Live like a local

Isn’t this the coolest map of Columbia?

love it! So, after my exhausting time trying to find the apartment during mid afternoon, with my 2 backpacks, the hosts picked me up and dropped me off. This apartment is so cool! I love air bnbs. If you don’t know what air bnb is, look it up. It is awesome way of staying with local people. I used it over hotels in the United States. Half of my bookings in South America are in air bnb too, other half are hostels. This airbnb is special in that I met the locals, students from nearby university, and also met couple guys from USA. One is doing a remote job which is so neat! Since this is the university area, and Medellin is known for a lot of institutions for higher studies, this neighborhood has a young, yet sophisticated vibe to it. The abundance of trees makes it feel like living in a forest, but in an apartment. My room is loft style. So this evening, I was just doing laundry, and one of the tenants here is a local Columbian, and she was giving Spanish lessons to some guys from the states. Anyway, they invited me to go hang out at the park and for dinner. I tried Columbian beer for the 1st time, only 2 mil pesos! That is less than 1 dollar! It was good too! We just chilled at the park, and the Columbian roommate recommended street food sandwich. I had an amazing Caprese sandwich for only 4.5mil pesos! I love how, despite this being an air bnb, and not a hostel, I am meeting people from all over-2 Mexican students, Columbian student, 2 north American people kind of just traveling and working remotely! It was a group of 5 of us hanging out. I felt like a local! I also got tips on what to try in Bogota next week! Columbia is such a diverse country, and Medellin is full of surprises. Every metro stop into a new neighborhood is so different from the previous one.

Bienvenidos a Medellin

update: finally switched my accomodations from the smoke everywhere hostel to an air bnb apt room in a different part of the city. I literally walked 45min from the metro station to fimd the apt and still no luck. With a 20Lb backpack on my back and another bag hanging in front of me, I was exhausted and little dehydrated. Finally, I was like I need to find a place witjlh wi fi and food so I can eat and contact the air bnb owner/hosts. They were so sweet and came to pick me up. It is about $3-4 more per night here, but I can get much needed rest and peace. That hostel was too noisy and smoke was making me sick. Me gusta aqui ahora. Today will be a chill day and come up with my game plan for exploring Medellin and daytrips to nearby towns. I love the natural touches to this room-plants, trees outside, birds singing. Peaceful oasis. I need a nap now.

what a long day! It was a short flight, but after arriving to Medellin, it was 40 min shared taxi ride to the city center San Diego area. I ended up at a shopping mall, and had some ice cream and bought Mac n cheese at the supermarket (which I am cooking now in the hostel kitchen). After walking for a while with my lovely weights on my back, aka backpack, I found the metro station. After 2 trains, arrived at the nearest station to the hostel. Walked in the dark rainy weather for 20min and found the hostel. Strange thing is I felt safer, and saw many females walking alone, in Columbia, be it Cartagena, or Medellin, in contrast to my hometown in Ohio where I do not even feel safe in daylight sometimes. How sad is that. May be that is one of the reasons I travel fearlessly, and tackle cities and towns on my own. When you grow up not feeling safe, you learn the world is a safer place than your own neighborhood. Now I need to rest. I hate smoke. People smoking everywhere. Urgh my hair and clothes smell like smoke. I should not complain but my allergies are acting up. Good thing I have a bottle of Vicks to the rescue! I love Vicks! At least at the other hostel, smoking was not allowed indoors. Here, people are smoking outside the bedrooms and in the kitchen. Back to cooking. Buenos noches. Discomfort leads to growth.

ended up making too much! Oopsies. Pero yo tengo mucho hambre! I might end up switching hostels (although I booked this one last minute canceling my old booking). I might do air bnb imstead if its comparable prices. This will be trial night how I sleep with the smoke around me. Sigh. Adjusting. As much as I enjoy the backpacking ways, I cannot stand smoke and “party” hostels. This is not labled as a party hostel, yet everyone is drunk and the walls are paper thin. I prefer sophisticated or laid back hostels. Tomorow will tell.

Adios Cartagena

Tomorrow, I will be flying out from here. This city has been very welcoming as my first destination in South America. I am fascinated by Latin American cultures. Each place is so unique and diverse within itself too. I was enjoying watching Columbian artists’ music videos and during my walk along the bayside, a boat was playing waka waka by Shakira in Espanol. I started dancing a bit, as I love that song and have all their dance steps memorized! It is my song when I face any challenge in life. So motivational. “Listen to your God, this is our motto, its your time to shine, don’t wait in line, y vamos por todo.” In Espanol, it sounded so much better than the English version!

Here is a link to the history:

Cartagena is full of so much history and culture. I am so grateful to have had the chance to explore and learn about this dynamic multifaceted city. It is so important for me to learn the history of every place I go to. Traveling is like a history class, ethnography/anthropology class, language class, national geographic, travel, and discovery channel, all in one.

