Feb ’19 Update
The three months since my last update have been great – blessed with a lot of special family time. Traveling and exploring with my parents was wonderful, and i am so grateful for the opportunity to have done so. I fear family trips like the ones described below will become fewer and fewer with time, and was sure to make the most out of every moment.
November 12th i greeted my parents at Medellín’s international airport – woohoo! They have heard me rave about Colombia since my first trip through in 2016 and nonstop since moving here August last year, and it was so special being able to share my love of Colombian culture and its people with my them.
It was a quick trip, 12 days, but we packed a lot in! We spent the first few days exploring Medellín; there is no city in the world i would rather live in at this stage in my life, and i wanted to show my parents why! We hiked in a national park, danced salsa, biked throughout the city, took a few city tours, went to a playoff fútbol game, paraglided, visited nearby attractions, and hit all of my fave food/drink spots. Fast and furious, but great!
From Medellín we headed south to the area around Salento, spending a night at a hot springs tucked high away in the mountains; it is the favorite hot springs i have ever been to, and a nice way to unwind after being so go-go-go in Medellín. We spent the next night in Salento, a quaint mountain town historically dominated by coffee production and more recently focused on tourism. It was a fun town to explore. The next day we woke up early to hike the Cocora Valley, home to the world’s tallest palm trees (as tall as 200ft!). The hike was straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, with countless hummingbirds flitting around at eye level beneath the towering wax palms.
From Salento we headed north to the Caribbean coast. We spent the first night and the following morning in Cartagena before heading up the coast to the area around Santa Marta, where we spent the next four days immersed in nature: one day in the ocean SCUBAing/snorkeling, another in a cloud-forest hiking between waterfalls, and another hiking from beach to beach along the jungle-lined coast.
Attached below are a few of my fave photos from the trip; for 18 more, check out the following album! Colombia Fam Trip Photo Album
November 23rd we headed to Colorado; my parents went home to Grand Junction, while i stopped in Denver to spend a few days connecting with college buddies. Then, November 27th, my parents met up with me in Denver and drove me over to Colorado Springs for surgery the next day. Clavicle surgery was the main reason for my trip home; knowing the yoga studio where i work would be closing December and most of January, this ended up being the perfect time to remove the hardware still in my clavicle from a 2013 surgery; the hardware has bothered me ever since, and this was the first good opportunity to get rid of it!
Surgery went good! Though it was more invasive than expected… My clavicle had grown over the edge of the plate and completely swallowed screws, forcing the surgeon to chisel the bone away to reveal and remove the hardware. That being said, it went as smooth as it could have gone!
I spent the next nine days at my parent’s home in Grand Junction, recovering, before heading to Texas with my Father for our second Vipassanā retreat. We attended our first Vipassanā spring of 2016, and were both amazed and impressed by the personal growth it fomented. Knowing i would be unable to do physical activity following my surgery it seemed to me the perfect time to sit still for ten days, and my Dad (admittedly a surprise) accepted my invitation to join me for a second round!
Vipassanā is a ten-day silent mediation retreat, including abstention from body language (including eye contact) with all other meditators throughout the course. Days began at 4am and were more or less filled with meditation until returning to bed after 9pm. As return students we were asked to fast after noon, keeping the belly empty for 19 hours each day to aid in the deep meditative work. The routine is mentally and physically exhausting, and really helps to lay bare ones mental weaknesses and unhealthy proclivities.
While the schedule (besides the extended daily fast) were identical between the two Vipassanās, the lessons i learned from each were markedly different. The first was undoubtedly the hardest thing i’ve ever chosen to do; the second was much easier,,, though still brutal. The first i learned a tremendous amount about who i am at an intellectual level, about how my brain works and the patterns it has a habit of running through; the second i learned much more about myself at a spiritual, energetic level. In other words, the first Vipassanā helped me to meet and understand my mind for the first time; the second helped me to meet and understand myself at the deepest energetic level, much deeper than the body or intellect, for the first time without the aid of plant medicine/substance. The first provided me the foundations for a meditation practice; the second took my meditation practice to an entirely new level, helping me to experientially understand truths of being i had up until this point only grasped intellectually.
Eleven days later, my Dad and i headed back to Colorado together. After 10 days of not talking, it was nice having a travel day to verbally process our experiences together.
I spent the next week connecting with friends from high school in Grand Junction and Denver, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over five years. It was nice to reconnect with these folk, learning how they have grown and developed while also sharing with them my own growth and changes.
Australia has long been at the very top of my Mom’s travel dreams, and January presented the first opportunity to make it a reality; luckily for me, i was able to tag along!
