Under the Knife and Under the Sun: Plastic Surgery While Traveling

By Camila Luna

Travel and plastic surgery. Yes, I traveled to where it’s sunny and warm (and cheap) and  got plastic surgery. Phew! There, I said it.

Like many of you, I, too, have struggled with self- image. I have looked in the mirror, and despite my best efforts to love myself, have told myself that I don’t like X, Y, or Z about my appearance. And, like many of you, some of those “imperfections” I’ve changed with surgery  (you’d be surprised who has had work done), and other “imperfections” I’ve learned to accept.

For me personally, two of my biggest insecurities have always been my nose and my breasts.  Nose too big, and boobs too small. I have done the typical girl things to cover up these insecurities with contour, bras, and flattering clothing, but at the end of the day when you’re bare-faced and the clothes come off, you’re faced with reality.

So, you’re probably wondering: what work did I get done, and how did I plan for it?

Well, I’ll start with the latter question. Honestly, I did not really plan for my surgery. I was at the beginning of my two-month trip through 3 countries and 5 cities, and I suddenly got the idea that while I’m in Colombia, I might as well get the work done that I have always wanted. Mind you, at the time of my decision, I was in San Francisco and was planning on being in Colombia in about a weeks’ time. I had one week to find a surgeon and schedule the surgery.  I was planning to target my two major “imperfections”: boobs and nose .

Right away I started researching surgeons in Bogota, and even reached out to a few, but then I remembered my dear cousin, who has had quite a bit of work done (and looks gorg, btw). My cousin put me in contact with her surgeon, who wrote me into her busy schedule right away.

While all of this was going on, I was sharing my plan with my close friends and family. Of course, all of them were trying to dissuade me from surgery, and my mom, being a scientist, managed to find some really interesting research on breast implants that ultimately changed my mind about getting them.

Although breast augmentation is one of the most common plastic surgeries in the world, it also has the potential for the most complications. Namely, breast implants are NOT lifetime devices. Although those silicone (or saline) pouches have improved dramatically through the years, if you’re in your 20’s, you must plan and expect to have AT LEAST one more surgery down the line to have the implants replaced or removed. Every extra year that you have your implants, the risk for complications increases, and after every additional surgery to fix or replace your old implants, the risk for complications increases even more. Top that off with the fact that I have a tendency for skin allergies (large foreign object implanted in body= unhappy allergies),  and I realized that breast implants were not worth the risk for me.  The absolute best case scenario was that they’d be great, last me a good 30 years, and then I’d need to have them replaced at age 50 (and then again at 80?? Uhhh…), and the worst case scenario is that I’d have a reaction and have to have them removed in a few years (with no guarantee of the condition of my natural breast skin & tissue after removal). I was not down for either scenario, so I decided against the boob job.

Rhinoplasty, on the other hand, is one-and-done. I knew the risk was not liking my new nose, and the usual complications that go along with surgery, but I trusted the surgeon based on the work she had done on my cousin, so I decided to go for it.

While in Bogota, I got all of my hospital tests done, booked my Airbnb for where I was going to stay (I wanted to have my own space while I was recovering instead of staying with family), and even arranged for someone to take care of me post-surgery when my mom wasn’t around.

I met with my surgeon three times before my operation to discuss what I wanted, what was realistic, and possible complications, and even got to sneak in a super intense 4-day trip to Medellin right before the surgery (not sure if my doctor would have advised that, honestly). Then, exactly one week after I landed in Colombia, I found myself laying on the stretcher, with an IV in my arm, ready for surgery. I couldn’t stop thinking to myself, “This is a joke right now. Am I seriously doing this? Whoah this is crazy. Am I crazy? You’re kidding me right now”. Nevertheless, I went through with the surgery, and woke up 1.5 hours later groggy and with a big cast on my nose… but very happy nonetheless.

Buuut….as soon as I was able to look in the mirror after surgery, my heart sank. My nose was exactly the opposite of what I had wanted! 😱😱 It was upturned, and the space between my lip and nose looked huge. My lips looked thin. I looked like a cross between a chipmunk and a pig (pigmunk). I knew that the way my nose looked then was not going to be the final product and that my cheeks were all types of inflamed, but it was really hard to stay positive.

