[box]Oh hey, welcome to my recap series. You guys asked for it—so here are my monthly musing, life updates, and other personal tidbits that would be annoying to put in my usual blog posts where you’re just trying to get some simple info! Just to note, I’ll be doing these monthly (I mean, I’m going to try to) and in efforts to keep these candid (and like, not mega time consuming like all my other posts) I won’t be editing them TOO much like I usually do (read: 20 times over the course of two months ? yes, really) so sorry for any mistakes. I hope you enjoy these little recaps of my month! [/box]
So it’s 2020, oh hey! Happy New Year! Can I still say that? Probably not but to be fair, I never said it to begin with. I raged ALL night on New Year’s Eve—at the fireworks that kept me up.
Yep, I’m so wild guys! Grandma over here spent New Year’s cuddling with Garrett and watching TV while drinking a single beer out of a wine glass and then attempting to sleep… At 11 pm. While in Medellin, Colombia. LOL. Yeah, that was a fail. The fireworks didn’t stop until about 7 am. Which I don’t get because, it’s daylight guys, like what are you doing?
Anyway, here’s what
grandma Nina I got up to this January.
Where in the World is Nina?
Currently in Olon, Ecuador!
Places I Went in January:
I spent nearly the entire month of January in Colombia.
- Medellin (lived here for nearly two months)
- Parramillo Del Quoindio in Los Nevados
At the very end of the month, I made my way to Ecuador.
Musings and Highlights This Month
Setting foot on my SIXTH continent!
Yes, it’s true Colombia was my first South American country—I know, wth!? I can’t believe I waited so long, especially since it’s the closest continent to my home… But then again, that’s probably why I never been lol. I always want to go to far-flung places.
So here I am. Antarctica is my last continent!
After being in Medellin for a couple of months working, I was SOOO ready to start exploring. This is my life—post up, chill somewhere (aka work), then travel the country, I love this “routine” but when you’re not super feeling the city you’re in, the month goes SLOW (wait for it…)
Here’s my Instagram highlight of my apartment in Medellin.
So I had the genius idea of using Airbnb Experiences as a mode of transport as well as the actual experience, and I have to pat myself on the back, it was SUCH a good idea. We paid for an experience that went from Medellin to the next town on our list, Jerico, we brought all our bags and just didn’t return. We got a private ride to the next city over plus a mini-tour with a local. GENIUS. Steal this idea, go for it, thank me later.
Jerico stole my heart
We spent 4 lovely days soaking in the adorable town of Jerico. It doesn’t get a lot of attention quite yet but it’s definitely moving on up on the tourist map. Men and women still ride their horses to the bar, there’s a Jesus statue overlooking the town (duh), and the mountain air is super fresh. We fell in love with the town for sure and then we made it to Jardin…
We then fell even harder for Jardin. I’m not sure if it was the clean mountain air finally filling our heads and removing the pollution we accumulated in Medellin, or if it was the cute pack of dogs that adopted us (seriously this happened), or Jardin really is that magical for everyone else but OMG did we LOVE it here.
It’s not a secret and a lot of people do love it so I know we are certainly not special or anything but I can actually see myself going back to Jardin and spending some more time there.
We hiked in the hills, ate ALLLLL the amazing vegetarian food that was on offer (omg bless you Jardin!), and met new friends and hiked to waterfalls—because apparently that’s just what I do? lol.
Getting high in Salento
After about ten days in the hills, we went to the MOUNTAINS. Salento is known for the famous Cocora Valley with the world’s tallest palms in an awe-inspiring display but we were here to drink lots of coffee and then get high, like REALLY high. The highest I have ever been… (no not that)
We climbed to the summit of Paramillo del Quindio! At a staggering 4750 meters/ 15,558 feet! Woop! This is the tallest mountain I’ve ever climbed. It’s higher than my time in Nepal and climbing South Sister in Oregon! Both of those hikes were only a bit over 10,000 feet.
The trek took three days and the summit was intense AF. I was chanting mantras the entire time so I could mentally push through. The winds were high, my hands were frozen, and the terrain was steep and unforgiving. One slip and there was potential to roll off a cliff. So yeah, this was my toughest climb but also my most epic!
