Asides

Goodbye, Colombia

The moment after we jumped in the ocean on our first days’ ride where everyone was drying off in the sun daydreaming about what was to come.

The moment of arriving at our new camp site and all having rituals of setting up tents, jumping in the river, playing music and eating cookies.

The moment of reconnecting after a fantastic downhill where despite whatever else happened on the ride, in that moment we were beyond happy.

The moment of hearing a really good song and we’d all start singing.

The moment of hearing a really, really good song and we’d all start dancing no matter where we were.

The moment(s) of funny situations occurring from not understanding Spanish.

The moment of trying to act cool, but really we all wanted more dessert.

The moment of feeling anger and exhaustion and self-doubt and deciding to push through it for myself, and for my friends.

The moment of sitting around a campfire playing cards like this is just totally normal everyday life.

The moment of getting to the top of a climb or hike and feeling so tired and so awe-inspired at the same time.

The moment of realization that I’d rather be camping with these two people than in a hostel.

The moment of sunsets and sunrises.

The moment of realizing this is something I can, and want to do.

The moment of finally letting go.

The moment of knowing things about the people your with in a way that’s indescribable and then learning from it.

The moment of making friends with dogs more often than humans and not feeling bad about it (…duh it’s an adorable puppy why wouldnt we be happy).

The moment after moment after moment of feeling like all of this is too good to be true and there’s no way this is actually happening.

These moments and feelings are what I already miss fiercely about my first bicycle tour. I cannot express enough how extreme everything felt in every moment; the good and the bad.

I’d like to thank the academy, my travel companions, everyone I met along the way and most importantly, Colombia for this amazing trip. My heart is full and my head is light as I head off to my next adventure.

My Worst Travel Fear Come True

I was stopped at a border.

The US border.

I’m not sure why this is such a major fear of mine.  I am and American citizen. For some reason I have this fear that they will not only not let me back in, but that they will put me in jail, too. As an avid traveler, I would think I would be happy if they didn’t let me back it. Free pass to keep traveling, right? Cool.

But it finally happened. On my landing card I put that I had not brought anything with me back into the country. Which was a LIE.

At the gate the guard asked for my ID and from where I had just arrived. Then he asked if I had any food in my bag.

I could have just said no and no one would have known. It wouldn’t have mattered. But I panicked. I imagined him searching my bag and sending me to jail. So I said “Yes. I have 2 apples”.
It was the truth after all. Straight from the Lidl.

What followed was the bumbling conversation of me trying to explain why I lied and hadn’t put those two apples on my card. I probably made some awkward joke about always needing snacks when I travel and totally forgetting but I think I blacked out for a minute and umm can this be over now??!

I had to go through this special area to document my forbidden apples. They re-scanned all my bags. They joked about how I had so much stuff (which was true) and I joked about wanting to eat my apples for lunch. It was a no-go.

I finally made it out and I was officially back in America. Phew.

Dressing While Traveling

I love to wear sweatpants. A lot. Anyone who has spent any time with me will know that. People used to be shocked to see me in anything else. Wearing jeans is still kind of dressing up for me.

I should mention that I’m an not exclusive to sweatpants. We are talking yoga/harem/hammertime/gypsy varieties as well.

I enjoy being comfortable.

This includes while I travel. I don’t care if it’s a 1 hour car ride or a 10 hour bus trip. I will wear leggings. I will wear any shoes and still bring nice, warm socks to put on for the trip.

My hair will be in the way that annoys me the least for that day. In a way that could allow for sleep if I were able to succeed in sleeping on a bus/train/plane/car.

The longer the travel time the less likely there will be make-up*. I hardly use it anyways. Who am I trying to impress on a red-eye to London anyways?

I don’t smell. I stay clean. But I will dress like a bum. And I will travel with my own snacks packed.

 

 

*I usually spent time putting on water-proof eye-liner the day before I travel as a way to procrastinate from the packing process. I don’t know why. It’s just something I sometimes do.

 

Swing Dancing at Madame Moustache, Brussels

Making plans to use Couch-Surfing in Brussels for a few nights, there were not a large pool to choose from, but the message I got back from one guy had me sold:

“Hi Caitlin, I can only host you for 1 night because I am going out of town, but Tuesday is my swing dancing night is that ok?”

Swing dance in Belgium? Sure!

I left the train station and headed towards Madame Moustachesomeplace I recommend anyone to visit just for the atmosphere. It’s designed like an antique circus, freak show acts not included. A room was sectioned off with glass doors for smoking and there was a large wooden floor just for dancing.

My new host immediately bought me a nice beer and then led me out onto the dance floor. Did I mention there was a live swing band? Because there was, and it was wonderful. My host stayed with me for the first few songs to teach me the basic steps gradually getting a bit more advanced. Since I have been dancing since I was 8, I consider myself pretty musical and a fairly quick learner. However, it didn’t hurt that he was also a really good leader so I had to do was basically keep moving my feet…

There were all types of people there; old and young, beginner and very advanced. And for each song everyone changed partners. The young and advanced danced with the old; women danced with women; people who were very serious with people just there to have a good time. I always had a new partner and each time I clarified “I’m a beginner”, although I did have a few steps under my belt. There was no pressure. No embarrassment for mistakes. No time to rest. And no cares in the world.