In the first few days after surgery, I think it’s safe to say I was depressed. Surprisingly, my nose did not hurt at all during the entire recovery process (although my doctor had cut both bone and cartilage), but emotionally, I was not in a good place. My face still looked like a pigmunk, my cast looked crooked, I couldn’t sleep because my nose was so stuffy, and now I was starting to get bruising under my eyes. I was terrified that I was going to have the nose of my nightmares.

I am generally a person who is positive and in a good mood. Even if I’m having a hard time at work or if I get my heart broken, I just cry it out, read some books on inner peace, and then I bounce right back to my normal, happy-go-lucky self (yeah, for my exes reading this… even if you screwed me over, I was SO over you in just a few days 💁💁💁😂) . But post-surgery, there were some days when I just wanted to lay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself. It was a kind of sadness/emotional numbness I hadn’t felt before.

Thoughts whirled in my head. Was I succumbing to unrealistic European beauty standards that weren’t even for me?  Was I minimizing my African and Muisca roots? Was I betraying everything I stood for? Do I love myself? Can I love myself and still risk my health by unnecessarily going under the knife???? And if I don’t love myself… will I ever be able to truly, deeply love anyone else??????

I didn’t want to see anyone, or even walk around the block as my doctor had instructed. I just wanted to lay in bed and think about how bad I looked and then judge myself for being so vain (talk about vortex of self-pity😩) Regardless, I had promised myself that even if I didn’t like my new nose and looked like a pigmunk for the rest of my life, I was not going to get revision rhinoplasty and would just accept myself the way I was. I had PROMISED myself that my nose job was one-and-done.

One week after my surgery, when the highlight of my day was being  able to breathe out of one nostril, I had my first follow-up appointment with my doctor. She removed my cast and immediately I started smiling- under the ugly cast and the tape holding up the tip of my nose, I saw my dream nose! It was smaller, had no bump, and still had the characteristics of my old nose that I liked: it was still long, like my Muisca ancestors, and still round at the tip, like my African ancestors. My new nose was perfect for me, and I knew that through the recovery it was going to look even better!

My doctor put on a new, smaller plastic cast on my nose, and for the first time in a week, I put on some lipstick, dressed up in my cute clothes and even left my house to socialize with family and close friends. Finally I was feeling like myself again!

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Before the procedure I had told myself that my surgery was going to be top secret. I felt ashamed, felt like a huge hypocrite (body- positive feminists don’t get plastic surgery?? 😰), and matter of fact, my biggest fear was returning to Shanghai (where I currently live) and having people realize that I had had my nose done. But with time, I found myself telling almost everyone around me. I told almost everyone except for my three best friends in New York who I would see in two weeks. These girls, who have known me for about a decade, were going to be the test reaction of my nose job. I was excited and nervous.

When I finally arrived to New York about two weeks after my surgery, no one noticed a thing. When I told my friends, all I heard was … *crickets*…. “wait, really?” “but where?” “but what was wrong with your nose?” “did it hurt?”. No one noticed a thing. My family joked that I had wasted my money since the difference was unnoticeable to others.

Despite this extremely anticlimactic reaction from my friends, I am very happy with my surgery and don’t regret it at all. When I look in the mirror, my nose is exactly the way I want, and I can absolutely notice the difference. I still contour my nose, but now it looks just the way I want when I take off my makeup. The difference is very subtle and natural, and I feel much prettier.

Now, for the big question many of you may be wondering about: how much did my surgery cost? The surgeon fee cost the equivalent of about $1,300, but with the hospital fees, anesthesia, medicine, etc, I would say the whole surgery cost about $2,000. This is freaking cheap AF. I paid it in USD, which probably thrilled my doctor.

I have decided to be open about my surgery because honestly, surgery is serious, it was as much an emotional journey as a physical one, and it is an experience that has changed me both inside and out. I know there is a lot of stigma and judgment around people who get work done, especially in the US. But honestly, I feel more comfortable and free when I’m open with others- even if they disapprove. I don’t want to normalize plastic surgery, but I want those of us who have chosen to go under the knife to be included in the self-love dialogue, just like everyone else. If you’re reading this and thinking terrible things about me (or even feeling “concern”/ “pity” for me), it’s ok, I honestly don’t mind- maybe you also secretly want to get some work done… hahaha 👀🙊.  Also, I understand it can be hard to wrap your mind around the fact that someone would get surgery just for vanity.

