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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22 Comments

  • Reply Alejandra November 30, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    What a month! Hope things will get better in December. Conference in Spain sounds exciting 🙂 By the way, I’m glad I discovered your blog. It’s fun to read! xx

    Alejandra
    Alejandra recently posted…Touring my hometown: Mendoza, ArgentinaMy Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera December 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Aw thank you Alejandra! I love to hear things like that, makes my day 🙂 I am positive December will be fabulous!

  • Reply chewy November 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I’ve heard about TBEX, but not sure if i’ll make it. I think I’ll be in Spain for a conference (science), but not sure if I can stretch that trip to make it…

    I have that Charles Schwab account and debit card, and it is pretty awesome! hope that you’ll get to reap the benefits soon!
    chewy recently posted…A New Yorker’s bucket list for the holiday season in New YorkMy Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera December 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      It would be awesome if you could go to TBEX! Half the reason I’m so excited is because I’ll finally get to meet so many other bloggers in person 🙂 At this point I’m wondering if I should order a replacement debit card as I’m not sure it’s ever showing up! Haha

      • Reply chewy December 3, 2014 at 8:26 am

        Have you called them? They are pretty nice and helpful over the phone, and I think you get connected to a human straight away. 🙂 good luck! I just got my replacement debit card and it is pretty and shiny! It has lots of different sized squares in the shape of the world map. Pretty cute haha
        chewy recently posted…A New Yorker’s bucket list for the holiday season in New YorkMy Profile

        • Reply LaMochilera December 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

          I haven’t called them about this incident specifically but I have spoken to them on the phone on previous occasions and you’re right, they have awesome customer service. I suppose I will try that here soon because I want my pretty shiny card with a world map on it, damn it!

  • Reply Christie November 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    That’s so exciting about Spain! Despite November being tough it seems like you still achieved a lot – moving to a new city is a big deal and can always take a while to get settled! Onwards and upwards, I’m sure December will be wonderful for you 🙂

    • Reply LaMochilera December 1, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Thank you Christie, I’m feeling pretty good about December as well so hopefully next month’s roundup will be a bit more cheery! Gotta make the most of the last bit of 2014!

  • Reply Jason December 1, 2014 at 1:38 am

    I hope your December has fewer low points. Your apartment looks awesome, and pretty exciting about the TBEX conference and Spain!!

    • Reply LaMochilera December 1, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      I hope so too, Jason! In fact I know so–I’m going to start manifesting an abundance of good luck, damnit! I. Can’t. Wait. For Spain. 😀

  • Reply Martina Donkers December 1, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Hey Leah!

    Sounds like a big month for sure!!

    I love the look of your apartment – and the fact that people approached you, that’s awesome! House hunting can be so stressful, it sounds like that’s one thing that really did go to plan this month. Will you be staying there long or just for a month or two? I’ve often wondered how easy it is tto find medium-term accommodation like that.

    And very exciting about writing for that other website! I love the look of your research – how wonderful. 🙂

    Maybe you should find a park or somewhere nearby where you can work out of the house? I’m the same – when I stay home too many days, I get stir-crazy and sad. But there must be somewhere free and local you could go too.

    Hope December is fabulous!

    Martina
    Martina Donkers recently posted…Learning to dive in FijiMy Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera December 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      You’re totally right, the house hunting thing did go pretty smoothly! I just paid for one month initially in case I decided that I didn’t like the location/roommates/whatever and wanted to find something else, but it’s working out for now–and I’m totally addicted to the free gym! Such a luxury. I can’t imagine giving that up now haha…I imagine I’ll stay in this apartment for the rest of my time in Medellin which is looking like another four months or so.

      Speaking of getting out more–there is this cool cafe not too far from my place that allows people to use their space and their wifi during the day even before they open (all the seating is open air) which is pretty cool and definitely something I should start taking advantage of!

