dog." "House." "Truck." "Chicken, but you forgot the other 'c'."

Their mother's strange little improvised game was one of the many things that built a strong bond between Richard and Lizzie over the years. They had their tiffs and their struggles but they stuck by each other more than other siblings they knew. That bond grew even tighter when their family shrank a few years later. Their father died of a heart attack. No one was surprised -- he'd always been wound pretty tight. Their Mom missed him but she was leading an active, happy life again.

Richard focused on his sister's finger as it traced the three quick letters of her ritual puzzle before moving on to what she was going to make for breakfast.

The puzzle? He'd never solved it. Feeling what was for breakfast? That was easy.

"Pancakes," he muttered into the mattress.

"Good boy. And the other thing?" she scratched the thick brown hair at the back of his head.

"I still have no fucking idea what the hell 'imu' means."

"Ooh, poor little Scooter. Don't worry, you'll get it someday. You're the smartest dumb guy I know," she patted his back and left him alone to get dressed.

Stupid "imu" puzzle.

Eight years ago, he'd told her that she'd misspelled 'emu' and described the little ostrich-like bird. She'd laughed and shook her head, "Uh uh."

Seven years ago, he'd guessed that she'd cheated and skipped the apostrophe for "I'm U." Some sort of funny poetry thing. This of course made no sense. She'd laughed harder.

Lizzie's hardest laugh came three years ago when Richard, fresh from his first few weeks of high school physics had figured out that "I" was the letter for electrical current and the Greek letter "mu" was the symbol commonly used for a coefficient of friction. Thus, "I mu" meant "current friction" referring to how her finger was rubbing across his skin.

Lizzie had nearly wet herself laughing, "Dumbass, I wrote that for you when I was ten years-old. I barely understood what you just said now. How the hell could I have meant that then?"

She had a point.

Richard sighed into his pillow. He knew he was smarter than average and that he was pretty good at figuring things out. The fact that his little sister had stumped him for so long was a sore point.

Well, Lizzie was right about one thing -- pancakes sounded perfect for their first day at the beach.

By the time he splashed some water on his face and pulled on a bathing suit then made it to the kitchen, Lizzie had already finished cooking and was pouring coffee.

Amend that, pouring coffee in a bikini. Good god, his heart skipped several beats.

Lizzie's back was turned to him and the little black bikini's strings were knotted loosely at the middle of her back, her neck, and each hip.

Richard had long since made peace with the fact that his kid sister was far and away the prettiest girl he knew. Blonde with gigantic, soft, bambi-brown eyes, she was a gifted long distance runner and it showed. Basically, everyone agreed she looked like a gazelle. Her long, slender legs swept up into an equally sleek little ass. Her slim, tight upper body matched her lower half.

Lizzie Robbins was built for speed. And bikinis. She looked amazing in that suit.

He snapped out of his daze when she turned, golden ponytail swinging, and handed him a cup of coffee.

"How late did you get here last night?" she asked as she slid into her seat at the table. The motion made her round breasts sway slightly in her top and he only looked away with effort.

"Oh, a little after two. It took me that long to sober up from the birthday party they threw me at school. I'm going to need a lot of coffee today. Thanks." As proof, he took a long drag from his cup. His eyes flicked down her body again before he could stop them.

This time she caught him looking. "Like my new suit?" she needled him a bit, eyebrow cocked coyly.

"S'not bad," he shrugged. "It's just funny seeing you wearing it in the kitchen. My shy kid sister used to wear t-shirts over her suit right up until we got to the beach."

"That had more to do with Mom being around than being shy, dummy," she half-smiled, "No mom around to harass me now."

They ate breakfast and stepped out the back door and onto a patio overlooking a beach that they had all to themselves. Lizzie said her fiancée's parents rented the beach house for them for the last month of the summer, but he'd gotten dragged away to help with his Dad's company.

Lizzie... and her fiancée.

Wow, it even sounded weird. His little Lizzie, just one year into college, was getting married? And she'd never even brought the guy home to meet her family. She'd always been independent and headstrong but this was ridiculous. He only found out when she called him late one night from school with her engagement news that spring. He'd answered the phone and, before he'd even said hello, she just blurted it out.

"I'm getting married."

"Wah - huh?"

His sister giggled over the phone. "Married, Scooter. I'm getting married."

"Who? When? Why?" A bad answer to that last question popped into his head, "Oh god, you're pregnant aren't you?"

