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.
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.