Get ready to embark on an extraordinary voyage infused with romance, adventure, and captivating narratives. We are delighted to present to you a compilation of stories that will transport you to enchanting destinations, immersing you in the realm of love and travel.

Within this series, you will discover the crème de la crème, the finest works from the Love Lust or Bust Dating and Travel short story contest.

These remarkable tales have been meticulously chosen from a pool of gifted writers who poured their passion and creativity into crafting narratives that whisk you away to far-flung corners of the globe.

As you delve into this collection, you will encounter vibrant characters, diverse cultures, and awe-inspiring landscapes that form the backdrop for unforgettable love stories. Each narrative possesses its own distinctive allure, providing profound insights into the intricacies of dating in unfamiliar territories, the exhilaration of spontaneous encounters, and the transformative magic of travel.

Join us in celebrating the literary brilliance of the top 20 winners of the contest. Allow their words to sweep you off your feet and transport you to a realm where love and adventure intertwine in the most exquisite and profound ways. Prepare yourself for a literary expedition that will linger in your heart and mind, and hopefully will inspire you to be open and courageous to go on your own journey.

Today, we are thrilled to bring you the ultimate winner of the contest, this intriguing story below. Enjoy, and please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.


– By Aline Habib

The first time I stepped foot in Belize, I knew I was home. It was an inexplicable feeling, a KNOWING deep in my soul that this was the place I wanted/needed to be.

It was like returning to my motherland in Egypt, but even better.

I fell in love with the ocean, the mountains, the people, the Mayan temples, the waterfalls, rivers, music, food, caves, late nights parties, and the men, especially.

It was the beginning of the greatest love story. One that would eventually bring me to my knees, to running a business, to becoming a mother, to my Salvation, to God and His Mission for me.

At the time I was 23 years old, deep in my healing from anorexia, bulimia, depression, and self-harming, and had attempted suicide. I had been in and out of treatment centers, and hospitals, working on eating healthy, overcoming addictions, and finding peace. I had dropped out of college because of my health and didn’t know what I was going to do with my life.

I knew I wanted to help people but how?

A vision came to me. I started dreaming of a healing center where people could come from all over the world to get well. To overcome their traumas, addictions and learn to be free. A place on the beach.

I thought maybe I could get started with a bed and breakfast or a small hotel. On our second night visiting in Placencia, over a bottle of Campari, my dad and I bought a beautiful beach-to-lagoon property, without even knowing anything about where we were! It truly was destiny, as the old man who owned it wasn’t even sure he wanted to sell his place! He was in a pickle, needed the money, loved our vibes, and before we knew it, it was a done deal.

We named it Wild Orchid, and after an adventurous summer of dancing under the moonlight, skinny dipping, eating rice and beans, drinking panty rippers, smoking Milport cigarettes, and learning Belizean Kriol, I went back to Montreal to continue my healing and study hotel management for a few years, so I could return to Belize to make my dreams a reality.

I had fallen in love with not one but two Belizean men at this point. I got in a relationship with one, and the other, well, he had a girlfriend so I had to quiet my feelings for him.

My time in Canada felt very long and lonely. I missed the tropical weather, all the friends I’d made, the music, and the vibes. The winters felt horrible but I had a renewed sense of life and a desire to LIVE like never before. I knew I had a purpose and I was here for something BIG.

I officially moved to Placencia when I was 25, and it has been a whirlwind of events between then and now. I did everything from selling property to hosting celebrities on our luxury yacht to opening a clothing boutique and starting a youth center! 

I partied a lot and started liberating myself in Belize. After having felt invisible, ugly, and fat my entire life in Canada, men in Belize made me feel so good about myself and helped me develop more confidence. They loved the fact that I was “thick” and looked exotic. They complimented my skin, and my eyes, and they called me beautiful and whistled as I walked down the street, which most women hate, but I actually loved.

I went from obsessing over being skinny and shaming my body, to feeling proud and wearing clothes that highlighted my curves.

I went out. A lot. I made a lot of friends, had so much fun, and got a little wild with the men.

I had broken up with my first boyfriend (who ended up slashing my tires and threatened to kill me afterward) and even though I was still in love with that first man (who had a girlfriend), I got together with “K” and got pregnant soon after.

K was a very kind, loving, and down-to-earth man who loved me a lot and was very good to me. Knowing there was a baby growing inside me was such a surreal feeling and I know it was God blessing me with an angel to care for. It was also a divine intervention to help me slow down the wild lifestyle I had embarked on and take better care of myself.

I immediately stopped drinking and smoking, started eating better, and focused on being a good mama to my little angel. I had an amazing pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. I loved being a mom and having her close to me always.

Feeling inspired by the cute clothes I was buying for her, I opened an adorable shop called Papaya Boutique! We started off selling baby and children’s clothes, and it wasn’t long until the whole store was filled with sexy women’s dresses, high heel shoes, and accessories! It was so much fun and people loved it. From hand-painted candy stripes on the wall to colourful chandeliers and a walkway made with blue hearts, it was the cutest shop in the world, which I designed with the help of a friend.

