…Colombia Here I Come!

How this happened and how I’m feeling about it.

In less than 48 hours I will be boarding the plane to Colombia to start my South American adventure, leaving behind my comfortable life in the UK for 6 months — or until I start missing crumpets and run out of money! Whilst I’m no stranger to flying or exploring exotic and faraway places, I’ve never spent more than a week alone abroad and my longest trip to date was only six weeks.

I’m currently planning to go from Colombia to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil — but we’ll see!

I won’t go into why I’m doing it as it’s not that simple, but here’s how I got to this stage!

Another great decision made in the shower

Most of my big decisions — including to run an ultra-marathon and quit my well-paid graduate job without another one to go to — have been made whilst jogging or in the shower, and this one was no different. Well, except that I actually thought it through first before booking the flights in July. A rare occurrence for someone who thrives on spontaneity.

The idea was first planted in 2013 in Peru when I took an impromptu trip with my most adventurous friend — flying directly from Brussels hours after finishing a marathon, of course! (A decision my knee later started to regret whilst hobbling into one of the deepest canyons in the world for two days.) During the short holiday I met some amazing people who’d been travelling alone for months — something I thought was both crazy and brave.

Colca Canyon, Peru, in October 2013

Fast-forward 3 years and I can’t understand why people think I’m brave for going alone! As I’ve explained to several people:

If I hate it, I’ll fly home or go to a different destination. If I run out of money, I’ll work for accommodation and food. If I miss my friends and family, I’ll find WiFi and call them or they can visit me. If I can’t find another good job when I get home, I’ll take what I can get and keep applying for the ones I want.

The only thing that has changed in this time is the confidence I have in myself to find solutions to challenges that will inevitably arise — which I owe in part to my last job.

Working for such a fast-paced and ambitious company (OVO Energy) for nearly 2 years allowed me to surprise myself with how much I’m capable of and introduced me to loads of inspirational colleagues. When your manager holds a World Record for rowing 2,400 miles from California to Hawaii it’s hard not to believe that anything is possible! Ironically this is the job I’ve just quit.

Why South America?

  • The diversity is unbelievable: rainforests, volcanoes, deserts, canyons, glaciers, mountains and beaches!
  • It’s too big to see in several short holidays with my annual leave
  • It’s affordable for a long trip
  • It’ll give me a great opportunity to learn a second language (no disrespect to my Welsh GCSE!) and teach some English
  • They went to South America in my favourite Pixar film — Up!
Paradise Falls in Up was inspired by the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, in Venezuela but sadly it’s too dangerous to visit

My trip preparation has been much like my marathon preparation…

…ambitious to start with but ultimately just about adequate and heavily reliant on my ability to work it out when the time comes!

I decided it was sensible to take a month off between finishing work and leaving for South America, to “learn some Spanish, get organised and see family/friends” but, needless to say, I didn’t manage it all. Yo no hablo español— well, I can sing the days of the week — but I’ve had a great time!

Heeding the advice of several well-travelled friends and bloggers — “don’t book too much so that you can be flexible” — I’ve only booked 5 nights accommodation for when I arrive and I’ll sort the rest out nearer the time.

My month of ‘funemployment’ well spent

Now to wait for the panic to set in

I’ve been uncharacteristically calm about everything and I’m sure it can’t last! Cue breakdown at the airport or on the flight…

Wish me luck!

GB

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