Currently en route to Cartagena de Indias.
It is my first time traveling solo. I mean unless we count the train ride I took from Venice to Milan to visit family. I have to get used to it! I’ll be traveling to Montreal by myself very soon.
I planned nothing. Sometimes those are the best kinds of trips. The ones with zero expectations. Traveling is a little like life in that sense—I’ve learned that the hard way.
I have also realized my mindset and outlook of traveling has completely changed since Semester at Sea. I’m wearing my bracelet to remind me of the experience and of all the lessons learned that I must use in all of my journeys. I noticed that now I pay very close attention to details and I question social situations.
For example, I was on the security line in the Atlantic City airport. There was a black couple in front of my mom and me. To put things into context, my mom is blonde with light eyes and I don’t really look Hispanic. I don’t really look like anything. But that’s a conversation for another time.
The poor black dude got a complete pat down, while I only had to show the security guard the palms of my hands.
Let’s be honest, Colombians are the ones that should be getting the pat down. Don’t let our innocent faces fool you 😉 If you don’t believe me, watch the movie: Maria Llena de Gracia (I would have linked it, but I decided to delete all my social apps from my phone and left my computer at my uncles house. Linking a movie from a phone gets a little complicated).
As a Colombian, I feel pretty knowledgeable of the culture. Sure I have become very Americanized, but I know how to act to not look like a foreigner. At least I hope. One thing Colombians have is that they are very respectful. I mean extremely. I have said please, thank you, yes ma’am, no sir, more times than I can count in one day of being here. Don’t get me wrong, I always say please and thank you, but they take it to the next level. Also, anyone I walk past gets a greeting or at least a smile. It is a completely different world from Jersey.
Colombia is also deeply regionally fragmented. So my experience in the highlands is probably going to be very different in the coast.
I also wanted to mention the aspect of humility. It is a strong part of my identity that I know is influenced by my birth country.
When I was 9 years old, my uncle took my brother and me to a very poor area of Medellin. There was a little boy, around the same age, playing on the street with his new toy car. My uncle asked him if he could show us his car. He agreed. I cannot tell you what color it was or if it had some type of design, but after almost 12 years, I still remember my uncle holding up this boy’s brand new toy with no wheels. It had been destroyed and trashed by some other well-off kid and now it was the happiness of this boy. That was my crash course on humility—see how happy others are with much less than what you have.
Now, having to take a cold shower for 3 weeks doesn’t even faze me. The humility of my uncle’s car, apartment, and life in Medellin are all part of the experience.
BRB. Gotta go catch my flight.
Quote of the day: “Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”