The Make-Up never made it in the suitcase. My face would just have to be “naked” showing up as myself. Decades had passed since forging away without kids or husband in-tow. Vulnerability was a companion. The change felt seismic.

Perhaps the pandemic’s stagnancy explained my yearning for “Out of the Comfort Zone” experiences. After so much time “At Home” who wasn’t up for visiting a new place, even if the timing seemed incongruous? Ironically during April curfews in Medellin increased. In the main cities, when demand for hospital beds increased, weekend lock-downs were imposed. Movement restricted. Stores closed. 

Like much of the Remote Year cohort, I traveled away from the city every weekend to less affected areas. Colombia is stunning. It’s mountainous, verdant with lush and productive landscapes on the coast and inland. Colombia exports coal, petroleum, flowers and other agricultural products (including coffee and cacao). Close to the equator, the weather is temperate, without drastic swings regardless of the ecosystem (tropical, rainforest, savannas, steppes, deserts, mountains). Colombia and the United States have close ties.

When a peace treaty was signed over ten years ago, Medellin and all of Colombia broke from its violent past. The typical American news outlet reports about continued challenges with the rebels more than on Colombia’s stability and prosperity. The general population has experienced peace and the economy has grown. Sadly this growth has not strengthened a middle class nor these days, meant much access to the Covid vaccine.

During my stay, I visited three areas within Colombia: Cartagena and the islands of Las Islas (on the Caribbean coast), the colonial town of Villa de Leyva (a short plane ride and four hours drive north from Bogota) and the Coffee Cultural Region near Armenia including the charming towns of Salento, Finlandia, and the Unesco World Heritage site of the Cocora Valley.

As much as Colombia was about exploring a new destination, it was also about an extended stay with people I might never have met otherwise. It was about daily reflection and razor-focus when working for limited hours. The Outer Journey felt clear while the Inner Journey was constantly growing! 

What was the deeper impact from this remote Work/Play Extended-Stay experience? Here are three observations!

Work/Play Lifestyle – it’s possible.

You can work and play in a foreign country without productivity suffering. There was a hard-stop for lunch and dinner, always. I rarely worked more than a few hours on Friday – there were places to see. Medellin is on Central time so it was easy to connect with clients in a similar time zone. Since “work time” was very much scheduled, my focus was more intense – in a good way.

Take Away: Create a new work/life balance at home. Each day set a clear intention. What’s essential. List no more than three “To Do’s”. Stay realistic. Aim for completion by being “laser-focused”.

Comfortable with Different

I wasn’t the youngest in the group. Translation… I was one of the oldest of forty-three participants. The average age was maybe 28. I’ve been married for thirty one years. You can do the math. My social choices were more about morning yoga and meditation than an evening cocktail. FOMO was not in play. The whole “alone-time” or “social thing” was a huge privilege whatever it was!

There were exceedingly interesting backgrounds and life paths different than one of a blue-eyed, blond, fortunate white woman. Stories about how we arrived at this place and time in our lives were diverse. So much more to know about my cohort even after a month.  

Take Away: Gratitude. We’re not all the same.  Always have an open heart and listen with curiosity. Each person is entitled to his/her story…it’s what we have to share and give back to the world. No apologies for where ever you’re from!

There’s Nothing Like Travel to Find Common Ground

Regardless of where we came from, the Remote Year cohort, named “Kuna”, was a supportive and welcoming group. The app, Slack, enabled sharing of plans and therefore there was always someone to do something with, even if it was just for lunch. Inclusion felt easeful, second-nature. Sharing, learning, including, helping one another happened all the time, every day. 

Take Away: Remember to thoughtfully ask others to join in. Make every effort to create comfort and inclusion in every circumstance and particularly when in a group. Don’t assume that others are comfortable even if you are. Someone might not be comfortable with you. Stay flexible in your thinking.

Do I recommend an Extended Work/Play experience. Absolutely. It was extraordinary. Thank you #RemoteYear. Thank you #Kuna. To see more images from my time in Colombia follow us on Instagram @SpiritRoadTravel .

There’s always the opportunity whether at home or away to “Live As A Traveler”: curious, present, open, flexible, tolerant, welcoming. No Make-Up required. This is the path to peace and goodwill for all humankind. 

When you’re ready to travel again let us help you find the right destination for living, working and playing on the Spirit Road!

Contact us HERE 

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