As cheesy and cliche as it may sound, we just wanted to ‘go with the flow’ during our travels in Latin America, and have gone out of our way to plan very little. That’s why, despite knowing for several months that we are going travelling, the only details we had in place were a one way flight to Bogota, Colombia on 10th September and one week of accommodation in the city following our arrival. After that we had a blank page laid before us.
At the start of August we both moved back to Yorkshire from London to live separately with our parents. Since then, we’ve had time at home to spend with our family and friends, reorganise our belongings which are stored across our parents’ houses and buy all the new things we need for the months ahead. The days we’ve spent at home have also brought an unexpected lesson in patience and flexibility, demonstrating that even with a very limited plan, things can always go off track!
The week after we moved back ‘up North’, I travelled back to London to have my wisdom tooth removed at a dental hospital in the city. I’d been on the waiting list for an appointment for several months and I didn’t want to lose it, seeing lots of benefits to having the pesky tooth, which had been causing problems for some time, removed before we left the country. The extraction itself went well, but unfortunately the filling in the tooth next to it was damaged in the process and had to be removed. There is only about 50% of the tooth remaining, so further work was definitely needed. The hospital were only able to give me a temporary filling, and because I had only just moved addresses, I hadn’t swapped over my dentist and so didn’t have anyone to call. After a lot of phones calls, and increasing stress levels, I managed to register with a new practice. Unfortunately though, when they took a look there was little they could do within the limited time remaining before departure. The dentist was wary of upsetting the fresh extraction site incase he introduced an infection. Oh dear!
With the flight looming, there was only one possibility we could see. Dental work wasn’t quite the grand start we had originally envisioned for our big trip, but we weren’t left with much choice. After a fair amount of research I was encouraged to see that Colombia is actually a hot spot for dental tourism and a lot of Americans travel down for a variety of different procedures because it’s much cheaper than at home. Knowing this, I felt much better about visiting a dentist on the other side of the ocean but the problem was now how to find one who could speak English and had an appointment available at such short notice. Google returned an overwhelming number of dental practises who focussed on providing a ‘top quality service to overseas patients’ but after taking a look at their over inflated tourist prices I felt there had to be another way. I was happy to pay a premium for the ease of having an English speaking dentist, but the quotes I’d recieved seemed particularly steep.
It occurred to me to try Reddit, I knew there was a channel specifically for Colombia and didn’t see anything to lose in sending out the question. Within hours I’d received several messages for highly recommended dentists across the country. One in particular stood out and I was able to get an appointment for the day following our arrival into Bogota. Hooray, a potential solution to the problem had been found!
Our second lesson in patience has been a bit more difficult to overcome. A handful of days before our flight was due to leave Manchester Airport, news reports began to come forward on the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. Predicted to be a super storm, the strongest since records began, there was the hint that Florida could be impacted. Our flight to Bogota wasn’t direct, we’d saved some money and added four hours to our journey by changing planes in Orlando. Ironically, we’d opted to begin our adventure in Colombia, rather than Mexico, to avoid the Hurricane season, yet somehow, perhaps somewhat naively, we found ourselves on hurricane watch along with millions of others.
You will have all seen how Irma has literally taken the region ‘by storm’, and several islands have been completely decimated, whilst Florida has been left with millions displaced from the high winds and storm surges. Unsurprisingly our flight was cancelled, and we were given a full refund from the airline. We were lucky to still have time to cancel our first week of accommodation, which means we’ve only lost money from our one night stay at the airport and the visa exemption in America. My heart bleeds for all those poor people who have to live through the nightmare and of course for the wildlife that has been been impacted in the region. We have been so fortunate and have been inconvenienced very little – it’s hard to get too mad or frustrated, we’re just grateful.
We soon realised though that the only two details of our plan were gone. We no longer had a flight or a hostel booking. In fact, the only thing we had was travel insurance… for a currently non-existent adventure! We were faced with the reality that even a limited plan like ours wasn’t guaranteed to go without a hitch – a lesson in why planning ahead isn’t always the best idea.
We found ourselves asking lots of questions, the primary one being if we still want to go to Latin America. The Caribbean was faced with hurricanes and Central America was under tsunami watch whilst Mexico City was recovering from a beast of an earthquake off the Pacific Coast. Complicating the issue was my tooth – should we wait until I’d had the work done in the UK or push ahead regardless?
We decided to push ahead and I hope that our new plan, which is just has limited as the last, will go ahead this time. One week and two days after our initial planned departure, we have a flight booked again to Bogota, this time departing from London with Avianca. We found that it was only £70 more to book a return journey and as we need to prove to our travel insurance company that we intend to return to the UK we thought we might as well! We aren’t sure if we’ll actually use this return flight which is booked for March – we’re more than willing to forgo the extra money and stay longer if the budget allows us to. For the little extra however it was worth it to make sure we were covered for any potential accidents (fingers crossed none happen!) and it’s a bonus if we do end up using the flight!
Since we’ve been in Yorkshire we’ve also had lots of little hurdles to face, which on their own are small, but together have meant several lengthy phone calls to the bank and various retailers. Nothing has been terrible, just really annoying and time consuming, and have dampened the excitement we’ve felt for our imminent departure.
Hopefully this means that all our bad luck is out of the way, and it’s clear sailing from here. Our new flight will leave (hopefully) on 19th September and from there the adventure will begin! We’ve re-booked our hostel and I’m trying to get hold of another dental appointment, so we are back to where we started, but one week later! Between now and then we’ll be spending more time in Yorkshire and we’ll check in again from the other side of the Atlantic with an update!
Until next time.