When my baby was 10 months, I broke up with her dad and got together with the man I’d been in love with for 5 years (the one who had the girlfriend).

After messing around behind our partners’ backs for years, we decided to be together, and we were for 5 years. We even got engaged. I was obsessed with him, we had a very passionate, intense (and toxic) relationship. He was an artist, mysterious, tall dark, and handsome. I admired him a lot, he made me feel beautiful, safe, and protected. He also scared me to death.

We drank a lot together on nights I didn’t have Zaya, and we’d fight on those nights after partying. There was so much jealousy on both ends, we didn’t trust each other and didn’t know how to communicate in healthy ways. We kept breaking up and getting back together. It took a toll on my health and in the end, I made the decision to leave for good.

After our breakup, when I realized he wasn’t coming back this time, I went into a deep depression. When I found out he already had another girlfriend, much younger than me, I sunk deep into the abyss and became suicidal again. I didn’t know who I was without him I had cut ties with many friends, I had put all my focus and energy into him and was totally lost.

I already knew I had a problem with alcohol and cannabis at that point, but up until then, I had never tried anything else. On the night of a special party we were hosting on our beach, I was introduced to Molly and thought I’d found heaven on earth. I felt so amazing and loved it so much, I didn’t sleep for 3 days straight.

The next day when I started coming down, I felt so terrible that I asked for more. And the next day, some more. Within a few weeks of using, I had a habit of hundreds of dollars a day and selling my body for drugs. I also got addicted to cocaine and I just couldn’t stop. When others were calling it quits, I just kept on going, looking for more, and would go days without sleep, or food.

I slept around a lot and got reckless. I had lost so much weight, the changes were noticeable to everyone, and it was a downward spiral that led me to lose my daughter, my jobs, my reputation, and my home in Belize.

I needed help. Thank God my family was there to help me, take care of Zaya, and cover my expenses to go to treatment.

As a symbol of my rebirth, I shaved my head just before going to rehab in 2016 in Mexico. I put up a fight, but I knew if I didn’t go, I was going to die. It wasn’t a traditional rehab, which I refused to go to because I already had knowledge of how damaging pharmaceuticals are. But this was an ibogaine healing center.

Ibogaine is a very powerful psychedelic and plant medicine that helps people overcome addictions, traumas, PTSD, eating disorders, deep-rooted self-hatred, suicidal behaviors, and more. It was my only hope and let me tell you. When I came out of that journey, I was a new woman.

Words can’t even describe how deep I went and what I saw. Everything from facing my demons to communicating with ancestors, to seeing angels, and releasing generations of trauma. I started to feel this deep LOVE for myself and I got the calling that I was to open a HEALING CENTER! The same one I’d felt years ago. I knew it! I wanted to LIVE for this! I NEEDED to live for this. I believed in God now. I wasn’t so afraid anymore. I knew I was here for a Big Mission, and I would do whatever it takes. I had a new appreciation and perspective on life, on how to cope with challenges, I didn’t want to use or harm my body or even smoke anymore. I could even SEE clearer and experience so much compassion for myself and for all living beings. It was the greatest RESET as if my brain got rewired.

As part of my recovery, I also had the privilege of sitting in ceremonies with other psychedelics: 5 MEO DMT, kambo, ayahuasca, and psilocybin, which helped me cleanse, reconnect to who I really am, and reach new levels of consciousness.

My recovery journey doesn’t end here though. It was just the beginning. I moved back to Montreal to be with my daughter and family, started attending meetings, found a therapist, and practiced yoga and meditation.

Even though I was putting in the work, I started smoking marijuana again, thinking it was no big deal, and relapsed a few times with alcohol and cocaine over the next few years. I even got hooked on crack cocaine for a period, and each time I fell down deeper and had to climb my way out of dark holes.

I would reach out for support, do more medicine, and each time got back on my feet with an even greater sense of commitment and desperation to overcome. I even accepted to go to a traditional rehab and took pharma pills, antidepressants, sleeping, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety, which caused more problems and made me want to kill myself! I had to go there to see what it’s like to feel like a zombie and see what they do to people.

I told the doctor who was pushing pills down my throat: I’m gonna heal myself with psychedelics and FRUIT!!! Watch me!

He looked at me, sitting there in his office with his fat belly, and laughed at me.

But healing myself is what I’ve been doing ever since.

Even though I had been vegan for many years at that point, I knew deep in my soul that if I was going to REALLY heal, I’d have to get to the root cause of the depression and anxiety that were bringing me to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

After coming back from Austin following one of my relapses, I was so scared of dying and was ready to do WHATEVER it took to really get clean. I found out about mucoid plaque, a giant snake inside the gut that is responsible for harboring parasites and creating havoc/fungus/acidosis/addictions in the body. I jumped into an extended juice cleanse of 113 days!

Afterward, I transitioned to a mainly fruit-based all raw vegan diet, and got a job as the assistant to a raw vegan YouTube influencer in his online support community! I went on to do 2 more extended juice cleanses, and a 23-day water fast, which changed my life and connected me to God in a whole new way.

