I was told it was a 60-minute walk away but that it probably was faster, so I decided to walk, leaving at 3pm. Sooo, I know I was tired, but I was walking at a reasonable pace and yet somehow after 50 minutes the place was still no where in sight. Every few turns you saw a sign for it, but then it wouldn’t be there, I was starting to think it was a joke. I saw a couple jeeps pass me and I should have just flagged one down, but instead kept walking my way downhill in flip flops (and now added a blister) to eventually get there 15 minutes late for my tour. I was a little bit salty (or should I say bitter 😉 ) but eventually I started having fun when I ran into some people I met on the trail earlier.
I woke up before my alarm courtesy of the dogs and roosters, perks of staying at a hostel with farm in it’s name I guess. I brushed my teeth at the outside sink and was pleased to discover that it was pretty nice out for being only 7am. After breakfast at the hostel (which was fabulous) I made my way into town to catch a jeep towards the main reason I came to Salento, to see the Wax Palm Trees (world’s tallest palm trees).
I realize it hasn’t even been a full year since I began my first trip and blog post, crazy that it seems so long ago! One of the locations on my list that I didn’t make it to my last time was Colombia. However, I think waiting was a good idea because now I’m heading there in December when it’s lovely weather, a short(ish) flight from home, time-off work and traded tips from friends who have already been. This time would be different, since I would only be gone for 12 days, but I was excited nonetheless. I dug out my travel gear and started planning my route…
…The day had come (Christmas Day) and while I wasn’t originally nervous, cautions from worried loved ones had started to affect me a little. That quickly changed the second I landed in Bogotá. I re-found the familiar feeling of being some place foreign to me, yet feeling at home. I had to dust off some of my Spanish to get a cab and make my way to the hotel near the airport. I arrived after 11pm, but had a flight at 9am the next morning to arrive at my first planned destination, Salento.
My last full day. So many emotions! I didn’t have too much time to think about them because I had plans to meet my childhood best friend and her husband for coffee. I picked a cereal cafe because I know how much she loved cereal, it would be reminiscent of the 90s and she was pregnant and probably craving sugar. I love cereal cafes so much too! If there was one nearby where I lived I would go often. There was a man in the shop who was thinking about franchising in SoHo, NY. I think that was a sign… It was so great to catch up and it felt just like old times. After saying goodbye to them. I decided I needed a run, to clear my mind, and because I just ate cereal with cream on top.
I ended up jogging to meet a friend who was in London for work. It was a beautiful day so afterwards she, Amber and I sat in a park with some wine and cheese. We chatted for a long time and took in the warm sun. The park was crowded and it was fun people watching. Eventually we decided it was time for dinner so we walked to a nearby pub and had some food. Eventually it came time for goodbyes, which is never a fun thing especially knowing you won’t see the person for awhile.
It was a little bit easier for me because I knew I was going home. However, as I sat in my bed later and edited by final recap video, it started to hit me that I was ending this adventure. I started to re-watch all of my old recap videos and it warmed me to look back on all of the great memories I made. I’ll never forget those moments, and I know that no one else will truly ever understand how great they were for me.
I then began to think of potential background songs for my final video. I found the perfect one, “I hope you dance”. My mom first introduced me to this song years ago, and the lyrics were perfect for how I was feeling now. Even though this particular journey was ending, I still will hold on to the sense of wonder that I had while exploring new places, I’ll remain hungry for new experiences, not taking anything for granted, never feeling empty, appreciating my small part in a big world, not feeling afraid that this door is closing because other doors will open, not sitting out on opportunities no matter how distant and scary they may seem, not settling for the easy path, and most importantly, continuing to take chances.
I enjoyed every moment so far, good and bad. And while I was going to miss the adventure, I was ready to go home and focus on what’s next. I’m taking with me new friendships from like-minded people (from all walks of earth), an appreciation for the beauty the world has to offer, a new patience for things that may not go as planned, memories of getting lost and frustrated but also getting lost and having it turn out better than any plan, the ability to live with less, a new found bravery and confidence, better surfing and French speaking skills, relief that I avoided injury or bedbugs or kidnapping (mostly a parent’s concern, not mine), appreciation of friends who stayed in touch, understanding that time zones change but train times do not, the necessity of creating a routine, the necessity of carbs when you are walking 20,000 steps a day, appreciation for fashion risks, deeper love of accents and culture, and all around a happier version of me.
I may never get the chance to do this again, and every piece of me is glad I did this now. I’m lucky that I had the ability and I wish more people realize how attainable it is. Maybe not as long or as far, maybe not in the exact same way, but just seeking an adventure that makes you uncomfortable. Travel is one way to do it but not the only way. Along the way I did hear that I inspired others do do something new. Some chose travel, some chose to join a club, some were content living vicariously through me, and some haven’t pulled the trigger but are a little closer to doing something new. Perhaps most importantly, I inspired myself.
Tourist Tax. I think this is a great thing. All the hotels and restaurants benefit from tourists, but many of the public places, i.e landmarks and green areas are only hurt from it. From the wearing down of materials–to trash on the ground, tourists can cause a big mess. I know it would impact my travels, but I truly wouldn’t mind if some places limited the numbers of tourists, or at least large tourist groups that come through.
