I was all set to write a post about our time in Isla del Pirata, complete with loads of photos (because the fact is that we didn’t do all that much on our little desert isla, but it was beautiful). But then my camera ATE most of my photos from last week and promptly died. And so we decided to go out to the local brewpub instead.
As we were dropping our room key at the front desk on our way out, the gal working there asked us if we were American. And when we said yes, she was curious and asked us if we were put off by any of the bad propaganda about her country. I told her of course we weren’t and she said she was glad we were here. American tourists are still a rarity here, most likely because of all the negative propaganda that Colombia has gotten, and continues to get, in the press (particularly in the US).
And it got me thinking about why we’re traveling, and why we’re here, and how many amazing things we would have missed out on if we had dismissed Colombia as dangerous and never bothered to come here.
Traveling is not going on vacation. Vacations are usually carefully planned out to avoid stressful situations and find comfort and relaxation. And travel, especially long term travel somewhat off the beaten path, is not always about that. It can be stressful. In so many ways it is about taking a leap of faith & plunging into the darkness of the great unknown & hoping for the best. As an optimist, I firmly believe that you often get what you expect to get. That if you expect to meet good people and have good experiences, that is in fact what you will experience. And I’ve been lucky so far in that this has been the case on our travels.
Let me be completely honest with you. As much as we would like to pretend that our trip is very spontaneous and fly by night, the fact is that in so many ways it is not that at all. We may not spend months plotting out our path or figuring out where we’ll sleep next week, but we do spend a lot of time doing research on locations we’re interested in, and forming our own opinions on what we think will suit us and what we’re not really interested in doing. And paramount in our minds during most of this research and planning is ensuring that we stay safe while we travel. This certainly doesn’t mean we don’t take risks, but we try not to take unnecessary ones. And in deciding what is risky and what is not, we make a concerted effort to cut through the bullshit and propaganda that is rampant throughout the internet and boil down all that information (& misinformation) to the relevant FACTS about a place.
And the fact is that all the truly relevant information about Colombia boiled down to one thing: it is an amazing country and we just had to come and experience it for ourselves. And we haven’t been disappointed.
If we had bought into all the negative hype about Colombia we would have missed out on our favorite city EVER, and some of the best meals we’ve had in our lives, and the kindest, funniest, most endearing and welcoming people we’ve met on our travels (and that bar was set pretty high). We would have missed out on so many wonderful experiences that we couldn’t find anywhere but here. And we certainly wouldn’t have ended up sitting in a local microbrewery pub earlier tonight, drinking some of the best beer we’ve had, eating nachos with a plastic food prep glove (South Americans aren’t fans of eating with your hands), and celebrating the Colombian Olympic medal winners. Did I mention that we walked both to and from that microbrewery in the dark and never once felt unsafe, even without knowing exactly where we were going?
Travel is about busting out of your comfort zone. And, in many ways, Colombia has provided that as well. We’re often the only English speakers wherever we go, and the Spanish here is challenging. But we’re getting by brilliantly, and having a fantastic time in the process. Our month here is rapidly coming to an end and we both wish we could stay longer…there’s so much left for us to do and experience here.
We’ll definitely return to Colombia again. It’s in our hearts. And we encourage you to think about visiting here as well.
And as for Isla del Pirata….my camera did leave me a few lovely parting gifts, including this sunset.