Flow in Colombia.
[A three minute read]
I write this from the back seat of a mini bus, halfway between Cartagena and Santa Marta along the Colombian Caribbean Coast.
Long distance buses in foreign countries are not something I usually say “yay!” to.
In my mind, I imagine being wedged between chickens and screaming children for hours on end and needing five massages once I arrive.
Instead, I normally prefer to invest my money on a private transfer to travel in comfort and arrive safely at my destination. Far more efficient, something my career in events has aspired me to be.
But after two weeks in Colombia, I am reminded that the beauty of travel is in connection and the authentic experience of a foreign place.
So I embraced the coco-loco way of life and along with my travel buddy, Dad, I jumped on board.
I mean, after I planned contingencies for all possibilities.
I bought salads at an organic slow food cafe (Beiyu) in Cartagena before we left.
I froze a drink bottle of water last night to keep my almond milk chilled for the journey, and to have cold water for the trip.
I packed some toilet paper and antibacterial hand wipes into an emergency kit.
Extensive googling revealed the buses are often chilled to Antarctic temperatures, so I packed my only sweater into my handbag.
I packed roasted almonds and a jar of peanut butter as snacks.
My devices and backup portable charger were fully charged.
I too, was super charged after I ordered the best latte I have tasted so far in Colombia.
Now, I am ready for the 4-ish hour journey ahead.
We have made it halfway without incident, apart from the random travellers who keep appearing alone on deserted highways and join us on the bus.
That is, until a few kilometres back when there was an accident which blocked one lane and bought us to a grinding halt. Traffic was building up in both directions until a few motorists decided to create a solution.
The solution was for both lanes of traffic to weave like a double helix between each other in opposite directions. It was magical chaos.
If this had occurred in Australia, we would have all remained in a traffic jam, letting our frustration simmer and tweeting our thoughts to anyone who would listen and hopefully sympathise.
The stark contrast made me realise how fluid Colombian life is.
In a country oppressed by violence for several decades, a culture of initiative, flow and adaptability has ensued.
These skills are creating a hub of entrepreneurs as locals take responsibility for their futures and create their own opportunities. It’s no wonder their city of Medellin has been voted one of the most innovative cities in the world, ahead of New York.
So today, I am grateful I took the scenic route.
I am reminded that regardless of the circumstances, in every situation we can choose to remain stuck in a jam, or adapt and move forward.
I am reminded that we can’t plan for everything and sometimes there is joy in going with the flow. More so, when we over-plan the future we miss out on the present.
I have learnt that sometimes our perception of discomfort is just that – perception. (Turns out there were no chickens or children on the bus, and we left almost on time).
Plus I got to see a taxi using the rooftop as banana storage. That alone was worth the journey.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” [African proverb]