I say this because there have been a few places along my way that I probably would have rather not seen because of the crowds. I know, this might sound spoiled of me, but I don’t mean it that way. I just mean, I think they can lose their impact/effect when you have to look past thousands of people to see the actual thing you came to see. Not to mention people only interested in getting a good selfie. Meanwhile, having to say no to all of the people selling fake purses outside. Although the ones selling bottled water and phone chargers can be very useful.
Often, my favorite places have been those which are less popular, and which I’ve had to myself. It becomes more intimate and you’re able to appreciate what your witnessing more. Sure, you might argue that there are landmarks that you MUST go see. But why? How many people have said they were disappointed in the Mona Lisa, yet still tell you to go see it?
My advice–Take a moment to think about what you like and seek out those things when you travel. For example, I know I don’t really enjoy art museums (I love art, but my art interests are very different that what is considered famous/popular). I like architecture, but the kind that shows culture or the kind that is the most “out-there”. I don’t really have interest in seeing too many churches or temples, but I am a fan of castles and palaces. I like any tour that has a nature and cardio element to it (hiking or canyoning) or one where I can learn a skill (candy making or landscape painting). And most importantly, if I don’t see something, I’m not going to stress about it. I hopefully missed it because I was enjoying my lunch in a cafe so much and lost track of time, or maybe I missed my train which is less enjoyable but equally as likely.
Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but if we all just did the things we truly wanted to, and not what we were told to do, our footprint would spread out a bit more.
I eagerly woke this morning knowing what was in store for the day, hanging out with elephants! First, was an hour and a half van ride to the North. In the van we watched a video on the history of the Elephant Nature Park which included some heart wrenching videos of elephant mistreatment. They torture these creatures to get them to do things for us, just for our entertainment (riding, circuses, street begging, etc.). I’m glad people are talking about it more and refusing to partake in riding elephants, without demand the bad businesses will hopefully die out.
So long Australia! (Oops I’ve been gone for 6 days but this never posted). It has been wonderful but I can’t say I’m not looking forward to getting my adventure on in New Zealand!
What a great day to end on yesterday… I ventured over to Burleigh Beach yesterday with a new friend, Michael. We were going surfing together and I borrowed one of his boards. I tried to hide my fear when I saw he didn’t have a soft foam board. I’ve never used one of the harder surfboards before, and I know they are more difficult. The benefit of this board is that it weighs way less, which especially paid off while push-biking to the beach with a surfboard under one arm. I laughed the whole way as it was one of the more challenging things I’ve done and I struggled.
Soooo I may have oversold my skills… as the first beach we went to had very big waves and a strong swell. After a few failed attempts we moved to a beach where the waves are easier. Much better. I was able to paddle out, catch my own waves, and stand for a bit. It was harder to stay up on this new smaller board, but it’s about time I took my training wheels off. Afterwards, we had a much deserved lunch. With newfound energy, we took our bikes over to a creek where I could practice for my upcoming bungee jump. Standing up on the bridge looking down at the water made me question what I was getting myself into next week. You think it’s all good until it actually comes time to jump. I’ve learned it’s just a matter of just turning off my brain (which is always over thinking) and going for it. Which I did, and was worth it, of course! We swam around a bit in the creek which had really cool sand banks.
After catching the rainbow sunset with some Sauv Blanc, exchanging good stories, making up new slang and listening to tunes via the classic phone in cup speaker, we met up with Becky (my German roomie) and hit up a local bar to play some pool. I’m glad I had a few drinks in me because my hostel doubles as a hotel and night club and they sure turn up on weekends. I remember dozing off to the latest Cardi B song and had dreams I was in an Australian rap video.
The next morning I had a panic moment while mid sip of my coffee down the street. I looked at my calendar to see that my flight was in 40 minutes. I started running back to grab my luggage whilst calling an uber. How did I miss this?! There is NO way I’m going to make it. About 10 f-bombs muttered to myself later, I realized that the calendar flight notification said Cairns to Gold Coast. Thank goodness. That was my flight that I originally had for today but moved a few days earlier and just never deleted. Approximately 4 hours later I actually headed to the airport…with plenty of time to spare.
Highlight: Figure 8 pools.
Lowlight: Surfer’s Paraside.
Things I learned: Don’t be so quick to book a flight without looking at weather, give yourself a private room every few weeks, and ask what’s in coffee before ordering.
Things I wish I had: Heels. Just a small wedge. This probably won’t be relevant in my next few countries but would have been nice in Bondi.
Missed opportunity: Everyone said Byron was their favorite, I wish I would have made time for that. Melbourne probably would have been next. All in all, I liked my itinerary!
Would I come back: This may seem a bit backwards, but I wouldn’t come back to just holiday. I would come back to live here though. It is a great vacation spot– lovely beaches, good weather etc., BUT I can get that in other places for much less and closer to home. That said, it was such an easy transition because everyone speaks English here. So, I think I would live in a big city or in a nice surf town.