So I got back from that dream trip last night.
That’s right folks, your very own MinCat finally, FINALLY went to Colombia!
For two weeks, which felt like a lot until I got there and met all the backpackers doing six month trips. But still. I went to Colombia.
Land of aguardiente, salsa and hot men who think I’m hot!
Two weeks of city hopping, staying up till four, consuming ridiculous amounts of booze, flirting, dancing–in a nutshell, fun!

No, not really.

It hit me when I was sitting in a hostel in Cartagena (Cartagena!! historic architecture! LOTS of HOT caribbean men who love culos caribeños!), the night before my birthday, choking and fighting back tears as I talked to OW while waiting for the nice Argentine couple to come have a drink with me.

It was like that everywhere. In Bogota, as I packed to leave for Manizales. In Manizales, as I sat in the bus station waiting for the bus to Medellin. In Medellin, as I stood in a bar, all dressed up, against the wall watching as everyone talked to one another and no one talked to me. In Tayrona, as I hiked up the mountain, through the gorgeous rainforest, and saw animals right out of Gerald Durrell. In Tayrona, as I sat on the second most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen, with the sun setting, the stars rising and a hammock awaiting me atop the cliff. In Bogota as I made a really bad but much appreciated Indian dinner for my friends, so I could turn thirty not completely alone. In Bogota, as I finally got drunk and danced at my friend’s birthday party.

I went to my phone, as a live vallenato trio performed in the next room, and every single person there was drunk and dancing, and I wrote (yet another) self-indulgent email to The Bride (god bless her patience), about how I must be boy repellent, and it was quite amazing.

The next morning, I woke up and reread the email. It made me cringe. What had happened to me? Here I was, thirty, a good six months past the biggest slump I’ve had. Six months ago, I wouldn’t have cared if a boy looked at me or not; I’d have been out there in the middle of the floor, dancing with someone. I would have asked people to dance. I would have been smashed out of my head in Medellin, partying with the lovely people I met. I would have been dancing with joy at being on that beach in Tayrona, ecstatic at having seen a peccary and a yellow-fronted amazon parrot. I would have found the couchsurfer in Cartagena and been dancing to bring in my birthday.

What has happened to me (again)?

I thought that all the fears that plague me, all the things I think can’t happen or won’t happen, were a direct result of where I was. I thought I was alone, and no one asked me to dance because they were stupid desi boys. I thought I always end up in the friend zone, or against the wall because no one here understands or appreciates me.

But it turns out that all this was inside my own head, and of course I took it with me. To Colombia, to New York, to Spain–it didn’t matter where I went, I’ve dragged this chip around with me, nurturing and caressing it, holding it close and taking it to bed with me. And the only time I’ve ever taken my own advice, that I plentifully give out to other people, I WAS happy, I WAS in a magical place where these things disappeared into insignificance. All I have to do is really just let the goddamn chip go, look for the good things in my life (of which there are PLENTY), and live my life, as much as I can as much as I want, and not make myself feel like it is incomplete or I am waiting for anything to happen or anyone to come along.

And yeah, I had to leave India, land of epiphanies and great life-altering realizations, to figure it out.

*Do ya get it? huh huh huh?