Either way I’m still me, and even though I changed one “imperfection” with surgery, I’m still on the journey of learning to tolerate/love my body. Will I have more invasive plastic surgery in the future? Honestly, I hope not. I’m happy with what I’ve done and don’t want more. Will I get little things like fillers or Botox? Honestly…. that’s a definite yes.

Mostly, I want to continue this journey of body acceptance/enhancement/modification with a prayer for myself and everyone reading this:

 “Universe, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”

 

Oh, and one last thing. If you’re considering surgery while traveling, here’s what you should know:

10 things to know before getting plastic surgery while traveling:

  1. Unresolvable cognitive dissonance. But… but…I’m a body- positive, intersectional feminist who barely shaves her legs… how can I get plastic surgery??????
  2. No flying for at least 10 days after surgery. Nope, ya can’t leave right away! And if you’re in a mountainous place like Bogota, you need to be in the city at least three days before surgery while your body adjusts to the altitude.
  3. No sun. I know, the title is misleading. No matter how beautiful the beach is near you, after surgery, you need to stay out of the sun to prevent swelling and possibly permanent discoloration.
  4. You will probably feel depressed. This was big for me. You will probably be in your room, in pain/uncomfortable, questioning your life choices/ beauty standards/mental health/sanity, and feeling ugly as hell for at least a week after surgeryThis can be quite isolating, and you might be thinking of all the cool things you could be doing if you weren’t suffering from your own vanity.
  5. Kissing will hurt, and you need to curb the hanky-panky and any other form of exercise. Sometimes flings & things happen while traveling, so tell your new amiguito to chill because you just had surgery and can’t get too crazy with any type of physical activity.
  6. With your cast on in Latin America, people will assume you got a nose job. With your cast on in the US, people will assume you had an accident… LOL
  7. You will think people are judging you, and they probably are, but guuurl (or boy or they/them)….. do you anyways.
  8. No alcohol in the days before and no alcohol for at least two weeks after surgery. Yep, gotta curb the fiesta.
  9. You should definitely speak the local language, or find a doctor who speaks excellent English. Clear communication with your surgeon is SO important to get the results you want.
  10. RESULTS ARE NOT GUARANTEED!! There is a possibility you will not like your results or that there will be complications. Be sure you are very, VERY aware of this and be emotionally prepared to deal with this kind of situation if it happens.
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When I posted this photo from my room in Bogota, no one would have guessed I was laying in bed with a cast on my nose.

Check out more of Camila’s articles on the Travel Latina website, and check out her travel blog in photographs at @camila.lunaaaaa on Instagram!

 

Introducing: Ruby Bucio

Daughter of Mexican immigrants, born in Ohio and now a Texan resident. Ruby loves to read, draw, and travel. Prior to her leg injury, she was a personal trainer and fitness fanatic. She is bilingual and studied Accounting and Business Admin.
Ruby has traveled mostly solo to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Peru. She prefers backpacking, staying in hostels, or volunteering for Workaway more than luxury vacations. On my next journey she hopse to visit The Taj Mahal or the pyramids of Egypt.
Follow her blog at R Great Escape or on Instagram @rgreatescape.

Introducing: Sam Cartagena

Sam Cartagena is a writer, blogger and publicist based in Jersey City, NJ. She’s the founder of Ambition + Mischief, a space that celebrates personal growth and mindful productivity for badass women. She grew up in Washington Heights, NY and is a proud Afro-Dominicana. She’s traveled to over 15 countries (and counting), where she’s always reminded that growth and comfort do not coexist. Follow Sam’s journey as she shares stories about work, life and travel on AmbitionandMischief.com and on Instagram @Ambition.Mischief.

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Advice from Top Latinx LGBTQ+ Travellers

Traveling as a LGBTQ+ person has become easier in certain countries, but it still requires a great amount of preparation and research before embarking on a trip. We reached out to 11 amazing Latinx LGBTQ+ travelers for their advice, and each have different backgrounds and experiences that offer a unique perspective on seeing the globe.

Check out these amazing people, Instagram accounts, their Latin American & Caribbean (LatAm) backgrounds, and most importantly, their personal stories.

