new zealand, travel

Sorry for not writing. Having too much fun in New Zealand!

I know, I know, it’s been weeks since my last post!

I have a good excuse though!

I have been traveling around New Zealand with my husband on our honeymoon!

New Zealand is wonderful. The weather has been great everywhere we have been. It is summer down here after all!

The people are friendly. There is so much to see and do. We’ve seen so much wildlife — it’s magical.

The landscape is beautiful. At times this country feels like parts of the West Coast of the U.S. (even sometimes like my hometown of Seattle!) or like Hawaii. But then there are times when I am in awe and think “I have never been anywhere like this before!”

I have been jotting down notes. I have been snapping photos. You bet I will have the blog posts cranking out on the regular when I am back home.

For now, sending you love from a pretty spectacular part of the world, New Zealand! ❤️

colombia, travel

Like a scene from Narcos

We arrived in Panama City, our first layover (out of three) on our way home to Seattle from Colombia.

It was a Sunday morning and I was hungry.

Why was it taking us “so long” to get off of the plane?

Bryce and I were seated in the middle of the plane and finally the passengers in front of us started moving. We stepped off the plane and started walking through the ramp-way, you know, the one in between the plane and the gate at the airport.

But there was a backup.

Why are we having to wait to get into the airport? 

I’m a pretty patient person but sometimes seeing people struggle with their rolling suitcase, which holds up the line, really irritates me. (I have nothing against rolling suitcases, I own one, too!)

This wasn’t the case this time though.

Up ahead, I could see two men checking passengers’ ID and ticket.

Why are we doing this now? We’ve already arrived at our destination!

Bryce and I got out our passports out and waited for the line to move. Finally it was our turn and one of the men checked Bryce’s passport and in really stern Spanish asked where he was going. Bryce responded and the man motioned that he could proceed.

I next showed the man my passport but he didn’t even glance at it. He waved his hand and was more interested in the person behind me.

That was weird, right?

No, it was intentional. We quickly realized that the men were only checking passports of the male passengers. These undercover cops were clearly looking for someone specific. (They were dressed in regular street clothes so we just assumed they were undercover cops).

As we walked away — to look for breakfast -— we turned back around towards the gate we just left and noticed that a handful of passengers were pulled to the side. We guessed for more questioning.

This is like a scene straight out of Narcos!

Well, maybe. I’ve never actually seen the show but whenever I told people I was going to Calí, Colombia before the trip, they would respond with “Ohhhh, like from Narcos — the Calí Cartel!”

So, it was like an alleged scene straight out of Narcos.

colombia

The sugarcane farm

The most beautiful place in Colombia that I visited was the gardens of a sugarcane farm outside of Calí.

It was peaceful. The sun was shining brightly but it wasn’t too hot yet since we arrived in the morning. There were butterflies and birds chirping. (Yes, I do not like birds, but I guess the sound of small ones chirping can be nice). And, there was just so much beautiful foliage everywhere!

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The gigantic palm trees. The fragrant flowers. They reminded me of Hawaii, which in a sense, reminds me of home. (My dad is from Hawaii so I spent a lot of time visiting grandparents on Oahu throughout my childhood).

Anyway, the gardens are part of a museum where you walk through and learn about how sugar cane is processed — and the history behind it all.

It was a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the city. Plus, I saw the largest cactus I have ever seen in my life!

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post travel

Back to reality — and new music

When Bryce and I drove back to our place from the airport after a week in Colombia, the first thing I noticed in the car ride was that I did not recognize any of the songs on the radio.

“Is this Adele?” I asked Bryce, who had no better idea than I did.

The song finished and then another song started to play. I didn’t recognize this one either.

“We were away for one week and all the top radio hits are different!” I exclaimed.

“Well, when you think about it, you don’t know what any new music in the past month has been,” Bryce replied.

He had a point. I had been listening to solely Christmas music on the radio for the entire month of December.

The alleged “new Adele” song could have come out at the end of November and I would have had no idea.

Some things just seem really different upon your arrival home after a trip far away.

I still don’t know if the song was Adele or not.

