Somewhere In Colombia

Somewhere in Colombia, someone will buy a pretty pair of boots not knowing that one of those boots made a trip to Canada and back. This is a feel good story about boots. Boots and shoes have natural feel good properties (in my opinion). I mostly focus on sports shoes but have taken to all sorts of pretty shoes and boots over the years. New boots and shoes make me feel good. I think the next time I go to Colombia I will take a suitcase to bring back shoes ūüôā .

For those who are not in the know, one of the places I wanted to visit when in Colombia was the shoe store of my friend Martha’s cousin, who has a shoe making business with a storefront. Five years ago when Martha came back from Colombia with really nice boots it became one of those bucket list things. So, when we were in Colombia that was on our list for must go places. Once there, I was a little overwhelmed; I deliberated for a long time on what to get. Do I get a pair of shoes I will only wear once a month, or every day shoes or boots. I settled on a pair of boots for me and a pair of sandals. We were there for a very long time and I tried on the black ones first but at the last minute decided to get brown ones after realizing the black ones were not too different than some black ones I already own.

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Together again, my Colombian boots that traveled to Canada separately, one boot in front of the other so to speak.

As can happen when 6 Canadians converge on a small store trying on so many shoes and purchasing a whole bunch (I got shoes for my daughters also), there was mass confusion. There were other customers there as well, probably seeing the commotion and being drawn in to the excitement of shoe shopping. In a couple hours we had seven pairs of shoes picked out, some were getting stretched and others were packed and ready to go. Martha and family had a pile of shoes as well. The footwear went to the house and we picked them up the next evening along with the other bag of shoes from the store. We took them back late to our room, where we packed our shoes with our luggage and prepared for our flight early in the morning.

When we arrived home Sunday evening, we unpacked and gifted our daughters with their items. I showed them my pretty boots in the clear plastic bag, continuing to put items away from my suitcase. It was an hour or so later, my daughter was looking more closely at my boots when she noticed one boot was a size 38 and one was a 37 (the right foot boot). My right foot is my larger foot and it did not fit. Not that it would have mattered; it was noticeably a different size. That was kind of the beginning of my “It has been a week” from my last post. I messaged Martha right away since she was still in Colombia although she had flown out of the Medellin where the shoe store is because she could contact her cousin and communicate better in Spanish than me.

Back track an hour or so before the discovery of the shoe situation, we had learned another friend was leaving for Colombia on the following Saturday evening and I had decided to give him the Colombian pesos we had left over (about $5 worth). After messaging Martha about the boot, I messaged him to see if he would be going to Medellin where the shoe store was. He wasn’t,¬†so we still didn’t know how to manage the shoe situation.

Fast forward to Tuesday when I messaged Martha about what to do. She sent a message back and said she had my boot and to send the small one with packaging with our friend to put in the mail anywhere in Colombia.

We picked up Martha and family at the airport late Friday night and she handed me my one boot from her carry on. The next day, I wore my boots and took the small boot in it’s bubble envelop with the Colombian pesos to our friend who took it that night to Colombia.

So somewhere in Colombia, some time in the near future, someone will buy a pair of brown boots, in size 37 that look just like mine and she will wear her boots, not knowing that the right boot on her foot, set foot in Canada in a small home on the tiles you see in the photo. She will never know the travels her boot made, and even though I won’t know her, I will know there is a boot in Colombia that came to visit me for a week.

Further, I know that even though something that seems like a difficult situation to remedy can work out perfectly and like I said in a post a couple weeks ago, money isn’t the only currency we deal in and nothing is better than the help of great friends who are at the right place at exactly the right time.

 

Dream Bigger

I woke up in Colombia this morning. It has been 6 days of waking up in another country. Many years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined coming here for a visit. It’s funny how life takes on a life of it’s own and yet, it needs some energy behind it. How often does a person get an idea, a dream in their head and they push it away as a ‘dream’, a ‘whim’ a ‘notion’ that ‘just isn’t possible’? How often are we chided by that little voice in our heads that says ‘it can’t be done”? I have learned to dream big, to dream bigger than that little voice is comfortable with. I have learned that dreaming big and dreaming bigger makes those dreams a reality.

Almost 10 years ago we met a lovely family who started coming to our church. Within a short time we were good friends and had a group of couples that got together. We met more people from our church who were from Colombia and they were quick to tell us we need to be learning Spanish. Over the years we have remained friends with this group of people and those friends ended up in our home school circle as well so we spent much time with similar interests together. Five years ago they went to Colombia. When they returned they told us that when they were here they thought of how they would like to show us places they love.

