My BIG goal for 2013 is to figure out how to embrace uncertainty by living in the moment; by being fully present, aware and open minded to recognize and appreciate experiences. Little did I know that my goal would be completed in Colombia.
It started with the following elements that added up to an awesome trip:
Birthday + Husband + Friends + New Place + Adventure + Unknown Plans
A couple who have been dear friends of my husband and mine for awhile recently moved to MedellÃn, Colombia and extended an invite for us to visit. Since we knew and trusted them, we did not do any research or planning. Unbeknownst to me, my friend was also trying to get her busy husband to be more present. Our hostess with the mostest impeccably and thoughtfully planned out our whole week of adventurous experiences and kept us abreast of only what we needed to know, not what we thought we wanted to know.
Like many of you, Colombia is probably not on the top of your list to travel to based on the media headlines and history. Yet, the new me does not judge or assume, so we flew with blind faith along with a tinge of excitement and nervousness about discovering the unknown and putting our fate in the hands of someone else (not our normal kind of trip!).
We arrived safely and were taken to our friends’ house where they discovered that the keys were lost. We all chuckled as our only requirement for this trip was to experience real life like the locals, but we just didn’t know it would start right away. Being open minded, we ordered a pizza and had a dinner party on the rooftop while waiting for the 24/7 locksmith. The next day we explored the city via car and enjoyed a 3 course gourmet lunch filled with new foods, flavors and combinations. The surrounding lush green landscape of the botanical gardens and variety of people watching helped us get familiar with our new environment and local culture.
The next day we explored the area via car, metro, foot and bus. On the aerial metrocable (first time in a gondola without my skis!) we enjoyed incredible views of the surrounding Andes Mountains and city life actively taking place below us. Our guide led us into the local neighborhood to witness the “real” neighborhoods and shared the history of how the Favelas have been able to increase their quality of life and local neighborhood pride with additional travel options thanks to the aerial metrocable and escalators. After riding the local bus, we grabbed a giant leaf for an umbrella and ran back to the car as the rain started to pour just as we finished our time together.
Our following mystery day was an exciting day trip driving high up into the mountains to meet real live coffee growers at their farms, see how they live and work, as well as learn about their dreams for a better future. After a short, easy hike, we sipped coffee at a gorgeous waterfall. Then drove to the first farm to pick some coffee beans and see the coffee making process from bean to cup. Upon departure, we were given a banana appropriately cut with a machete. After exploring the coffee trees at a second farm, we were served a local favorite, fresh lunch made by the coffee grower’s wife. Being an entrepreneur, I loved learning how they recently formed a 9 person partnership with the common goal to bring quality coffee to the locals instead of exporting it all along with the fact that they were very selective in forming their partnership by setting 3 important criteria for success up front:
1 – Work hard;
2 – don’t accept any hand outs from the government;
3 – reinvest and be accountable for quality and individual contribution.
After 3 amazing days filled with adventure, education and unique experiences, we were told that we’d be escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city. After only an hour, we arrived via aerial metrocable to Piedras Blancas in a fast developing thunderstorm. Turns out we were the last ones to arrive before the metro was shut down – talk about perfect timing without a plan! While waiting for lighter rain, we mused about the last time we all sat with nothing to do and nowhere pressing to be while completely unplugged from the world in the middle of nowhere … ahhh, what a cool experience. The resort was amazing and kept us busy exploring, rowing our boat on the lake, and walking a lot while always being surrounded by the mountains, lake and local animals.
Our last day was topped off by a renown restaurant, El Cielo for the birthday dinner celebration. When the waiter arrived, he asked us if we would like 10 or 15 moments for our dinner, not in moments of time but in moments to engage all of the senses. Since we had no idea what we were about to experience, we were all like little kids soaking in all 15 of the special surprise moments at our 3 1/2 hour dinner – ranging from what appeared to be a pill, but once dipped in water turned into a washcloth to shrimp cooked on hot rocks to a ball of rose petal concoction that hardened or liquified depending on the angle of your hands and finished with passion fruit pop rocks complete with popping noises and vapor coming out of your nose!
It was an incredible week filled with many magical moments and one-of-a-kind experiences that will be remembered forever! This quote, found in an article about tripod dogs on the airplane ride home, sums up M.E. perfectly:
“Unlike humans, dogs live completely in the moment. They don’t realize they have a difference or limitation. They don’t miss having four legs; they don’t notice that other dogs have them, and other dogs don’t notice that they don’t. They just want to play and enjoy themselves.”
“Why Tripods Make Great Best Friends” article quote by Shannon Hunt from Cesar’s Way