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!
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!
It took us more than 26 hours of travel to get from Seattle, Washington, USA to Calí, Colombia.
From house to house, it took about 30 hours of travel!
We left our place in Seattle around 5:30 am the Saturday morning before Christmas. We arrived at Bryce’s grandma’s house in Calí around 11:30 am Sunday morning.
Our route: Seattle > San Francisco > Los Angeles > Panama City > Cali
The first stop in San Francisco was the longest layover. We made the most out of it by actually leaving the airport and enjoying a good, real meal.
For so many flights, everything actually went smoothly. We didn’t miss any flights. Our longest wait in the TSA line was at Sea-Tac, our home airport. And even this wait was maybe 10-15 minutes at most, not bad at all!
Guess the travel gods were on our side.
We even had to wait on the tarmac for about an hour at SFO on our way to LAX. The pilot told us that LAX was experiencing “too many planes” so we’d have to wait a while before we’d be cleared to take off.
Bryce and I just put our headphones on and started season 2 of one of our favorite shows, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
I like to think of myself as a having a lot of patience.
By flight #4, I really did not have much of it at all. I wanted to be done traveling.
When we boarded our final flight in Panama City, I was really ready to be done. The flight attendants only handed out immigration forms in Spanish and when I asked in my broken Spanish for a form in English, the flight attendant replied that they only had them in Spanish.
“OK, this should be interesting …” my sleep-deprived self thought to myself.
The woman seated in front of us asked us if we needed help translating. We kindly told her we were fine. After all, you just check “no” on all the little boxes, right??
When friends and family heard of this grand voyage to Colombia, everyone asked, “Isn’t there a faster way or direct way to get there?”
There is no direct from Seattle to Cali. Yes, there are options for three flights, or even two but we would have been paying at least a grand more — per ticket. No, thanks.
All the flying is just part of the travel experience.
And, I guess I shouldn’t complain because unlike some people, I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere. Funny how an airplane takeoff can just peacefully rock a grown adult to sleep.
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?
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!
Prior to the inception of this blog a month ago, a lot of traveling has occurred! Here is a little round-up of my 2018 adventures.
Japan (January) — I literally rung in the new year in Kamakura, Japan, where my grandma lives. Bryce, my mom and I walked to a nearby temple and rang a giant a bell while the temple monks chanted. The bell is rung a total of 108 times by temple visitors to signify getting rid of 108 human sins, according to Buddhist belief.
Portland, Oregon (February) — Spent a weekend in Seattle’s rival city, also known as the Rose City. Bryce and I ate lots of good food in Portland — I had Puerto Rican food for the first time! — and met baby Lincoln, a baby sea otter at the Oregon Zoo. It was a snowy weekend but that didn’t stop us!
Phoenix and Flagstaff, Arizona (May) — Finally saw the Grand Canyon in person! This is one of those national parks that you hear and see pictures of all the time as a kid, and I have always wanted to see it for myself. Bryce and I flew into Phoenix and drove north through Sedona first and stopped in Flagstaff. The second day was spent hiking at the Grand Canyon before driving in the evening to Las Vegas (where we flew out of back to Seattle). It was the busiest and best 50 hours.
Disneyland, Anaheim, California (June) — When my pretty annual jaunt to Disneyland coincided with my bachelorette party.
Richmond, Canada (June) — Spent a day-and-a-half in Richmond with my family to explore the Richmond Night Market for the first time. There are lots of food vendors but also lots of crowds. It was fun to go once, but I don’t think I’d go again.
Whidbey Island, Washington (July) — OK, this is near home but you didn’t think I would neglect my wedding day on my year recap, right?? I’ve been to Whidbey numerous times since I was a kid and have always enjoyed exploring the beaches and bluffs. The towns are quaint and the people nice. Also, now I know it’s a great place to get married!
North Cascades to Canada road trip (July) — The weekend after our wedding, we spent a long weekend road tripping up to the North Cascades where we did one of my most favorite hikes. (Well, I had never done it before, so now it is one of my most favorites!) Then drove up to Kelowna, Canada and spent some time there mountain biking and eating. Our final stop was to Vancouver, Canada, where we ate some more and went to the Vancouver Aquarium to visit the sea otters.
Olympic Peninsula, Washington (August) — Despite the rain and grey, we drove to the coast where we visited Rialto Beach and saw many sea otters in the wild! We camped outside of the Hoh Rain Forest and then did a hike in the rain forest. It’s about a four-hour drive from Seattle, but totally worth it. I’m a city girl, and always will be, but there’s something about being out in a forest away from people that’s really good for the soul.
Wasilla, Alaska (September) — Bryce and I visited his mom over Labor Day weekend. I kayaked for the first time! And, was introduced to the Alaska State Fair …
Calí, Colombia (December) — Visited Bryce’s grandma and aunt for Christmas. This was my first time in Colombia (and South America in general!) It was weird to have a “hot Christmas” but a wonderful time meeting and spending time with new family while exploring a vibrant city.
With getting married this year, I sort of forgot that I still took quite a few trips throughout the year. I honestly almost forgot about the Grand Canyon trip before I searched through my phone at old photos — even though this was one of my favorite trips from the year! Ah, I guess I can’t play favorites, Colombia is high on the list, too! Funny how time can be …
The street outside Bryce’s grandma’s house can be lively during the day with cars rushing by and honking their horns, or people calling out to each other. She lives in Cali, Colombia.
The other day as we ate breakfast, I heard someone yelling through a loud speaker outside.
“Is it something political?” I asked Bryce.
“No, it’s a man selling avocados. Come look!” he replied, as he peeked through the blinds of a window facing the street.
I walked over to the window just in time to see the man pushing his cart, and surprised to see he only had like four avocados!
He also wasn’t yelling through a microphone. He was playing a pre-recorded recording to make his avocado sales.
We were unsure if he perhaps already sold most of his avocados, or if he just didn’t have a lot to sell to begin with.
All I know is that I would love to have an avocado vendor walk the streets outside of my house so I could have the opportunity to buy fresh avocados. That’s pretty much the dream. For those of you thinking it: Amazon Fresh doesn’t count!