There’s no Yo{u} in Colombia

Hola my Lovers. I find myself drawn to you in the dark of night after an evening of wine, food and sisterhood with my former Colombian roomies and a few others…. mostly wine. As I sit here with a mezcal, I’m forced to ponder why this altered state of mind always brings me back to you… my desire to reach out in this state is only matched by my need to write you during travel. Whatever the reason, I’m sitting on my balcony in CDMX listening to the soundtrack of the city, What So Not playing on my speakers, and I can’t think of a better setting for my latest Love Letter.

It’s been an eventful few months, and as I find myself in the final few days of Remote Year, I’m oddly calm. Questionably non-emotional. Cautiously excited for the next phase, and keenly aware of the heartbreak I’m about to endure. I’ve heard a myriad of responses to the end, but what rings the most is the peace we all feel that we made the most of our time together, and we intend to carry what we’ve learned from each other, what we’ve taught each other, into the world. A better version of ourselves, with better views of the world around us and our relationships as they exist in it. But before we get there, here’s a recap of how we got here.

Medellin

“I just worry about you being there. It’s not safe”
A popular opinion about the former cocaine capital of the world, but my experience was anything but scary. One thing Remote Year does a fantastic job of is putting us in the right areas, and Poblado was as safe as it was happening. Every corner, while inhabited by vendors selling everything from gum to cocaine, was covered in lush greens. There were mouth watering restaurants, cute boutique shops, happening clubs and a vibe at every turn that just screamed energy. Our workspace, Selina, boasted a bar with a classic car for a table, a tattoo parlor and a tincture shop where Mel and I got a particularly seductive perfume. We spent our weekends exploring Guatape, playing paintball at Pablo Escobar’s former mansions, touring coffee farms, and checking out the graffiti that turned Communa 13 around. Our month in Medellin housed my birthday, and Beckie threw a swank ass rooftop party complete with trick candles and an appearance from my favorite Meraki, followed by a morning where Marky scooped me up and presented me with a scooter to explore the city with. I also acquired the WORST cold since yacht week, but in RY you power through more than you rest, because the only thing finite is time.

I carried that cold into rainy, dreary Bogota for three days before flying to Cartagena for Casa en el Agua. You can read about my love for Cartagena in Conceding to the Universe, but before I reconnected with me, I joined the majority of my Earharts on a trip to a house in the middle of Caribbean where we drank, laughed, and just loved life with each other. There was bioluminescent plankton, lobster dinners, kayak rides, and just a general feeling of togetherness that even now if I close my eyes I can feel in every bone of my body.

Our return from Casa was a week of one on one for Marky and I before we ventured into the Colombian jungle for Tayrona National Park. I had procured a swank spot that made for the best office of the year, but we took our evening to visit Old Town, have dinners on rooftops with sick views and imbibe Aguardiente while talking about life post RY.

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Tayrona

At the end of the week, we hopped in an Uber to the bus station to promptly missed our scheduled ride, barely catching the last bus out for the night. We reaches Santa Marta way later than expected and crashed for an early morning rise to catch the bus to Tayrona. A packed bus kept us on our feet for the 1.5 hour ride that dropped us at the edge of the park where we started our trek to the beaches at the other end. Marky scoped for monkeys as I tried to keep rocks and sand outta my shoes, and after about 3 hours we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful beaches I’d ever seen. Having that foresight to call ahead, we’d secured hammocks on rock outcropping that afforded the best views, so we checked in, dropped our bags, and explored the landscape until we found a beach that was nearly abandoned. It takes a little convincing, but soon M has me scaling wave crashed cliffs with him for the best view of the setting sun. Knowing the epicness is back where we came from, we hightail it back just in time for the most amazing sunset I’ve seen all year. This picture is unedited, and it still does the scene no justice.

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After we grab dinner, we sneak off with a bottle of wine to a dark and quiet beach where I can see as many stars as I did in the fields of rural Niagara Falls we visited when I was a kid. We’re identifying constellations left and right – I’ve honestly never seen the dipper so clear in my life. Before we can even realize what is happening, a rogue wave crashes all the way up the beach, overtaking us and all of our belongings, including electronics. As we regroup and take inventory, we realize the wave has not only soaked us, but taken a towel as a souvenir. Call it a sacrifice to the Tayrona gods. The stars were worth it.

We’re robbed of sunrise by impeding clouds, so we snooze a bit more in our hammocks before exploring the other way for the day. This place is a gorgeous mix of jungle and beach, where you disappear into the thick only to emerge into a new waterside paradise. We find a particularly breathtaking one with a mix of white and volcanic sand that the waves craft into artworks that change with each rise of the tide. Eager to find more, we try several “paths” off this beach only to end up in parts of the jungle that my stepmother would have a heart attack about me being in. Being the Boy Scout he is, M leads me out of danger just a surely as he takes me into it, and we head back toward the resort to avoid my hangry Pino – but not before being dragged up onto more bbbooouuulderrrsss.

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My cohort’s sense of adventure as well as age and stamina far outweigh mine, so as he wanders back into the jungle for some more adventuring, I post up on the beach for a little soul{ar} recharge. I’m set up even with the majority of the beach and I’m about to nod off for a nice afternoon sun nap, when wouldn’t you fuckin believe it, another rouge wave washes completely over me, soaking me and everything I had. You would think I had learned my lesson. At lest this time i didn’t lose anything but my dignity. *Eye roll*

Marky comes back and we catch the boat back to a tiny town where we grab churros and a taxi to the bus station and procure a ride back to Cartagena. Tired and sun worn, we’re beyond lucky to once again barely catch the last bus out for the evening. After what was a ridiculously long time spent traversing Barranquilla, we get back to Cartagena and grab some bus station empanadas before Ubering home to crash.

