Familia y amigos!
Feliz Navidad from my current hometown of Barichara, Colombia! I’ve been wanting to write this letter for days, but have been pleasantly distracted by tropical weather, good coffee and Latin men. Now I’m taking up a table at a busy cafe on Christmas night trying to get this out before I lose wifi.
2015 has been a year of big changes. In January I gave my notice at St. Jude in Belgium, sold most of my possessions, packed a backpack and set off, not quite knowing where I’d end up. Initially I took my 10 week notice period to visit friends and run trail races around Belgium and France before hopping on a plane with my mom to Istanbul then Kenya. We spent 6 weeks together, exploring beaches, mountains, cities and islands – a great trip to celebrate her retirement. Following I hopped on a plane back to Canada for a friend’s wedding and decided to stay and trek across my own country. When I lived in Canada I always spent my holidays traveling internationally, but taking this time to explore was such a fantastic opportunity. I took boats, cars, ferries, trains and planes. I walked, ran, bicycled, hitchhiked and swam in some of the most incredible natural places in the country, including the entire provinces of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in addition to Jasper, Mount Robson, and the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in the west. After traveling in my own country I now feel that I now have a better understanding of where I come from and finally get why people say Canadians are “so nice” – there are few things that make a person more grateful than getting picked up while hitchhiking in the pouring rain, or that make you feel more welcome than being invited for holiday dinners with people who were only moments before strangers.
In September I flew to Colombia. I was here about 5 years ago and have always kept a soft spot for the country. From Medellin I figured I would travel south, eventually reaching Patagonia, however I could never come up with the desire to leave. Aside from a one-month detour to Ecuador to complete my certification as a yoga teacher, I’ve remained in Colombia, traveling to the coast, jungles, and mountains. I’ve avoided cities for the most part, preferring being in the country or in small towns. Currently I’m renting a house in Barichara, a beautiful town perched on the side of cliff, beside the world’s 2nd largest canyon. The house, “Chicharita: La Casa Loca” as we call it, has a spirit of it’s own. The upstairs loft bedroom has windows open to the east and west, making you feel like you’re on the beach as the wind blows in both directions during the day. There are also a few quirks, the biggest being that it doesn’t like multitasking: if you try to turn on 2 lights at the same time, neither will work. It refuses to power a blender, and if you attempt to plug in an power-hungry device like a 4” hair straightener you’ll lose power everywhere (not that I have much use for a 4” hair straightener these days). Don’t attempt to turn off the light once it’s on either – you may find yourself with a numb right arm from your fingertip to chest after you watch the spark jump from the outlet to your hand. When I’m there alone I no longer touch light switches.
All in all, life is great. At times my mental health is questionable – mostly when I wake up missing winter weather and snow, but I find these bouts of mania are short lived. Sunshine and good coffee are great remedies.
Sending much love from (close to) the equator,