"Relax silly, I'm not preggo. His name is... okay, don't make fun... his name is Chip."

"Chip?!" he laughed, he couldn't help it. "This is some kind of sick joke..."

"You're really going to talk smack about names, Scooter? For real, his name is Chip. And he's a great guy. We're going to get married this summer. At the beach."

"Lizzie, I told you -- pot or tequila. Never both. You really can't mix them and keep a grip on reality."

"C'mon Scooter, I'm sober. Well, mostly sober. But more importantly, I am serious. I really am getting married. He just gave me a ring tonight and everything. Wait until you see it. It's fucking huge."

It finally sank in, she wasn't kidding. "Wow. Okay. So what did Mom say?"

"I haven't told her yet."

"You called me before Mom?"

"Of course silly, you're my brother. And brothers come first."

Brothers come first. That one tugged at his heartstrings because there was some history to it.

Richard had given little Lizzie her first kiss. It had been her idea and it was very innocent. She'd said she was worried about making a fool of herself with her first boyfriend.

"C'mon Scooter, please?" She'd pleaded with him. "I brushed my teeth and used some of Mom's mouthwash and everything. No cooties, I swear." But then she'd looked at him seriously and said something that had never even occurred to him back then, "Just don't do anything gross like put your tongue in my mouth, okay?"

He did like she asked, he kissed her. Their young lips merged hesitantly in a tender way for a long moment. Actually, it waskinda nice.

Lizzie had smiled hugely afterwards. "See, that wasn't so bad was it? Now you'll always be the first boy to kiss me. Cool huh?" She darted in and pecked his cheek in a more sisterly way. "Thanks, Scooter. You know, I think brothers should always come first."

But that would change soon. She'd be someone's wife. It was all happening too fast.

Richard pushed these thoughts away and focused on the now as he and his sister crossed the beach then swam out about forty yards into the surf where the waves just began to curl. They were both comfortable in the water and Lizzie was practically fearless when it came to picking her waves. The bigger the better.

They picked out their respective spots, alternatingly bobbing, waiting and surfing. Later, when Lizzie came back from her last wave, she swam over to him and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Mind if I hang on you, bro? Can't touch bottom here like you," she pouted, "not tall enough. And I see you're catching the nicer rides from here." It was true. The largest waves were just beginning to curl where he could barely stand. Just a few yards further in, Lizzie had to duck under them because it was too late.

 

11 Love

The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017, if your new year resolution is to Travel
Time to start packing your bags: 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for budget travel. The dollar is enjoying historic highs — meaning your money goes much further in many destinations around the globe — and according to an American Express Global Business Travel report, airfares are expected to fall in 2017.



1. Mazatlan, Mexico

Why: The current exchange rate ($1 = 20.69 Mexican pesos) makes Mexico one of the most affordable destinations.
For the frugal traveler who wants to enjoy more culture than they might in the Riviera Maya, my top pick is Mazatlan. As the shrimp capital of Mexico and a foodie paradise, Mazatlan is teeming with awesome eateries and fresh, interesting dishes. Hotels (including all-inclusive properties) are extremely inexpensive and authentic since most aren't part of the huge chains. El Cid Marina has awesome pools that are perfect for families, great food and huge rooms. (Rates are as low as $100 for a family of four.)
You can also enjoy superb dining at a top-notch restaurant like Casa 46 for less than half what you'd pay in the United States.
Side note: Sinaloa (the state where Mazatlan resides) grows the bulk of produce in Mexico, so Mazatlan produce is unbelievably cheap as a result. You see this reflected in top restaurants all the way down to street markets.



2. South Africa



Why: In South Africa, the exchange rate is in our favor, but so is the fact that it's a developed tourist destination with a solid infrastructure. In spending a month in Cape Town earlier this year and relying on Uber to get me to and from meetings, activities and lunches, I averaged under $20 in transportation per day — a major win.
Hotels are cheaper, too: Take a standard room at Taj Hotels & Resorts in New York, and you are out about $786 a night, whereas in Cape Town, a room at a similar luxury property costs $266. Remember, South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite: Consider going in low season (our summer) when hotels and safari lodges are even less expensive.
Airbnb and private villa rentals are also reliable and cheap options in the major cities. Travelers should also consider booking domestic airfare in advance for the greatest cost savings, since flights on South African Airways can sell out quickly.
The best value of all is the wine: Travelers can order a glass of one of the best locally produced varietals for less than the cost of a can of soda. For more information on travel in South Africa, watch "Michaela's Map: First Timers' Guide to Southern Africa."



