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 June 23, 2023 "Are you fit to travel?"
One of my greatest joys is traveling, especially internationally. What I love most besides a good beach is  embracing other cultures, tantalizing my taste buds with the local delicacies, trying traditional rites of passages, and learning more about myself. I love being adventurous and love watching people get out of their own way by conquering their fears. 
Traveling is a humbling experience when you have no control over many things. Weather, delays, cancellations, language barriers, lost luggage, and money exchange. I learn to have much patience and to not get mad when things don’t go as planned. I choose to think any rejection is God’s protection. 
Be patient and Adjust
I am actually typing this blog while on my 4-hour 55-minute plane ride back from Colombia, Bogota & Cartagena. 
I learned that Colombia is not spelled with a “U.” This is a common mistake, so much so, they have made shirts, etc. I also learned how to properly pronounce Cartagena and Medellin. I learned that you need to exchange money. Our cash is not always king. 
While in Cartagena on our last day we planned to take the Rosario Island tour. As we were waiting outside the hotel for our shuttle. The shuttle driver stated that they were delayed. I saw a guy with a shirt on that said “Black & Blessed Cartagena.” I saw him speaking with some other Black American women. 
I introduced myself to @Freddypaztours.com he stated he does tours and that a group of 14 women booked him 6 months ago. 
As we were speaking dark clouds started to roll in. A boat trip on a day like this was not looking to good. 
Freddy explained that he was taking the women on a tour to Palenge. The first free slave area in Americas. They don’t have a police dept, fire station, had no Covid and little to no crime. If a person commits a crime the entire community holds them accountable and makes them apologize to everyone affected and make it right. When the same person commits a second offense that person is required to clean majority of the bathrooms in the village homes and businesses. If they commit another crime a third time, they are brought to the center of town naked and they beat the crap out of them. Not to death but enough to make them wish they were dead. 
I love learning history, especially about Black folks so I was sold on going and wanted to join. He asked the ladies in the group would they mind if we joined them and gratefully, they all said yes. Come to find out 2 of the women were from my neighborhood in Detroit and 4 of them live in Atlanta.  It is a small world after all.
Just when my heart was set to island hop, I was protected because it stormed like crazy to the point that the streets flooded up to the curbs however, Palenge was clear. Plan B was amazing. So glad I was open to adjust. 
Fit to Play
When traveling be prepared for long walks to gates or on excursions. Climbing rocks, walking in mud, riding animals (horses, camels, elephants), hoping on and off buses/taxis/street cars, zip lining, climbing down into volcanos and caves, jumping off boats, jet skiing, banana boat rides and much more. 
All of these things have been extremely fun for me. However, I have witnessed many people pay for an excursion and once they are there, they realize they are not fit enough to perform the task, or they fear doing it. Know your limitations and prepare for the things you really want to try.
Now if all you want to do is lie on the beach that’s also a great way to enjoy a vacation, however you still need to consider that some medications won’t allow you to stay in the sun too long. If you’re already dehydrated the sun can add to your exhaustion. And if you don’t protect your skin you will burn. 
Totumo Mud Volcano
I had so many wonderful experiences in Colombia. The Graffiti Street, walking in the Walled City, the Palenge Tour, clear beautiful beaches and the volcano mud bath. I will definitely be going back. There just wasn’t enough time to soak it all in. 
If you find yourself in Cartagena, chances are that you’ll come across posters advertising the Totumo Mud Volcano. It’s sort of a rite of passage in Cartagena if you go there, you’ll visit the volcano.
I was proud of my cousin. She overcame her height fear. You must climb very steep dried mud steps but once to get up to the top the view alone is amazing. 
She overcame her fear of getting dirty. Every part of your body will have some mud, except your head unless you dunk it, will be covered and even hours later after a good cleaning you will continue to find mud. Don’t wear a bathing suit you love. The mud was warm and felt amazing. Some testimonials stated it had a smell. That wasn’t my experience. 
She got over her fear of drowning in this bottomless volcano. Once you relax you realize you can’t do anything but float. I found myself treading mud, however all I was doing was exercising. LOL  
We read many reviews and she got over her fear of being groped excessively. 
