Fabian’s Adventure Colombia and Peru
“My most beautiful moment was when I realize that you have found a new home at your place of work. When I was walking down the street of my small village, meeting one friend after another and being called out to by all the motorcycles whizzing by. Unforgettable!”
Our participant Fabian spent some exciting months in Colombia and Peru. He worked for the Hostel Experience program in two different hostels in Santa Marta (Colombia) and Cusco (Peru) and supported an exciting volunteer project in Colombia that cares for children and young people. A time he will never forget. Now he tells us about his experiences.
In the time leading up to the trip, I was mainly concerned with finding out about the countries I’d be traveling to and had already collected a few plans.
Particularly exciting for me was actually also the procurement and assembly of my equipment. Through my travel backpack, for example, which I used for backpacking, I then already had tangible proof in Germany that it would soon really start.
My first days in colombia
I finally arrived in Cartagena after about 30 hours of travel time and was picked up by my contact José and taken directly to the hostel, where I spent my first two days on Colombian soil.
There was already another participant from Germany there, with whom I then watched something of the party in our hostel in the evening, but then went to bed pretty soon because I was really exhausted. The next two days we spent together with José, who showed us Cartagena, provided us with SIM cards and introduced us to Colombian food.
After our exciting introduction, we traveled on to our respective projects.
My daily routine
I participated in three different programs in two countries. In Colombia at the hostel bar, I had shifts from either 12pm to 6pm or 6pm to midnight. The alternating hours were ideal because it gave me time to go on excursions, but also to experience the nights at the hostel.
My second program was a social project, also in Colombia. Here I organized classes for the children twice a day for two hours and played with them afterwards. However, the working hours vary a lot. It always depends on how many children are there and how long they want to stay. In addition, you are often involved in activities such as beach clean-ups.
My third placement was in a hostel in Cusco, Peru. Here I worked in entertainment, a really cool job. After some initial variations, my working hours were from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.. Of course it was a change, but it was practical because you had the whole day to yourself.
My free time
I have always spent my free time very differently. While I worked at the hostel bar in Colombia, I usually spent my days off doing a little traveling. This worked out especially well because I got along very well with my colleagues and we often swapped shifts so that we had several days off at a time.
But I spent most of my time getting to know people, making friends, exchanging experiences and thus building up a social environment there as well.
When I was working in Peru I had already seen a lot of the country and so I spent a lot of time in Cusco itself, strolling through the huge markets or going hiking with friends. I also had a gym membership there. So you can definitely create a routine for yourself even when you’re abroad.
The Latin American culture
I got to know a lot of different people and characters, more than in my whole life in Germany so far. There were incredibly beautiful moments, but also sad and stirring experiences. Since you come into contact with many locals, you get a very deep insight into the culture. But it’s best for everyone to gather experiences for themselves.
What I like about the Colombians is that they are very fun-loving and always find a reason to celebrate, while the Peruvians are a bit more reserved – but all the friendlier for it.
My favorite places
The Pacific coast of Colombia was incredibly interesting, as I was in a very – and I mean really very – remote place and lived in the simplest conditions. The entire Caribbean coast is of course super beautiful anyway. Colombia just has an incredible variety to offer and it’s hard to settle on a favorite. However, I was very surprised by Cali. Actually only intended as a stopover, I had one of the coolest experiences of the entire trip here. A bomb packed salsa bar in the heart of the city. I’m not really a lover of salsa, but even as a complete beginner I had a great time here, because the party-loving Colombians really know how to create a good atmosphere.
Peru is very different from Colombia, the Andes are really incredibly beautiful in their entirety. I visited the classics Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain etc. of course, but Peru has so much more to offer. There are impressive deserts and islands populated with penguins and sea lions that are just beautiful.
That’s why I love Latin America
Life is very versatile, each person has their own story to tell and the adventure begins with the step outside the door. Simply ingenious. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I don’t think you can really understand it until you’ve experienced the feeling of life there yourself.
My most beautiful moment
The moment when you realize that you have found a new home at your place of work. When I walked down the street of my little village, met one friend after another and was called out to by all the motorcycles whizzing by. Unforgettable!
This is how the journey has changed me
The trip made me understand the affluence we live in Germany, made me more sensitive to many issues and definitely more confident in dealing with strangers. It taught me to take things as they come and lose some of the German stiffness. You don’t have to plan everything, things just work out in South America. How will I get back from this trip? No idea, but something is guaranteed to come up when it does. That’s how it was. Plus, my Spanish got better. Having to deal a lot with tourists from Europe who speak mostly English, it’s not really fluent and still pretty bumpy, but enough to converse with people.
My tip for future travelers
Go abroad for a longer period of time, the longer the better. Don’t set your expectations too high, but go into your adventure with open arms. It’s often the little things, and especially the human experiences, that make a trip memorable. And perhaps most importantly, talk to people, even if you are shy or, like me at the beginning, barely know Spanish. You always find a way to communicate and it’s worth it. I found many hidden waterfalls or super delicious restaurants only because I talked to locals and other travelers who had already traveled the region.