Someone once told me that Colombia is the most biodiverse country in the world. While I can’t yet attest to that, for I’ve just arrived and done little but head to the nearest coffee shop, I can say that I’m enjoying myself here.
Earlier today I arrived in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá. As usual, I did my research before leaving my departure city to determine the transit options from the airport to my hostel. And as usual, I contemplated taking the more expensive yet more efficient and comfortable mode of transportation, a taxi, versus the much cheaper but significantly less efficient, less comfortable, and more dangerous bus ride. I contemplated it long and hard. I thought to myself, I’m at the end of my trip, and as Tom Haverford in Parks and Rec likes to say, Treat Yo’self.
Did I treat myself? Of course not. Instead, I found myself leaning up against my backpack as I waited (and waited entirely too long to merit the money I saved by not taking a taxi) for the bus to show up. As it finally skidded around the corner, my exasperation was quickly suppressed by an entirely new emotion as I realized I best start requesting from the Holy Spirit some protection.
Brave, full of faith, or dumb? I’m not sure. Whatever the case, I lumbered onto the bus with all my crap and hoped for the best.
I’m sure my fellow passengers appreciated my backpack smacking them around as I jerked back and forth to the lull?–no, wrong word–to the jarring thrashes of the bus from side to side and front to back as we wove in and out of traffic missing–I don’t know how–cars, pedestrians,and buildings by mere centimeters. All too soon, I understood why the interior of the bus was padded even on the ceiling.
I recount this journey not to sound dramatic but in an effort to express the adventure that these South American bus rides almost inevitably turn out providing. Such rides are a great way to determine who the catholics are (they’re crossing themselves), who the jaded are (they’re reading), and who the foreigners are (they’re doing some type of dance in an effort to stabilize themselves against the thrashing). They’re also a great way to gain some gratitud for your life.
You too can have this experience for only thirty-three cents.
Though I’m in no way a fan of this mode of transportation, these rides remind me of my trip as a whole. The last three months have been incredibly uncomfortable, long, and (somewhat) dangerous. When I wanted to get to a certain destination on my own timing and schedule, just like on a bus ride, there were always stops and unforeseen detours along the way. Sometimes, when I thought things were going in one direction, again just like on a bus, there came an abrupt turn, throwing everything off. But in the end, in the sixth country of the trip, after twelve weeks of traveling alone, after so much learning and exposure to new things, I’m thankful to have arrived, as has been the case with every last bus ride.
I’m so thankful for the frights, discomforts, detours, and unknowns because they’ve pushed me to be more and more the person I desire to be. They’ve made me tougher, grown my faith, brought some clarity, and pointed out my weaknesses. This adventure invoked a lot of emotion. It required a ton of prayer, a lot of grit and determination, and meeting some really good people who are now good friends. There remain loads of experiences, thoughts, and emotions to process, but in the middle of all of that, I have a spirit of deep appreciation for all that I’ve been through.
For the next eight days, I’m here in Bogotá doing what tourists do. I wish I could explore the natural side of Colombia, and thus verify the fact about its biodiversity, but I’ll be sticking to the city for motives of both time and money. Still, as I enjoy the capital, it’s nice to know I’ve reached the end of my trip. And for that, I DO plan to treat myself with a butt-load of coffee and chocolate before I leave. And also a taxi ride to the airport upon departure.
Note that all of the following fotos are from Quito, Ecuador. Those from Bogotá, Colombia to follow. Also please ignore the unfortunate formatting.