Once in the mud you have a personal massager who is in the mud with you. Baby, Hugo was amazing. He massaged that mud into my tired muscles, and I came out feeling so refreshed and my skin was extremely soft. He was trying to tell me the benefits of the mud, but I was too relaxed to care. 
Her last fear even had me concerned. Your massager will try his best to remove a lot of the mud before you climb out of the slippery volcano pit. Once out enjoy taking some pics covered in mud as the hot sun dries it up. If you’ve ever done a face mask imagine that feeling over your entire body. 
Now it was time to make our way down the volcano holding onto slippery wooden railings and wet mud filled steep steps.
 I took my time while I was being videotaped by my personal videographer and I enjoyed the scenic view. As I was going down, I also gave thanks to God for this beautiful view and experience. 
Well, the experience was not over. You must walk with the heavy mud on you quite a distance to the water. I enjoyed my feet on the hot sand, but I suggest you bring your shoes. I loved the heat, but most can’t tolerate it. I guess my great-grandfather (black feet Indian) I wrote about in the past was walking with me, he was known to walk everywhere barefoot.
Along the way a women will come grab your hand carrying a small bowl. This is now your new groping buddy. She will walk you to the water to get cleaned off. I felt like I was going to get baptized again. 
My cousin again got over her fear of being in water and being groped to the point she let it all hang out. I mean literally. 
These women washed every part of our bodies like a newborn baby. She pulled my titties out, yup no shame in her game. While under water she pulled my bikini down and washed between my private parts front and back. She was not playing. She cleaned my ears, lifted my feet, and got in between my toes. I gotta say they are thorough. She even rinsed my head/hair for any mud that might have splattered. 
Once we exited the water, I just wanted the sun to dry me off while the minerals do their magic. 
We walked about 50 feet into a restaurant/shed where the local dog was under our table taking an afternoon nap. The kitchen consisted of a small waterspout, large bowl, and cooking pan.  When I tell you I had the best meal almost ever in my life. The fish was so fresh I saw a guy delivering some more that were still moving. The coconut rice was to die for and the veggies I couldn’t get enough of. I ate my cousins and our driver Pedro’s too. 
I know we love a fancy kitchen however you need very little to make a healthy meal. 
Oh, I highly recommend getting a driver and sticking with them. Pedro was our man and he stayed with us our entire trip except when we went to Palenge. 
Back to the volcano. Once our bellies were full, we headed to our car where everyone who took care of us was waiting with their hand out for their tip. 
They suggest (COP 4,000) which is about $1.28 American depending on the exchange currency. 
I had 3 people waiting on me. The guy who took our pictures the entire way up and down the volcano and to the beach, my massage guy and the lady who washed me off.  Now, if you didn’t come with a Pedro like we did you will need a guy to hold your shoes and towel, that’s another tip. I gave each of them a $5 tip. OMG you should have seen their faces. They were extremely grateful. This experience and watching my cousin overcome so many fears was priceless. 
Packing sensibly
When traveling I try my best to only do carry-on luggage secondary to so many factors I mentioned above. Prime example this trip, my cousin’s luggage was placed on the wrong flight, so she had no change of clothes for the first 2 days. She did have her toiletries. I bring this up because can you imagine if you’re on medication like insulin that needs to be refrigerated and your flight is delayed for hours, and your ice pack is no longer cold. What about the many airports that don’t have sharp containers to dispose of your needles? Can you also imagine packing a sleep apnea (CPAP machine). Trust me you will not be packing with just a carry on unless you’re taking minimal clothes or not many souvenirs. Even if you check your baggage your personal carry on can you hold your meds and possibly a day’s change of clothes.  You don’t want to have your meds in your checked bag and your bag is lost. 
Wouldn’t it be nice to be healthy enough to not have to pack any of those items at all. 
Overall, it pays to be healthy and fit. If you are reading this and always wanted to travel or do some of these types of excursions but don’t because you’re fearful or you know your health is not it’s best, you still have time. 
As a registered nurse my goal is to help people get off medications. And if I help you get off your meds then I know you’re healthier and trips like this will become fun for you. No Mess

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