“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”
In the pursuit of finding myself while discovering new places, or allowing myself to get lost in places far away from home, I have found traveling to be cathartic for the mind, body and soul.
Sure, the cliché blogpost will tell you this time and again. But until you experience it for yourself, you will not understand the power of unknown places, unfamiliar faces and undiscovered experiences.
As a new, self-proclaimed travel blogger, I cannot give you the tips and tricks of making this discovery efficient, easy and cheap. However, I will share my stories and hopefully persuade you to pick a new or familiar place, pack your bag and immerse yourself in the travel experience.
One of the places I (re)discovered is actually a region near my hometown. I say rediscover because, as a little girl, I used to spend time with my grandma in a farmhouse located in La Mesa de Los Santos, a small town on the outskirts of Bucaramanga (in the eastern part of Colombia). The place is home to El Cañón del Chicamocha or Chicamocha Canyon, nominated to be one of the Seven Wonders of the world in 2009.
My memories as a child consisted of long hikes with my grandma, picking wild berries and flowers, and visiting distant neighbors (houses could be more than one kilometer apart) to drink tinto (dark, smooth Colombian coffee). She used to tell me stories of a German man that had arrived in the town of Los Santos, many generations ago, and had several children with different women; this is the reason why the people from the town are mostly white, blond and have light-colored eyes (not typical in other parts of the region). We visited an abandoned house that belonged to “el Alemán”, not the same German man, although he may have had the same affinity for the local women.
When I visited again, as an adult, the images I had in my head faded instantly and the place was unrecognizable, but equally mesmerizing. The main road was now a paved highway, and elaborate billboards signaled the way to “Panachi“, a National Natural Park by the canyon (a must-see spot). Gated communities had sprung up on the hills and el Aleman’s home had been sold or demolished (who knows)… but the mystery of this man was now forgotten and remained only in my mind.
The tranquility of my grandparents’ home in Los Santos exuded an unfamiliar sensation that I had not been able to experience in Miami. The little house surrounded by nature provided peace of mind. The fresh air and the silence of the countryside cleared my thoughts.
I felt invigorated during my visit, so my grandma and I relived our hikes. We walked about 5 kilometers every day trying to find wild berries and flowers. We were able to witness the beauty of nature in every step.
Los Santos is located at an altitude of 1602 meters, so the weather is usually cool but can get chilly in the afternoons. After our morning hikes and a hearty lunch, I usually spent my afternoons sitting on the back porch wrapped in a blanket and having some aguapanela (hot drink made from hardened sugarcane dissolved in water and mixed with lemon), or exploring the wonders of my grandpa’s art studio.
Rediscovering familiar places can be as equally gratifying as exploring unknown countries or cities. What I encourage myself and you to do is to change up the routine, disconnect from Wifi and even try to communicate in a different language. This will awaken the senses and open the mind.
If you find travel as fascinating as I do, join the club and leave a comment or ask questions! I would love to read how you have lost or found yourself while traveling.
Thanks for reading!