On Thursday, December 1st I sat down to try and do some Happy Nomad Tour “administrative” things. I used to stay a month ahead in terms of planning, but I’ve long given that up and take comfort in knowing where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing 24-hours in the future.
My brother, who planned to visit me January 3rd in Cartagena, Colombia has been dragging his feet. For two months he’s been telling me he would buy the plane ticket tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.
As I talked to my brother, he asked if he could come a bit later – like two weeks later. Initially this bothered me greatly. We had already agreed on the dates and I had already paid my deposit on my boat from Panama to Colombia.
Given the holidays, my transportation situation was difficult and fully dependent on when he wanted to come. Since he wanted to come early in January, I had to arrive 11 days before him on the last boat from Panama for the year. By the way, you have to either fly or sail from Panama to Colombia as there are no roads linking the two countries given the dense forest.
So I told him no, I didn’t want him to change the date and I didn’t want to have to hang around Cartagena for a month waiting for him.
Then I went to Google Maps to figure out what to do for the 11 days I would have until he arrived. I preferred to get out of Cartagena so I could explore it with my brother when he arrives. I also didn’t want to be alone for the holidays.
So my first step after having the crazy idea of going to Venezuela, seeing that the major city of Maracaibo was close to Colombia, was to email Luis.
I got an almost instant response from him! And he’s from Maracaibo! And he’ll be there for Christmas! And I’m invited!
I thought he was from Caracas since he is working there. But no, he’s from Maracaibo. Incredible.
So, I decided for sure to add Venezuela to The Happy Nomad Tour! I had no intention of visiting Venezuela from the start. When I started The Happy Nomad Tour, Luis, a colleague of mine from my MBA in Spain, sent me a really nice email inviting me to his homeland of Venezuela if I get the chance. He said he’d take care of anything/everything I’d need.
The problem was that if I arrive in Cartagena on the 23rd as planned, even if it’s first thing in the morning, I’ll have a hard time getting to Maracaibo in one day. Given the craziness of the holidays with lots of people traveling, things didn’t look good. He would go back to Caracas on the 26th. If there were no buses on Christmas Day, then I would arrive in Maracaibo on the 26th.
So then I contacted the hostel in Panama City that manages the boat reservations. I was able to get myself on a boat leaving the 10th of December. Shortening my time in Panama bought me ample time in getting to Venezuela so I could spend Christmas with family!
In reality, I barely spoke to Luis during our MBA. Our paths just didn’t really cross since we were in different classes. But call it Latin culture, call it the family-bond that is the IE Community, call it what you will. But it’s going to be wonderful and I already feel welcomed and relaxed.
I called my brother back and told him to go ahead and book the tickets for mid-January. He said he’d do it tomorrow. (it’s now several tomorrow’s later, still no tickets..)
Now I’ll have time to explore Venezuela a bit and volunteer before meeting my brother In Cartagena in mid-January!
And thus, in the span of about an hour I made a huge change to The Happy Nomad Tour route, journey, etc. And if all this coming together so nicely weren’t enough, Eli, my first couchsurfing host on this trip back in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, will be in Venezuela when I’m there. I’m sure we’ll see each other. Extremely cool!
Sometimes everything just seems to work out – Thanksgiving being a great example. I think it helps when you are open to changes and being flexible though. When my brother asked to change the dates, I initially got angry. But when I started looking for other solutions, I found something even better. And I’m sure there’s an allegory for everyday life in that lesson. Sometimes by embracing change you get a better result than fighting it.
The more I travel and think about happiness, the more it seems like the keys are:
- Finding satisfaction in simplicity/what you have and
- Being open/flexible with life and change
So, in this holiday season of “giving”, think about what you really need in life, what you don’t need and where such things could be better used, and how to give up some control and better roll with the punches life throws at you.