Samar Rodriguez, IG: @dr_simplicity
Pronoun: They/Them
Current Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
LatAm Motherland Roots:  Venezuela, Trinidad, & Jamaica

I love traveling and have to go to a pretty special range of countries. I travel for both pleasure and work (I’m a social scientist who uses ethnography). Admittedly, I try to mix the two together almost every trip. I’d advise other queer travellers to remember to pack ahead of time- something that really grounds them. We can’t always anticipate how we will be read in a new country/region. I note this in particular because people assume there is one way to “look Latinx”; because anti-blackness manifests in unexpected places; and because ideas about femininity/masculinity/queerness are constructed in ways that won’t always fit your previous experiences. It can be really disorienting, so I’d advise anyone to carry with them something or some practice that brings them back to center.”

Samar - London, UK
Samar in London, UK


Charlie J. Stoever, IG: @vulnerabletraveler
Pronoun: She/Her
Current Hometown: Santa Rosa, California
LatAm Motherland Roots: México

 https://instagram.com/p/Bh72pygn-FK/

“I’ve never regretted stepping out of my comfort zone and being vulnerable. I’ve come out to people in lots of different countries and I’m so glad I did. Safety is a huge part of traveling as a whole, but adding the LGBT aspect can add another layer of danger to traveling. My advice is to go with your instinct. If your gut tells you not to come out to someone, don’t do it. But if there’s something inside of you telling you that the person or people you’re interacting with will continue to make you feel safe, I encourage you to do so.

In my travels, I’ve never regretted coming out to people, but I am constantly gauging whether or not I feel safe in a certain place or environment.

Also, the Tinder application is a great way to meet other queer people abroad. I’ve met up with people and been physical with them, but most of the time I’ve had platonic meet ups and made lifelong friends through Tinder. I find it easier to go on dates with people outside of the U.S. anyway. Have fun, and if you feel safe doing so, be yourself! Don’t pressure yourself to put yourself at risk. Travel is all about growing while being aware of your safety, whatever that means for you.”

Char-Stoever-Rio-San-Juan
Charlie at Rio San Juan, Nicaragua

Tannia Suárez with her wife Erin, IG:  @wanderlustladies
Pronoun: She/Her
Current Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Tannia’s LatAm Motherland Roots: México

 “My advice is to do your research! As infuriating as it can be, sometimes you need to modify your behavior (mostly referring to PDA) to “be respectful” of different cultures and, more importantly, not to find yourself in harm’s way. I’m not only talking about international travel. To be honest, I find that it’s the same advice whether you’re traveling in the U.S. or abroad.

When we have the opportunity and option, my wife and I try to pick a hotel or apartment in or near an LGBT-friendly area. It may help you feel more relaxed and in theory, be a bit safer.

Actually, we’ve been traveling as digital nomads for over three years, and haven’t had any super negative experiences. The bad experiences we’ve had have been for being women, not specifically for being LGBT. Overall, I’d say be aware that you are a target simply because of your gender, and maybe more so if you’re perceived to be LGBT, and plan accordingly.

To me, that means doing more daytime activities and limiting evening activities. It’s not a huge deal for us, because we don’t really like being out at night anyway. But if it is a big deal for you, just be mindful of language barriers and cultural differences, and plan ahead to know what and where to avoid. The most important thing is to not let fear hold you back. The world is an amazing place to explore, and you deserve to experience it!”

Tannia - Paris
Tannia in Paris, France


Stephanie Ortega Esquinca and her wife Taylor, IG:
@lesbinomadic
Pronoun: She/Her
Current Hometown: Laredo, TX
Steph’s Motherland Roots: México

 https://www.instagram.com/p/-SbsLcxwzC/

 “Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt” – Into the Wild.

Just remember, you don’t have to be radical or be an activist to create change. Remember that representation matters, especially in the travel industry. Just by being yourself, you’re constantly breaking down people’s stereotypes of Latinx community/culture. ​The world wouldn’t be the same without us…without you.”

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@lesbinomadic in Cairo, Egypt


Ivana Bolfarini, IG:
@itsme_ivanab
Pronoun: She/Her
Current Hometown: Weston, CT
LatAm Motherland Roots: Uruguay & Brazil

 
Being queer in a heteronormative world can sometimes be hard to navigate. There are places around the world that may not be as accepting to our identities. Before traveling I make sure to do a lot of research in terms of regulations in the countries I want to visit and make sure I do my due diligence. Instagram is actually a great way to do that since you get the chance to reach out to other members of the community that may have visited the destination in the past. Regardless of research, I don’t let it get in the way of where I want to travel and explore. It’s more for a sense of precaution and to be aware of where I’m going to be traveling and how that fits with the customs and cultures of those around me.”

