With significant bummed outness, some genuine excitement and a bit of forced optimism I am heading back to California… BUT not before one night in Miami with Hot Tamale Ms Lenox and her Caliente Cuz Melina!
Story goes that Pablo Picasso used to walk around with a pistol filled with blanks for whenever people asked what his paintings meant. Don’t ask me what I’m doing next. I really don’t know yet, but the general gist is work, weddings, road trip and try to get back to Santiago in early 2018. I start summer camp on Sunday, or started depending on when I finish this. As a counselor not a camper mind you. Been 4 years since I worked, keepin the dream alive baby!!
Highs and Lows of the past few weeks, beginning with Lows because they’re more entertaining and you illiterate mouth breathers probably never read past the first paragraph.
For the second time on my trip, purchasing a flight on the wrong date. The first time being when I accidentally booked New Zealand to Argentina 3 months late. This time being when signed up for Medellin to Santa Marta 2 weeks late. Such a dummy. You’re supposed to learn from mistakes, but what’s the fun in that? Booking travel is just so damn exciting I can’t see straight! Sobriety during big purchases is probably preferable.
Stomach virus in the jungle. The hot sweaty jungle in the middle of the night. Locking myself in a ventless bathroom from 3-4am as I dealt with my woes. Followed by passing out in my hot sweaty tent trying to find humor in the situation.
24.5 sand flea bites, itchy and unsightly.
The Caribbean coast left me beat and battered. Not until reaching the Oasis of Santa Marta did my stomach settle and bites begin to cease itching. Fortunately it seemed that just about everyone was in the same boat. It was like watching troops return from war in Santa Marta. Those heading into the jungle, previously optimistic, looked in shock as wounded warriors returned home sharing their battle stories and scars. I mean it was also super fun, but this is the Lows sections.
Last but not least, going home. This could also be considered a high, but it’s the end of a trip of a lifetime and it’s chill to be a bit bummed it’s over.
Hella new friends. I say “hella” cause there was a solid showing of Bay folks. But in chronological order of meeting it goes like this: Name (Location where friendship fire was kindled)
Annie (Medellin), total baberaham Lincoln from the U.K. Literal Ride or Die homie cause we ended up taking a bus along the Caribbean coast in search of a jungle party through the storm of the decade. Only to be met by nipple high water on the trail to Boogie Town. We were thwarted and forced to take refuge in a small town for the night.
Luke, Kate, Smashley and Anna (Medellin), honestly this picture of Luke sums it up for me. Luke and Kate are the embodiment of a perfect union between the personalities of New Zealand and Australia, good on ya. Ashley and Anna, the Canadians, will kill you with kindness before they sneak attack you at the bar and turn it up to 11. Also Ashley is super bad at card games.
DAN!!! (Medellin but really SF) Dan wtf are you doing here?? Brought together by fate and brief acquaintancing in the past. Now partner in crime for all pirate related activities amongst other normal activities. Co pilot through sickness and health the past 2 weeks. Also somebody save all those poor ladies from drowning in those deep blue swimming pool eyes!
Bros from Bogota on Bachelor party, aka Brogotas (La Costena)
Billy, Camron, Matt and Matt, aka SF Bros (Cartagena), although much louder than the Swiss girls they replaced in the hostel room, they proved to be far cooler. They’re on a 2 week missionary trip to preach La Vida Loca to South Americans. Turns out we have the same friends too, small world.
Lili and Ren (Cartagena but really East Bay), came to visit! Lili, fellow camp counselor and long time friend just missed me so much she had to come visit. Too bad she waited until I only had 3 days left to show up! But seriously, great to see ya and glad your US coast swap found time to sneak a trip in down here. Come back safe ya hear and enjoy NYC! Ren, you win, you know more reggaeton than me…
So after a final hurrah in Colombia the dream comes to an end, for now. Colombia was a perfect place to end, not only because being sick in the jungle really makes you appreciate 1st world comforts, but also because it has Medellin, which is probably the most beautiful city I saw in 5 months on the road. Seriously the city is unreal. I spent about a week there but could easily spend a month and not get bored. What that city has done to turn it self around in the last 10-20 years is nothing short of unbelievable. The people are as resilient a group as you’ll ever meet with an ability to focus on the good in lieu of the horrors they had faced during the drug wars.
Every city has a free walking tour that is supposedly super good, but this one is the real deal. So good that literally you hear people talking about it at least 5 times a day, so eventually you give in and sign up. Which is no easy feat in itself as you have to sign up online exactly 1.5 days in advance or you’re probably shit out of luck.
The Parque Explora is a dope museum modeled after The Exploratorium in SF. It’s pretty much a kids science museum that also is fun for adults. So it’s pretty much like the museum equivalent of Pixar movies. But without the heart felt moments and crying. Also we found not only Nemo, but Dory as well!
The city is incredibly progressive with its civic events, spaces and attitude towards urban development. They have a rad train line along with a gondola system to get the people up and down from the massive hills. The whole city coats beautiful green hillsides with quintessential South American architecture. You can easily see why Pablo was obsessed with this city.
Speaking of Pablo, it is worth it to take some time to learn this history while you’re there. The first of which is to forget everything you heard in Narcos. It’s a difficult subject to broach there, because there are two sides to his history. Those who benefited from him and those who lost things and people dear to them because of him. My opinion is that of an unbiased observer who can’t see past his atrocities as anything but greed and hunger for power. But, I understand how those who worked near him revered him as a sort of Robin Hood. He gave them opportunities that were not there before. He came during a time when the government wasn’t necessarily a friend of the people either. It’s complicated, but nonetheless tragic in the end. You can hop on a tour to the countryside, where you’ll learn the two sides of the struggle, see one of his houses, meet someone who worked with him closely and the check out La Piedra and Guatape. Just don’t do the paintball at his house, I find that to be super weird. Or do it because it’s probably really fun. But like, also super weird and kinda insensitive.
Post Medellin was about 2 weeks including jungle, beach life, Santa Marta recovery and a final hurrah in Cartagena before catching a flight to Ft Lauderdale and finally back to SF.
Anyway, I don’t have too much to say as far as wrapping up my 5 month journey. It was friggin awesome. I feel like met the goal of my intentions before the trip. I had fun, met heaps of awesome folks, had new experiences, was outside my comfort zone and had some near death moments, and was as positive as possible everyday. I like totally went looking for like myself and like totally found me, but like also, I think I lost like myself a little in the process of finding myself, you like know, man? So like, if you go to South Am, say wassup to my proverbial thumb I left behind, brah!
I will say this, I’m definitely not ready to go back to “real life” just yet.
Party on Wayne!!