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.
I had another tour booked for today, this time to Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio followed by the city of Oxford. Again, I met the bus at 10am, this time having a seat all to myself. After the typical tour guide humor about past incidents and selling stuff left on the bus to eBay, we began a 45 minute drive to the studio. There, we had 3 hours to walk through the exhibit. I was surprised at how all 3 hours were actually needed, it went by quickly! The studio was filled with actual props, costumes, sets and history from the making of the movie. It was fun to see everything up close and to learn a little bit about what they use to design it. For example, all of the books in Dumbledore’s office are actually London phone books covered with old book spines. Many of the exhibits were interactive and you could press a button to watch a cauldron being stirred. They used a lot of mechanics to make things look wizardry. There were also some interactive green screens where you could take your picture or video.
I found the brooms and the potion rooms the most fun to look at. About halfway through, there was a stop where you can buy Butter Beer and Butter Beer ice cream. I couldn’t decide between the two…so I got both. The ice cream was good, the beer…not so much! It tasted like watered down soda. I also bought some chocolate frogs, and almost bought a wand but decided against it last minute. The wand I liked the most was Ginny Weasley’s for the record.
Our next stop was to Oxford. It would surely be interesting to go to school here, the whole area seemed so full of tradition. There were many well known authors that went here and I liked knowing how certain things in the environment inspired their famous books, such as Harry Potter and The Chronicle of Narnia. I didn’t get to go inside any of the buildings which I was disappointed in. So after an hour long walking tour, we had an hour to go eat. At the end of the day I didn’t find Oxford something I’d recommend, but I think it was because my stay was too brief and I didn’t go deep enough in my tour.
A long awaited tour day had arrived to Bath, but most importantly, Stonehenge. I took the tube to the meeting point at 10am. I settled down into my seat and was looking forward to napping during the long drive. We took off and made one stop to pick up a few others along the way. To my disappointment, a woman sat down next to me who said she normally doesn’t drink coffee but she did today and she apologizes in advance for all of her talking and loud behavior. Great. At first I was pretty annoyed, but she actually was very nice and pretty interesting. She was in town with her family for a Star Trek convention. Our tour guide was unintentionally hilarious because he was a crotchety old British man who had no problem speaking his mind. You wanted to hate him for being so blunt, but it was so endearing the way he said things so I just had to laugh.
I decided to walk to Notting Hill this morning. I was told it was a cute area that sold antiques. It was a very cute neighborhood, but I was a little surprised by how many of the stores were just your typical souvenir shops selling magnets and keychains. The stores which I hoped would have English vintage clothing, mostly had imported scarves and bags. I stopped for some soup and tea at Farm Girl and then walked back. I had wanted to go in the igloos at Coppa Club today, but wasn’t able to get a reservation. Which maybe was a good thing because it started raining. I used that as a reason to take a nap. I didn’t feel very guilty because I new that my next two days would be busy.