La Gringa: Moving To Colombia

My name is Lauren (@laurenlagringalatina). I am from Omaha Nebraska, I’m 100% American and I moved to Medellin Colombia in 2017 after developing a profound interest and love for the Latin culture and language. This deep interest was developed over the span of many years from the time I was 13 and began studying Spanish to later years when I traveled to the Dominican Republic (9 days), El Salvador (3 months), and Lima Peru (1 year). 

When you live abroad, every single day is an adventure. It enriches your life to understand the perspectives of others and to witness and share in a culture that is not yours. By being here in Latin America, I can better understand what it feels like to be the minority in the same way that Latinos experience in my country. It inevitably contributes to opening your mind and makes you a better world citizen. While developing a deeper understanding of another culture, you learn more about, not only your own culture and country, but yourself as a human being as well.

The Latin American culture and people have greatly impacted the person that I am today, and I’ve also become hugely aware of the challenges, history, and impact the Latin communities have had on the United States. This may sound cheesy but I consider it my lifelong mission to continue to connect with and learn about Latin American cultures so that one day when I go back to the U.S I can support the Latinx population wherever possible while also making my own community more aware of the challenges Latinos face in our society. 

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Currently, I connect with and work with travel brands that promote travel in the region of Colombia as well as other Latin American countries.

Living abroad is not always easy though, and definitely comes with its challenges. I miss my family and the typical luxuries of a developed country that I was accustomed to having back in the States, such as online shopping, access to a car, and cheap peanut butter. I have also learned along the way as an expat that it can be difficult to grow solid long-term friendships with the people of the country you’re living in, especially when the people of that country don’t always share the same values as you do. We grew up with completely different life experiences and perspectives that we might not get along on those deeper levels for a strong friendship to flourish. This is why all of my best friends here in Medellin happen to be Colombian-American, born and raised in the States but live here just like me.

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I know that it is not common to find a white girl (gringa) like me with such a passion and admiration for a culture that is not hers, which is why I often do not relate with so many other white American girls who move here. I have devoted so many years to learning the language and understanding the people of Latin America, and this isn’t just a “phase” for me. I always planned on settling in Latin America long term, but even when I eventually move back State-side, I know that I will need to live in a city that has a large Latin influence. I hold this culture very dear to my heart and it has become a part of who I am as I continue living out my experiences in the context of it. I love getting to know and connecting with individuals who exhibit pride in where they come from and want to share their culture with everyone they meet. Culture makes us who we are and to embrace that, brings color to our world!

9 Best Hiking and Waterfall Experiences

Check out some of the most amazing hiking/ waterfall views and what it meant for of us to add hiking as part of our travel experince!

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¡Eche un vistazo a algunas de las vistas más increíbles de senderismo y cascada y lo que significó para nosotros agregar senderismo como parte de su experiencia de viaje!

#1 Aventura en Pico Rodadero: Yauco Puerto Rico  🇵🇷 

Girasol.Tropical
Aventura en Pico Rodadero 🇵🇷@girasol.tropical

Les compartiré un poco de información sobre el pueblo de Yauco.  A Yauco se le conoce como el pueblo del café y esta localizado en la región Suroeste de Puerto Rico.  Pico Rodadero se encuentra a unos 873 pies sobre el nivel del mar, siendo uno de los espacios mas altos de la región Sur y esta situado en el barrio Sierra Alta.

Mi experiencia y aventura de senderismo en el Pico Rodadero fue muy gratificante.  La caminata es de unos 30 a 40 minutos aproximadamente, todo dependerá de la condición física.  Es recomendable utilizar ropa apropiada, meriendas y bebidas hidratantes. Se logra apreciar la costa Sur y el interior de Puerto Rico.  Luego de una caminata ardua, que mejor regalo que este, lograr estar en completa paz y unidad con la madre naturaleza. Ya situados en el lugar, es un tiempo totalmente enriquecedor para el alma.  Aprecias desde las alturas, la naturaleza y los animales que en ella habitan.

Les insto e invito a que vivan experiencias que te roben el aliento y guardes en tu memoria, momentos únicos y que beneficien tu cuerpo. Gracias por leerme y por la oportunidad de exponer mi escrito. 

