Tag Archives: friends

Dogs of Colombia: A Photo Essay

For anyone who has traveled in Latin America, you are aware of the number of dogs wandering the streets. Some are house pets just out for a stroll. But most are stray- to be clear, we avoided many, many dogs for hygienic and safety reasons. These friends we made  were all friendly and safe and as clean as can be expected when living outside on a farm or beach…

She was our first love. Up in the mountains in Minca. She didn’t actually live at this hostel and eventually got kicked out. We never even got to say goodbye…


This beauty lived at the hostel in Taganga… went back into our room and got the bejeezus scared out of me seeing a face peeking out from under the bed apparently her favorite spot to nap.


Tiniest, cutest puppy ever!!



This was our first time camping out on someones farm. This pup ran up to help us cook. And knock things over. And bite our hands. And in general be as annoying as possible…


Second time camping on a a farm. They had many dogs but Chocolate here was the friendliest and snuggliest.


This big boy was at a stop we made not long after cresting a mountain peak. After sitting and warming up with a cup of deep black joe, he kept blocking my way so I couldn’t leave. Ok fine, I’ll stay a bit longer to give you the loves…


The route this day was pretty flat. And seeing a bunch of dogs on the side of the road, and having learned from past experience, I slowed way down and stayed on guard for how these dogs would react to me and my bike. They barked a bit then most left me alone…except this guy. He started running along beside me. I stopped, and he stood and waited. I gave him some crackers, which he ignored and we started off again. He stayed with me for at least 15 minutes! Stopping when I stopped, though not getting close enough for me to pet him. Eventually I got to a town and he went a different way. I thought for sure we finally had an official bike tour dog!


While visiting Bogota we used CouchSurfing, met a wonderful family who also had a dog. We quickly became bffs.


Another hostel dog. He was always tied up and every time I passed him on my way to the tent I spent a few minutes hanging out.


Our last night camping in Colombia. The pavilion did surprisingly little to stop the rain. But this guy loved playing fetch with a plastic bottle and did not mind at all to track his wet little paws all over our stuff.


Moral of the story: I love dogs.



Humans of Colombia

I’d say that 90% of the people I told I was going to Colombia, or that I went to Colombia responded with some version of “But it’s so dangerous!”.

(the other 10% were other bicyclists who were like – “Woah! Have fun and good luck with the Andes”)

I have met many people, including other Colombians who have had dangerous experiences in Colombia. But I want to be very clear that this is a country of beauty, and I don’t just mean the nature (which is surreal, by the way). What I’m referring to now are the people. Just as with any other place I’ve traveled, its the people I’ve met and the friends I made that create my favorite experiences.

For example, the couple the flagged me down on the side of the road and offered me coffee. We chatted about how beautiful the country is and how much we all loved Colombia- how inspiring to meet someone so passionate about his country!

IMG_0367Or the guy who saw me struggling up our first mountain and drove back to bring me a gatorade saying ‘mucho respecto’ and driving away before I could properly thank him. I stood stunned, almost cried, and then promptly chugged half the bottle.

Or the guy in a small mountain town who saw us ride in and offered to buy us a drink and snack from a bakery- which of course we said yes and got our favorite cookies- just because he was so impressed with what we were doing.

And the girl who stopped me to practice her English, introduced me to her whole family, and offered delicious coffee without pausing to hesitate.


And the man who saw us late at night with our bikes eating dinner, asked if we needed someplace to stay, then led us to his house and let 6 of us camp outside and stay up celebration our first night of tour with his whole family just inside.

And the guy who drove a potato truck and gave us a ride further up the mountain (to be fair Casey and Sam did help him load some of the potato bags- I was too far behind and arrived just intake to load our bikes. bummer).

On the potato truck!

And one of my favorite times was getting stopped by a pick up truck
on a rocky mountain road. He asked if I wanted a ride (apparently I just looked like a wreck)and I said yes please. I soon learned the driver was the mayor of the town IMG_0185we had just left. The MAYORWe picked up Sam and Casey and learned that the car behind were other city leaders as well and they were all headed to the same meeting in the next town. We got out to
snap this photo, and then they bought us all coca-colas and some chorizo and we never saw them again!

And of course, there were our couch surfing hosts from Bogota. They were gracious, and friendly, and welcoming, and fantastic cooks and made us feel like family immediately.


And of course, there were plenty of people who wanted pictures with us. Young girls would shyly ask to take a picture with me, groups of people would gather around to welcome us and get photographic proof 3 gringos on bikes passed through their town. It was silly and weird and kind of awkward but beautiful and special all the same.