At that point it was a conversation and fleeting comments followed although they were not part of a dream at that point; but the seed was planted and watered. My husband and I did not travel much while we were raising four kids. I stayed home with them and he worked really hard to make that happen. About 5 years ago, we were gifted (by my family and our kids) with a flight that sent us on our first ‘warm during the winter months’ vacation. We went on a few more because, well, it’s cold in Canada and it’s warm other places. I also decided to learn Spanish (after a trip to Cuba) using the Duolingo App. Of course I had friends who were more than willing to have me practice. I worked on it almost daily for a couple years and then last year didn’t spend time on it because of time spent on other things.

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A view of downtown Bogot√° and beyond from Monserrate.

Then last year happened. I finished my personal trainer certification. I started my Monat business which happened to be with my dear friend. My husband’s job was iffy and we started a house flipping business with these same friends (and a brother). Then said brother became engaged and the wedding was in Colombia and now here we are, attending a Colombian wedding in a couple days, traveling around Colombia with our friends who are ¬†patiently translating for us and helping us at every turn. However, I know enough Spanish to understand some of what is being said, I can speak enough broken Spanish and sign language to get a black, no sugar coffee special made for me at a street kiosk and tell people I have one son and three daughters, their ages and that I have 2 grandchildren and one more in 3 weeks.

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We walked a lot in Bogot√° and when it was raining hard we stopped at a grocery store and learned about the fruits and vegetables here.

I have added a couple photos but this post really isn’t about our trip, it is about dreaming big. It’s interesting how there are little snippets of things that pop up when you are thinking of a post. I have been planning this one for a couple weeks but in preparation for the trip was unable to sit long enough to write it. This morning a friend posted a Facebook post about following your dreams and one of the lines was about waking up in another country. On the way from Bogot√° to Ibague, I was listening to a couple podcasts. To be fair, I listen to inspiring podcasts that talk about dreaming big in business and in life, but the person interviewed was a young lady (26) who travels the world and has amassed riches through business after living a terrible teen life at the hands of others. The thing take home message along with others was, “Money is not the only currency”. When we are serving others, and being genuine in caring and help to others, we can receive the same from others…not always the same others but still receive.

We have been so blessed in all our travels to have the gracious help of others, to have accommodation, to be given food, to have transportation, and tour guides and advice from people. We have experienced the generosity of friends, new friends and strangers. We have been overwhelmed with kindness.

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The time spent with family and friends is the greatest of riches.

The currency of relationships, of connection and goodwill go far beyond what money can buy in enriching an experience. Yes, money is needed too. That is one of the reasons we work. But money isn’t the only currency. Dreaming big isn’t about money either; it is about doing things that you didn’t think you could. It is about, instead of saying “I can’t”, saying “How can I?” It may not be about travel for you, it may be something you want to do in life, go to school, have a bigger house, live somewhere else, have your own business, have more time for family and friends, run a half marathon, or lose weight. Whatever you dream, amp it up–dream a little bigger, then dream a lot bigger. You may wake up in another country one day and it will be good.

 

 

I Am Sparta

I ran my first Spartan Race (Sprint) last weekend. ¬†I was invited by my friend to join their team. My friend has been working out hard for the last couple years, after making the decision to improve her health and have more energy and strength. ¬†She was supposed to go in it last year with her son but due to circumstances they were not able to do it, so this was the year. ¬†She signed up a team with her–her son, her daughter, her niece, and invited me. ¬†I wasn’t particularly interested in doing the event but I am competitive enough to realize I didn’t want my friend to do a Spartan before I did. So in a moment of weakness late one Saturday night a few weeks ago, I signed up…and the next morning the panic set in.

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My friend Holly and I before the race, hiding our fear, still naive to what we were getting into.

I have not been training for a Spartan. ¬†I have a weak upper body. ¬†I have extra weight to carry and to lift. ¬†I have a weak upper body. ¬†I haven’t run in a couple of months and certainly not 5 km…and I have a weak upper body. ¬†Thankfully after announcing it in one of my classes that I had signed up (and clarified I hadn’t even been drinking at the time), our trainer gave me some pointers and upped the ante in some of the arm exercises. ¬†Or perhaps I was just more focused on getting some upper body strength. I only had 2 boot camp classes and 4 kickboxing classes between sign up and race day. ¬†I also did some yard work in which I incorporated some lifting, pulling, pushing and anything else I thought might help. ¬†Then the day arrived.