Dancing like this, for fun, with no pressure and not trying to impress anyone doesn’t happen too often in the world of dance I grew up in. I’m used to the idea of competing with others around me, or trying to impress the teacher whether in class or auditions. This night I was free. It was bliss. I never wanted this night to end.

At one point in the night I did stop twirling to enjoy a beer so I could stand back and take it all in. Moments like these are not only the things I enjoy about traveling, but life in general.

I Don’t Know how to pack

Every time I take a trip I remember how horrible I am at packing. I have the strangest most random wardrobe and far too many toiletries considering I hardly ever shampoo my hair and almost never wear makeup. I made a post a while ago about Things to Pack, which you know, is helpful. However, what I fail to remember each time is that I ALWAYS over pack. I mean, I spent a whole month traveling with just one small carry-on -Jansport back pack. What was that magic?!?

I always have that one shirt/dress/purse/sweater/whatever that I NEVER wear or use, but always keep it around and bring it with my just in case. Maybe this time I will want to wear it.

Nope. Never do. Maybe I used to wear it all the time, but not any more. And yet I still always pack it making my bag heavier than needed and taking up extra space.

I’ve acquired a few more things during my time in Munich. And I sent some other things home in a box. The bulky sweaters etc that I won’t need anymore. And still. I have so much stuff I can’t believe it. I am a pack rat to the core. My love of travel is greatly hindered by this personality trait.

I moved into a friends’ place for my last few days in Munich, and then I have a bit of traveling to do in Portugal before settling in the hostel to work. I’m gunna be an awkward, sweaty, struggling mess. Best part is that I get friends asking me often for advice on travel/packing…if only they knew the truth. When will I learn?

I also apparently don’t know how to tell time. I woke up at 6:15 this morning thinking it was evening already (I didn’t sleep much in anticipation for my trip, flight is at 9:15) and panicked like I never have before. No shower, no food, no boarding pass I got to the bus stop before I remembered my phone is on 24 hr time and that it was in fact morning. But I was so afraid I was wrong I almost asked the man sitting next to me if it was AM or PM. Instead I waited for the bus to come and peeked inside to see the screen listing the upcoming stops and saw it was 6:30 am. wowwwww The reason my phone is on 24 hr time is to prevent EXACTLY this from happening. Way to go me.

New Journey

Just wanted to give a little heads up about my life: I finish with my Au Pair family at the end of this month. To read more about that experience read here. And just a few days ago I booked a flight to Portugal where after meeting up with some friends I will head back down to Lagos to work in the hostel I stayed in in March.

I was furiously looking and applying for jobs in summer destination countries in Europe in hopes of spending the rest of my visa on a beach somewhere. Easiest for that was to Lagos as I would already have room and board (the owner offered me a position when I first visited). I also contacted some of the bars there so when I arrive I will go meet with them and hopefully get some more work that way as well.

Phew. It’s been a crazy few weeks. I had no idea what would happen to my visa once I stopped working and was not ready to go back to the states. For now, everything is going smoothly. I will enjoy the rest of my time here in Munich and see where this next adventure takes me. Living in a hostel for 2 months? I got this.

 

**Also- new updates under the Farmer Jane section of the blog!

“It’s only awkward if you make it awkward”

I hate when people say this to me. It’s only awkward if you make it awkward.

Yeah, thanks for that…advice?. I wouldn’t have started my story with ‘it was so awkward’ if I hadn’t made it awkward. Awkward is a feeling, it’s an energy, and I feel it often. The other person/people I am with might not feel it, but I do. And THAT’S the point.

I talk to fill silences and it’s always rambling incoherently. I laugh too loudly and when I stop it’s like…what WAS that?! The first time I hung out with a group of people after a city tour, I tried taking my pullover off at the table while telling a story and got stuck. In the sweater. Six people sat staring at me in silence as I took a moment to stop and start over again. Hi guys, I’m a grown up.

IT’S AWKWARD OK??!

That moment was tangible. As have been countless others. Sure, sometimes that ‘awkward’ could probably be replaced with a ‘it was so random’ or even more rare, ‘awesome’. However, I feel awkward and gawky and goofy and misplaced so there it is. The story is from my perspective, and from my perspective it was awkward.

To be clear, I don’t really get embarrassed. I’m pretty good at laughing things off and talking my way to out of a situation to save myself from becoming completely mortified. It’s a skill I’ve been fine tuning since the 6th grade when I used to cry of embarrassment in school.

Now let me attempt to walk away with what dignity I have left…*runs into doorway with shoulder*


ehfacecaitlin is a clumsy dancer, a homebody who loves adventures, and an inarticulate talk-a-holic. she writes for fun and with horrible grammar.