Have you ever had a dream that kept you awake at night?
A dream that would make you look at your world differently?
A dream irking you when your mind should be at rest?
The type of dream that you could not imagine finding the resources for?
My dreams were all about me being free.
I started sharing my visions with everyone – friends, family, colleagues, and strangers. Anyone that would listen.
I wanted to travel.
Not just take trips.
I wanted to travel the world.
And so, I found a colleague that takes an international trip on every single school break and asked her adivce.
She told me to go.
And boy did I go.
But first, a little more about me.
The traveling teacher
Every year by day I am Ms Leanna. A teacher in a classroom full of adolscents.
It is a combination of grueling and rewarding. Sometimes, more the former than the latter.
Tales of Elle
But every summer… And most weekends… Shoot, any night I can be…
I am Elle.
And I am usually planning my next adventure… Or authoring a new tale.
And Herstun asked me here a long time ago to give you a little piece of me.
And in my experience, traveling to a new place gives an excitement that can only be felt.
Its better than the last bell ringing and all the halls emptying of students for the semester…
(Or maybe not! Ha. Not much better than that.)
Something made me want to stop looking at other people live their life and live my own.
I decided to hit the streets, the international streets that is!
Why the hell not?
Along came this awesome fare for a trip to….
I was laying on my couch eyeing other people’s travel pics when the deal popped across my timeline.
$137 from Orlando, Florida to Bogota, Colombia.
We aren’t talking about Hilton Head, South Carolina.
I was going out of the country.
To Latin America. To COLOMBIA.
I was beyond excited about this trip.
The first thing I did was inbox all my friends and family to see if anyone wanted to join me.
I didn’t get any responses.
Well, I booked the ticket anyway.
Of course, I was afraid because I knew nothing about Colombia.
Eventually, my best friend signed on to join me and the planning began. All we had were flights for months! It caused me so much anxiety trying to plan a trip to another country that no one I knew had been to recently.
I told other folks that I was going and got plenty of mixed reactions.
It was my first international trip.
Almost missed the flight ✈️
The deal was from Orlando, so we drove down and stayed the night with my brother.
My friend was calm on the drive from Georgia to Florida and it soothed my anxiety about the trip.
My brother dropped me and my travel buddy at the airport in the morning.
We were flying on Copa Airlines.
The line wasn’t long, but you had a lot of families flying to Panama, which was our connecting flight.
Mothers, fathers, and grandparents shuttled kids and several huge suitcases along behind them.
At the ticketing booth, I noticed that my ticket had been changed from my friends’ ticket.
Our connecting flight from Panama was different.
After arguing with the people who tried to charge me $175 to change the ticket, they offered the change for $25. I was mad, but I took it. It was 6:50 AM and the flight was leaving at 7:58 AM.
By the time we got the ticketing situation corrected our flight was already boarding.
The customer service check-in lady had to walk us through the TSA line.
We skipped over the hundreds of people.
What should’ve of taken us like 1 hour or more of wait time, took us only 13 minutes.
Believe me, those people in the line were mad.
We finally make it to the plane at 7:30ish. Everyone is already on the plane and ready to go. We are the last to get on. I believe we were the only Black people on the flight too 😂.
I was concerned because I never heard of Copa Airlines.
The plane we got on was super nice.
There was a personal tv screen in front of you.
I put my headphones in and started watching, How To Be Single.
The movies were free and new!!
We were served breakfast and it was good too.
Stepping into a new world
We landed and had a car waiting for us. Our hotel was about 30 minutes away.
I spoke very little Spanish, but my friend ended up being the translator.
The hotel was extremely nice and super cheap.
If I had to judge the area in terms of Atlanta, Georgia – It would be like the Buckhead of Bogota.
The hotel provided breakfast every morning!
Bougie in Colombia
We found an awesome driver for the day. His name was Luis. He is an Afro-Latino.
He spoke 0 English lol, but we made it work.
It was about 27 Colombian pesos to get to the Gold museum area where we were set to meet our tour guide. The excursion was a free walking tour of Bogota.
We were running late because of traffic.
I would never want to drive in Bogota. It would be too scared.
The drivers are aggressive and will turn right all the way from the left lane 😳.
Luis, our driver, asked how we were getting back to the hotel.
He was concerned for our safety. Apparently in Bogota it’s not safe to call for a taxi off the street.
You have to call or pre-arrange a taxi. They were some not so pleasant stories about taxi drivers taking advantage of customers flagging them on the street.
My favorite activity in Colombia
Free walking tour —
This tour was led by an awesome guide who told us everything about the history and culture of Bogota.
We drank chicha, a popular local corn beer.
The tour group was diverse consisting of Canadians and Europeans. We were the only Americans plus the only black folk 😁.
The beauty and the culture of the place is indescribable.
The people seemed to have a voice there. They have purpose and passion and the desire to drive change.
We saw about 3 protests in 5 days.
The government put a special net on older buildings so that the protestors don’t throw paintballs and ruin the historical architecture.
There was even an illegal trading market in the middle of the plaza.
The people were illegally trading emeralds in broad daylight. It was a blantant attack on the authority of the state.
The police didn’t do anything about it 😳.
Have you ever had a dream that kept you awake?
And long story short, my first big international trip was a complete success story.
There were pitfalls and struggles, but mostly memories and new lessons.
But, this is just the beginning.
After all, my dream insisted that I see the WORLD.
Colombia was just page 1.
Until our next adventures together,
Written By Traveling Elle. Edited By Herstun.
I really wanted to pair Elle with Lizzo’s song Like a Girl.
The entire article was edited to the pop-soul beats of Lizzo’s debut album Cuz I Love You. There is something powerful and feminine about Elle’s story that should make us all a bit envious.
Imagine how powerful it must be for your subconscious to speak your reality. And you listen. Ha. I think Elle will see the world. I hope she takes us along for the ride.
Work that shit girl. I hope you woke up feeling like you just might run for president when you got home. Even if there ain’t no precedent. Do it. All of it. Let’s grow.
I know y’all peep how fly the homie is too right….? 👀 Hit her up with all your questions on Colombian travel. Especially your tall, dark and intelligent questions. Lmao. Lizzo making the editor bold you guys. Let me go on to bed. Make sure you stay tuned though. Because it is an adventure all YEAR long on Herstun FM Readio.
If you enjoy Traveling Elle then check out the ten names in Black adventure that you should know!
Note: Not all of these pictures were taken in Colombia. For information contact the Writer or Traveling Elle.