Ivana - Oslo, Norway
Ivana in Oslo, Norway

Jensine Gomez and Abriana Fee Vicioso, IG: @jenandabi
Pronoun: She/Her & She/Her
Current Hometown: Orlando, FL
Jen’s LatAm Motherland Roots: Colombia
Abi’s LatAm Motherland Roots: Dominican Republic & Puerto Rico

 https://www.instagram.com/p/BX1lPmlnoGE/

 “The advice that we would offer other LGBTQ+ Latinx travellers is that although traveling the world brings many fears, there are so many places in the world that we deserve to see. See the world. Go to the places you have always dreamed to go to! Don’t let your fears stop you. Just always remember how important it is to do your research about wherever you are going!

Research their societal norms, their customs, and their cultures. Having this knowledge can help you take the right precautions. Something that helps us when we are traveling is to find some LGBT friendly areas or hotels wherever we go. The LGBTQ+ community is everywhere! It doesn’t hurt to reach out before you go. Always remember that everyone’s experience is different, but something that has given us peace of mind (especially being in a masc/fem relationship) has been finding other LGBTQ+ couples similar to ourselves, and reaching out to them about their experience in a particular country that we are interested in. This does not necessarily define our experience, but it can give us an idea of some things to be aware of.

While taking these precautions, always stay true to who you are. When we travel the world, as LGBTQ+ Latinx travellers, our clothes may change, we may not be able to show physical affection, but we always remember to allow our beauty within to shine. Through spreading love, kindness, and positivity, acceptance & tolerance may grow in places where it may have never been expected.”

JenandAbi - NYC
Jen & Abi in NYC


Bianca Kea, IG:
@biancakathryn_
Pronoun: She/Her
Current Hometown: New York City, NY
LatAm Motherland Roots: México

“Truthfully, I’m still learning how to travel with my girlfriend as an openly Black lesbian so I definitely don’t have all the answers. But I would definitely recommend doing your research prior to traveling to a country, figure out its stance on LGBTQ issues and foreign policy as a whole. That stuff matters, especially in this day and age. Lastly, have a chat with your partner. Get their thoughts and perspective on traveling to that said country. As exciting as traveling is, it can also be intimidating and scary and you want to make sure both parties feel comfortable.”

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Blanca Balli and Yessenia ‘Yesi’ Hernandez, IG:
@thewifeyadventures
Pronoun: She/Her & She/Her
Current Hometown: Dallas, TX
Blanca’s LatAm Motherland Roots: México & Spain
Yesi’s LatAm Motherland Roots: México

thewifeyadventures - Capital Hill, Seattle, WA
The best advice that we could give is to plan what you need to, but don’t forget to have fun! Have fun exploring new environments and experiencing it together. Sometimes it can feel a little uncomfortable to step into a new world if you haven’t quite reached the level of veteran traveler. This can be one of the most amazing bonding experiences you can have with your favorite person. If you’re new to travel…sign up for point and reward programs! Try different travel companies (airlines, hotels, airbnb) so you can learn which ones work the best for you. Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals and ask them questions about their city (most of the time it’s a compliment to them). Try all the foods. Be present and capture the memories in not just your camera, but in your mind too.

Don’t sweat the small travel hiccups…they happen, and sometimes they can even open up another opportunity unplanned. Read blogs about your next destination to get a better perspective on what to expect or plan for. If you’re up for it, be a part of our community and share your story. No matter how many of us there are sharing travel stories, there is always room for one more!”

wifeyadventures - Dallas, TX
Blanca & Yesi in Dallas, TX


Dinah Becton-Consuegra and her wife Malila, IG: @getlostwithlesbians
Pronoun: She/Her
Current Hometown: San Francisco Bay Area, California
Dinah’s LatAm Motherland Roots: Guatemala and México

 https://www.instagram.com/p/8RnrFfxwzO/?taken-by=travel_latina

“Ultimately, there is an element of fearlessness in being a queer woman of color brings so live and love and go where you want to go just know what that country’s stance is on LGBTQ folk.

That said, since having two children, we are much more cautious. Our advice has shifted from what we would have said as a childless couple. We recommend that you consider seeing parts of the world that might have strict anti-LGBT policies before you consider traveling with children as it adds another layer of danger to bring children into the mix. It is also much harder to “pass” as friends or relatives and get a chance to see places you may not want to bring children into for safety reasons. There is also the concern that if something were to happen while abroad, not all countries recognize same-sex parents to have visiting rights in the hospital for example.

