Going to Colombia -- scratch that -- South America for the first time, I was hesitant. I am quick to show the world my thirst for adventure and just as quick to hide my fears and anxieties. I had many of both before my trip and it was beginning to feel more like a burden than a vacation. There are many stories, from word of mouth, to the news, that don't paint Latin America in the colorful and vibrant light that the music and food suggest and I succumbed to these impressions.
Now having seen, eaten, and danced the city of Cartagena, I admit a bad reputation does not hold a flame to the memories I have brought back with me. From eating fresh mariscos on a catamaran off the coast of the Islas del Rosario, to roaming the Spanish- style streets of La Ciudad Amurallada, I felt like I was halfway around the world and most importantly, on a never-ending vacation ( jokes on me though)!
A delicious crepe cocada with arequipe flambé
We dined at some of the finest establishments in Colombia (by that, I mean Crepes & Waffles -- TWICE haha!)
Although, I especially enjoyed the French inspired menu at Colette
where I enjoyed a delish duck confit.
We spent a day snorkeling, lounging, and tanning on a catamaran.
(This water is ridiculously beautiful!)
Though the Walled City alone would have made my trip, this experience was the cherry on top. Relaxing on a catamaran, savoring different seafood, was a much needed unwind. A seafood paella lunch was included in the fare, overall, making for a very affordable yet luxurious experience.
After spending 5 hours in Cartagena, my fears and anxieties washed away. It's easy to let doubt take hold and bring you down with it, especially when it has to do with change or the unknown. Because I enjoy traveling, yet am not shielded from everyday news outlets or negative voices, I struggle with this more often than not.
I've begun practicing a few ritualistic habits that put me at ease when traveling somewhere that I have these pesky preconceived notions about. It could be as easy as registering your travels with your embassy so they are aware and can send you updates or help you in case of emergency. I did so before leaving to Colombia at the US Embassy's STEP website (Smart Traveller Enrollment Plan), which kept me abreast of all necessary information as a foreigner and could facilitate contact in a state of emergency.
I also made sure to receive some tips from locals on transportation and areas to avoid (pro tip: only using hotel taxis and agreeing on a price at the beginning of the taxi ride).
If hesitation is a feeling you struggle with when a new opportunity presents itself, I hope you go for it (whatever it is for you) with caution in mind, rather than letting your hesitation persuade you otherwise. Looking back at my short life, I realize every good memory or monumental personal growth experience, started with a little hesitation. The H word isn't a bad thing as long as you treat it for what it is and never let it hold you back from your greatness that lies ahead.
Keep scrolling for my highlights of Cartagenaaa!
Sunset at Cafe Del Mar -- Stop for a sip, the view is well worth it!
Breakfast views at Hotel Boutique Las Carretas -- another affordable yet serendipitous find
The beautiful street view over our Boutique Las Carretas balcony
Channeling my inner housewife on Bona Vida's Island-cruising catamaran- finally some relaxation!
Exploring with my best friend and worst shopping influence!