My Sabbatical Story – Month #8 (Yes, It’s Late!)

by Carly | Fearless Female Travels

Sabbatical Update Month 8 - Colombia

Date:

So, all of this took place back in February 2020, but I had a case of the Corona blues and never got around to writing about my last month of traveling.  I can’t go into 2021 with this hanging over me, so here it is!

Current Location:

My sofa, back home in snowy Canada.  February or December, it’s the same either way.

Places Visited Since Last Update:

  • San Andres, Colombia
  • Providencia, Colombia
  • Bogota, Colombia
  • Home to Canada

The Good, The Bad and the Bizarre

I never finished telling you the story of my sabbatical.  I wrote about the first seven out of eight months, but the last month coincided with my return to Canada, and my return to work, right before Coronavirus engulfed the planet.  I couldn’t go into 2021 with my end-of-trip report still outstanding, so I’m writing it on Christmas Day (almost exactly ten months after I got home).

The Good

The Best Destination I’ve Visited

Beach in Providencia Colombia

Choosing to end my trip in San Andres and Providencia was really, really smart.  I couldn’t have known it at the time, but less than a week after leaving these Caribbean islands I would be coming home to chilly Canada… and getting stuck there for at least an entire year due to Coronavirus.  I am so glad that I spent this time in the tropics while I had the chance.

The Best Thing I’ve Eaten

Rum cocktails on the beach.

The Most Amazing Experience I’ve Had

I didn’t have the best luck with rental cars on this trip (did you read about when I crashed my rental car in the Seychelles?) but I had a great time renting a golf cart on both San Andres and Providencia, and circling both islands at a speed that’s more in my comfort zone (like, twenty kilometers per hour).

Something Else That Made Me Smile

My around-the-world trip was scheduled for July, 2019 to February, 2020.  I had to request that time off work five years in advance.  Imagine, five years ago, throwing darts at a calendar to choose when to take an eight-month RTW trip.  That’s what I did, and somehow I had the absolutely amazing fortune to have a scheduled return date that was only two weeks before international borders started closing.

The Bad

The Worst Place I’ve Visited

Skyline in Bogota Colombia

I only went three places, but if I had to pick my least favorite it would be Bogota.  I am prone to altitude sickness and I picked the wrong hostel (it doubled as a live music venue, with concerts well into the night).  The low oxygen and the lack of sleep made me feel queasy for most of my time in the capital of Colombia.

The Most Questionable Thing I’ve Eaten

I didn’t eat anything particularly questionable because the variety of vegetarian foods in both the islands and Bogota leaves a lot to be desired.  As far as I can recall, I basically just ate my body weight in patacones, or fried plantain slices.

The Most Frustrating Experience I’ve Had

I flew home to Canada on February 21st.  My flight went from Bogota to Toronto to my city, and I remember being shocked by the lack of health and safety measures being taken at Toronto Pearson Airport. They hardly had any security checkpoints open, so transiting international travelers from all over the world were mixing together and queuing for hours to pass through single security gates, with zero distancing in place.  Although it was the early days of the pandemic, everyone standing in those lines knew it was wrong.  I can’t even imagine how many people have died as a result of airport negligence in the early days of the pandemic.

Something Else That Was Really Unpleasant

I often travel for two months at a time, and when I come home everything is working as normal.  Unfortunately, when I came home from my eight-month trip, things weren’t so smooth.  I’d lost my SIM card along the way so I needed a new one, and my phone provider didn’t have a booth at the airport.  So, I took an Uber home and though I could drive to the phone store… but my car battery was dead after eight months of not being used.  And I didn’t have a phone to call my roadside assistance… and I was jet-lagged… and I think my washing machine might have overflowed that day as well… basically a lot of went wrong when I was really tired.

The Bizarre

The Most Random Place I’ve Visited

Providencia Airport Colombia

A lot of people don’t even know that San Andres and Providencia exist.  These two islands are part of Colombia, but they’re actually much closer to the coast of Nicaragua.  To give you an idea of how many people come here, check out the “departures lounge” in the Providencia Airport!

The Strangest Thing I’ve Eaten (Or Seen on a Menu, Or Been Served…)

I think this happened in Bogota?  I went on a food tour and one of the stops was a barbecue restaurant… a capybarbecue restaurant, if you catch my drift.  No, no and no.

The Most Confusing Experience So Far

My experience traveling for eight months made me think a lot about my life outside travel. In particular, I’ve spent more than ten years living somewhere that I don’t love (even “like” might be too strong a word).  It’s been hard to come home to a job that leaves me feeling drained (a big part of that is working during the pandemic; it might get better when things get back to normal) in a city I don’t love… while at the same time feeling obliged to feel grateful for even having a job and a home when so many people are struggling.  I think I’ve been having an existential crisis ever since I got back.  Oh no… could it be a mid-life crisis?

Something Else That’s Totally Unexpected

Coronavirus.  Enough said.

If you’re missing the experience of traveling, you can live vicariously through me and read about the rest of my eight-month sabbatical:

Month #7 (Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia)

Month #6 (South Africa and Buenos Aires)

Month #5 (mostly South India)

Month #4 (mostly North India)

Month #3 (Central Asia)

Month #2 (mostly Bali, plus Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur)

Month #1 (mostly Bali, plus Taipei)

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