Many of us have been engaged into a remarkable public discourse on the endemic issue of systemic racism in this country in the past few weeks at the same time as we are dealing with the effects of a pandemic. Some of us engage with the issue with dismay, others with wonder or apprehension, but few are indifferent, and many are passionate. I’ve probably experienced every one of these feelings and all with a level of passion that I am fairly sure turned off a few people, even friends. The conversation we are having is necessary and worthy of our…


“You are what you believe yourself to be.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Have you noticed how terrifying and filled with doom and gloom conspiracy theories are? When you read or hear them, they make you feel like evil is lurking behind everything and everyone, implicating people you often admire and respect, while challenging all common beliefs, and all without ever providing any actual factual sources to support their allegations besides some flimsy arguments. The currency of the conspiracy theorist is entirely born of FEAR and HATE, disguised under the guise of caring for others. The fear is insidious and the hate gratuitous since the conspiracies never provide any solutions to the horrifying…


One Woman’s Solo Travel in South America — Epilogue: Sharing the Light

Good Bye, South America! It’s been a pleasure to know you.

Returning Home

My time in South America had come to an end. It had been almost five months since I had last seen my daughter and I missed her terribly. I was now eager to go back to the States and be with my family, at least for a little while. Indeed, I was going back home for only three weeks. I planned to be traveling alone again for a few months, this time to Southeast Asia, a corner of the world still foreign to me with its own wonders and challenges.

Traveling alone and living in the unknown made me happier…


One Woman’s Solo Travel in South America — 24: Ana

Ana

Ana was a small and pretty twenty-five-year old with long straight brown hair and a perfect command of English. She was smart, ambitious, and on-course for a successful career in journalism. After college, and to cut her teeth, she took a job working for a local women’s magazine. Her next objective was the completion of a master’s degree overseas with Roberto. I had had a few occasions to talk to her and she even had interviewed me for a feature article she wanted to write about mature women traveling the world alone. …


One Woman’s Solo Travel in South America — 23: Manuela

Calle La Ronda, Quito, Ecuador. July 2017 (Photo by WF Hallam)

Manuela

Even more unforgettable was the human experience. I had sensed from the moment we met that my Ecuadorian friends’ insistent request meant a lot more than a gracious invitation. There was an intuitive connection between Ana and I that I could not dismiss.

The same day I arrived at the villa, I also briefly met Manuela, Roberto’s cousin, an attractive, shy-looking woman with sad eyes. “I feel like I already know you,” she had exclaimed on her way out. I knew what she meant. Manuela had come with us to the thermal springs and began to open up to me…


One Woman’s Solo Travel in South America — 22: Quito, Ecuador

Downtown Quito, Ecuador. July 2017 (All photos by WF Hallam)

Ecuador

12:30 am and my plane just landed in Quito!

Like Medellin, the airport is quite a distance from the city center. Once again, I approached a young woman traveling alone to propose a shared taxi ride. Valentina was from Barcelona, Spain, and traveled for business. Her open demeanor made it easy to engage in conversation and learn a few things about each other even before I made my suggestion. It was late at night and we were the only two women traveling alone.

“I have a friend picking me up at the airport,” she said. “But I can ask him…


One Woman’s Solo Travel in South America — 21: Last Days in Medellin

La ZOna Rosa, Medellin, Colombia. July 2017 (W.F.Hallam Photos)

Last Days in Medellin

In 1980, two college students with a vision opened their first “Crêpes & Waffles” restaurant in Bogotá, a small rustic French creperie. The simple menu included many types of crêpes, waffles and ice creams. The founders, Beatríz and Macía, were studying abroad in Montreal and in Switzerland respectively when their fascination with crêpe culture prompted them to bring the French treat back to Bogotá.

After a few good years, their stroke of genius was to lower their prices even as they maintained their top-notch quality and, in so doing, they fueled their growth exponentially. Since then, they expanded their brand…


One Woman’s Solo Travel in South America — 20: Medellin, Colombia

The view from the mirador of la Piedra de Guatapé, aka el Peñol, Guatapé, Colombia, July 2017 (Photos W F Hallam)

Medellin

It was dark and drizzly and much cooler when my flight landed in Medellin after a six-hour layover in Bogota. In the luggage area, I approached a couple of young European tourists — one from England and the other from Denmark — carrying enormous backpacks and asked if they were going to El Poblado and if so, whether they would consider sharing a taxi. By then it was clear to me that Uber was never a workable solution for airport pickups.

There were too many restrictions by local governments under considerable pressure from official taxi companies. At first, the girls…


One Woman’s Solo Travel in South America — 19: Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia, June 2017 (All Photos by W. F. Hallam)

Cartagena

On the flight to Cartagena, I found a handwritten note signed “Ariadna” in my pocket book that made me smile. One evening in Bogota, I visited Jeanne, another friend’s acquaintance, who worked at one of the twelve Alliance Française centers in the capital (the second largest French cultural presence in non-colonial lands after Brazil). We had decided to meet at her apartment, where I met her roommate, Ariadna, a native of Cartagena, before going to dinner in la Zona Rosa.

While sipping a glass of wine together that night, Ariadna, wrote down her contact information for me and on the…


One Woman’s Solo Travel in South America — 18: Bogota, Colombia

With Lina at the Jardin Botanico de Bogota, Colombia, June 2017

Colombia

Traveling alone, I always welcomed offers from friends and acquaintances to meet their friends in a country I was heading to. I recognized there was a subliminal guidance inspiring them to connect me with someone they loved. For Bogota, it came from Denise, virtually a “stranger” living in Austin, Texas. She was one of my book fans and a Facebook follower, but I had never met her in person, yet she insisted that I meet Lina and Fabian. Our social media connection unified us into one family sharing thoughts and energies, and we knew to trust our guts. …

Wafa Hallam

Writer, editor, speaker, and author of “The Road From Morocco”. My areas of expertise are self empowerment, emotional growth, and spiritual expansion.

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