With one last day for M in Cartagena, we go in search of the one thing that I’ve seen make him smile more than anything else – sloths. There’s a park just outside of Old City that we wander into, and with the help of some locals, we first find monkeys, then the trademark sloth in the park. M is beside himself, and I gotta admit, it was kinda cool….. but the little guy didn’t move. At least the monkeys danced for us.

I send M off that evening and commence a week of much needed solo time in my Bocagrande palace. After San Andres, I’m ready to get back to my Harts, so I fly back to Bogota and I’m pleasantly surprised that the weather has mellowed since my departure. My last few days in Bogota are filled with sunshine, Hart catchups, sunrise hikes, and farewell dinners. Bogota was a hard entrance, but I truly enjoyed the last few days I spent there.

Now I sit here, three weeks into the last four of my journey. Yes, you will get a recap. CDMX has been too much of a grand adventure not to share, but I’ve already kept you too long, so I’ll say good night and leave you wanting more. After all, that’s my signature style….

Specifically Yours,

SR

There would have been more pics in this post, but I had trouble uploading.  No worries Lovers, you can see everything here

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Conceding to the Universe

Hola mi amantes! I’m coming to you today as I soar high in the sky above the Caribbean on my way to San Andres island. This is the third weekend in a row that I’ve jetted off to Caribbean destinations in Colombia – first it was a house in the middle of the ocean, and then a beach hidden deep in the jungle – now its time to live the island life for a few days before heading back to Bogota. But with some time to kill, I thought I’d check in with you with my latest personal discovery in yet another brain dump post.

I used to believe that in order to love my Harts, I needed time away from them _cue solo side trip_. See, in a past life, I was the kind of person who would sacrifice my own well being to make sure that the people I cared about were happy. After being taken advantage of in this respect time and time again, I started to view this as a weakness, and attempted to reinvent myself as someone who didn’t give a fuck about anything but what she wanted. Ahem, this doesn’t work for me {insert Starbucks “toasty marshmallow” reference}. I’m not saying people aren’t capable of change, but once a caring soul, always a caring soul. What I did learn as the number of people that I cared about in my life grew, is that in order to love and care for those around me, I need time away to love me. Surrounded by the group, I allow myself to be swallowed up by the pursuit of their happiness ~individually and collectively ~ and I’m not complaining, I love every minute of it, and it is a much more fulfilling way of life when those around me are constantly recognizing and appreciating me for who I am. What I didn’t realize until I landed in Cartagena is how draining it can still be on me if I let it, and that my happiness {while still mainly derived from the joy of others} requires effort on my part to focus on me and recharge that spirit of giving. So, in order to love my Harts, I need time away to love me.

I’m not big on faith. I have a hard time accepting that there’s a grand master plan out there, or a celestial being is guiding my life, or that my mood is dependent on where Mars is in orbit {cough, control freak, cough}. That said, sometimes the Universe speaks so loudly, I can’t help but give it a little nod and an “ok, ok”. When planning my flight to Cartagena, the launching point for a weekend at Casa en el Agua, I decided to take a few days on the front end for myself ~ a funny notion, considering this was the consensus of at least half the Harts.

When we landed in Bogota, it was gloomy. I was sick. It was cold. Sure, cold is relative, but when my suitcase is loaded for endless summer, 50 degrees and rainy is a bit uncomfortable. It was fine, I told myself, only a few days until I was coastal bound. When making my usual initial grocery run [er, Rappi delivery], I hesitated on a few items I would normally get for the month {mainly the makings of a PBnJ}. I also heavily researched gyms, and hesitantly held off on signing for the month. When I packed for Cartagena, I WAY over packed, a severe deviation from my usual minimalist travel style. All of the above mentioned out of character moves made complete sense the moment we landed in Cartagena. I stepped off the plane, the Caribbean breeze hit my skin, and I knew I > was > home. Month 11 wasn’t meant for me to spend in the mountains of Bogota {which I’m sure is a lovely place rich in experiences}, but rather on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, gazing out at the sparkling waters and recharging my so{u}l<ar> batteries. That’s why I couldn’t bring myself to buy a jar of PB. I see you universe.

Cartagena is a beautiful mix of Miami and New Orleans. I had booked a swanky top floor condo in the Miami-esque area of Bocagrande, a peninsula of high rises that overlooked the bright blue waters of the Caribbean. A mere 5 minutes cab ride away is Old City, a walled maze of brightly colored buildings, energetic activity, and a distinct New Orleans vibe, if you replace the jazz with salsa. Less than 24 hours into my trip, I booked my AirBNB for another 10 days.

I didn’t spend the whole time alone. As I previously mentioned, there were other Harts with the same idea I had, so I hung at the pool with Duffs, had lunch dates with Mel, birthday dinners with the crew, a week of the Marky and Noir show featuring jungle treks, beaches, hammocks and _boulders_, and of course, the tramily gathering at Casa en el Agua. But when I was alone, I was never lonely. I slept. I ate clean. I drank lots of water. I took myself out to dinner. I ordered food in and binged on trash TV. I laid by the pool. Caught up with friends. I wrote. I read. I watched every sunset. I worked, long days, that I didn’t mind because I was slaying. I woke up every morning to the sound of the waves crashing and a view of the ocean that put a smile on my face. I started to feel rejuvenated and refreshed, felt my confidence return and my mind start to ease. I missed my Harts, but I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. Ok Universe, I get it.

As we begin our descent into San Andres, I have to regrettably say that the time allotted for this brain dump is up. I’m off to more Caribbean adventures and can’t be bothered divulging my inner workings anymore. Until next time Lovers…

Randomly Yours,

SR

Sad you didn’t get any adventure updates? Guess what… pics are UTD