If you are into travel books, some have sections that specific discuss LGBTQ travellers which have been very helpful.

I would consider reaching out to other LGBTQ POC travellers as sometimes the laws are not enforced as strongly for tourists because the country doesn’t want to lose tourism. Other times there are some nuances that research doesn’t capture. For example, pornography and sex toys are not permitted in the United Arab Emirates so if you don’t know this, you could land yourself in serious trouble upon arrival.

With two children, we consider the intersection of LGBTQ friendly countries and family friendly places to really enjoy our travel experiences.

There are some go to places where we go when we just want to be ourselves that aren’t too far from us here in Oakland like Hawai’i and Puerto Vallarta. Sometimes it’s nice not to think about all the details and just go and unwind and enjoy an amazing experience with some element of predictability and familiarity.”

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@Getlostwithlesbians on their baby moon in Maui, Hawai’i

What other Latinx LGBTQ+ travellers should we follow? Are you LGBTQ+ and have advice to give us and/or the community? Please comment below!

 

Introducing: Salomé Luna Gemme

Salomé Gemme is a Cuban-American writer and visual artist from Miami. Growing up in culturally rich Miami infused her personality with a thirst for the new and the meaningful. She carries with her the burden of curiosity, thus she’s dipped her hands into an eclectic array of fields from art, social politics, environmentalism, to emotional and physical health. Exploration is what helps her thrive as a person – she’s set herself on a path to explore both this earth and all the ideas and issues that exist upon it. The best trips give you an appreciation for new places and a new appreciation for old places. 

You can check out Salomé’s website at http://lunagemme.com/, or follow her on IG or Twitter @salomegemme.

Introducing: Camila Luna

Camila was born in New York City to a Colombian mother and African-American father. She spent much of her childhood feeling out of place due to her mixed heritage, but after a year of living in France with her mother and attending an international school, she realized that her “place” was not with one country or ethnicity- she realized she is a global girl. This experience and newfound realization caused Camila to then seek internationalism in all her pursuits- in college she studied abroad in La Habana, Cuba, and majored in intercultural communication and anthropology, and later in graduate school she focused on international education.

 

 

Today, Camila lives in Shanghai, China, and in her free time she can be found travelling,
dreaming up entrepreneurial pursuits, listening to business podcasts, and most of all, dancing! Camila is very excited to be a part of the Travel Latina community and loves to help empower Latinx all over the world to live their best lives. In her writing, Camila likes to highlight the spiritual aspect of living and travelling. You can find her on Instagram at @camila.lunaaaaa.

 

A Love Letter to Bogotá

Ah, Bogotá. 

Every day, the thought of your cloudy skies and rainy streets permeate my mind. I never thought either of those things would appeal to me, not now they’re forever preserved in amber in my memory.  

In July of 2016, I flew into you, not knowing much more about you other than the fact that you’re bursting with about eight million people.

The hum of Pillar Point’s Dove oozing from my headphones, I gazed out onto the hazy, emerald mountains outside my scratched, undersized window. I’d watched Kia Labeija voguing through Bogotá each day before visiting you, each time my soul building with anticipation to wander La Candelaria’s cobblestoned streets. 

 

I couldn’t wait to see your jarring contrast of skyscrapers and Montserrat’s looming presence with my own eyes. I wanted to feel as free as the uncaged Kia.

As soon as I arrived, I felt disoriented. Which way was North? I wondered countless times. My obsession with order was flipped on its head. I’m usually quick to orient myself, but with mountains on all sides, it was hard to do so.

Which way is up? I might as well have wondered. I was vulnerable in a most basic sense, but I’ve learned to grow from this discomfort.

I was nervous and thrilled, but with you, this excitement was different. I’d returned somewhere I’d never visited. I felt as if you’d been waiting patiently for me all these years, trusting I’d walk in the door eventually. Like a dormant volcano whose crater filled with water over millennia, you basked in waiting.

What was the rush?

I’d meet you in due time. Now, as I write this, I realize how much I miss you. I miss the cool air that put my blankets to use. I miss wearing jeans without sweating and layering my clothes. I miss the peppery smell emanating from food carts selling warm empanadas.

“Beef or chicken?” the vendor asked me.

“Mmm…One of each, please. Oh, and do you not have salsa?”

