Something Travel Bloggers Rarely Talk About - Love the Search
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03 Feb Something Travel Bloggers Rarely Talk About

Seven months into backpacking in Central America, I felt it. It was early December and the holidays were fast approaching. I had a blast rock climbing in Boquete, Panamá and thought about staying longer to improve my skills while volunteering at a really amazing, chilled out hostel there. I had made friends with the local community of climbers and was offered to  volunteer. It was pretty simple, the job just required guarding the tour info desk in the mornings, so I could climb every day if I wanted to. It would’ve been perfect, but the holidays were coming up and I just really wanted to sail smoothly to South America before the winds picked up.
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I was also eager to get to Colombia because I’ve heard from other backpackers that it was so much cheaper than Central America. Even though I had been volunteering in Costa Rica as a yoga teacher, exploring the rest of the country in between jobs still dug a lot into my travel budget.
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Together with 20 other backpackers, we sailed for four days through the San Blas islands of Panamá. For the first time ever, I wasn’t excited. Nor I was interested in getting to know the people I was about to spend the whole week with. I felt bored hopping from one beautiful island to another. I didn’t even go snorkelling, and I used to love it. It was clear, I was burnt out from traveling.
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I excluded myself from the group. Some of them made the effort to reach out to me, asking why I always sat alone. They probably thought I was a weirdo, but I just didn’t care. I constantly reminded myself that a lot of people would kill just to be in my spot, not having to wake up early the next day for an office job or worry about an upcoming flight back home. But that didn’t help at all.
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After four days, we arrived the first border town of Capurganá which can only be accessed by boat. None of us wanted to be on the ocean again the next day, so some stayed a couple of nights but I stayed almost a week. I started bonding with two girls from the trip, Frances and Rosa. For the next few days we didn’t want to do much but eat and chill. We needed some time to see something un-amazing for a change.
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Some days were better than others. I was excited to be back in civilization again in Cartagena, even though we felt so underdressed and out of place walking around street after street of fancy shops and restaurants. I enjoyed spending a few nights sleeping in hammocks at Tayrona National Park and relished every type of street food the Dutch girls and I found in Santa Marta.
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The few days leading up to Christmas, I laid in bed with with a fever and a throbbing headache, replaying the recent Miss Universe booboo over and over again. I slept all throughout the holiday celebrations and just wanted the revelry to calm down. The next day, I hopped on a cheap flight to Bogotá to see my friend Ana. Her family welcomed me like one of their own and I gladly accepted their hospitality.
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On my first night at their cozy apartment in Bogotá, we all sat on their comfy warm couch to watch a movie. It had been months since I last watched one and found it difficult to finish. But I quickly turned into a couch potato, watching up to 5 movies a day. I didn’t read, blog, paint and barely wrote on my journal. For the next few weeks, the only thing I cared about was Netflix. I escaped from my reality.
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I admitted to them that more than homesick I was just burnt out from traveling. They gave me my own room, unlimited access to the kitchen and coffee maker. I cuddled with their pet poodle Maggie during movies. Each one of them listened patiently to my stories, I felt completely at home and it was exactly what I needed at that time, a family.
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When you’re traveling you’re constantly surrounded by people, but they come and go too soon. Making genuine connections is easy but there are no guarantees you’ll see them again the next day. Staying in touch with family and friends back home with the time difference and all has been so much harder than I thought.
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After the holidays, I finally decided to book my flight back home to Asia on May 2016. This gives me another 5 months to travel the rest of Colombia, and then down south to Ecuador and Peru. I am loving every bit of Colombia, and how everything is so much cheaper than Central America. So far, I’ve taken two domestic flights only for $25 each. The country’s reputation as a dangerous place is really a few decades outdated and feel quite safe traveling around solo.
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I’m currently staying in places for about a couple of weeks at a time, trying to make new friends, holding on to them a little longer and desperately trying to make some sort of genuine connection. I’m not sure if traveling slower will help at all, but it feels like the right thing to do for now.
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