42nd in the Thirty Fifth

“I’m debating whether or not to go” I texted Scotty with a snapshot of the stormy weather report for Cartagena that weekend. 

“Is the Pope Catholic?!!!”  he responded… and with that, I realized my fears were toying with me, and I booked my ticket. 


It was one of the better decisions I’ve made about travel, to just hop off for my birthday weekend without a plan or a care.  I knew I had to get out of Miami, or my insatiable monkey mind was going to continue nibbling away at me.  I am reminded now of times in the past where I’ve gone it alone, and then later read my own words reminding me to never be afraid of it again.  Ireland, Belize, South Africa… Yet still, on the way to the airport, the monkey searches desperately for reasons to turn around, but it doesn’t win.  I get on the plane, the boarding door closes, the safety demo begins, the wheels start to move, and I know I am committed.  My heart races a bit, I begin to wonder who I will meet, what adventures are in store, will I be alone, will there be a clear reason why I came, will I have a so-so time or the time of my life?  At the end of the day, none of that really matters, it’s just about the trust in the journey.  I set good intentions, and they have never let me down.  

It was only during our final approach that the questions turned instead to pure, childlike excitement, as I stared out the window at the cloudy landscape below.  I had to hold back a yelping smile from breaking out as my brain wanted to scream, “Oh my God I’m so excited this is so great wow wow wow!”  Instead, I let my voice go to the man next to me as we finally spoke, and told each other our plans for the weekend.  Neither of us had been there before, and we are both very pleased to have come.  

What is true about going a journey alone is that with every turn, you wonder, “are you someone I’m supposed to meet?”, “will this encounter be significant?”, “could this moment be the reason I came?”.  I know, it’s a lot of pressure to put on oneself, but it’s hard to control, everything just seems so meaningful, and maybe that’s the thrill of it all.  Maybe we should have more of that in our normal lives, keep things exciting and new…  

"Love, exciting and new.  Come aboard, we're expecting you... And love, life's sweetest reward.  Let it flow, it floats back to you.  Soon we'll be making another run, promising something for everyone.  Set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance.  And love won't hurt anymore, it's an open smile on a friendly shore.  Yes, Love!" (sorry, you may have this 80's tune stuck in your head all day if you know what it is!)

Cartagena ended up being full of love, and adventure.  I felt like every turn brought someone new.  One passed me off to another, like a magic genie was there going “Poof!!! Here’s another! Have fun!”  Jose- the amazingly happy, fast-talking Airbnb host, Hans- the cutie Swiss flatmate/exploring partner, Cesar- the chatty man on the wall/eager city guide, Andres- the handsome birthday dance/perfect kiss, Ryan- the American Baru companion/poignant conversationalist, Don Carlos- the Canoa hostel owner/moto arranger, The Girls- my beautiful children companions/photo inspirations, and Rody- the Argentinian man who finally gave me my answer why I had come while wading in the sea at dawn.  

Thank you Col0mbia for being my sweet thirty fifth country on this grand forty second trip around the sun.