On Tuesday morning Mike and I hiked out of Tyrona National Park. We had spent one night in our tent (an ill-conceived idea, since we had no sleeping pads and the ground was very hard) and one night in a lighthouse-esque hut on the rocks (actually a good idea had there not been a storm that night). We were a little tired, but in good spirits as we walked the 2.5 hours out of where we were staying. A jeep ride, a taxi and a collectivo got us back to Taganga.
This trip had not felt like other trips we had taken. Perhaps it is our age or our place in life or the knowledge of what we want to do in the next few years, but I hit a wall at some point early on where I thought, “What am I doing here?” and felt that traveling in this way was keeping me from living my real life rather than advancing it. During our down time we found ourselves brainstorming new business ideas, talking about a possible future of living part time in Europe and and wanting to move forward with those ideas rather than stay and learn Spanish, see Latin America and continue on the backpacker trail (so much more on many of these topics later).
We didn’t sit down in the internet cafe thinking we would leave Colombia that day or that week, but after typing in a few options for us to fly to Panama and cut the trip short by accelerating through Central America, which would have not done it justice and would not have done justice to all the recommendations of friends and family, we decided to see what it would cost to fly from Cartagena to Miami that day. No flights. The next day $450 before taxes, too much. The day after that, Christmas, $119. Wait, what??? As it turns out, traveling on Christmas is not only easy, but cheap. We found a flight from Ft Lauderdale to Seattle with little problem and decided to just go for it. After further review, it was the cheapest and easiest option for getting home, not to mention an awesome surprise for my parents.
That night we slept in Taganga, woke up on Wednesday and headed to Cartegena. The day after that we flew home. The only people in the world who knew we were coming home were our friends Nicole, Aviva and Joe. They had all been online right after we had booked and they made a pact not to say anything. Aviva would pick us up at the airport and take us to my parents house without any warning.
It wasn’t hard keeping it a secret. There was only one day between when we booked the ticket and flew out and only one gchat with my mom, so it was easy to avoid promising what we were going to do after getting to Cartagena.
Long story short our trip consisted of:
2.5 hour hike out of Tyrona
15 min jeep ride to the main road
45 min taxi ride to Santa Marta
20 min taxi ride to Taganga
50 min collectivo ride to Santa Marta (checking the bus schedule)
50 min collectivo ride back to Taganga
40 min collectivo ride to Santa Marta
4.5 hour bus ride to Cartagena
50 minute bus ride to the center of Cartagena
20 min taxi ride to the Cartagena airport
wait 2.5 hours
2.5 hour flight from Cartagena to Miami
wait 1 hour for the bus
5 min bus to the train
wait 50 min for train
40 min train ride to Ft Lauderdale
10 min shuttle to airport
wait 1 hour
Ft Lauderdale to Kansas City 3.5 hours
wait 40 min
Kansas City to SEATTLE 4 hours
Travis (Aviva couldn’t get her car out, so she broke the pact, but it was ok) picks us up at the airport in Nicole’s car. He has delicious homemade cookies for us and drives us to my parents’ house. Once we got off the main road, we drove about a mile in compact snow and ice to my parents’ driveway. We parked and walked down the driveway in the snow.
I didn’t know what to expect coming home early. In some ways, I felt it to be a failure, but I recently had convinced myself that what we were really doing was taking responsibility for our own happiness, which itself is a very freeing experience. I knew my mom was proud that I was traveling and liked reading the blogs, so I didn’t know how she would react. I think I was kind of being an idiot here.
Anyway, we knocked on the front door. For those of you who don’t know, my parents can’t see who it is through their front door. It was late by this time, probably a little past 10 and of course they were in bed sleeping. My mom got up and asked who it was. Not wanting to say it was me, I just said, “HoHoHo” and she opened the door (okay mom, your security precautions leave a little to be desired). She looked at us and just said, “What are you guys doing?” She was so confused that she just stood there and repeated herself. She then called my dad down to see who it was. He has pretty poor eyesight in the dark in general, but also he had just woken up. He stood at the top of the stairs and sort of faked excitement and I thought he was going to go back to bad. Later he revealed that he had no idea who we were. My mom told him to come down and half way down the stairs he saw who we were and got really excited. My mom just kept asking “what are you guys doing?” (literally 5 times). Travis was still standing there and my dad went over to him and introduced himself before he realized who it was and then was excited to see him too. Both my parents were. My mom thought we had picked him up in New York or something, I don’t know.
We went up to the road and helped push Nicole’s car out of the snow and Travis was on his way safely (Thanks again, Travis!!!). My dad made a fire and we stayed up until 1am talking and eating soup and drinking hot chocolate. It is good to be back with all the snow. I have a ton to reflect on for such a short trip (only 3 weeks), but I grew and learned a lot and like I said last year, traveling each winter gives us a chance to sit back and look at the year and our lives and see how we have changed. It became immediately obvious how different I am from my previous self. More to come.