I booked my flight last week!
I fly out from Philadelphia to Atlanta to Bogotá, Colombia on may 8th. On June 22nd, I fly from Bogotá, Colombia to Lima, Peru. A week later on June 29th, I fly from Lima, Peru to Sao Paulo, Brazil. I finish up with Rio De Janeiro back to Atlanta and finally Philadelphia on August 3rd.
I would have normally booked my flights directly with the airlines. But in this case with a multi-city ticket, it worked out far cheaper with a travel agent. I contacted a few travel companies to help me plan and book the flights (STA Travel, Exito Travel. etc.). The total cost with taxes was $1,165.30. It may sound like a lot but I think it’s a great deal considering round trip flights to Brazil usually start at $1000+…
I hear mixed reactions whenever I tell people about my plans. But traveling is one of the easiest and most rewarding things I have done. Think about it. A bed and food are my only needs. I have no other responsibilities. Sure, i may feel a bit uneasy in each new place when I first arrive, but that feeling only lasts for a short time. I hope get rid of the routine I have at home, as its the best way to open myself to new experiences. Maybe I will discover a new hobby, friendship, etc. I learn the most about myself when I allow myself to take in whatever comes my way, which is only possible when I have little expectations.
Last summer, i went abroad on my own. I was only ever able to rely on myself which was challenging and rewarding. I made new friends, navigated foreign cities, depended on the kindness of people, etc. I chose the places to visit, but what I did in each place was determined by chance.
Travel is about getting lost on purpose. Wandering around places and seeing what happens (safely of course). “Travel” is not possible in short time period because responsibilities still exist. I chose to just travel instead of studying abroad in a summer program or working because eve abroad, the responsibilities such as having to return to work every Monday or not having a host family that expect me back at a certain time prohibit this. I need that complete freedom that allows me to make basic yet big decisions, as that is what traveling is all about for me.
For example, when I arrived in Medellin, i wandered into a free concert for a week-long flower festival. At the concert I met a people and for the next few days I we spent a lot of time together enjoying the city and the festival. It’s also a necessity to be able to change my plans at a moments notice for when I meet a new friend with similar desires, and we decide to travel together. Maybe we would both plan on going to the same place but on different dates. But with no concrete plans, we can go whenever we want.
Travel is of course just plain fun! Whitewater rafting through the jungle or partying in a club on the 41st floor of the old Hilton hotel overlooking Bogota. Exploring beautiful foreign cities with great friends that you may only have known for a few days but understand you better than almost anyone else is amazing. Going out at night with friends and dancing and meeting new people in an environment where i feel like i can act however because almost everyone there is a complete stranger at first is refreshing. I love it. If i am going to make the effort to travel I need to do what interests me, which is selfish but necessary.
Like just about any country that I visit, i developed an extreme liking for Colombia. Such a great liking that I chose to return to Colombia instead of going anywhere else in the world.
I’ll be heading to Peru because it’s a free stopover and will give me a taste of the country. I don’t have that much interest in visiting Peru but it will be interesting to visit nevertheless.
Brazil has always been a country I have wanted to visit more than almost any other. The country seems almost magical from the descriptions i have read, videos i have watched, and the music i have heard. I am really looking forward to hanging out in Rio. The beaches and nightlife should be excellent. I will travel up along the coast visiting other cities like Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza, etc. There is apparently a mini- Carnival in Fortaleza that i plan to go to.
As for safety in Brazil, “mostly, Brazil gets a bad rap for being very violent. A majority of the violence in Brazil, however, occurs within the slums in and around Rio and Sao Paulo The “favelas”
are places where drug lords control everything, down to who eats and who doesn’t. I would venture to guess that probably 65-75% of Brazil’s violent crime takes place in these neighborhoods. It’s so bad because the police don’t have the manpower to get inside them and maintain control. There are LOTS of organizations both within and outside Brazil trying to change this. Unfortunately, its a difficult task in that many kids inside these favelas are delivering drugs for food and small amounts of cash (instead of studying) by the age of 5 or 6.
“Anyway, you are not going to find yourself in one of these places unless you park your car, walk up a hillside and decide to go there on your own. One thing the police tend to focus on is keeping these people away from the tourist spots. In Rio, they have stepped up police presence with little kiosks every few hundred yards so you always know a police officer is nearby.”