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After six months traveling in Latin America, I boarded a flight (well, three flights) back home to Chicago. It was a bittersweet journey. Sure, I was ready to eat familiar foods, see my friends and family, be back in a city I love. But I was enjoying Colombia. A lot. A month earlier I was very ready to return home. It was no secret that I just never got into Central America the way I got into Asia and I was just ready to be done with it. But then I arrived in Colombia, and all that turned around. And now...

Carlos turned on the stereo and the son clave beat of a salsa song started blaring through the speakers. He walked over and took my hand, but, just as he was about to lead me into our first basic step, he turned my arm over and looked at my wrist. "Superman?" he asked, pointing to the insignia tattooed there. "Si." He let go of my hand and fished his phone out of his duffel bag, scrolling through his text messages until he got to a point where SUPERMAN was written. His friends called him that, he explained. And I knew I was...

I don't normally add something to my life list only to cross it off that same day. But, as some friends and I were sitting at lunch in Cali discussing the synching up Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz, I mentally added it as number 199. And then, moments later it was decided that that night we would watch it. ...

My private salsa lesson that day had been moved back. And so I had nothing better to do when my friend Yaron asked if anyone wanted to go watch a movie that was being filmed down the block. We headed over the cultural center and watched for an hour as a group of dancers in shiny costumes practiced a salsa routine over and over. At one point, as I was taking a picture, a woman with a badge and a clipboard came running towards us. I quickly turned my camera off, thinking that she was going to come yell at me for...

One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to learn about different cultures and share in traditions from around the world. Most times those customs are from wherever it is I happen to be. But, sometimes, since I meet people from all over too, I get to share in something from somewhere I've never been. I was in Cali for Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish new year. A few Israelis were staying at our hostel and they decided that they would cook dinner for all of us to celebrate. They joked that since none of them were particularly religious they'd...

I loved Medellin, but needed to tear myself away and explore another city or two in Colombia. I mean, it was a nice city and all, but, really, I was doing nothing there. So, after a week and a half, I headed to Cali, the third biggest city in Colombia, with the intent of staying a few days, maybe taking a salsa lesson or two (it is, after all, the salsa capital of Colombia), moving on to the coffee region, and returning to Medellin a week later to spend the remainder of my time. Instead, I ended up staying two and...

  On our first night in Medellin, Poli and I went to one of the concerts for Feria de las Flores. Near the beginning of the night the MC told the crowd to introduce yourself to the others around you. We said hello to a woman and her husband next to us and then throughout the night talked more (well, Poli mostly, as my Spanish is not good at all). When it started to rain they lent us an umbrella. And, before we left, the woman gave us her address and invited us over for lunch the next afternoon. The next day...

Feria de las Flores ‐ a festival of flowers — is a big deal in Medellin, Colombia. Every August the city throws a huge celebration devoted to the beautiful blossoms. For an entire week Paisas, other Colombians, and tourists flock to the city to enjoy decorative figures, parades, flower exhibitions, concerts and parades. I arrived in Medellin towards the end of the week, so I didn't get to enjoy everything, but I did manage to take part in a few of the festivities...

It wasn't love at first sight. Of course, it rarely is. I arrived in Bogota on a Sunday afternoon, after an 8-hour bus ride from San Gil, and opted for a too-expensive taxi into town. Pointing to one of the recommended hostels in my Lonely Planet, I told the taxi driver, "Aqui." On the way, as we drove through the city, he reached back and locked my door and pointed to the other side for me to lock that one too. Watching out the window everything seemed slightly deserted, slightly dreary. When we arrived at the address in my guidebook, down one of...

That's not to say that I did absolutely nothing in San Gil. Though most of my time was spent in my pajamas glued to Netflix, I did force myself away one morning, and took a 40 minute bus ride to the nearby village of Barichara. And Barichara was lovely. Stone streets, whitewashed thatched homes, a brick cathedral. And then I took a walk through the Camino Real, plodding a cobblestone path, seeing only a few locals here and there. enjoying the immense scenery that unfolded below me....