The Spartan race was both easier and more difficult than I imagined. Let’s get the explanation of easier out of the way. ¬†I thought I would die. ¬†Okay, maybe not die, but I really wasn’t sure I could do it and if I did, I would surely die…or something a little less drastic but really bad. ¬†I also thought I would be running a lot more between obstacles so my heart rate would be more elevated. ¬†That didn’t happen.

I didn’t sleep really well the night before. ¬†I went to bed at a decent time for an early wake up but I was awakened by the rain on the skylight. ¬†It rained a good portion of the night and was still raining in the morning. ¬†It was raining when we left (my husband came to cheer and take photos) and I was cold because that’s how a non-morning person feels when she has to get up early to do something, in the rain no less, she is not looking forward to doing. It continued to rain. ¬†We arrived and it was raining and we got our packages and body marking. ¬†I was planning to wear my thin jacket because I was cold. ¬†We stayed indoors for the hour we had to wait for our time to start. ¬†When we went out to start, it felt warmer and I ditched the jacket, a decision I was very happy with.

There were 5 or 6 groups that went out before us.  When our time group went out, there was a well-worn mud path and the rain was coming down pretty good.  By the time we got past the first obstacle we were going slowly because it was quite slick.  By the time we reached the 3rd or 4th obstacle, we were in mud all the way.  I slipped sometime around then and the front of my thigh hit a cut down little tree stick in the path.  It was sticking up a couple of inches and I happened to land on it. It brought back memories of the similar (but bamboo) one I had stepped on hiking in Hawaii.  Speaking of hiking in Hawaii, I was glad to have had that little bit of practice in January with scrambling and slippery slopes.

There was a lot of scrambling up and down and the slopes were very slippery and many of the paths were on the side of a hill and it seems we were usually walking on a slope with the left foot up. ¬†My feet were sliding in my shoes and I had to tighten them a second time due to the mud. ¬†The mud…the MUD, the slick mud, the sticky mud; I was prepared for the mud portion of the obstacles, I wasn’t prepared for the mud between all the obstacles. ¬† ¬†Sometimes we had to walk in the dryer mud to not slip and other times we could walk through juicier mud which was easier to walk in but was deeper and risked a slip or stepping on something.¬†The drier mud stuck to our shoes in thick layers on the bottoms, the sides and some on top. And then there were the actual obstacles.

There were quite a few walls.  We could help each other over the walls which is the only reason I got over most of them. Then there were the dreaded upper body things like monkey bars which I could not do at all.  I did burpees.  We had to do 30 burpees for every obstacle we were unable to complete.  I did burpees a few other times too.  I also avoided burpees with some help from friends. Another person helped me out and I helped her out on the parallel bars, because we could do piggybacking.  Some of the obstacles were so coated in mud and slick that it was impossible to do them without help even if a person could do it normally.  Burpees became more and more difficult.  Really, everything did as we went along; exhaustion has that effect.  I was getting hungry too because it had been so many hours since breakfast.  But success is built on carrying on.

There were things that weren’t so bad, things similar to what I do working on the acreage, like carrying the sandbag down the hill and back up, carrying the bucket with mud up and down the hill, and dragging the cement block. I was stoked about the spear throw (not that I do that on regularly, but I was pretty good at javelin back in the day), then the rope caught on my foot just as it was about to go in. ¬†The high climbs were scary but doable. ¬†The water hazard wasn’t too bad; I just didn’t want to fall under. ¬†The mud crawl was pretty easy for me and being near the end made me more motivated.

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Crawling through the mud pit near the end, a smile on my face because I was actually finding it rather easy compared to other obstacles.

It felt good after the event to use a hose to wash off some of the mud.  I changed into some other clothes and was happy to shower when I got home.  The mud in the clothes took quite a bit of work to remove.  I was pretty exhausted through the day.  It was a similar feeling to our long bike rides.  Except for the bruises that slowly started appearing over the next 24 hours.  Most of them were from the edges of the two by fours that the walls were made of, one was from the fall, nothing major but they look pretty bad.

During and after the course, I was quite absolute in my thoughts that I would never do another Spartan or similar event. ¬†It looks like fun on TV but it isn’t as much fun in real life. ¬†Having recovered my sore muscles and my bruises phasing out, I am a little more objective and may consider the torture again. ¬†Training for it specifically would be helpful. ¬†At this point I am not making a commitment either way.