Recuerde, el mundo es muy grande, pero puedes viajar cada pais cuando el tiempo es perfecto. El tiempo es cuando quieres. No espera for un momento perfecto pero la vida no va esperar por tu. Piense puedes, y si se puede! (yo trato). Trying to better my Espanol. Unfortunately, I cannot go around lecturing people on Diabetes management in Spanish, but that is what I am good at. My medical Spanish is perfect, but I need to work on everything else! Challenge accepted.

Some musica Columbiana me gusta:

The classroom full of kiddos singing is the best part!

Castillo de San Felipe

It was built to protect and defend the city by the Spanish colony from other European invadors. The history is so unique. From what I understand, due to the geography of the bay area around Cartagena, when pirates and European sailors tried to invade or declare war, the Cartagena colonials blocked of several enterances to the bay and also built walls around their respective towns. The sailors had to go around, which led to many deaths and diseases in the Carribean tropics. In the end, after the major war with England, Cartagena remained victorious…I think. Makes sense as there is so much Spanish influence here.

underground tunnels. The castillo/fortress was designed with so much strategic intelligence back in the day. From the angled walls to help shift the force of the cannon balls upward to false deceiving passageways to trap enemy troops.

I gave in and ate out. It is so hard to find authentic vegetarian food, so when I came across this serendipously, I decided to eat here. It was delicious. I usually hate eggplant and mushrooms, but this was simply too good to pass.

my Columbian hiking shoes in Columbia. Enjoying the bay at Cartagena. Across the bay is new city Bocagrande area. I personally like the old city more, but may decide to venture to the new city. I got to find a laundry service place. The hostel is charging too much. I wish I could juat wash by hand and hang my clothes on my bed, but this hostel room has no space. It is too crowded and the bunks are without railings to hang my clothes to dry. Barely found space for my towel. The other option is to wait until I reach Medellin. Little things like places to hang my clothes to dry mean so much when staying in hostels!

Pero no preocupa mucho. El sol es bonita. The fading rays of the sun shimering off the melodious waves of the water. Sunsets are so beautiful and peaceful to watch.

just could not get enough of the sunset. I think I will make it a mission to capture as many sunsets as I can! So there is a lady here who is from Spain and she has been volunteering at the hostel for 1 mo. I had similarly met a guy from France in San Francisco who was working/volunteering at the hostel, and went on a bike tour of SF and Saucalito with him. A French tour guide in USA! The people and their stories never fail to amuse me. So much diversity to be found within these walls. Also, met an Isaraeli woman at the hostel in SF who I ended up chilling at union square and going shopping with.

art on the walls down the street.

Girl in the city.

I found the supermercado! Shop like a local. I plan on not eating out rest of the stay in Cartagena. Free desayuno at the hostel and granola bars for almuerzo and will cook with local ingridients for cena. I bought a new top! I could not resist-it can be my Columbian memory because whenever I wear it, I will remember my time in Columbia! There, good excuse. Ahora me siento contenta!

La ciudad de Cartagena es muy hermosa. The colonial architecture and old historic wall. How many cities in thw world can you walk on a wall protecting the city from invaders? Except great wall of China… I love how I can walk for miles and miles and get lost in the old charm of a city with so much history and diversity. My goal- 10,000 steps plus a day. Also, no cabs or busses aloud. I will find my way back to the hostel on foot just like I got here by following signs and just winging it. I never truly get lost thanks to my sense of direction. Internal GPS. If I do get lost though, that is part of the fun of travelling! True gems are found off the beaten path in life. All travelers and students of life know that is the secret for enchanting journeys and explorations.

la iglesia. I love immersing myself in placea of worship, be it cathedrals, synagogues, temples, mosques… Be like a local and pray like a local. It was so sweet how everyone shook eachother’s hands towards the end of the service. This elderly gentleman smiled at me and put his hand out to shake. I felt part of the community. I love such moments. So much peace to be found in walls of cathedrals. Me encanta mucho. Enough wifi for one day. Gonna leave the cafe and finish my very strong cafe columbiana. The streets are waiting to be explored.

Love this central chilling spot in town. Live music and interesting, yet creative, statues. Havanna na na na…that song is stuck in my head. I first heard it in a Uber in Tampa, he was a Latino driver, makes sense. Then, again, it was playing at the hostel. I want to find more Latin American or fusion music here. The Latin American culture, or umbrella of cultures, is so so fascinating and beautiful!

Cartagena day 1

The architecture of the old historical area, the streets, are amazing! I really want to study the history of Cartagena and Columbia tonight. I have seen such a contrast between the old town and new city landscapes so far. Soon after arriving at the hostel, I wandered off. Most places are very pedestrian friendly and I saw many fellow travellers and locals roimg around. I had some friendly encounters, and some not so kind-cat calling, wistling, and honking. I had read about that, so was forewarned. Just keep walkimg and be cautious. Anyway, gonna grab dinner and head back to hostel and freshen up. The dorm room is more crowded than the pics and I am sure there will be line for the shower, so use it during the non rush hours. I hope to get to know more people at the hostel and community.