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I will share a little information about the town of Yauco. Yauco is known as the coffee town and is located in the Southwest region of Puerto Rico. Pico Rodadero is located about 873 feet above sea level, being one of the highest spaces in the South region and is located in the Sierra Alta neighborhood.

My hiking adventure and experience at Pico Rodadero was very rewarding. The walk is about 30 to 40 minutes, everything will depend on physical condition. It is recommended to use appropriate clothing, snacks and hydrating drinks. On this hike you will appreciate the South Coast region and the interior Puerto Rico. After an arduous walk, what a better gift than this, to be in complete peace and unity with mother nature. Once you are located in the peak of the hike, it is a totally enriching time for the soul. You appreciate the view from above, the nature and the animals that inhabit it.

I urge and invite you to live experiences that steal your breath and keep in your memory, unique moments and that benefit your body. Thank you for reading me and for the opportunity to present my writing.

#2 Cascade El Chiflón: Chiapas Mexico 🇲🇽

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Cascade El Chiflón -Chiapas Mexico 🇲🇽@somewherewithsara

Cascadas el Chiflón in Chiapas is one of the most amazing places we visited in Mexico. The area offers multiple waterfalls along a turquoise river with small walkways formed by the petrified water. The sight is absolutely breathtaking. 

We were expecting a huge crowd of people so we started the hike at 7am and surprisingly didn’t see another person until 10am so we had time for the 1km hike up to Velo de Novia and took several swims and many photos along the way. I recommend spending the whole day here to fully enjoy the beautiful area. It’s a great place to be and enjoyed by an entire family, both young and old. 

I suggest bringing snacks and a good pair of walking shoes with a bit of grip as it can get a bit slippery but there are railing the majority of the way which saves the day. The whole area is truly magical like taken from a fairytale, and I can’t wait to go back one day!

# 3 Choquequirao: Cusco, Peru 🇵🇪

Latinatraveler
Choquequirao, Cusco, Peru 🇵🇪 – @latinatraveler

When you hear Peru many people automatically think of Machu Picchu because they haven’t heard of a similar Incan ruin called Choquequirao. It requires a minimum 2 day, 1 night hike but even that’s pushing it. It’s recommended to do it in 3 days, 2 nights to be able to fully experience the ruins.

The views along the way and back were beyond impressive and thankfully we had amazing weather. Since this area is much less known you’ll barely run into any tourists so you don’t have to worry about sticking to a route around the site. This picture was taken at one of the lookout points that had this view on one side and the Incan ruins on the other. Hiking these trails and seeing these views and ruins makes me proud of my Peruvian background and culture. I hope others get to enjoy its beauty just as much as I do!

# 4 Lion’s Head: Cape Town, South Africa 🇿🇦

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Lion’s Head, Cape Town, South Africa 🇿🇦@cynthia719

Thanks to one of my travel buddies for taking this pic. I was smiling for the camera but I was so scared! A smooth walk in the entrance turned into rock scrambling, then into ladders, metal handles to short metal chains to grab onto to keep from not falling. By far, the most mentally challenging hike of my life. 

# 5 Minnewaska State Park: Ulster County, New York 🇺🇸

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Minnewaska State Park, Ulster County, New York @cynthia719

As much as I love to travel, I also love to discover my home state of New York. Hiking up to Gertrude’s Nose made me realize how much beauty my home has to offer.

# 6 Semuc Champey: Guatemala 🇬🇹

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Semuc Champey is located in Guatemala. It was one of my best hiking experiences and favorite, the experience overall was one of a kind for me as I traveled alone, camped out in the mountains, and after hiking to see this view I got to tube down the river right to where I was staying. Semuc is also becoming popular with travelers and a must see.

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# 7 Unamed trail: Gomboa Rainforest 🇵🇦

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Unamed trail and waterfall: Gomboa @suenosdeunaviajera

The Gomboa Rainforest has many unmarked and unnamed trails. We booked our hike via trip advisor not expecting that our hike would be wet, lonely, and a bit scary. 