But, I suppose that’s really not the point.

 

colombia

Colombia and its plastic bags

It was the night before our flight multiple flights back home. Naturally I was packing and didn’t think it would take long since we weren’t bringing too many newly acquired or purchased items back from Colombia. Just some coffee and candy as gifts for my parents and friends.

I was pretty much done packing when my mother-in-law mentions something about plastic bags and how we can’t take any back to the U.S. She explains that sometimes the plastic bags can be made of cocaine and that the drug can later be extracted from the bags.

Bryce’s aunt starts gathering clear plastic bags for us to use to pack dirty clothes, shoes, etc. in, which apparently are OK to use. It’s just the grocery bag-type that are white or colored plastic bags that are a no-no.

Who knew? I didn’t.

“These plastic bags I brought from home are OK though, right?” I asked.

Bryce and his family all gave me a “no.”

“But this Safeway bag says ‘made in the USA’ on the bottom of it!” I pointed out.

“Anyone could have just printed that on it,” Bryce said.

OK, fair enough. Time to repack!

I suppose Customs wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a real made-in-the-USA grocery bag and a grocery bag made outside of the USA with those same words printed on it.

To not cause problems, I left all plastic bags in Colombia.

You always learn something new while traveling, huh?

pre travel

Just like that, from summer to winter

Within a week I went from being in upper 80 degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures in Colombia to snowy trails in the Pacific Northwest. Just like that, from summer to winter.

No, it’s not snowing in Seattle.

Yesterday I dragged Bryce with me to go on a “short nature walk” that turned into a five-mile hike.

After all, I do need “to train” for our upcoming trail race in New Zealand. (I’ve put quotation marks around train because I’m a runner who will mostly be walking/hiking said race because I’m injured and am not cleared by PT to start running).

Even though I’ll be walking, I want to be able to enjoy the 8-mile trail race. I don’t want to be sore the rest of the trip because of this fun run!

There was snow throughout most of our hike along the Iron Goat Trail in the Central Cascades. It was a nice change from the hot and humid in Calí. There’s also something nice and magical about snow when it’s in the mountains and not in the city causing horrendous traffic and car accidents.

About five other cars were at the trail head when we arrived so we knew we wouldn’t be alone. However, we didn’t come across anyone else on our entire hike. I guess the others took different paths as there were a few junctions to turn off the main trail.

We only came across the remnants of a snowman — a large pile of snow with two sticks coming out of either end — and two squirrels.

It’s weird to transition to polar opposite climate, as well as returning from one trip just to prepare for the next in the same month. But, I’m not complaining.

I’ll just go from summer to winter back to summer — because it’ll be summer in New Zealand!

colombia

Strangers talking to strangers

There were a lot of qualities of Calí, Colombia that I appreciated and enjoyed. When I returned on New Year’s Eve, one of my coworkers asked me what my favorite part of my trip was.

That’s always such a hard question for me. I hate playing favorites. I like multiple things for different reasons.

Other than the gigantic, delicious avocados, I really appreciated the camaraderie between individuals that I noticed.

It’s a place where the milk delivery man will stop to chat with your aunt for a solid 10 minutes — or even more!

It’s where people make eye contact with you as you walk by, acknowledging your existence! Not like in Seattle where strangers will do anything and everything in their power to avoid you. Here in Seattle, we’re all just Zombies starring at our cell phone screens … texting our friend, or playing Pokemon GO. The Seattleite may have even faked a phone call just to act like he or she was too preoccupied to look at you.

But Colombia is where a driver will pull over and ask the young boy doing chores, or the woman selling snacks from a street-side cart, directions to the next destination. Yes, they all have cell phones and use them for navigation, but sometimes the quickest way is to ask a fellow human. I think it’s also just in their nature to stop and ask a person, calling out “Hello, friend!” to a complete stranger. (And by “Hello, friend!” I obviously mean, “Hola, amigo!”)

In Colombia, it’s strangers helping strangers. Strangers actually talk to strangers.

Or, maybe they don’t consider anyone a stranger at all. They’re all maybe just one friend away to arriving at their intended destination.