Travel prep enters overdrive

I plan on smuggling a small Colombian child into the U.S. in that 75-liter pack. (Photo credit: Mama Hurtik with Blake's recently purchased camera, the first of his life.)

Things are happening, my friends.

Amanda and I leave for Colombia in a mere eight days, and I’m doing my best not to freak out. It helps when you have a seemingly endless amount of things to plan for: reserving hostels/hotels, figuring out what all we have to buy, pacifying an eternally worried mother, combating scary diseases and the like. So we’re entering crunch time here and I’m learning a few things.

1.) Hostel-hopping is likely going to be a crapshoot. To make it clear, this is not a five-star vacation. We’re not going the “book a bunch of guided tours and don’t worry about anything route.” We’re carving our own path through Colombia and that means finding our own cheap, yet (hopefully) nice accommodations. After living on tripadvisor.com, the Lonely Planet forums, hostelworld.com and the like, I’ve decided one thing: when we return, the first thing I’m doing is writing reviews for every hostel we stay in. There is plenty of info our there on the really well known ones that are consistently touted in the guidebooks, but those suffer from that exact fate and are often overcrowded and more run down. We’re taking some chances on some new places that are highly recommended by a small sample size. I’m hoping that we can add positive feedback to help out future travelers. So will we end up in the Ritz Carlton of hostels or living in crap holes? Time will tell, but that’s just a part of the experience.

No, not that kind...

2.) Yellow fever ain’t nothin’ to screw with. At the beginning, we didn’t give much thought to any vaccinations because none are required to enter the country like other places. But after researching it a bit, one of our destinations (Tayrona National Park) is at a higher risk for the disease and to enter any national park in Colombia you (technically) have to have been immunized for yellow fever. After reading a bit about the disease (it’s transmitted by mosquitos and we’ve heard that it has anywhere from a 15- to a mind-boggling 50-percent mortality rate), we decided to get the shot. Today we got the immunization and it kicks in in 10 days, well before we’ll be in the at-risk region. So, rest easy everyone.

Coincidentally, I'll be wearing my Emmitt Smith jersey ca. 1994 while in the airport.

3.) We have a couple of really, really long layovers. We found really cheap flights to and from Bogotá. Like $560 round-trip cheap. But, alas, that bargain comes at a cost. We depart DFW at 6:40 a.m. next Wednesday and arrive in Colombia at…7:30 p.m. That means we have an almost-six-hour layover in Mexico City (we’re flying Mexicana). And that’s where you come in, loyal reader. What can we possibly do to pass the time in a Mexican airport with no laptops (don’t want to risk them getting stolen) other than the usual reading/sleeping? Be creative! It’s fun!

I’ll post our travel itinerary when it’s 100 percent locked down to give you all an exact idea of where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing. And since we won’t have a laptop, I won’t be blogging a whole bunch while there, though I hope to make a few posts through the computers where we’re staying. I’ll be keeping a hand-written journal, though, and will have a full report upon returning.

So, give me those boredom-fighting suggestions!

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Travel prep enters overdrive

  1. Rick Pitino

    Find an Italian restaurant at the airport and have sex there. Except that only takes me 30 seconds so it might not kill much of your time.

  2. After looking over this blog post I took a look around the site. You have done a good job gathering all this information.

  3. well without a tv or working laptop for my semester in argentina, i was always looking for ways to kill large chunks of time when i wasn’t doing anything…

    most of the hostels i stayed in in s. am. had a pretty decent book library and they let travelers take books if they left one. and other travelers often wanted to trade… so buy a couple of cheap paperback books from half price that you can read, swap, trade out later for others at hostels and then leave behind altogether to make more room for souvenirs/things you gather along the way. i think i read 17 or 18 books.

    buy a puzzler/crossword pack… that’s all i did for 8 hours at immigration/visa department.

    download a tv series to your ipod.

    bring a glue stick and glue in your bus tickets, matchstick boxes, stubs, etc. into your journal.

    …hope y’all have a great trip. south america is really a magical place — there’s nothing like it.

  4. John

    Whenever I think of you from now on, it will forever be the image of you with that backpack.

    And to kill time, Phase 10 is a pretty badass card game. Might only work with 3+ people, so might have to make a friend.

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