Our trail was a little off of where most tourists go for hikes. I was very scared! Hiking in Panama is definitely not the same as in many US state parks. We didn’t have a trail to follow or knew where to step. Our tour guide made the way for us while cutting trees and plants with his machete but for the most part slipping and falling was a terrible experience since many of the plants and trees had hard thornes. While it was a scary experience, I would do this anytime anywhere! 

We were also expecting a crowd in our tour but my husband and I were lucky to have a private tour. We made our way around 5am for a two hour ride to the forest. The hike took 2 hours and our end view was this amazing unnamed waterfall (which there are many in the Gomboa Rainforest).

# 8 Bali’s Mount Batur 🇮🇩

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Bali’s Mount Batur @stellula__

I’ve gone on many hikes but hiking Bali’s Mount Batur in the dark, starting at midnight was very a unique experience. As was nearly crashing into a giant spider web, being harassed by mountain monkeys and peeing in the dark worried some mystery creature would bite my bum. The sunrise was breathtaking, something I couldn’t fully capture in pictures or words. It’s an experience I will never forget.

# 9 Raymondskill Falls PA 🇺🇸

@_la.conquistadora
Raymondskill Falls PA @_la.conquistadora 

I’m a girl from the big city, but love being in nature. I’ve taken up hiking recently to ground me spiritually and guide me to my higher self. I aspire to start my own blog to share local hiking trails, as well as my journey to self-growth and self-love. Not far from the NY state line, Raymondskill Falls is located in PA. The falls were unlike anything I have seen – the trail was well pathed and offered three different levels of views.

5 Ways To Stay Travel Motivated

There are a few things that motivate me to travel. For the most part, when I feel that I am stuck in a day-to-day routine my motivation is to not to feel tired from a routine that can cause anxiety and depression. So, imagine traveling from New York City to Thailand, a place that can change a person’s perspective and spirituality. The secret is in adding a few extra minutes into your daily routine that can allow you to stay motivated. 

#1 Do something new at home, like joining a social club, growth track in your church, a program, or meditating. Untitled design-3

Recently I was brought into a group hosted by the Owner of Latino World Travelers called 21 Days of Abundance. With the recent coronavirus pandemic, staying home on the weekends has allowed me to focus more on my blog and business Viajerx and co. This program is designed to help you develop abundance in your daily life. When I was invited, my original thought was do I even have time? But as I moved along in the program I realized time is something we have in abundance; it’s how you use your time that is important. Being a part of the 21 Days of Abundance program has allowed me to meditate on what I want for my life which of course is Mas Aventuras! 

#2 Planning your escape or making a list of countries Untitled design-3

Working or barely working? We usually have at least 1 hour of downtime in our jobs (daily or weekly) or maybe your job has its “slow seasons”. What I do with my downtime is blogging or adding countries to my online bucket list. I normally have a google doc with a list of places to see, but recently I made an account with bucketlist.org a site that helps organize your goals and aspirations. Check it out here! 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13f6d#4 Satisfy yourself Untitled design-3

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.” John Wooden

So It’s okay to think about you and you only. 

#5 Forget about privilege Untitled design-3

If you start with a complaint: “she travels because she has it good, she travels because she is rich, she travels because she has the time,” you are implying that someone has privilege you don’t have. While it can be true, many people were born into adversity and had or still feel they have to go against the odds, however, they dreamt/dream big and now have an earned privilege. You can have that too if you motivate yourself and stop putting the odds of reaching your travel goals in the forefront! 

Good things are meant to happen to you!

 

 

Dubai: My packing experince

I would need to admit Dubai was truly the hardest destination to pack for! Dubai is definitely THE hotspot with a mixture of different cultures and styles, what to wear was my biggest concern!

At times I didnt know what to wear!

Did I expect to not have anything to wear!? Untitled design-3

In case you are wondering, I had lots to wear. I was simply overly concerned about being respectful to middle eastern cultures. For the most part, I packed extra-long dresses sort of like maxi dresses, long sleeves dresses, and skirts, BUT it was hot, all the time! It was a little stressful, but packing long sleeves dresses and skirts are a must to respect middle eastern culture and for mosque entry.

