Remote Year: Halfway Point

Jessica Sturdy of the travel blog Bows & Sequins at Machu Picchu in Peru on Remote Year Kahlo. Jessica is holding a Canon 5D Mark III camera and wearing a back pack, Lululemon long sleeve tee, black Lululemon leggings, and Adidas UltraBoost sneakers.

Wow, what a month. I truly can’t believe we’re halfway done with our 4-month Remote Year program at this point. Where has the time gone?! It’s a very sobering thought to think that we’ve all been together longer than we have left together.

I’m not sure where to even begin with month two, but let’s start from the beginning, right where we left off the day before I left Lima… Lima seems like a lifetime ago, truly. It seems like a year’s worth of life was lived this past month in Medellin. It was quite the long travel day to get to Colombia from Peru on that Saturday, as we were dealing with a flight cancellation and another flight delay, too. We went out late on our first night here in Medellin and it all caught up with me on that first Sunday – one part hangover, one part stomach bug, one part exhaustion from a go-go-go month and not sleeping much that last week in Lima. I was horizontal for about 20 hours on that Sunday and Monday… Not a great start to the week, but I was determined to pick myself back up and start the week (and month) off on the right foot. Little did I know, that would be an all too common theme here in Medellin. This month was mentally and emotionally exhausting, but even so, I really, really loved Medellin. (Yes, even though my wallet got stolen.)

Other than Guatape, I didn’t side trip this month. I was supposed to go to Salento with some friends, but ended up having to cancel last minute. Month two was more introspective than anything else… I really took this month to slow down — I focused on me and recharging my batteries. I joined Ultra (the best gym in Medellin!) and made it a point to get to the gym more often than not. It felt good to get back into my workout groove! I went to a few yoga classes at Yoga Medellin and attended a sound healing meditation, too. I wrote a lot this month… a few long-form blog posts that I published, pages on pages on pages in my journal, heartfelt emails, blog posts for the future… It felt therapeutic to put pen to paper and fingers to the keyboard.

It felt so good to live in the sunshine and warm temps this month! Medellin was so much warmer than I was expecting, and I had to make a run to the mall to buy a few sleeveless tops while we were here. I’m really going to miss the tropical weather when we move to Bogota! I won’t miss the daily downpours here, though. I’ve never seen it rain as hard as it does here, and I’m still not sure how I made it through the month without an umbrella or rain jacket.

I finally felt homesick this month. My nephew started walking, one of my besties got engaged, and I missed our annual “fall funday” filled with wineries, apple picking, dance parties on the bus, etc. Especially when I was going through some tough times emotionally, you really just want the comforts of “home” and your best friends. With that being said though, I’m so thankful for the support of my friends and family members, with whom I had many of tear-filled phone conversations. And I’m so thankful for the support of my fellow Kahlito’s, too. A number of us had a rough month (hospital visits, stolen phones, stolen wallets, breakdowns, breakups) and it was really heart-warming to see us all band together to help each other out, even if it was just a listening ear or a great big hug.

As much as I feel like I wasn’t productive on the blog front (barely posted a blog post in about two weeks), I did record NINE podcast episodes. I really can’t wait to launch this thing… It’s been so invigorating to do something just for fun. I can’t wait for you to hear some of the conversations I had, and I really hope you enjoy listening to these episodes as much as I’ve enjoyed recording them.

What else did I love about Medellin? I absolutely love the café culture! I loved exploring the different types of coffee and logging computer hours from many pretty places all over Poblado. Hija Mia and Pergamino 10B were my homes away from home, but there’s many more that I’ll include in my travel guide. In terms of restaurants, Café Zorba was my go-to… my happy place, really! I honestly went there probably 6-7 times over the course of these five weeks, and got it delivery a handful of times, too. I’m going to miss those three places more than I can put into words. While we’re talking about delivery, though, you must know about Rappi. It’s the South American Postmates and it’s a necessity at times! (You can literally Rappi anything… Halloween costumers, cash, a mattress, you name it.)

I also loved our real home away from home, Selina. Selina is a hostel, but there’s an adjacent co-working space that Remote Year has reserved areas in. Selina is also home to a café, a bar, a tattoo shop, a hairdresser, a meditation room, an outdoor yoga terrace, and a music recording studio on the roof that they so graciously let me use to record all of my podcasts. I really loved the entire property, the employees, and the people we met at the co-working space, too.

And speaking of real homes, I was in love with my apartment this month. It was worth every sweaty climb straight up the hill to get there, haha. (I know my lungs have gotten in better shape this month, and I hope my glutes have, too.) And oh my god, my bed. I wish I could take this pillowy mattress with me to Bogota! It’s magical. Feeling at home in my apartment has been oh so lovely.

Like I mentioned, this month was a month of breaking down, picking up the pieces, and re-building… A few times over. Even though I feel more confused than ever before, I learned more about myself this month than I even knew was possible. One week, my debit card got compromised in the US. The next week, my identity got stolen with yet another financial situation. (I need to open a new bank account, but I can’t do that over the phone unfortunately.) And then the next week, my wallet physically got stolen out of my bag, just three days after my new debit card arrived in Colombia. All of that on top of some personal things that were mentally taxing… It all felt so damn heavy at times. Unmanageable, even. But what’s kind of crazy — that is Medellin. Medellin is the city of re-birth, a city that has flourished despite it’s chaotic past. I learned so much about the history of Colombia and Medellin’s troubled past this month, but what I loved learning about the most, is how absolutely resilient this city and it’s people are. It’s truly mind-blowing how this city has been able to re-build and re-invent itself in such a short amount of time! I’ve been interviewing locals while I’ve been here and I’m working on a bigger piece about Colombia in general… I can’t wait to share more. You can’t help but wonder how the paisas (locals) are so happy after such a troubled last few decades, but you soon realize that they’re just happy to be alive and have learned to enjoy every moment. And that, my friends, is something I’ve been trying to take to heart. Even when shit seems to be spiraling out of control, there’s always so much to be thankful for.

And if Medellin wasn’t imprinted in my mind enough, it’s now imprinted on my arm, too. Nope, I didn’t get a tattoo this month, but I did get one hell of a curling iron burn that’s going to leave a mark for a very long time, haha.

I don’t think I’m ready to leave Medellin yet, but I have a feeling I’ll be coming back here to spend more time at some point. I could honestly see myself living here in the future, at least for a few months out of the year! I’m not thrilled about leaving these sunny, 80-degree days behind us for the cooler mountain temps in Bogota, but I’m trying to embrace switching cities this weekend. Here’s to a fresh start… Can’t wait to see what this next month holds!

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  1. 11.5.18

    You are doing amazingly well – congratulations on your achievements thus far – and keep going!!

    Rebecca |

  2. 11.5.18

    A great reminder, “there is always something to be thankful for” even when shit is spiraling out of control!

    Loved reading this honest post about noth everything being rainbows and butterflies. Thank you for sharing.

    Keep up the great work and can’t wait to listen to the podcast!

  3. 11.5.18

    Wow! What an amazing journey! Jessica, you are strong, resilient, and powerful. Keep doing the difficult (sometimes, painful) internal work because you are sowing seeds. You will definitely get to enjoy the wonderful fruits of your destructing and reconstructing in years to come. You’re letting go of some old things to become something new.

    Happy Monday

  4. 11.6.18
    Laura said:

    I can’t even imagine what you must be feeling and thinking with all of this going on! But know that, from the outside at least, it looks amazing and I hope you’re taking advantage of all the great opportunities! Know that home will always be there, and will be waiting for you patiently to explore!