3. San Juan, Puerto Rico


Why: The best way to get a deal in the Caribbean is to travel during the low season (end of April through mid-December) to destinations that have direct and frequent fights from your gateway; plenty of hotel inventory; and economies that aren't euro-based.
Puerto Rico fits the bill, and I'm a big fan of San Juan, which I think is seriously underrated as an easy and affordable getaway, especially for visitors from the East Coast of the U.S. Old San Juan oozes charm, and if you stay within the old city's two-square-mile radius you won't need a car rental to access great restaurants, sightseeing and shopping.
U.S. citizens can save themselves the cost of a passport since it's not required to visit, and since the U.S. dollar is the legal tender, there's no money lost on currency exchange. Hotel Casa Blanca and Villa Herencia are two of my favorite high-style/low-cost boutique hotels.



4. Chile



Why: Europe is on everyone's list of value-added trips this year and for good reason — the exchange rate is more favorable for American travelers than it has been in years. But the destinations I most dream about and long to return to are in South America, a destination that has long given travelers great value for money.
In Chile, I love Santiago for its vibrant food and wine scene — think tucked-away wine bars, delicious tapas and hip hotels in a beautifully chaotic city. For a lesser-known and truly special corner of the world, I love the small lakeside town of Puerto Varas. It is part of the lakes district in Chile and the northern start of Patagonia.
It is easy (and cheap!) to rent a car and explore this area. There is a surprising German heritage, so you'll see signs for "kuchen" (cake). With Puerto Varas as a hub, you can explore great places within a two-hour drive from the city: going to the top of a volcano, exploring waterfalls, finding the best cakes and food.
This area sees very few American visitors and everything is CHEAP. It's one of those places I almost want to keep to myself, but it's so special that I can't.



5. Crete

Why: With the U.S. dollar strong against the euro right now and the economic crisis in Greece keeping prices lower than other parts of Europe, it’s the perfect time to visit the beautiful island of Crete. Crete is a foodie dream come true.
A place where farm-to-table isn’t a new fad, it’s a way of life. The people here often live to be well over 100 years old so they must be doing something right! With truly stunning natural beauty (like Balos beach) and locals that welcome tourists with open arms, you are bound to have the trip of a lifetime and save a few dollars at the same time.



6. Morocco


Why: For many, Morocco is the ultimate dream trip, and yet cost tends to keep most from visiting. But what you might not know is that it's one of the most affordable African countries, particularly when comparing flight costs. R
eaching Marrakech from cities such as Lisbon, Madrid and Paris may only set you back $40 to $100 roundtrip with many budget airlines. And this past Black Friday, flights from New York were a mere $400 roundtrip.
Food is by far my main reason for visiting as often as I do, and typical meals can range from $2.50 to $15 for two, which includes appetizers, entree and unlimited mint tea. For vegetarians and vegans, the country is especially great, as veggies are cheaper than meat and fresh fruit smoothies are barely $1.
Souvenir shopping can get a bit intense when you realize leather goods such as wallets, handbags and weekenders run from $5 to $60. (A shopaholics dream!) When it comes to accommodations there's something to fit everyone's budget, my favorite being Riad Yasmine (only $80-$160 per night).
For those looking for Moroccan luxury while still on a budget, my go-to is Riad Kheirredine, which will have you living like a queen without breaking the bank and even provides a cell phone during your stay to ensure guest safety.



7. Belize



Why: Modern conveniences and history collide in Belize. It's a perfect place to take a budget romantic vacation. Many of the four-star hotels offer extras, like bicycle rentals, included in their low rates, as well as Belize's excellent local wines.
Some affordable resorts to check out are George Hardie's Las Vegas Hotel in Corozal (Northern Belize) and the oceanside Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro along Ambergris Caye. Both can be booked for under $100 per night.
Meals are also crazy cheap, but delicious. Two can eat at an upscale restaurant for less than $30, and much less at an everyday venue.



8. Vietnam



Why: Affordable upscale accommodations, cheap and remarkably healthy food and beautiful sights make Vietnam a standout among budget-friendly South Asian destinations.
Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone's wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night.
Don't miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths.
You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming "pho" noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.



