The only risk is wanting to stay

Before I left England, I should have made myself a t-shirt.

It would have read something like this:

“Kent, but I lived in Liverpool.

“27, yes, it took me a while to save.

“It’s supposed to be six months, but I spent four months in Ecuador, so I’ll probably still be here at Christmas…”

The English lad, Marzuk, sitting opposite me laughed as we swapped the inevitable introductory information.

“You’re as bad as me,” he said.

“I shouldn’t even be in Bogotá. I’ve been here before.

“I’ve got two weeks left on my visa and I keep promising myself I will leave Colombia and travel on.

“I don’t want to end up back at the immigration office like last time, begging for an extension.”

I laughed.

“I was supposed to come to Bogotá for a day.

“Then I changed it to three days. Then a week.

“But I’m flying to Peru on Monday, I can’t wait.”

Marzuk chuckled again as we clinked beers.

“We’ll see,” he said.

Now, it’s obvious I’m not a fast traveller. I am too easily led.

I only really went to Medellin because I met friends going there and the same happened with Bogotá.

A two-week stay in Colombia became a month.

But I did have a plan.

I soon realised that I like using my brain and I like keeping fit so decided the two focuses of my trip would be a) to learn Spanish and b) to learn to salsa.

I love partying, staying in hostels, sight seeing and hiking but I soon realised that, after a couple of months, that whirlwind can be a little exhausting (I must be getting old).

Therefore, I figured the best way for me to travel would be to spend a couple of months on the road, then enrol at either a salsa school or Spanish school to recover for a while.

I had already enrolled in a salsa school for a week in Cusco, Peru and had organised to stay with a local family.

I was then planning to climb Macchu Piccu before travelling through Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay and perhaps Chile, before settling down in Argentina for a while.

I planned to rent a flat in Buenos Aires, try and work for a few months and go to Spanish school before travelling around Argentina and onto Brazil.

It seemed the perfect plan but weirdly, I was most excited about Argentina. I realised I couldn’t wait to get my own space again (i.e not a bunk bed) be able to cook my own meals and weirder, I was craving Spanish lessons.

On Saturday, I left Bogotá to travel two hours to the Salt Cathedral. On the way home, I was exhausted and as I dozed on the bus, I realised I couldn’t wait to get back to the city.

But I was still looking forward to flying to Peru.

“Say I stayed in Bogotá, would it be easy for me to find work?” I later asked Diego, purely hypothetically.

He nodded.

“One of my friends, Renee, works at the language school. They always need teachers. She makes enough money to cover her rent,” he replied.

“And I assume it would be easy enough to find a flat?”

He nodded again.

“I have an Irish friend, Jimmy, who is looking for a flatmate.

“Why? Are you thinking of staying?”

I shook my head.

“No, I’m really looking forward to going to Peru.”

Later, we ended up in a bar, beers in hand.

I met two Colombian American lads, one of whom, another Diego, had moved from the States to Bogotá and was working for a human rights charity.

The work sounded fascinating.

“Would you have any work for a former journalist?” I enquired, purely hypothetically.

“Yes, you should come in for a meeting,” he replied.

“Do you live here?”

I looked at my watch. It had gone midnight.

It was my last day in Bogotá.

I bit my lip.

“Actually, I just moved here,” I replied.


  1. Marieke

    I love this one! I can so relate to this post and ma so glad to hear you decided to follow heart instead of reason.
    If it wasn’t for visa stuff, I would have made a third (and probably long lasting) extension to my stay in San Cristóbal.

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Thanks, I know, it still seems crazy but it is good for me to just go with the flow rather than worrying about plans I made before I even left England! You’ll get back to paradise, don’t you worry and I still hope to see you there (if they let me back) I still work for the Galapagos tourist board – plenty of Colombians now want to visit!

  2. Benji


    thats the great and only point to backpack!! not to have any plan wahtsoever and deciding spontaneously!!!! now, thats a real story, how you ended up there from travelling… thats a real story to write abour ms journalist… only sad, you wont be coming to the old continent soon, but we’ll catch up someday
    ohhh, what about my recommendation? did you liked the salt cathedral??
    take care

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Ha, yes I did. I liked the bit where you choose between three walkways and I chose the one for the saints!! Ha ha, chica buena!! I know, it’s crazy, but you are right – good to do things spontaneously… you want me to send some ajiaco to Germany!! Love to the old continent xx

  3. Pippa

    After loving living your blog with you, Im loving reading and keeping up with your life now! Keep being spontaneous, its making cracking stories and i cant wait to visit you in my holidays!! Love you loads hermanita xxxx

  4. Isabel

    I love how you can just do what ever is next, it’s a way to truly enjoy and take what life offer you. I enjoy reading your blog it make travel with you even thought I am so far. Besitos hermanita xxx

  5. Emma P

    Hey, you’re a Columbian! That’s really cool, hope you get the job with the human rights charity that sounds amazing, it would be so nice to do something worth while (not that writing nibs about coffee mornings is not worthwhile you understand). Thanks for the postcard, its got pride of place on my mantelpiece – a little bit of the exotic! Have a lovely time in Columbia xxx PS yesterday at work we had Sue, Doug Weir, Martin Finney, Dave White and Sarah Overton all back the office working on freelance basis – its like Night of the Living Dead in here!

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      You’re not serious? That company is mad – lets people go and then wants them back… sooo glad the postcard arrived, I’m just waiting til they’ve all been checked off at home and then I can start writing more!! xx

      1. Emma P

        I know, bizarre. Also, your old friend Martin Dent is back in town! He’s become a regular at the Burton Arms, Emma and James’ local, much to their delight . . . xxx

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Thanks Archi, it still makes me laugh. Every time I tell Colombians I live in Bogota by accident, they laugh. I wasn’t even supposed to visit Colombia and I was supposed to end my ‘visit’ to South America last October!

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