My Travel Into Colombia: 2 Things I Did Wrong and 1 Thing I Did Right

I made it to Colombia! WOOT WOOT! :)

I have arrived in Bogotá, and I am starting to get to know the layout of this city a little bit.

It is a MASSIVE city, with something like 8 million people. (I luckily arrived during the time when many people from Bogotá take a vacation, so the city is not as crowded as it normally is.)

During my trip over, though, my excitement seemed to cloud my pre-trip planning and travel day execution, and I made a couple of “rookie” travel mistakes which made things not as pleasant as they could be.

Mistake #1: I didn’t drink enough water.

The biggest mistake I made is that I got dehydrated.

You would not believe how important it is to drink water on the day of your travel.

I do not know exactly how I got dehydrated, but I definitely did. My skin got all icky. My lips got dry. I ended up having a minor headache at the end of the first day… I can’t even tell you what I was thinking when I experienced these symptoms.

I mean, honestly, it’s not that hard of a thing to do, i.e. DRINK WATER… But, somehow it had just slipped my mind through the day, even after I arrived in Bogotá.

Mistake #2: I didn’t get enough sleep.

The second biggest mistake was just a total execution FAIL.

The previous 3 nights leading up to my travel date, I stayed up really late, and ended up only getting around 5 or 6 hours of sleep each night. This includes the day I arrived in Bogotá– I only got 6 hours of sleep then too. (Some people go on 6 hours of sleep, but I don’t. I need 8 and 1/2 minimum.)

As a result, I was walking around like a zombie due to lack of sleep.
No muy bueno!

And why did I do this?

I have no clue…

I was doing a lot of last minute preparations and packing, I was trying to get rid of all my stuff. I was staying up late trying to plot where I would go once I got to South America.

But basically, it was just one big be-sure-to-get-enough-sleep FAIL.

The Consequences…

So, as you can imagine, jet lag + not getting enough sleep + dehydration, I was really a wreck for the first couple of days. My eyes were sagging and irritated. My lips were dry and cracking. My body was achy all over.

I think there may be something about travel which makes it peculiarly draining on our biological systems. But basically, I just did not keep my body well. Next time, I will remember to make water and sleep big time priorities.

So, if you are traveling overseas, make sure you keep your body well…. Get water, get sleep, get food. This is super-important, whatever else you do.

One Thing I Did Right

If I did anything right, it is the fact that I had contacts meeting me on the ground in Bogotá.

When I got to the airport, finally got my luggage, and headed outside, there were my people waiting for me! They had a car, so I didn’t need to negotiate with the interrupting taxi & limo drivers. They knew where they were going, so I didn’t have to think that much. And they were native Spanish speakers, so they could read every road sign and direction… what a relief!

I will write more about this later, but Bogotá so far seems to be a place where, if you don’t know Spanish extremely well, you are going to to have a real tough time, especially if you are going solo.

I had an idea that I would have a tough time, given that I am nowhere near fluent, but I didn’t know it would be this intense. I really have no clue as to how I would have ever gotten anywhere in this city with my Spanish only amateurish, my body exhausted, and my orientation totally skewed… if not for mis amigos waiting to receive me in Colombia.

So, if you are going to a place where you don’t speak the language, I HIGHLY recommend trying to contact someone already there, or go with someone fluent because it will make everything smoother.

It has been the best thing I accomplished in my pre-trip planning.




Published January 10, 2011

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  • http://friendlyanarchist.com/ Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist

    Congrats Ryan, for making it to Bogotá! Hope you enjoy the city – better hydrated and well-rested, of course! (Btw., the 2600 metres height might have been another factor for feeling exhausted during the first couple of days! :)

    All the cachacos are here in Cartagena right now, but they are leaving already… so expect the capital to fill up soon! (Evil traffic jams all around…)

    • Ryan

      Good point, Fabian! Egats– I came from the beach in Florida! Haha. No wonder I was like a zombie.

      So when are we having our Bogotá summit??

      • http://friendlyanarchist.com/ Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist

        I’m not sure yet, as I’m enjoying my new beach house so much… this can become addictive, really! How long will you be around?

        • Ryan

          In Bogotá, hasta cinco de marzo. In Colombia, por lo menos tres meses…. Estoy pensado que me gustaria visitar Cartageña… Cuanto tiempo vas a quedarte? Estas veniendo a Bogotá?

  • http://www.spanishexamples.com Steve

    Well done for just making it there. So many people fail before that important step.

    You will probably also be tired simply because you are in a stimulating new environment and you will be listening to fast Spanish all the time. I used to crash out early every night for my first few weeks in Barcelona. But it’s the only way to get truly fluent. Here’s my take on learning Spanish while living abroad.

    • Ryan

      Yes, that’s true Steve… The fact that everything is in a foreign language can really tire you out. I hope to write more about this fact, particularly as it applies to Bogotá.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • http://nikkistephan.com Nikki Stephan

    This brings back memories of the day I first arrived in Valdivia, Chile (where I did a study abroad program for a semester). I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed because I was living with my new family, who were essentially strangers. But, I overcame all my challenges and had an amazing experience, and I hope the same for you! Enjoy Colombia.

    ~ Nikki

    • Ryan

      Chile! That sounds awesome, Nikki. Yea, I have been pretty tired since I got here. It’s getting better. I still can’t understand most of the Spanish that goes on, but I am slowly getting better.

      Thanks for stopping by, and that was a great post about the homeless man with the radio voice!

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  • Dustin Troisi

    Glad to find this site, love Colombia, spent a week in Armenia with my
    girl waiting there from Latin Cupid. I know that probably goes very bad
    for some but I guess I knew what to expect. I learned a lot from the
    experience. She was beautiful, probably the most beautiful girl I have
    ever been with. She did not want me leaving the hotel without her,
    though she did not stay every night. I still talk to her on watsapp a lot. It really is something that you have to see for yourself, how it works and so forth. I went to the discoteca only one night with her and she insisted we went to a small one in a small town about 40 minutes away from Armenia, it was actually a crazy night, and probably somewhat dangerous because a crowd formed around me jejeje. I really think she did not want me around other Colombian girls. I went to a much larger discoteca by myself another night and just attracted working girls. I was very drunk though. Also probably dangerous but I am a little rough around the edges myself. When I arrived in Bogota before changing flights I knew I was in paradise. Colombia fit me. It doesn’t fit everyone. The woman well… it is paradise. The food is good, Jugo con Leche and the hamburgers. I met the girls mom and padrenas in a finca and could easily have stayed. Anyways I think of Colombia everyday. I am actually getting an engineering degree now with the main intention of being very employable in Colombia. I did not like Bogota, and actually was never around any gringos while I was there, so I basically kicked it always with Colombians, their houses are modest and they are very nice, such that I almost felt I had ‘come home.’ I remember visiting a friend of hers in Monte Negro, another small town. We were in the house and she was selling cell phone minutes from a window (her friend), I hung out in that room and so people saw me, seen that I was a norteno and a crowd of young girls actually formed around the front of the house. My girl obviously did not want me any where outside, said it was dangerous, but I think she didn’t want me near the females. I got a quick look and they were all too young anyways. It is a very different kind of place. It stretches life, where the sadness is far greater and the joy as well. Me encantaaa Colombiaaa.