Jardin, Colombia

When we started our around the world trip one month ago, we knew that traveling long term would come with challenges. We thought about the difficulty of constantly saying goodbye and the stress of balancing traveling, research, work, and enjoying ourselves.

And they were all true to a certain degree, but there have also been some unexpected challenges we’ve encountered here in the first country in our trip.

Things such as:

Missing food from home

It might seem silly to be missing food from home when we’ve only been away for such as short period of time. You can either see it as how spoiled we have become from having access to best food the world has to offer by having lived in the Bay Area, or as how uninspired the food here in Colombia.

Either way, we can’t deny what we feel.

We miss that thousands of sensations from each bite of Thai or Indian curry – the satisfying taste of a bite from a strong cheese. We miss oven baked pizzas topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

We miss spices. We miss varieties.

We’re tired of fried food and salt. And unexpected mysterious pieces of meat floating in our supposedly vegetarian soup.

One of the many surprises we've got during our early travel days

Thankfully, not all is lost.

Yummy maracuyas

The fruit here is AMAZING. We drink freshly squeezed juice every day. My favorite is guanabana (although maracuya is a pretty close second). Jack goes for his usual pineapple, orange, and banana combo.

But I can safely say that we’d be more than okay not seeing a ‘comida tipica’ menu ever again.

Not speaking the language

Not being fluent in Spanish has affected our experience much more than expected.

I have never felt more like an outsider and more detached from the country I’m visiting than now. We know enough Spanish to ask for information and how to get around. But to understand enough to be involved in conversations? Far from it.

It’s frustrating.

What makes it worse is the fact that Colombians are so curious and so friendly. And here we are, two gringos, butchering their beautiful language and making a fool of ourselves.

Chess - transcending the language barrier

The feeling of disconnect, of not understanding – not just the language but what makes a country tick.

It’s really frustrating.

We’re doing things to improve our Spanish – listening to podcasts, talking to people, etc, etc. But it seems that we don’t do enough and are not learning fast enough.

Traveling can be so rewarding but it’s definitely not without its challenges. Or maybe it is rewarding because of the challenges that one overcomes?

Anyway, don’t worry…

Despite the challenges, we did manage to have fun too. Too many stories to tell, but here are some of them:
Cueva de La Vaca – A caving adventure
Vulcan del Totumo – Playing in a bottomless mud pit

And we’re eating more fruit than we’ve ever had.

Tell us:

How you deal with food and language challenges on the road?