The three of us boarded a plane December 30th, and 36ish hours later we arrived to Cairns, a city on Australia’s northeast coast often referred to as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. We spent our first full day down under SCUBAing on the reef; amazing! As silly as it sounds, the experience really brought the cast of Finding Nemo to life with a biosphere totally different than other spots i’ve had the opportunity to dive, including sharks, turtles, clownfish, rays, giant clams, the works. And yet, it was also devastating to see coral bleaching in action, and know that my child’s generation will be unable to experience this natural wonder, not to mention the hundreds of millions of beings living in the Great Barrier who will die as a result. The next day we rented a car and explored the numerous impressive waterfalls in the surrounding region.
Next up, we headed down the coast to Sydney, where we met up with a friend of mine who lives in Newcastle. After showing us around her city, we headed back down to Sydney and spent a few days exploring Oceania’s largest metropolis. In addition to connecting with my friend, highlights included ocean pool swims, a free walking tour, yoga overlooking the ocean, amazing food, and a night at the opera house (while i enjoyed the experience, i can’t say i left an opera fanatic…).
From Sydney, my parents and i continued on alone to Uluru, Australia’s spiritual center for Indigenous Australians. While Uluru was geographically stunning, our motivation for coming was to complicate our understanding of Australian history and coloniality; the cultural lessons and insights shared by the indigenous guides we spoke with were invaluable, and provided an exigent narrative and perspective to our understanding of Australia.
Next up, Melbourne. While i liked Sydney, i LOVED Melbourne. A super hip and dynamic city, and one that i would be happy and grateful to call home. Highlights included our drive along the Great Ocean Road (which offers breathtaking coastal views), happening across Koala’s in the wild, hip street markets, a cricket game, a free city walking tour, phenomenal food, and the best vegan (and non-vegan, for that matter) ice cream i’ve ever had.
We finished off our Australia trip in Tasmania, where we met back up with my Aussie friend for a four-day tour of the island. We hiked a lot, and slept a little (the sun would rise at 6am and not set until 9pm, and most days we were on the road for every our of sunlight…). Our time in Tasmania was like sprinting a marathon, but i wouldn’t have had it any other way; grateful for all the sites we were able to explore.
Below are a few of my fave photos from our Aussie trip; you can see my other 25 faves here! Aussie Fam Trip Photo Album
New Zealand 🥝
After seventeen days in Australia, we headed to New Zealand to finish out the final eleven days of our trip. Geographically, i’ve never seen anything like NZ; its natural beauty is incomparable. I could have spent months exploring the two islands, but we made the best of our short trip!
We arrived in Queenstown, at the south of the south island, and worked our way up the length of the island to Christchurch. We made frequent stops along our road trip for short hikes and wild water swims; the powder blue waters were spectacularly beautiful, and spectacularly cold! Some of the highlights from our south island road trip include visits to receding glaciers, relaxing hot springs, placid mountain lakes, enchanting glow worms, sublime waterfalls cascading into glacial rivers, majestic mountain passes, and serene coastline.
While our time on the south island was focused on exploring natural beauty, our trip up the north island was more geared towards exploring New Zealand’s cultural dimensions. We began in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, where we explored NZ colonial history with a walking tour and a tour of Parliament, as well as indigenous Maori culture at a Pacific Islander festival.
From Wellington, we spent the next four days driving up the island to Aukland, making stops along the way to explore geothermal sites, bike around New Zealand’s largest lake, swim in freezing glacial rivers as well as steaming hot streams, hike in the mountains, relax on the beach, and visit Hobbiton (the set where all the Hobbit scenes from the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit were filmed).
We finished our NZ tour in Aukland, the country’s largest city. It was fun exploring the city and the culture for our final days, including a yoga class, a ferry trip to a nearby suburb, a free walking tour, and a play. The perfect end to our trip.
Again, below are a few of my fave photos from our time in NZ; you can view my other 8 faves here! NZ Fam Trip Photo Album
Next Three Months 🇨🇴
After two days back in the States unpacking, washing, and repacking, i headed back to Medellín on January 28th, where i will be working the same job i had last year until May. It is so nice to be back in Medellín, a place that feels so right for this time of my life.
In the meantime, i continue to research law schools and my plans for the years to come. Thus far, i have been accepted to Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, and Georgetown; Berkeley and Columbia are definitely my two top choices at this point, though i am still waiting to hear back from a few schools. If you have any advice regarding my decision of where to study and have read my update this far, i would LOVE to hear from you!! By the time you receive my next update i will have made my decision, and would value including your advice/insights in my decision making process.
As i end every update, i would sincerely appreciate receiving updates from you, even if they are just a few sentences. Feel free to shoot me a WhatsApp (+505.8338.5597), an email, or a comment below.