Cuba is a blast from the past, but be ready before you go. It really is a world stuck in another time and it’s best to do your homework.
We’ve learned that we can’t go 100% all the time. It’s important to take time now and again for a “personal admin day” when we have lots to do or a “spontaneous weekend” when we’re just plain tired.
So what does it feel like to hike at 5,000 meters? Slow, mostly. We were all breathing much more heavily than normal and Andrea got hit with a big headache. At one point, Andrea even said that she felt drunk: she was processing information more slowly, felt uncoordinated (try to put foot in one place, her foot ends up somewhere slightly different), and couldn’t think straight.
We’ve traveled all of Colombia from north to south by bus, taken wrong turns, and felt the hairs on the back of our necks stand up more than once, but, so far, besides the occasional rip-off at a store, we have been blessed with a problem-free trip.
When we crossed from Colombia, we immediately noticed we were deep in the Andes. Andrea and I found that we suddenly towered above most people in the immigration line, but quickly realized our height was no advantage when it came to tackling hills and mountains at altitude. We constantly reveled in seeing lamas and alpacas walking the streets and had our breath taken away by the stark mountain views.
We fell in love in Colombia during our short visit and are confident you will too. From the massive Arvi Park in Medellin, to the impressive presidential palace in Bogota, to this hidden church by the Ecuador border, we were never bored and were constantly meeting friendly people.
We love the change, the challenge, and the variety that comes with constantly being on the move, but we do occasionally miss knowing our way around. Stumbling upon this family-run restaurant in Quito helped us feel grounded. We found comfort in their food and their company and felt truly welcomed. Sometimes what seem like the most banal, everyday moments, like having breakfast, can become some of the most powerful memories, if you’re open to it.
Traveling is all about new things. New places, new faces, new foods, new languages, new weather, new bus systems. Traveling with family is about spending time together, taking in all these new things, and grounding them in the familiar. It’s about taking the time away from your regular lives to connect, share experiences, and enjoy. After several months of wandering around Latin America, I really appreciated the chance to be “at home” for a few days.
Although it’s no one’s travel dream to spend a night being jostled around on a bus, we’ve found it kills a few birds with one stone: it’s a great way to cover some serious ground (at least 10 hours of travel), get (some) sleep, and avoid paying for a night at a hostel.
It’s funny how you can burn through all the major attractions a city in a day or two if need be, or stay an entire month and still not see it all. We only had 10 short days in Panama, but we filled them up well with beach, mountains and a big city!