  • Reply Laura December 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Oooh, I was ok until I read about the puss. If it helps, my first cat ran off a day after we brought him home and it took a week to get him back. In a lighter note, congrats about TBEX! I’ll get there one day!
    Laura recently posted…Wanderlust & Envy: Tree houses around the world (and Cornwall)My Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera December 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      We are completely devastated 🙁 Losing animals is the worst, and not knowing what happened is heartbreaking. But yes, TBEX will be awesome, I’m excited to see what all the hype is about! And to visit a new country, of course 🙂

  • Reply Marissa December 1, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Great expression for confirming your ticket to TBEX Spain 🙂 I would be the same way! I’m holding off to hear the North America destination. Cheers to a fantastic December!
    Marissa recently posted…Why My Snowboarding Weekend Led To SkiingMy Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera December 1, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Thank you Marissa! December will be great! I’m dying to hear where the North America conference will be too but I figured now’s as good a time as any to finally get my ass to Europe 🙂

  • Reply Beth December 2, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Sounds like an exciting month! Glad to hear you’ll be going to TBEX, it’s going to be so fun!
    Beth recently posted…The Colorful World of Cinque TerreMy Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera December 2, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      I’m SO excited for TBEX!! Does that mean I’ll see you there? 🙂

  • Reply Justine December 2, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    I feel like I can relate to so much of what you’re going through. Moving to a new city is really weird. It’s also really hard to make the adjustment from being a traveler to actually living somewhere (at least that’s how I feel). Like you, I’ve being doing freelance work. And while I’ve been getting out of the apartment more to do interviews, most of my days are spent in my apartment writing articles, editing photos, and trying my best not to go insane. In my opinion it beats the hell out of having a 9-5 job – so I’m not complaining – but it is really odd when you realize you haven’t spoken to anyone all day or haven’t left the house in two days! Not having regular social interaction has definitely played a large part in the lows I’ve experienced since I moved to Jakarta. Since I’ve started working more in the past month everything has improved exponentially. It’s all huge adjustment and I have no doubt that your next month in review will be full of highlights 🙂 Oh, and so exciting that you’re going to TBEX!! I’ve been daydreaming about going since I first heard about it six months ago. Not sure I’ll actually ever make it there, but it’s so awesome that you’re making it happen. Good for you 🙂 I’m sure you’re feeling incredibly excited!
    Justine recently posted…Ubud, I’m Just Not That Into YouMy Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera December 3, 2014 at 9:35 am

      Yes yes yes, to everything you just said! It’s really strange being isolated all day…I totally get it now why a lot of freelancers or digital nomads go to shared workspaces or coffee shops to work instead of staying at home all day. And I’m with you, I’d take this (even the lows and the uncertainty) over a shitty soul-sucking 9-5 ANY day. I’m hopeful it will get better from here, but it feels good to vent my frustration every now and then and even nicer to know I’m not alone 🙂 Wish you could come to TBEX!

  • Reply Rachel December 4, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Ah I love to read honest travel blog posts that show some emotion! Thanks Leah, I bet it’s tough trying to live abroad while being a bit isolated and worrying about income. Your shit is awesome though so I have faith that you’ll be able to swing it! Also, the Schwab card is great but they are a bit slow on the mailing, transferring money from other accounts, and the refunding of those ATM fees. But I have it and I guess it’s the best option for getting cash while traveling?

    And yeah, I’ve got that nightmare 9 to 5 (really 8:30 to 5:30 ahh) and it’s pretty damn boring, but I’m just continuously saving to I can leave and float around the world for quite a while. I’d much rather work for myself, so to me, you’re living the dream. Great post and Godspeed!
    Rachel recently posted…Street Performers in GuanajuatoMy Profile

    • Reply LaMochilera December 4, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you Rachel! I try to keep it real around here as best I can…god knows travel isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. I’ve been satisfied with Charles Schwab so far and I can’t actually blame the mailing thing on them, it was shipped to my address in the states first and THEN my fam tried mailing it to me here in Colombia. So either it got lost by the postal service or the hostel it was mailed to has neglected to tell me that it’s arrived. I want to blame the postal service for some reason but who knows! I hope you get to float around soon!

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