9. Costa Rica


Why: Costa Rica is the one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and to be able to see this on a shoestring is an incredible opportunity.
There's a ton of national parks to explore, for instance, that only cost a few dollars to enter. Once there, you can then enjoy free self-guided walks that won't cost you a cent, but will deliver some great encounters with amazing wildlife like tapirs, monkeys, sloths and macaws.
Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks are two of the best. Public transport is also super cheap in Costa Rica, with buses generally less than $10, even for an eight-hour ride. This makes traveling between destinations in this compact country very affordable and means you can see a lot in a short amount of time.
In addition, budget accommodation in Costa Rica — even at some of the best surf beaches — can be as little as $6 per person. And a "plato tipico" (local dish) can be enjoyed anywhere for as little as $2-3.



10. Portugal



Why: Portugal is a pocket of affordable travel in contrast to the rest of Western Europe, especially if you get off the highways and take the back roads (where you can also avoid tolls).
A bottle of delicious port and a plate of the day with a glass of wine can be found for around €5 each. Nowhere else in the world can its "California Highway 1 meets Tuscany" landscapes be enjoyed on such a budget, especially now that the dollar is strong against the euro.



11. Ecuador



Why: Although Ecuador is not quite as inexpensive as Peru to the south, it’s an easy and affordable destination to travel to, especially if you stay a bit off the beaten path. It’s a short cheap flight from Florida with budget airlines like jetBlue and TAME, and accommodation is pretty cheap.
Shop at your local market and you can get a week’s worth of groceries for $10. And Ecuador has lots of variety; from surf beach towns like Montanita, to the volcanic Banos with famed hot springs at the gateway to the Amazon basin, to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca in the high Andes, there’s a lot to see. The bus systems are good and domestic flights cheap and plentiful. F
ind a free accommodation option like house-sitting or volunteering, and your trip can be even cheaper.



12. Barcelona



Why: Barcelona is ranked right up there with cities like Paris and London as one of the most popular European cities, but it is by far the most affordable. This is thanks to low-cost tapas restaurants, endless free attractions and affordable things to do.
Have a meal of tapas and wine at El Xampanyet for around €10-15. Soak up the rays on the beach at Barceloneta. Get lost in the La Boqueria Market.
And take the tram up to Tibidabo (only €5) for sweeping panoramic views of the city; it's also where you can experience a vintage amusement park and a gorgeous cathedral.



13. Where: Guatemala


Why: Often bypassed in favor of nearby Costa Rica, Guatemala is unique unto itself in Central America. And because it's a bit more "off the path" in the region, it's also easy on the budget and a nice place to splurge.
The villas and hotels rimming Lake Atitlán have all the beauty you could want for a small fraction of the price you'd pay in Europe or elsewhere. From the lake, you can then delve into the country's unique culture by visiting the indigenous markets and villages in the Guatemalan highlands.
Lush Atitlan is a gorgeous, affordable place to stay in San Marcos La Laguna, the prettiest and most culturally interesting of Lake Atitlan's villages.


14. Bonaire & Curaçao


Why: In the deep Southern Caribbean, Bonaire and Curaçao are always out there on the edge of everyone's Caribbean consciousness. Both are known for scuba diving, but also for other water sports, hiking and amazing secluded beaches.
Vacation villas that let you live like a local are plentiful and affordable on both islands, but chain hotels like the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino are an option on Curaçao (great if you're using points).
Bonaire gets its very first chain hotel at the end of 2016 when a Marriott Courtyard opens.



15. Las Vegas



Why: If you can avoid the slots, there are lots of free things to do in Vegas: The Flamingo's flamingo habitat, the fountains and conservatory at the Bellagio and the outdoor movies at the Container Park are just a few.
You can also find many places for cheap eats if you are willing to get off The Strip to do so. Check out the nearby Crown and Anchor, which serves up delicious British favorites, and Ninja Teriyaki Sushi 2 Go for fresh-made amazing sushi rolls in a no-frills setting.



16. Cambodia



Why: Sadly, the average income in Cambodia is about $950 per year. What does this mean for international travelers? Your international airfare might be expensive, but once you are in Cambodia, you can live well. Tuks tuks (a combo bike/taxi) and food cost just pennies. Even international hotel chains and luxury river boats down the Mekong are more affordable than other Asian destinations.
Before visiting, I suggest doing your homework to support luxury companies like the Shinta Mani Resort, whose foundation plays a large role in its community, building water wells, schools and farms and providing the best healthcare in the country to its employees. Culturally conscious companies like Aqua Expeditions sustainably introduce their guests to the communities along the Mekong River, including the floating markets and the farmers in the rice fields; the company can even arrange a conversation with a local Buddhist monk to discuss the significance of his journey from childhood to monkhood.




