Colombia, Roundups, South America

Month in Review: November 2014

Hey all!  To be honest, I’m finding it difficult to think objectively about what happened this month because when I think back on November as a whole, it felt like a really shitty month.

Plenty of good things happened this month but there was plenty of disappointment too.  I’ve been finding it difficult to recover from the lows or even celebrate the highs; I’m sure being in a new city where I still have very few friends and even less social interaction has something to do with it.

I most often work from my apartment because a) the internet is perfectly reliable; b) I don’t have to put pants on; and c) going anywhere else requires unnecessary spending, on transportation to and from and a coffee or whatever else I feel obligated to purchase when I work at a café.  Thus, I’m alone with my thoughts more often than I should be and that can be a very self-destructive position for me to be in.

The stress of having inconsistent income is weighing heavily on me as well.  I’ve got a few different revenue streams at the moment but I still wasn’t quite able to cover my expenses for the month, meaning I’m dipping into my savings more than I’d like.  I’m not in a desperate situation just yet, but the uncertainty is proving difficult to live with day in and day out.

I’m hopeful this will all work itself out come December, but it’s safe to say November hasn’t been easy on me.

Okay, pity party over.

Here’s a peek at the highlights and lowlights of my November 2014.

First, I said goodbye to my travel buddy, Mak.  We split up for a while upon reaching Colombia (he spent some time on the Caribbean coast and I came straight to Medellín) and saw each other again for a couple of days at the start of the month.  But even then, I was busy looking for an apartment and he was busy getting to know the city, so our time together at the end was limited.  The same day I moved into an apartment, he was on an overnight bus to Bogotá.  Now his travels are quickly coming to an end; he decided to head home to California a tad earlier than originally planned, meaning he now has to haul ass in order to get to Buenos Aires (over land) by mid-December.  He flew from Bogotá to Lima and after seeing the important stuff in Peru he’s basically non-stop bussing to Buenos Aires.

Halloween in Medellin

Halloween, one of our last nights as a team.

Oh yeah, and I moved into an apartment!  I’m currently living in a shared apartment with 5 other people, 4 Colombians and one guy I’ve yet to meet, but I have a suspicion he’s a gringo.  I found the place simply by creating a profile on CompartoApto.com (or EasyRoommate.com as it’s known in English).  I didn’t have to do much work after that; as soon as I created my profile I was bombarded with room offers, sometimes up to ten in a single day.  Many of them were out of my price range or in neighborhoods I was unfamiliar with, so when my current place came along I jumped on the opportunity.  I have my own room with a balcony, a shared kitchen, access to a washing machine, and a gym on the premises.  I’m at the south end of Medellín on the border of a town called Envigado, which is cool in its own right, but I also have convenient access to both the bus and the metro so getting around is a cinch.  For $220 per month (compared to the $360 per month I would have paid to stay in a 6-person dorm in a hostel), I can’t complain.

Medellin, Colombia

My little apartment complex. Not bad, eh?

I’ve started contributing regular articles to a local travel website run by my good friend Dave called Medellín Living (he’s also the founder of a travel site called GoBackpacking.com that he’s been writing since 2007–in other words, before travel blogging was cool Travel blogging is cool, right??).  It’s excellent exposure on top of giving me a reason to get out of the apartment and explore new parts of the city at least once a week.

Alado Diseño, Medellin

“Researching” for a Medellin Living article.

This next bit I wasn’t planning to announce quite so soon, but seeing as it happened in November I feel it would be dishonest to omit it.  I did something quite out of character and made plans for (gasp!) the future.  I purchased a non-refundable, non-transferable ticket to my very first travel blogging conference, TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) taking place at the end of April 2015 in…wait for it…Costa Brava, Spain.  I’m going to Spain!  It’s taking an unprecedented amount of restraint not to type this entire paragraph in all-caps or add like thirty exclamation marks to that last statement because I am over the freaking moon excited.  The conference will be an amazing opportunity to make connections with other bloggers and within the travel industry, and they really couldn’t have picked a more idyllic setting for it.  Not to mention I’ve been aching to go to Europe for some time now (and by that I mean approximately one decade) so for it to finally be coming to fruition is still beyond comprehension to me.  My feelings about it are expressed pretty nicely in this here gif.

On a frustrating note, the Colombian postal system has been putting my patience to the test with its failure to deliver a very important parcel to me, my new Charles Schwab checking card.  When I opened the no-ATM-fees account back in August before departing for Central America, I was sure the card would arrive on time for me to take full advantage of it and save a bundle (something to the tune of $5-7 every time I withdrew cash from any ATM ever) while traveling, but alas, things never really go that smoothly, do they?  Having been without it for the entirety of my 10 weeks since leaving home, I’ve been forced to come up with creative ways to get cash without withdrawing, but on the bright side I AM finally racking up some decent mileage points on my Capital One Venture card in the process.

On a tragic and heartbreaking note, our sweet kitten Ollie went missing a week or so ago, and we are fearing the worst.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.  I can’t type through tears.

Lastly, I was lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with a lovely group of people and have finally started making some friends in this big ol’ city.  Transitioning to a new city is always tough, but I didn’t realize how much more effort I’d have to put into meeting people when I started working from home.  Anyway, I know better now and am being more proactive about building relationships while I’m here and getting out of the apartment on occasion so I don’t go totally insane.

Thanksgiving dinner at Humo

A taste of home.

There was far more I could have included in this month’s roundup but many were negative and I didn’t want to come across sounding ungrateful for this experience by whinging about things that probably won’t be that important in the long run.  Keeping it light(ish) for now, hopefully I’ll have more positive things to report at the end of the year.  Lots of love and positivity to you all, and as always, thanks for coming along with me on this journey.

Onward and upward!  How did your November shape up?

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