Today is exactly 3 weeks from our departure date. 21 days from today we will be boarding a flight at 5 am heading to Medellin, Colombia. Since we have decided to do this trip, Dan and myself are asked 3 common (and understandably so) questions:
- Why South America?
- Why did you choose Colombia?
- Why did you pick Medellin as your first stop?
I’d like to use this blog post to answer those questions and share the whys of coming to this decision. Coincidentally, today is all about 3’s – 3 weeks to go and 3 questions.
Why South America:
This is probably the easiest question for me to answer as it was kind of a no-brainer. I’ve been learning Spanish since 7th grade and have been pretty much learning about and dreaming of visiting places like Argentina, Costa Rica, and Peru ever since. I’ve always wanted to live and travel more long term in Spanish speaking countries to perfect my Spanish skills. I also feel confident knowing that I can speak the language and can develop a better understanding of the culture and meet locals because of this.
Other than Spanish, I love everything South America has to offer. It is a huge continent with so much diversity. I’m pretty sure that it has something for everyone and you can choose from hundreds of different experiences. The weather also varies a lot so you aren’t stuck in one certain type of climate. I can’t wait to spend a lot of time outdoors in nature and hiking around in Patagonia, spend time with animals in the Galapagos and the Amazon, explore cities like Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, scuba dive around Colombia, lay on the beaches in northern Colombia and in Brazil, etc.
I have also been lucky enough to travel a decent amount around Latin America so far. Besides vacationing in Mexico and Panama, Dan and I spent our honeymoon traveling around Peru, and I’ve been to Nicaragua and Costa Rica for work. Spending this time in these countries has just deepened my interest in the region and my desire to get to know as much of the continent as possible.
This question is a little bit more difficult for me to answer that the previous one because it wasn’t a gut feeling or a natural inclination like South America as a whole. Over the past year or so, I’ve been hearing much more about Colombia because of work. There is a new push from the government to hire a lot of English teachers there so it seems like travel and tourism is starting to take off. Especially more so now that the country is “safer” than it was 20-30 years ago.
I think a part of me really wanted to explore Colombia before it becomes really touristy. Not many blogs I read have Colombia on their list of places they’ve travelled to or even on their bucket list. I know that I probably shouldn’t have picked our first destination for this reason alone however, after doing a lot of research on the country and talking to people who have been there, I’m really glad that we did. There is so much to do and so much history in Colombia! There are beaches, colonial cities, the coffee region, and tons of National Parks. Not to mention that it is one of the cheaper places to visit in South America (especially when comparing it to Brazil or Argentina) in terms of cost of living and the flights to get there (which were only $250 each for one way tickets).
Because it is the “Land of Eternal Spring”. Enough said.
Okay well yes, that is a huge perk but we choose it because it is a bigger city that isn’t Bogota (which is a little too big for my liking to spend a whole month there). Dan and I agreed that we wanted our first month or so to be spent in one place so that Dan could learn Spanish and also it would help with the transition. We are all about transitions and not wanting to burn out right away. So we researched Medellin and found that it isn’t too expensive, has a lot of interesting areas and day trips, has perfect weather year round (80’s and no humidity), and is a great place to learn Spanish because of the dialect that is spoken there. Then a plan was born.
We booked a cozy studio apartment through Airbnb in the El Poblado neighborhood (we wanted to live in Laureles but found a great deal) for only $580, (in other words, less than $20 a night), booked our flights, and Dan is still going through the process of applying to his Spanish school Toucan Spanish School which offers classes from 9-1 or 2-6 and approximately $550 a month which is WAY cheaper than any classes I’ve researched here in the States. As for me, there are lots of options if I want to volunteer, do language exchanges, take yoga classes, or whatever I want to do. Even if I just want to chill out for a month and spend time walking around or blogging in cafes, I can do that too. I think I’m just going to decide when I get there, feel it out.
All in all, Medellin seemed to fit the bill of everything we were looking for in regards to our first stop. Colombia seemed to be a little more off the beaten path and yet still have a lot to explore. And South America, is my spirit continent.