17. Bali



Why: If you're looking into an exotic long-haul trip, Bali offers a ton of high quality experiences for a great value. You can easily stay in a private villa overlooking stunning rice paddies with a private pool for around $50 per night. (Airbnb is a great way to go).
However, if you want to splurge a bit but not go overboard, a stay at a high-end luxury resort will still cost you less than a stay at a luxury resort, for example, in Maui. Not to mention, spa and transportation costs are quite low relative to other exotic locales, as well as the amazing and healthy food options that end up being a fraction of the cost elsewhere in the world.



18. Greece



Why: The weakened euro has made any trip to Europe more affordable, but this is especially true in Greece. The struggling economy craves tourist dollars and makes it known with affordable pricing on everything from hotels to food.
In Athens, you can book a three- or four-star hotel for well under $100, like 360 Degrees, a nice and modern hotel with a huge breakfast buffet included and an awesome location directly on Monastiraki Square.
Throughout the countryside, prices may be even better. Best of all, you can sit down to an amazing Greek meal with drinks (Mythos or Ouzo?), appetizers (Saganaki, anyone?) and entrees of your choosing for less than half what you'd pay in the States. Heck, you can pick up Souvlaki or a gyro for $1-$2. Souvenirs are insanely cheap, too.



19. Albania

Why: This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise very touristy and expensive continent.
With fantastic beaches along its coastline, including the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives visitors the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price. Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are similarly well priced.
There's also some fascinating historical sites across Albania that are either free to enter or cost only $2-$5. From the moutainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is definitely worth visiting before the crowds do.



20. San Luis Potosí, México


Picture a perfect class III white water rafting experience through a limestone canyon of turquoise waters, a visit to a living garden of eden, complete with art sculptures, hidden pools, butterflies and waterfalls, a hike to the largest known cave shaft in the world, which you can rappel into, and a series of waterfalls for cliff jumping.
Top this all off with a plate of homemade tacos and a local beer for $2, and you've got yourself a piece of adventure paradise on a budget.
Still very much under the radar to anyone outside of Mexico, San Luis Potosí could be compared to Costa Rica in terms of adventure and Cambodia in terms of affordability. Since Election Day, the dollar has been especially strong in Mexico, offering an even better excuse to travel south of the border.



21. Quebec City, Canada

Why: Take advantage of the weak Canadian dollar and travel north for a 25% discount on prices.
Enjoy a slice of Old Europe without the jet lag or the cost of a transatlantic flight. Indulge in some of the best French food outside France — steak-frites, oysters and pastries at a bargain price. Stroll and shop in the narrow cobblestone streets of the picturesque Old Town and enjoy night parades and ice canoe races during the colorful Winter Festival in January and February.



22. Buenos Aires



Why: One of the world's most intoxicating cities, Buenos Aires has only grown in popularity, but it's still relatively cheap compared to European and Asian capital cities. There are many green parks, French-inspired architecture, late-night dancing, custom leather shops and fantastic food.
Taxis are relatively cheap (around $5-8 a ride), but you should also walk for miles in all of the distinct neighborhoods, like Palermo (try Salon Canning, a super casual milonga, or dance hall, after midnight). Must-try cheap eat in Buenos Aires: anything dulce de leche. It is everywhere — inside crepes, drizzled over grilled bananas and in gelato.
Tip: Bring a ton of American cash and you'll get better deals in many places. For example, I bought my custom leather jacket at a shop called Uru Recoleta (close to the famous Recoleta Cemetery) and was able to buy it for much less than using my credit card because I brought American dollars.
On Sundays, the place to be is the San Telmo market for browsing leather, antiques, watches, jewelry and more.



23. Haiti

Why: While Haiti still remains under the radar as a travel destination, many people have been flocking to the vibrant country, and I can see why: The island provides all the stunning Caribbean characteristics without the high costs. Outside of holiday seasons and the later part of the summer, flights from New York range from $300 to $500, and even cheaper when flying from cities in Florida.
The real gem is how cheap the hotels are, with many starting at $50 to $150 per night including airport transfers. Even the newest Marriott Port-au-Prince will only set you back $130 to under $200 a night for larger rooms.
One of my favorites is Wahoo Bay Beach, which has epic mountain and ocean views from its stunning pool and rooms. You can take small boat tours around the area for a couple of dollars per person. Lobster, conch and crab can be caught right from the water and prepared for you without costing more than $10.