Colombia has some dangerous places, of course. But it is so, so much more than that- it’s caribbean coast line, it’s the tranquil, endless Andes, it’s massive cities and tiny villages, it’s people who are rich with gratitude, passion, curiosity and kindness.

Awkward Dance Party

A little view into my time in Europe this past year. It started about 3 months into the trip when I bought a new camera…next step: hire a camera man/woman.

These are a few of the people who made an impact on my trip. Friends visiting me from the US. Couch Surfing hosts. Hostel Friends. Random people I met in the city.





**sorry, it might not work in all European countries

Making Friends as Grown-Ups

Recently I’ve been talking to a lot of friends about how to meet people now that we are grown-ups. I don’t have classmates and in my present position as an Au Pair, I don’t even have co-workers. Even if I did have co-workers that doesn’t mean we would be friends, or that I would even want to be with them outside of work.

Of course there is the chance of meeting, and actually liking, someone from a random conversation on the train or from a bar/cafe etc. But that’s not really an efficient way to gather a circle of people of whom you really enjoy and get along with. In my experience that’s a good way to practice making up lies to get out of the conversation.


I remember when online dating was such a weird, foreign concept and was looked down upon and judged harshly by others. Maybe that was just me? Well, I still haven’t tried online dating, but I must admit that nearly all of my friends in Munich I have met from the interweb. It’s almost something to laugh about (and feel a bit awkward about) until I realized that it’s becoming the norm nowadays and all of my new internet friends also made all of their other friends from the internet, too.

For me, it started off with a Couch Surfing post on the Munich page:

“Hello I’m an Au Pair from the US, just moved to Munich blah blah blah…”

Someone there told me of a Facebook group for Au Pairs in the Bayern area. From there I learned of a group for Au Pairs specifically in Munich. And from there I learned of a group thousands of people strong for all international people living in the city. I went to events, joined in conversations, and made plans to meet up for coffee/drinks. Sometimes I went alone (scary!) and sometimes I went with people I had already made friends with…also from the internet.

fb event in the park
fb event in the park

There is that terrifying time before you decide to go to a Facebook event hosted by a group of people you’ve never met before. Or decide to meet up with someone for the first time one-on-one that you briefly chatted to on FB the day before. Maybe it’s not safe. Maybe there won’t be that many people at the party. Maybe it won’t be fun and I should stay at home and be a hermit with no social life even though I live in a super awesome city…ummmno.

The thing is, when you find these groups, be it Couch Surfing, Facebook or some other online forum, there will be plenty of people in the same position as you. Maybe you are just traveling to a new city for a short period of time. Or maybe it’s the city you’ve been living in for years and are just looking for something new. Find a group that is a general page for the city or one specific to your interests such as biking or cooking and get involved.

we look goooood
we look goooood

Now, I say this coming from someone who is incredibly comfortable traveling alone. Even I still find it hard to do these social things alone. But never once has it been a bad decision for me. If anything, I can at least feel proud of myself for going out alone and not dying of humiliation as I always think I will. You will definitely have to repeat the same conversation a billion times- Where are you from? What are you doing here? How long have you been here? How long do you stay? etc. But once you get past all that you can start to enjoy the company of the people around you and get the most put of what the internet has brought you.

I’m not sure where I am going with this. Maybe I am just getting a bit nostalgic about leaving Munich soon. Of course I still make friends with people not from the internet- but that’s usually when I am traveling and so far those friends have not lived in the same city as me. They are more than just the short term hostel buddy, but we can’t exactly meet up for a hot chocolate on any given day either. I also think it’s fun to point out how all of the German friends I made are some of the only people I didn’t meet from these internet groups. Go me.

Meeting People on Couch Surfing

Every time I meet someone from Couch Surfing for the 1st time:

First 5 minutes: Introductions- where you’re from, how long you’ve been in Munich/traveling, what you do etc

10 minutes in: Awkward silences filled with one or two last lingering question about new ‘friend’

15 minutes in: abruptly start walking around Christmas markets or city/looking at drink menu at bar to fill silences. discuss topics related directly to that activity only

if you’re lucky…25 minutes in: start to relax a bit. get back to some personal questions and start telling stories about current situation/family/friends/your love of dogs

..jump to time when you want to go home: ‘well , wow it’s getting kind of late, yeah I think I’m gunna go, it was great meeting you. Yeah, yeah we should definitely hang out again. Ok bye *extends hand to shake* oh hug yeah ok good to meet you *awkward laugh* byyyye’