Happy month travelling to me!
There’s a few things I’ve realised about travelling in the month I’ve spent solo in Colombia.
Going from place to place is great. Being on the move is amazing. The sights and sunsets I’ve had the privilege of watching in Colombia have taken my breath away.
The majority of people here (both natives and fellow people I’ve met on the road) have been friendly, funny and caring. I’ve met people from the USA and Canada (and confused the two) Amsterdam and Germany (and confused the two), England, France, Belgium, French speaking Switzerland, German speaking Switzerland, Australia, Mexico, Spain – the list goes on. I’ve met people whose best friends I met in Croatia last year, I’ve met people who know ex colleagues of mine, I’ve met people who are travelling in couples and people who are travelling alone. I’ve hung out in big groups of 15 drinking on boats to private islands, small groups of 5 and travelled to beautiful cities together and had one on one conversations about mental health with people I’ve just clicked with instantly. I’ve bonded, connected, acquaintance-d and ignored (and been ignored as well). I’ve felt left out, I’ve felt stupid, I’ve felt embarrassed and felt judged, I’ve felt excited, I’ve felt included and I’ve felt cared for in situations where I’ve had to cry.
Hostel life and travelling alone properly for my first month has been a rollercoaster – like one of those ones in Thorpe Park where you feel really nervous to start with, and then you realise actually this is really fun! And then your cousin (thanks Emma) tells you as the ride begins that your seat isn’t properly harnessed in and you believe her and your heart starts beating as you hold yourself in tightly to the seat screaming, scared, wishing you’d actually never taken this ride and it would have been a lot better to watch people do it instead but then she tells you she was joking after you get to the end and you realise that actually you achieved something pretty huge with or without your cousin telling you you were going to fall out of the ride – you get me?
Travelling is incredible. I cannot believe I’m on the other side of the world, privileged to have saved the money to do this and to have a family and home to get back to eventually. One of the most heart breaking things here is to speak to our fellow brothers and sisters in Venezuela who have had to move their families to Colombia in the hope of a better life. I’ve cried many tears listening to different people’s stories, and I know that if anything, I thank G-d I was born into a first world country, with a roof over my head, food on the table and an education. I have a story to tell as does everyone about how I’ve got to this place in my life, but I’m grateful for my story not including poverty or war.
I have made very close friends and also encountered people I would be happy to never see again. The difficult thing about meeting the people you never want to see again is that experiences with them can spark and provoke your ugly insecurities a lot longer than these people stick around for – which is not the most pleasant to deal with despite being surrounded by palm trees and sun 24/7. The benefit of meeting these people and having the freedom to think though is that it gives you the space, time and opportunity to ruminate and question why the insecurities raised their ugly head in the first place – whilst watching a stunning sunset.
I have lost four magnets, my Nike top and shorts, my toothbrush and toothpaste, got walked in on half naked, forgotten sunscreen and got burnt to a crisp, got super tanned and was confused for an Argentinian (winning), stayed in a hostel that was essentially a corridor with a rooftop, cried over my grandad in a toilet in the middle of a food court in Cartagena, cried to my Mexican friend whilst buying a cappuccino, fell in love with a street dog and bought it an empanada which it decided to not bother eating, stayed in a hostel where I was pretty sure the fan was so broken, I was going to be decapitated for £15/night, have my flight to Cartagena cancelled and made friends with a guy from Cali and a girl from Germany and organised a meet up when we eventually got to our next destination, called an ambulance for said Cali friend when he drunk too much on a boat and figured out that in Colombia, sometimes the ambulance service just put you on hold/don’t pick up/tell you to call back later.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve travelled to Bogotá, Salento, Medellin, Guatape, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Tayrona and I continue to make my way North for Xmas before heading back South for New Year en route to Equador. I’m sure they’ll be plenty more awesome people to meet, sights to view, locals to speak to, people to avoid and insecurities to battle. They’ll be days where I want to stay in bed and cry and days where I want to laugh until my sides split. I guess the most important thing for me is to accept all these emotions and feelings and continue to work through them, without judgement and without pain.
Thank you to everyone for making up my journey so far (you know who you are) – it’s been an incredible first month 🙂