24. Santa Catalina Island, California

Why: Santa Catalina Island is one of my new favorite places. It is way more than a weekend SoCal jaunt. Hotels are quaint and average under the $200 per night mark. The Avalon Hotel is a charming choice. It’s right in the center of town, making it an easy walk to almost any activity. There is plenty to do, like kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking or just beach sitting.
The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit stop to get the full story of the island's fascinating history, including its Hollywood connection. Food and shopping choices are extensive.
And you don’t need a rental car. Getting to the island is easy: Catalina Express Ferry whisks you to there from three different ports, Long Beach, Dana Point and San Pedro. I prefer Long Beach because flights there are often lower priced than neighboring LAX.



25. Indonesia



Why: With 17,000 islands, you are bound to find the ideal paradise to suit your travel and budget in Indonesia.
There are stunning untouched beaches that offer world-class snorkelling and scuba diving in Raja Ampat, fascinating Unesco World Heritage Sites dating back to the 9th century in Yogyakarta and — everywhere you turn — the friendliest locals. In Raja Ampat, we found a homestay that included breakfast, lunch and dinner — plus it was right on the beach for around $29 USD per person per night. For more, see Food Fun Travel's "Bali Food Guide."



26. Bulgaria

Why: The entire Balkans region is an excellent option for budget travel, and if you haven't been before, I recommend starting with Bulgaria.
From wine country to snowy peaks to the Black Sea coast, it's an adventure playground that every budget can afford. In Bulgaria's wine country you can get a full winery tour with multiple tastings plus bread and cheese for about $5 (check out Villa Melnik winery), take a hike through Bulgaria's famous sandstone pyramids and then sleep in a beautiful authentic style hotel like Zlaten Rozhen with breakfast included for about $30.



27. Cusco, Peru



Why: Most people who pass through Cusco are en route to the very popular Machu Picchu, but you should make sure to spend a few days, maybe even a few weeks in this colorful city. Not only is the city absolutely stunning and oozing with culture, most accommodations range from $20 to $100 a night. Peruvian textiles are extremely affordable and the vibrant colors are stunning.
Eating out in Cusco can be extremely cheap, if you know where to eat. Restaurants are quite affordable compared to most American and European restaurants, but street food here is the real winner. I'm personally addicted to ceviche and can't find it cheaper than $15 for a small portion in the states, but in Cusco's San Pedro Market you can find ceviche plus Peruvian fried rice for only $3.
On my last trip, I had steak and ceviche nearly every day and never spent more than $15 for two including a drink and soup.



28. Georgia
Why: Meagen Collins: This ancient European country is starting to grab the attention of travelers from all over the world. Georgia has so much to offer — beautiful scenery, unique culture and tradition everywhere you look, and the food will leave you drooling for more.
Add to that the fact this country lays claim to being the birthplace of wine (winemaking here goes back 8,000 years) and you have the ultimate new travel destination.
In Georgia, you can get a full meal plus copious amounts of wine for two people in a higher end restaurant, with live entertainment and still spend less than $30 — total. But get there fast: Word is getting around about this little gem and it won’t be tourist-free for long.



29. Mozambique



Why: This country is one of Africa's best budget travel destinations, with some extremely affordable accommodation situated along white sand beaches and next to an azure ocean. (Check out Villa Sands or Terraço das Quitandas.)
There's great scuba diving, too, and you can easily feel like a millionaire here for nothing! For more ideas, see Big World Small Pocket's "17 Incredible Budget Travel Destinations Still On My List (That Should Be On Yours Too!)."



30. Dallas, Texas



Why: Dallas is often overlooked, but packed with fun, food and great places to stay at prices far below the national average. (The city was voted the most affordable destination in the U.S. last year by Priceline and continues to remain a great value.) Downtown buzzes with excitement and culture, and the nearby Design District is exploding with eclectic shopping for home décor.
The high-rise Omni Dallas has rooms with stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the city starting at just under $200, putting you in the center of the action. With a rental car, you can fully explore everything the city has to offer. Look at fringe cities like Grapevine and Plano for the charm of small towns of yesteryear with main street shops and eateries.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine is convenient to DFW airport and offers full-out luxury at rates around the $200 mark.

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