Tag Archives: colombia

My first flight

Growing up, I dreamed of traveling the world and going on adventures. Then I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at an early age and my symptoms worsened into my adolescence. For awhile, I gave up on my dreams of traveling and focused on school and my health. I didn’t think I would ever be healthy enough to see the world.

While in the 6th grade, I took my first flight and traveled from Texas to Washington D.C. I’m terrified of heights, even to this day. That first flight was brutal. I was already having a bad flare up but didn’t want to keep going to the bathroom. I had the window seat and had terrible anxiety about asking the other people sitting in my row to get up…again. My stomach was making so much noise and I was so self conscious. The take off left me feeling incredibly nauseous. I had a sharper than usual pain in my stomach. There were so many crazy thoughts going through my mind. I felt panic starting to set in. Then I forced myself to really look out the window. I thought I was going to throw up, realizing how far above the ground we really were. I couldn’t even see the ground. That was destabilizing at first. But slowly I felt myself calming down. It was really peaceful up there.

I loved seeing the clouds from that point of view. I had always enjoyed looking up at the sky, as Texas has some of the most beautiful skies (I’m biased, I know). My body relaxed a little. Then we would hit turbulence and I would go right back to square one. Nauseous, in pain and terrified.

The landing was scary and so hard on my stomach. I had held my vomit bag tightly the entire flight but I came very close to using it during the landing. Once we stopped, I felt much better. I was beyond proud of myself for having made the journey without throwing up all over or going to the bathroom a million times.

The flight back was easier. I was excited to sit by the window again. I knew what to expect this time through so I had a lot less anxiety. Most of it was even enjoyable. When we landed back in Dallas, I was elated to have completed the trip with minimal issues. I had been very sick in D.C. and was in constant pain (nothing out of the ordinary) but I survived the flights and had an overall positive trip experience. It gave me hope that I could actually have the life that I dreamed of as a very young girl.

While I still don’t like being crammed in confined spaces, flying has become something that I look forward to. My health has had many ups and downs but I have taken many trips since I timidly boarded that first flight. A few years ago, I even quit my job and left everything behind to go on a long-term solo trip to Ecuador (and then to Mexico, which wasn’t originally planned).

Crohn’s has been and will continue to be an obstacle in my life that I have to overcome on a daily basis. Some days I come out on top. Other days, I get my ass kicked. But I’ve learned that no matter how difficult, it doesn’t have to be a dead end. I have proven to myself time and time again that I can rise above adversity and live the life I want to live.

So far, I have visited 7 countries (England, Finland, Italy, Croatia, Ecuador/Galapagos, Mexico and Colombia). I lived in Ecuador and Mexico for three months each. There was a time that I couldn’t have imagined that I would be able to live alone in foreign countries. So, while every single day is an uphill battle, I continue to climb. I continue to take steps toward building a life I love.

What was your first flight experience? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below!

Souvenir Box

Over the years, I have collected many souvenirs from my travels. After my first major trip about 7 years ago, I bought a travel box to house my collections. I put many things from my first adventure in Maui, Hawaii in that box. Things that I still have to this day. Lavender from a lavender farm tour I went on. Napkins from a delicious restaurant I ate in.

Looking through my little souvenir box, I see a lot of it is random paper items like receipts, maps and ticket stubs. Things that I had planned on using in some creative travel craft project that was never created. I’ve cleaned this box out a few times over the years, but it’s so difficult to throw any of it away. I know I don’t NEED a ticket stub for a train ride in Italy from 6 years ago, but I still want if for some reason that I don’t fully understand.  

Among my collections are currency (mostly coins with a few small bills) left over from my trips. I have euros, pounds, pesos (Mexican and Colombian) and a few Ecuadorian coins. I’ve always loved foreign currency. The bills are always so colorful and decorative, unlike the bills we use here in the United States. Often, I feel like currency is reflective of the people it represents. In many of the places I’ve traveled, the people are colorful and full of life, just like their beautiful currency.

On a recent trip to Colombia, I decided I wasn’t going to buy or keep things to put into that box anymore (except currency, of course). No more shot glasses or keychains that will never be used or gifted. No more collecting postcards from every city and sight I visit. No more saving every scrap of paper handed to me. Instead, my boyfriend and I bought two beautiful art pieces to hang on our walls. To date, they are my favorite souvenirs. Things that are on display for the world to see instead of locked away in a box for me to occasionally reminisce over.

Every time I open this box, I have a rush of mixed emotions. Joy remembering all of the amazing experiences I had and the incredible people I met. But also sadness. Sadness that those experiences have come and gone. Sadness that I will never see some of those people again. Sadness that I’m sitting in my apartment looking through the past instead of currently being on an adventure. I often have feelings of being trapped after I look through my little travel box. Trapped back in a life that didn’t satisfy the last time. Or the time before that.

So now I’m trying to decide what to do with the contents of this box. Do I continue to lug around my past experiences, keeping them hidden away for just me? Or do I actually clean this box out? Get rid of the little faded scraps of paper. The 6 year old candy bar I never ate. The now crushed dried flowers.  

What kind of souvenirs do you collect and where do you keep them? Do they bring you joy or sadness?