We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care of what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.
— Swami Vivekananda
Waking with the same excitement I had from the first day of my travels, I am packed and ready to head to Costa Rica for the eighth time, but this time my final destination will not only be a new country but a new continent. It still amazes me that I can travel from San Juan del Sur to the small transit town of Rivas and on to Penas Blancas before boarding another local bus to San Jose all for under $12. After more than 9 hours I arrive in San Jose and bound for my friend Melissa’s hostel, Galileo, that she manages. Having met her and Bitney when they came to do visa runs and stay at the Surfing Donkey I promised them that the next time I found myself in San Jose I would stay at their place. Just as I walked through the door and was greeted by one of her staff, I saw Melissa walking down the narrow hallway and before I knew it we were embraced in a hug. The friends that you make whilst traveling is unlike anything you can explain to those back home. Warm embraces from those that you meet even for a few days feels as though they are long lost friends.
On my flight in to Bogota I sat next to an older gentleman that appeared to be a business traveler that gave me some great information about the location I was supposed to meet Char in an area of the city called Caldera. He informed me of what I should pay for a taxi, this is always helpful information, because I cannot tell you how often you will get ripped off and end up paying double of triple. I’ve learned to always negotiate, if possible, a flat rate fee for your destination. As I was waiting in a que for a taxi I overheard another couple from Brazil asking about the same location I was heading and spoke with them about sharing a taxi to reduce the cost. As the three of us piled in the taxi for the 25-minute ride, our driver was an 80-year-old man that was the sweetest guy. He continued to ask us questions after welcoming us to his country and while doing so he reached in to his glove box and pulled out some coins and gave each of us a Colombian peso as a way of welcoming us. After doing this he asked if there was anything we had from our countries that we could give him since he had never met anyone from Brazil or the United States. We each gave him a coin and I have never seen someone so happy to receive a gift. Upon reaching my hostel I felt compelled to give him an American dollar since he was so interested that I was Asian, but also from the United States. At this moment tears began to fill his eyes for this gratitude, but for me it was an experience I will always remember for my first time in Colombia.