I loved helping others in their journeys and discovered I’m a good coach! I was diligent about everything I put in my body, what I listened to, and who I shared my energy with. I worked out, continued my meetings, and went into monk/mommy mode to focus on being a good mom to Zaya.

During that time I developed my public speaking skills, started doing lives, coaching people, and even a YouTube channel! Social media became my best friend and I connected with people from all over the world in the raw foods and psychedelic communities!

I was single for 7 years during my recovery time. They told us we shouldn’t date until we were 1 year sober and well I could never get there, so I just didn’t date. It was very lonely at times, but that period of celibacy taught me so much about myself. It helped me to value who I am, my time, and my body.

A herbalist from Belize opened my heart once again. We fell in love and we got serious very fast. Since I was living in Montreal at the time, it was mostly a long-distance relationship where we saw each other every month or so, but it was meaningful and full of hope. He taught me a lot about herbology, common law, health, and he even took me foraging for medicine in the jungle! We had similar dreams of opening a healing center, a love for magic mushrooms, and for each other. Even though it lasted only 9 months, we both helped each other heal and love again.

It was during this relationship that I really got to observe some of my patterns that had been recurring in all my relationships since I was fifteen. Because I had so much time on my own, I could see them more objectively. The jealousy. The insecurities. The possessiveness. The fear of abandonment. Control. Worry. The paranoia that they would leave me for someone else. The anger. The sadness. The fear.

I had to look deep within myself and see what was really going on. What was going on was that I myself was experiencing emotions for other men. Even though I loved C, I also had developed feelings and connections to others that I would have wanted to explore, had I not been in a monogamous relationship. I was trying to stop him from feeling those things for other women because I wanted all his attention for myself. I knew I was wrong for wanting to control him and force him to only have eyes for me. It was unrealistic.

I had always been fascinated by the idea of polyamory, but it was not until I had a 5MEO DMT experience that I KNEW this was my path. In my journey, I received the message that it’s OK to love more than one man at once. It’s OK for my partner to love more than just me. We are free-loving beings of divine energy.

In that moment, all my jealousy dissolved and I was pure consciousness. I felt and WAS God’s infinite love that is untethered, unbound, unchained. There was no ego. No fear. No limits. I not only saw what was possible for myself but also for our world if we could just let go of all the programming.

All the men I had cheated on in my life forgave me at that moment because they knew that I loved them and never meant to hurt them. I forgave myself and cried like a baby feeling my womb in pain from all the trauma in my own life and the ancestral healing happening through me. I heard my grandmothers telling me I am the answer to their prayers. I am here to live out their wildest fantasies. Embody their deepest desires that they were not able to share with anybody. I am here to help them transmute their darkness and bring the forbidden into the light. I am the chosen one here to break generational curses and chains of oppression. To liberate myself and to help others liberate themselves too.

It’s taken me a few months to integrate that medicine ceremony and the breakup. I’m still integrating and making sense of it all. I’m 40 years young, and opening myself up to a whole new kind of love. One of respect, honour, and admiration for myself first, and freedom for all. I’m proud of myself for getting clean, for taking on my responsibilities as a mother, and for stepping into my leadership as a natural healer and leader of the New Earth.

The love and admiration I have for myself will keep on growing and flow into incredible relationships with others. I’m not sure exactly what this will look like but I know I am ready to face my fears, have open communication, overcome jealousy and transmute it into compersion and joy for others, especially my romantic partner(s).

I came close to death too many times to not want to live my life to the fullest, regardless of what anyone thinks. I am grateful for Belize, I am grateful for God, my family, and my daughter, I am grateful for Queen April, and this opportunity to share my journey in hopes to encourage others to never give up.

I am also grateful that my family owns an absolutely beautiful resort in the jungle of Belize, called Mariposa Jungle Lodge, a place I truly love.

(One of the beautiful bungalows at Mariposa, Belize.)

Always TRUST in yourself, in your Higher Power, and KNOW that you hold the key to your own freedom. It takes a whole lot of surrendering and inspired action.

The healing center and retreats are well on their way, in divine timing. The message I keep receiving is that I AM THE HEALING CENTER. The more I work on myself, the more I have been aligning with all the right people, situations, and opportunities to make this dream a reality!

In my heart, it is already done. God has already provided us with everything and everyone we need to build a world-class healing center and community where people will come from all over the world to overcome addictions to food, drugs, and alcohol, return to the earth and learn a new way of life, naturally.

God told me not to worry, that He already has the team. It’s just a matter of time and one by one they will come to me and I will know them by their fruits!

To read more about the contest, click here.

To read the other stories, click here.

To learn more about Queen Aline and her amazing journey through addiction and love, click here:

tiktok @rawveganqueen

Have you ever struggled with addictions? Or have you fallen in love while traveling? Was it a beautiful experience or did you struggle with pain and need to go on your healing journey?

Please leave your comments (or questions) below if you feel comfortable sharing your experience with us!

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