I can’t keep my hands from sweating. I attempt small talk with those around me in the custom’s line, but there’s a tremble in my voice. I’m next as I approach the Custom’s officer. He asks the typical questions. “How many nights are you staying here? Where are you staying? How much money did you bring with you?” He finally lets me into his country. He stamps my passport and I’m in Colombia for the second time in my life, but this time it’s different. This time I’m completely alone. I catch a cab, and a shit-eating-grin is on the drivers face. I know he’s going to rip me off as I head to the Intercontinental, but it doesn’t bother me. I get to the Intercontinental after a sleep deprived night from some asshole getting up to use the bathroom in my row multiple times during this early morning flight. I hand the hotel manager my card. Declined. Declined again. My thoughts start racing. I don’t have enough Colombian pesos to cover the hotel, and if my card keeps declining I can’t use an ATM. What are my options? It’s 90 degrees out and I haven’t eaten anything all day. I ask to call my bank, and it’s my first mistake of the trip. I forgot to notify my bank that I’d be traveling, but after using the hotel phone, customer service unfreeze my card. I head up to my room and I see this view from my window.
It’s by far the nicest hotel I’ve stayed at. I finally have service, and so I text my friend who lives in Cartagena to come hang out. They bring a friend along, and we have a great night of drinking, listening to music, and night swimming, which makes me think “I haven’t night swam with friends since high-school.” They leave and I experience a moment of clarity. I’m listening to music while still faded off the drinks from earlier, and I’m in total bliss. I’m exactly where I want to be at the moment.
Sunlight through my window wakes me up the next day, and another friend of mine is coming to hangout for the day. I pick up their things and we head down to the beach and debate getting a seat under an umbrella to protect ourselves from the sun’s rays.
We finally answer one of the aggressive salesmen on the beach and hope to be seated. We’re about to find our spot, until another salesman we ignored earlier comes over and starts yelling at the salesman helping us. They get into a heated screaming match, and one of them shoves the absolute shit out of the other. A fight looks like it’s about to break out. I make sure to get the fuck out of there real quick, and so we go back to the pool. It’s a chill day all around.
The next day we do the same thing, except this time I’m drinking a margarita every half hour. Daytime ends and we head to the historic center.
We go to a bar, and it happens to be the same bar I went to my first time around. I continue splurging on margaritas and start to walk the streets. Beautiful Colombian women cat call me and I feel like Brad Pitt for a moment of time.
The trips over faster than I had wished. A sporadic long weekend trip that I needed to experience.
The next day I head to the airport. I get through security, but I need to open my bag. I speak barely any Spanish, and the airport officer is asking me to remove the scissors. The thing is I don’t have any scissors. We check my whole bag and he walks away. He walks back laughing, and tells me I’m good to go. I enter the U.S. and the customs officer is actually nice, and I get through in a breeze. I’m back in Boston, and it finally hits me I was in a different part of the world ten hours earlier.
Everything You Want in Life is On the Other Side of Fear
This was my second Solo-Travel-Trip in two months. My first one was to Amsterdam in September, and I think I may be low-key addicted. You’re put in a place you’ve never been by yourself before, and it’s all on you to make things happen. These experiences are where I have gained the most personal growth and self-realization. I’m an anxious person, and putting my self in high stress, but rewarding situations is like my own form of therapy. I’m forced to meet new people, go to new places, and break out of my shell and break past the anxiety that has held me back in life, and become who I’ve always wanted to be. It’s best to take stress head on. It’s like riding a bike, the more you put yourself in these situations the more comfortable you will feel. I think this video does a great job of explaining a similar concept.
Everyone has their own remedy for conquering fear. So go out and find it, and start living life. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Just don’t find drugs and alcohol. Your life can be a beautiful thing.