The day I was leaving Colombia, I wrote down my sentiments. I hope they give you a quick snapshot into the unique travel encounters you can experience in this South American country, especially as a solo traveller.
Today, after six mind blowing, life changing weeks, I leave cherished Colombia.
When I arrived, I really didn’t know how this trip would pan out. But it has exceeded any expectations I may have had. It has been one of the most challenging and confronting but rewarding experiences of my life.
I have laughed and cried, sung and danced, been shocked and amazed, frightened and exhilarated, humbled, touched and enlightened.
I’ve seen colourful colonial cities where the music starts blaring at 7.30am, stayed with dear old friends in a beautiful finca surrounded by diverse flora and fauna, visited ancient archeological statues and burial grounds, drunk coffee from local plantations, hiked through forests of palm trees, socialised in one of Colombia’s most progressive and cosmopolitan cities, swum in magnificent Caribbean beaches on the border of Panama, talked to Cuban refugees stuck at the border, looked for frogs in jungle river beds, spent copious hours trying to capture birds and butterflies on camera, swum in remote waterfalls and hiked through a rugged national park. I’ve eaten a great deal of fish, rice and banana plantain and numerous mojitos (at $4.30 each who could resist)!
There are some things I’ve done, I would never imagine I would ever do such as be on a small boat in treacherous swell, riding on the back of a motorbike, helmet free over bumpy roads full of pot holes in the middle of nowhere and smashing my shin into rocks whilst alone in the jungle struggling to get back to town and trying with desperation to explain the word for ice.
Visiting a country where I do not speak the language, Spanish, and let me assure you there is very little English spoken here, I became great at sign language and charades. A lot of the time, I felt like a child again, vulnerable, unable to express myself and in need of people to take care of me. Fortunately along the way, locals and foreigners have appeared to help me translate, many of whom will remain lifelong friends. Colombian people are some of the most honest and caring people I’ve met and their passion for music and dance will be forever etched into my mind.
I am here to tell you, you should never let fear or preconceptions hold you back from travelling, even alone as a woman.
Like anywhere, in Colombia, common sense is key and if you are sensible, you shouldn’t have any problems. I have heard very few stories of unfortunate encounters and most travellers like me have fallen in love with this country which provides so many sensory experiences.
It is with some emotion I am leaving Colombia today, but with me I take enriching memories of one of the biggest adventures of my life plus many new friends from all over the world. I also take a tan, a healing shin and countless mosquito and sand fly bites (the only thing I won’t miss)!
I never take for granted how lucky I am to travel, it is life’s best teacher and I feel truly blessed. I encourage everyone to follow their heart and seek out those experiences – which whilst they can be stretching, can be some of the most insightful and fulfilling moments you may ever have.