Here is an article I wrote for Marginal Boundaries. You can find it in its original form here
I have mentioned my adventures in Colombia on my own blog, but I wanted to delve into an area I haven’t mentioned before that does not involve Colombian cuisine. I want to talk about how personally enriching it has been for me to be lucky enough to have immediate family in South America and how visiting them is so different than traveling to an unknown area with no friends or relatives in sight.
If you read my first post on my blog, I relayed how I have been visiting Colombia, albeit somewhat inconsistently, since I was eight years old. That being said, I have only ever traveled there with the intention of visiting uncles, aunts, and cousins, as well as mainly traveling for specific family functions and events (birthdays, weddings, etc.). I have been blessed to not only have people who care for me and want to see me, whether I am in Bogota or Medellin, but also to have always had somewhere to stay and relatives to show me the best places to visit, socialize, and eat. As often mentioned here at Marginal Boundaries, being able to live like a local is the best way to live in another country, and I have been given that opportunity every time I arrive in Colombia.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing like visiting a new country and not knowing much about it let alone any of the locals. I have visited both Dubai and Montreal under this condition, aside from knowing my initial friend who invited me to both places. What was nice about both of these visits was that my friend who had been living in both areas for at least a month each time already knew where the best places were to eat as well as things for sightseeing. But while he knew these things, he still had not been there long enough to truly know the local secrets when it comes to scoring certain deals on local cuisine, living and shopping.
Which then brings me to my next point: this was what made the aforementioned visits interesting. I found myself enthralled by the opportunity to explore Dubai and Canada with someone who was comfortable living in both cities enough to make you feel comfortable, but who was still exploring and discovering new things that I was able to be involved with experiencing also.
What makes traveling exciting for me is often the polar opposite experiences; one can enjoy themselves immensely while in the company of family and friends who are locals and know the area, and can thus put you on the fast-track to living like a local, but one can also enjoy the unknown of a new country with only one (or no) companion. I cannot choose which way I enjoy traveling the most, merely what I have learned is that every trip is an adventure worth having.