South America: Departure Thoughts
Updated: 3 days ago
Two days to go and I’m pretty much ready to hit the road. All-in-all, I’m feeling good at the moment with everything seemingly in order and ready to roll. All kit has been purchased and necessary travel arrangements made, so there’s just a couple of little things to tie up tomorrow before the big day on Saturday. Nerves aren’t such a big factor as I thought they would be by now; maybe come the day of departure they’ll kick into overdrive but right now I’m relatively chilled about it. Maybe it’s the fact that since I left my job, I’ve had a month to really get my head around it, do my research and ensure everything is in place ready for when I leave. It’s got to the point where any apprehension about the trip has disappeared - I’m confident everything will be fine and I’m just looking forward to getting that initial journey done. Once I touch down and I’m in the hostel, I’ll find my feet pretty quickly and be ready to explore.
Any illusion of total relaxation during the time in between leaving employment and departing for my South American adventure was quickly shattered. Every day has involved preparation in some way, whether it has been purchasing important pieces of kit, booking onward travel or researching various destinations. Knowing that WiFi may be scarce in certain area’s, I’ve prepared a small travel pack with maps of each country, charting different areas of interest so that I can determine where I want to go next. I’m of the opinion that it pays to be prepared as it’ll no doubt save me plenty of time researching when I’m out there. Shout-out to South American Backpacker, Nomadic Matt and Along Dusty Roads for providing some excellent advice and tips on various locations across the continent. Also, BackPacker Steve for some wonderful YouTube videos that were perfect when hitting the treadmill in the gym!
I’ve enjoyed catching up with work colleagues, friends and family over the last couple of weeks. It’s on occasions like these when you make a big change in your life, whether it be leaving a job or going travelling (or both!) that you see who is there to support you. I’m grateful for a very special network of people who have all provided encouragement and wished me the very best over the last couple of weeks. I’m under no illusion that there will be times on my travels when I miss my family and friends and want to return to the UK; I need to remember it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I have always wanted and need to maximise every second.
Improving my Spanish has been on the agenda daily. You may recall I enrolled on a ten-week night course at the local college back in September which gave me a very good grounding on the basics of the language. Since then, I’ve enlisted the help of Duolingo to expand on what I learnt in the classroom and so far, thankfully, it has been very effective. It’s only in the last week that I’ve encountered my first area where I’ve struggled to grasp the reason or difference when using certain words, such as describing how somebody else is feeling. It is at this point that the classroom environment, where the teacher can explain the technicalities behind the language, is better to overcome this hurdle. However, I do think I’m slowly getting there.
That said, for all the preparation I’ve done, it wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a chance of something going wrong this weekend! Storm Ciara is set to land in the UK and, since our transport network goes into meltdown the minute a leaf settles on a railway track, I’m fully braced for some sort of travel disruption. I was watching the news yesterday and the weatherman said that if you’re flying back from America, you’ll be in for a faster, albeit bumpy flight. Seeing as I’m heading out that way, it didn’t fill me with much confidence! Yet, it is what it is and it’s not like I’m going for a two-week holiday where time is limited. Thankfully I have a good few months to take my time and really explore each country in South America. I still don’t know exactly how long I’m going for, as with this being my first time engaging in long-term travel, it remains to be seen whether it’s for me (I’m 95% sure it will be). That said, I’ve purchased six-months travel insurance via True Traveller so that’s one less thing to worry about, giving me the freedom to spend a good amount of time on the continent without constantly worrying about paying for more cover.
I’m glad I’ve got the first few nights accommodation booked. It’ll give me a good grounding and enable me to get into the swing of things I’m sure, but also provide me with the flexibility to change my route/plans should I meet any people I wish to travel with. My rough plan is that following Cartagena, I’ll likely move further on up the Caribbean coast to Santa Marta. From here, I really want to visit Minca and also undertake the Lost City Trek through the Colombian jungle. After that, I’d likely head on back to Santa Marta before moving on down to Medellin. Of course, these are all initial thoughts. Things could easily change if I end up meeting people, but it’s exciting to think that either way, an outline of what I am going to be doing is slowly coming together. The last thing I want to do is book myself too far in advance and be hamstrung by my itinerary. The whole point of the trip is to be free and easy with what I want to do, and when I want to do it.
I looked through some photos of my trip to Slovenia last summer and the various hikes we did throughout the week-long stay. I won’t lie, it’s got me excited for getting out into the hills and mountains on more treks throughout my time on the continent; in addition to the Lost City Trek, I’ve also got my eye on the Quilatoa Loop in Ecuador and the Salkantay Trek to Machu Pichu in Peru. Never mind countless others which will no doubt happen! The trekking poles are packed, the waterproofs are ready and I can’t wait.
On a final note, before I depart, I’m excited to see where I can take Depth of Mind this year. I thoroughly enjoy working on this travel blog and hope to meet some like-minded individuals in the hostels or bars across South America with whom I can share ideas to help improve and develop each other’s content. I’ve enjoyed networking with the travel blogging community over the last couple of months and will hopefully kick on to be a valued resource for travellers around the world. I’m not taking a laptop with me on this occasion (unfortunately), but I’ll try to write as much as I can and, where possible, get on a computer to update this site. For up-to-date news, keep an eye on the Depth of Mind Twitter and Instagram pages as I hope to be posting regularly via those channels. One thing is for sure, I’ll be taking many, many photo’s.
See you on the other side.