There are a lot of Italian cuisine restaurants here. Hmm. I broke my budget by eating out. No more. There is a hostel kitchen, so shall go to the market tomorow, now that I know where it is, and buy something easy to prepare like soup or sandwitch. This was delicious though! yummy pesto. Ok es todo. Buenos noches. Soy cansada. Mi espanol es muy mal. Necessita practicar mas. May be I will roam around some more and then go back to the hostel. The streets are so pretty.

Welcome to hostel life once again. Trying to get used to the hang of things. Thank God I am only on the 2nd bunk, and not the 3rd! It will be interesting trying to climb down in the dark. It is very basic, but that is all I need for now. I feel safer here than in my own neighborhood or old workplace. Ironic. There is something about sharing a dorm with other female travelers-we are extra mindful about eachother’s belongings and space. The solo travelers introduce eachother and have conversations, but the best friend groups stay with their own circles to socialize usually. Regardless, I feel so safe here. I just hope I don’t roll off the bunk bed. There are no railings on my bunk. Time will tell. Time to catch some ZZzzzs, unless they fall off the bunk before me.

Hasta luego Estados Unidos

I can pass for una mujer Latina, si?!

Peace out. Funny story: the lady at the gate asked me for a return date from Columbia. I was like I am not returning from there. She was like, then what is your travel iteniary. I was like you really want to see my full iteniary? Then, I started listing all the cities and countries. She was like Ok, here is your passport-you are all set! Me encanta hablar en Espanol. Me gustaria practicar mas. Most of my Spanish is medical Spanish, but I got by in Honduras and Mexico. Espanol es mi idioma favorita!

La playa de Clearwater es muy hermosa

time to head back and get ready for early morning flight! Still got to do laundry tonight! The view is phenomenal. Looks like a painting. When I get back, I am going to paint this.

What a beautiful foggy day! Just perfect to explore the beach and pier. Lovely breakfast to fuel the day. My favorite-Ihop. there was half hour wait!!!

crepes with nutella remind me of Italy and Switzerland. Nutella and potatoes are like natural endorphin boosters!

beautiful flower. Trying to appreciate the little things. Today is a present and tomorrow is a gift. Do not waste it. Leave Dogma, as Steve Jobs would say, and go on your own path! It is invigorating to say the least… Your life, your journey.

Absorbing Vitamin D!

Pictures do not do justice to the white sand and clear pristine ocean and pelicans and breeze… The contrasting hot rays of the sun to the chilly waves… I think I will chill here all day. Me encanta la playa! I can watch the kids play in the sand all day-these little 2-3 year olds were running after the birds! People watching can be so much fun! The curiosity of a child’s mind at work. Kids are an attraction wherever I go! Aww she is so cute! Back to people (little kids) watching!

Tampa day 3

Today, my goal is to explore…for real this time! I think I got all the relaxation time I needed. I did not leave the hotel all day yesterday due to things I needed to accomplish for work. I have to say nothing like a swimming pool waiting for you to get your work done as an incentive.

amazing breakfast. I had been craving tacos, and finally got them! I really want to explore downtown Tampa and Clearwater beaches. Also, want to continue writing the book I started last year. Life got crazy and did not finish, but plan to complete it this trip. I should make an injury list! I think God knows because I can diagnose and treat my own injuries, I keep getting granted more. This time, I bumped my knee on the steps in the pool swimming towards them. I overestimated the distance. Mild soft tissue swelling (contussion) and tenderness. ROM intact and no crepitus or instability. I will be fine. This is just so I don’t miss Nursing and seeing patients when I am travelling. Treat my own injuries!

Ybor city-historical colony with Cuban and many multicultural ethnic origins.

roosters crossing the cobblestone streets

trolly to downtown Tampa

2.5 mile serene river walk

Sea shells-walking on them was fun! Crunch crunch..

river walk downtown Tampa. I wish every city had this. This would be perfect was morning or evening jogs and cycling.


I decided to grab supermarket veggies and dip packaged food for dinner as I was not too hungry. Came back to the air bnb and could not get in, but the dogs kept barking! Finally, the owner came and let me in. I can figure out the most complex cities, directions, etc, but I sometimes cannot get the most simple locks. Why is that?! Anyway, soon as I entered, the dogs surrounded me. I am trying to get over my fears. They scratched me yesterday, trying to climb on top of me, as they thought I was their friend! I am getting better slowly at interacting with pets. I am using my baby talk that I use with kiddos. It works. Dogs love it and wiggle their tails! On another note, Tampa is so big! Tomorow, want to explore Clearwater and St Petersburg. Then hasta luego Norteamerica.

my size palm tree

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