Colombia 2018: An Airport Reflection

Well, I can’t say that I imagined being stuck on an airplane in Miami, fanning myself with the emergency instructions because it feels like a microwave inside the plane…but life is like that, isn’t it? It doesn’t turn out like you plan.

So I figured this was a good time as ever to begin some deep pondering. Maybe the sweat will help the creative juices flow.

I’m surprised at how quickly anger and frustration set in. And just how plain and ugly that looks. Yelling at the poor (but very handsome) flight attendant surely doesn’t help anyone. But he took it like a champ.

After a couple Hail Marys and some semi-running, I made it to my gate with 15 mins to spare and am now boarding my final flight home! *squeals

Home. Mmmm, sounds like music to my ears. That is one thing I love about traveling. It strips you of everything you don’t notice and, like oil and water, elements of your life begins to separate and float to the surface. I haven’t been home in almost two weeks, and although that doesn’t seem like much, it’s been a crazy amount of traveling. And it’s not all cute insta pics; there’s the non-luxurious side of traveling: living out of a suitcase, your poor bowels and the confusion they go through, missing your own bed, trying to wash my monster sized hair with travel size shampoos for two weeks; But those are pretty trivial things compared to the homesickness that really hit me at times. Being in Colombia was so good for my heart, but in every person I met I saw a reflection of someone in my family, which only made my heart yearn for my own crazy set of family members.

A friend once told me that travel is meant to be done with a purpose. During my travels, a lot seemed to stand out to, as if life was trying to shine light into those areas. I realized how dang much I love being Latina and how grateful I am to have chosen to embrace my parent’s language, culture, and heritage. Although I was very lost at times because my Mexi-Spanglish was not well versed in Colombian Spanish, I really was pushed to step out of my own comfort zone and not be nervous to speak Spanish.

I know that sounds kind of strange because technically I am fluent; I can read, write, and speak it….but y’all. As a hyphenated Latina who’s grown up in the United States, we get nervous. And intimidated. And afraid to say the wrong thing or to use made up Spanish words and come off as super uneducated (I still say rompido instead of roto, lol). But it was such a good challenge for me, and I think I held my own pretty well. Now my vocabulary looks more like Mexi-Spanglish-a-la Colombiané (chiquitico is so much more fun to say than chiquitito).

Lesson number two while abroad: I was totally a fake Mexican; I just laugh at this because I realized that once I mentioned that my family or my parents were from there… I got asked questions about the country, places, politics, etc. And I knew very little. But thankfully I can do a solid grito, so that convinced them I was the real deal. Hahahah, all joking aside though, it just kept me thinking about how I will truly always have one foot in the US and another in Mexico. I will never be able to fully own one identity because I am a combination of both. And how that kind of makes me feel a little sad inside because it can be a juggling act, figuring out where your identity lies. How much you have of each in you, and where you feel like you “fit” the most.

But mostly I am just so so thankful — like immensely thankful times 100 to be able to enter into someone else’s world and really get it. Get the jokes, the music, the customs. It was so much fun, because Colombians are so much fun! It was beautiful to see how my roommate’s family really invites one each other into their lives. They are so good at sharing life with one another, and they just love on each other so well. Even the words they use are more romantic than us Mexicans. Literally. I thought everyone in Medellín was in love with me because of how they greet you (totally kidding; but they are so warm and welcoming there!)

I think the final lesson traveling around breath-taking Colombia left me with was this: family is literally everything. I mean, I’ve always known that in my head, but never really felt it so deeply before.It hurts my heart to know of broken families, members that don’t talk to each other anymore, grudges that have festered and deep wounds that have never been mended. Life is too short guys. It’s too short not to share your life with each other, even the small details that you feel don’t even matter. I learned so much from my roommates family and I cried like a baby when we said goodbye because I truly felt like I was saying bye to my family. If you’re reading this hermanita, thank you. Thank you for showing me how to be a better sister, daughter and friend.

And that is the magic of life. That anyone, anyone can become family. And it’s a super power we don’t use enough. So my invitation to you, whoever is reading along is this: draw your circle of family bigger. In fact, make it huge, HUUUUUUUGE (I kind of hate myself for using the Donald voice here but I couldn’t resist.) Share your life with people, just love em. I feel like I’m being super peace and love and all that but really. I have never felt loved and accepted into someone else’s family like I had the blessing of experiencing in Colombia, and everyone deserves that. GO BE FAMILY. It’s incredible. People want to feel like they are a part of something. It’s how we were designed.

Also, buñuelos and arepas de queso are life. Sorry tacos and enchiladas. You’re going to have to make some room in my heart for my new found loves.

The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too – Mother Teresa






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