“First of all, it’s COLOMBIA, not Columbia.”
I sat in my apartment as I read this message and could not stop laughing. For weeks, I had been texting with Julian and the whole time I was misspelling the name of his beloved home country. I felt so embarrassed and wished I didn’t have to see him again in lab the next day.
If you have read our story before, I met Julian when I least expected it. Fresh from a bad breakup, I was running late to class after another night of bawling my eyes out. When I entered the classroom, there was only one seat open. I rushed in and sat down without really paying attention to anything or anyone, for that matter. The TA instructed us to form lab groups of 4. I looked to my right and saw two men and looked left and saw one man. I rolled my eyes and asked, “Y’all wanna be a group?” They all agreed and our group was set. Studying Civil Engineering, I was always one of the only women in my classes. I was tired of men and I was upset that, yet again, I was the only women in my group.
The first words I spoke to Julian were, “I hate men.” And, at the moment, I did.
From that moment on, our relationship began even though both of us didn’t realize it.
Flash forward 3 years and now we are planning our first big trip to Colombia.
My family is really into music. They love to sing and dance. They are that family that will take over the mariachi at a restaurant and start singing with them just to show off. Growing up I was exposed to all different kind of music and dance. Little did I know that the whole time, I was engrossed in music from Colombia and by Colombians. I spent hours in my room listening to Charlie Zaa and trying to memorize all the lyrics to the songs he sang. Every morning in high school, my mom would blast “La Pollera Colorada” to wake me up and embarrass me when we would arrive at school. My aunt would clean to La Sonora Dinamita ever since I could remember. I knew all their songs and the dance moves that went along with them. I never understood that Colombians were “different” than us. We are Mexican, but my parents still exposed me to other Latin cultures and customs. In a way, I was always destined to meet a Colombian and fall in love with him, right? *winks*
Now, I am 3 days away from boarding a flight to Colombia. I am so excited and can’t wait to see what awaits us there! Julian has been there multiple times in his life (obviously), but this will be my first time visiting another country other than the US or Mexico.
I am freaking out a little bit, so I made my list of must-do’s before and during my trip.
1) Get the days off from work or other obligations.
As soon as Julian told me to ask for some days off at the end of July, I did it. I was able to get a whole week off from work. Being that the summer time is usually when most of my organizations go on a hiatus, the time we chose to go really worked out.
2) Put it on your calendar and in your planner.
Once you have it on your calendar and write down in your planner, it is set in stone. It will stop you and, most importantly, other people from trying to change your plans. If you have it set in stone, or ink, you won’t be able to change you mind about the trip as easily.
3) Book your flight.
We did out research on different flights and prices for a good two weeks before we booked our flight. We initially found the best deal through Spirit Airlines, but ended up finding an even better deal with United a couple of nights later. It really is all about research and timing.
4) Book your hotel or find out where you will be staying.
This wasn’t really a problem for us, seeing as Julian has family where we are traveling to. We will be flying into Armenia and staying with his aunt there. We will be staying a couple of nights in a chalet (fancy vacation home or cottage) with his cousins and their family. Our trip will conclude in his family’s hometown of Cicasia in the department of Quindío, where we will be staying at his family’s 18th century home next to the plaza (town square). I am really excited to get to meet some more of his family and to see where his family comes from.
I made a “To-Buy” list and a “To-Pack” List for our trip. I decided to buy mini-everything for our trip from mini-shampoo to mini-lufas. The more mini toiletries we have, the more room there will be for clothes and souvenirs in our luggage. I bought Julian a small toiletry bag so his things wouldn’t be out in the open in his luggage. I decided to pack one outfit per day, with 3 “extra” outfits just in case. I took pictures of all my outfits and saved them on my phone for reference. I also packed a towel and a bathing suit with a cover-up.
In my backpack, I am packing all the “plane essentials” I might need, but also an umbrella, sweater, socks, and tennis shows in case the weather is not what we expect when we get there.
I have checked and double checked that our passports are already packed and accessible to us as we are traveling from airport to airport.
6) Let everyone know you will be out of the country.
The point of a vacation is to BE ON VACATION. So I am going to disconnect my work email form all my devices, disconnect from all social media for a few days, and only answer the phone for my family and close friends. I have already setup automatic replies for all my emails and have let all the people I work with that I will be out of the country. On Saturday before my flight, I plan on posting a message to all my followers on social media letting them know that I will not be posting as often as I usually do.
7) Sit and wait!
Now, we wait!! I have everything ready to go so I can concentrate on work for the rest of the week. I am going to get my nails touched up and get my eyebrows done. I may or may not be going to Target to buy a potential “plane outfit”. As soon as I am off from work on Friday, I will go home and double check that everything is packed and ready.
I am SOOOOOOO EXCITED!! I can’t wait to share my experience and pictures with you all!
Colombia here we come!
Are you Colombian? Have you visited Colombia? Advice? Suggestions? Places I need to see? Let me know in the comments below!
Woohoo!! A post-trip post with my experience and pictures to come in two weeks!
Stay in love,