Getting to Ecuador
And on that note, we promptly got on a but the day after hiking for three days and made our way to Cali to catch a flight to Ecuador! Three days of transit is never fun but we knew a chilled out surf town was waiting for us…
We checked into our amazing Airbnb and immediately signed up for surf lessons and I signed up for Spanish classes too. I can’t believe it’s been TWO YEARS since I surfed last in Morocco. It has been a dream surfing here, the conditions are incredible.
Things That Were Meh
Meh in Medellin
Guys, I hate to say it but I just wasn’t feeling Medellin.
It’s set on a pedestal when people talk about it being a digital nomad hub but I just didn’t get it. We joined a smaller coworking network that was closer to our house and the internet was barely as quick as the internet at our house. Then Garrett needed faster internet for his video files and had to pay $20 A DAY to get it. ABSURD.
Then the expat scene, I just wasn’t vibing. I think we were a bit too far as we wanted a quieter neighborhood and were based in Envigado but I think it was too quiet. On the other hand we know El Poblado wasn’t for us either! In the end, we realized we maybe should have gone to Laureles.
Either way, I just didn’t dig it that much! I can’t really describe exactly what it was.
To visit for a few days, it’s awesome! To come for a party? Hell yeah! But staying for a couple of months, meh.
That’s just me though, I know many others loves it. I’m also well aware these are #FirstWorldProblems but hey, this is my blog and I’ll bitch how I please.
VA hunt uuhhhh!!!
Another thing that was majorly MEH was having to hunt for a new VA (virtual assistant) this month. I fucking hate it. It’s the worse. It’s SO time consuming and so many people suck. As luck would have it, despite getting about 70+ applications, someone I know name-dropped one of the applicant’s names and that made my life WAY easier.
I literally didn’t even look at any other applications or talk to anyone else. It was a perfect match and I now have an awesome new VA. Yay! Nightmare of VA hunting avoided! This was luckily only semi-meh!
This is a blogger gripe but shit, Google has been rolling out new updates which means TONS of bloggers are seeing slashed traffic. It seems almost nobody has remained unscathed since the brutal updates started last November-ish.
If you’re Googling things and you’re noticing crappy results or a lot more Google ads… Yeah, you can thank Google for that! The updates have be rough on us bloggers but even worse, the search results in general for users have been awful. So make sure to scroll down a bit and support some of the bloggers who actually give info and don’t click that lame-ass TripAdvisor article from 2010 that probably isn’t going to help you out!
New-ish Blog Posts/Updated Posts/Look Out For
That New New
- 11 Jobs That Helped Me Travel – I can’t believe I just wrote this one. A literal timeline of all the jobs I’ve done to travel more and stay on the road! (only took a few years lol)
- Travel Jackets! – OMG there’s so much to know about jackets, and I’m a Floridian, so I knew nothing. Luckily that’s changed in the last few years, so I hope this post helps you choose a good jacket to travel with.
- Long Term Travel Insurance – SO much BS to sift through and who will actually insure you for longer or will allow you to extend? That’s all answered here!
- A One-Week Scotland Itinerary – An amazing guest post with tons of adventures and hikes through Scotland!
- What to do in Glacier National Park & Where to Stay – And finally, my Glacier National Park posts that I LOVE so much. Seriously – just flip through the pictures if anything, the place is beautiful!
Freshly Updated Blog Posts:
- Road Trip Essentials List (with a printable!)
- How to Not Get Screwed Over When Getting a TEFL
- My Krabi Itinerary and Tips
What Blogs to Look Out For:
It’s allllll about Colombia! Coming soon… But like, Nina soon, not next week soon.
OMG it’s been a blast here but I’ll save it for my next month’s update. Or you could just follow along on Instagram stories because all those cool people get my real-time updates. (they also copy to Facebook stories if you watch there)
Hint: Español lessons, lots of surf, beautiful beaches, and adventures around the country. Woop Woop.
Well, this was fun! This was my first ever monthly recap post and I actually really enjoyed writing it! I hope you guys liked it and if you think there’s something missing from these recaps/just want to say hi, lmk in the comments 🙂
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.