Now, where I went wrong was that for the most part there are many tourist areas in Dubai and western fashion is very visible and common. There were many women with shorts, short sleeves, and on some occasions, I would wear long shirts and was melting away!!! I would say I was more concerned about the looks I would get if I wore western clothing.

What to wear in certain areas is important! Untitled design-3

On our trip, we visited Old and New Dubai. Just like its name Old Dubai is the traditional area of Dubai and New Dubai is modern and more western in terms of how tourist dress. We stayed in New Dubai and I do regret not packing an equal amount of modest and more western like clothing.

What I wish I did pack to Dubai! Untitled design-3

Aside from packing clothing and not balancing the amount of western-style clothing vs. modest clothing, here are some items I didn’t pack that in a future trip to Dubai I will and you should too!

  • Mini travel fan: I saw this a lot and boy it is needed. It’s very hot in Dubai and dry. A mini travel fan is a great investment for a trip to Dubai and many other places.
  • Dubai Power Adapter: Belive it or not, I didn’t have one at the time. We lucked out because our hotel also had western outlets. Its a must just in case it’s needed in other areas.
  • Scarf: I didn’t pack a Scarf !!!!!!!!!!! but did buy one in Dubai. It’s needed and should be carried at all times in case you need to cover up quickly.
  • Travel size perfume: You need a refresher!
  • Hat: Will help with the sun
  • Large backpack for water etc: I was too fashionable packed cute purses but nothing large enough to have water bottles, fans, etc.
  • Long Socks: Yes you might need it for no skin show in different areas and mosques.
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Burj Khalifa

I hope this helps you plan better! Do your research! Here are some cool sites to see!

  • Burj Khalifa
  • The Dubai Mall
  • Walk around the Jumeirah Lakes
  • The Atlantis in Dubai
  • Dubai Museum
  • Burj Al Arab
  • Jumeirah Mosque Towers

Planning your vacation

I get a lot of messages from my friends and family on how I plan my vacations. I know the word planning can cause some stress, but it can be fun, I promise.

Is planning my vacations alone a headache? Hell yeah. Its hard, especially when you are also planning a group vacation where most have to come down to a consensus. In this post I’ll show you my process and the tools I use to organize my thoughts. Planning your vacations helps you stay organize and it may help you with obtaining a better travel experience. FIRST THING FIRST THIS IS NOT FOR LAZY PEOPLE! If you “don’t have time” it’s because YOU don’t create the time. So please leave the excuse and just do what you want to do and make the time.

With the help and experience of many travel blogger I follow these 7 great planning tips:

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# 1 Where are you going?

After the endless nights of searching on the web of course, before your plan a trip you want to know where you want to go. You don’t want to start the organization process and then change your mind to then start all over!

# 2 After you are sure of where you are going, think about the weather and the best time to go and where to stay.

On our trip to Panana we choose to go during rain season primary because it was more affordable. It did rain, but like many tropical countries the sun never fails, it always peaks out and you can soon enjoy the sun and catch a tan.

# 3 Find the most affordable flights

There are a few sites and apps I use! For Panama we booked our hotel and flight via Expedia, but if your booking flight and stay separate these are my go to flight search engines:

https://www.hopper.com

“Hopper predicts prices with 95% accuracy up to 1 year in advance. No ads, no spam, no stress — just accurate predictions and the easiest way to book and save.”

https://www.skyscanner.com

“We’ve made it our mission to lead the global transformation to modern and sustainable travel. We’re at the start of our journey, but commited to make a positive impact. Here are some of the changes we’re making.”

https://www.google.com/flights

Google has it all!

# 4 Budget  your trip

Did you know there are travel budgeting apps? Well yes, that’s how I started. It was cool in the beginning but can be hard to keep track. Now its easier for me to plan trips 9-10 months in advance and pay as I progress closer to the trip. If you can manage your debt it works to use credit cards that accumulates travel points for future adventures.

Here are some budget apps!  

Last but not least,

# 6 Book and Organize

When all is booked now its time to use Google to Organize your flight, stay, and things to do. Here is how I organized my trip to Panama using Google Slides.

Panama 2019