“Como no,” he said, and he placed the magical ingredients in a brown paper bag.

I felt inspired during the Bogota Graffiti Tour. I’d learned of the artists from Ecuador, Mexico, and New Zealand who’ve made this place their second home, and now I wanted to join them.

 

 

A Reptilian monster wrapped itself around buildings’ unassuming walls, and an indigenous woman looked to the sky, averting her gaze from us mortals. I’d learned of the artist the police had shot, then of the subsequent police barrier protecting Justin Beiber while he stained your walls. Once the police left, your artists reclaimed your wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved the atmosphere of change. Of recuperation from trauma of a violent, capitalist-driven cocaine trade. Just like with any trauma, I’ve never completely recovered from mine. I constantly seek to explore my traumas and the effects they’ve had on me, and writing has been my saving grace in that process.

Bogota-Street-Art

On your walls, people explore their traumas or those of humans no longer with us. This homeless man was beaten to death and one artist commemorated him.

I was only there for three days, yet I was blessed with being able to queer it up during the LGBTQ Pride Parade. Just like Pride in Managua, Nicaragua, you haven’t sold out to corporate interests. Instead of free t-shirts, I got kisses on the cheek from new friends. We floated past the rainbow banners in between patches of sunlight that the skyscrapers’ granted us. I took my sweater off and put it back on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I danced the night away at the immensely fabulous gay club, Theatron, then on the taxi ride home, I fell into darkness. It could’ve happened anywhere, and I’ve learned just how resilient I am since it happened.  

I wanted to stay. You know, I really do love museums. It’s how I get to know a place intimately. I wanted to dive further into you, to explore your history in its glory, sadness, and tumult. I still want to know you. I felt the heaviness in my heart one feels when they’re not ready to leave a place. This feeling reminds me of Iranian author Azar Nafisi’s words about leaving:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” – Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

I miss who I was when I was with you, Bogota. Now you know. I can’t wait to explore you again.

Love,

Char.

The Most Creative Photography Featured on TL

Continuing with my photography series of articles, I decided to highlight the most creative photography we have featured on TL in the past two years. In the article “How to Get Your Photography Featured on Travel Latina”, I mentioned how we like to post eye-catching, unique, and creative photography. Whether the photographer plays with perspective, reflections, focus, objects, lighting, fabric or clothing, movement, incorporates design, and much more; these are the most attention grabbing photographs for us. Enjoy the following:

To be featured on @travel_latina, please email us at info@travellatina.org and send us your original and high quality travel photography. Please don’t forget to include your Instagram name and the description of the location of each photo. Please remember to be patient since we do receive a high number of requests to be featured, but don’t be afraid to kindly follow-up after a few weeks if we still haven’t featured you.

Feliz viaje, viajeras!

Introducing: Cepee Tabibian

Born a citizen of the world to a Colombian mother and Iranian father in West Virginia, Cepee spent all but 9 months of her childhood growing up in the Lone Star State and proudly considers herself a Native Texan. Although her parents were from South America and the Middle East, her passion for travel didn’t start until high school when she befriended a group of foreign exchange students.  Convincing her traditional Iranian father to let her travel solo the Netherlands for her 17th birthday was no easy feat. Little did they know that his support of her trip to visit a friend would become the most pivotal moment in her life. Her first trip abroad prompted a deep and magical love affair with travel and self-exploration that continues till this day, 20 years later.

Her education includes a bachelor’s in marketing and a master’s in international relations. In between her travels, she has worked in a variety of fields including marketing, sales, education, and travel. In 2015 she moved to Madrid, Spain and recently snagged her first remote job, a dream position that allows her to balance both work and travel. She is a running and yoga addict with a slight obsession for podcasts and social media. Cepee spends most of her free time building her brand Wanderlicious, a plant-based food + travel blog about Madrid and beyond. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or reach her at (and send your podcast recommendations to) wanderlicious.es@gmail.com.

The Most Colorful Photography Featured on Travel Latina

As stated recently in the article “How to Get Your Photography Featured on Travel Latina”, I LOVE color. I’m obsessed with colors that pop. Whether it is what the person is wearing, the flowers in the background, or the vibrant pueblo walls; I can’t get enough. I decided to look at some of my favorite colorful photography TL has featured since we first began a little over 2 years ago. Enjoy!:

To be featured on @travel_latina, please email us at info@travellatina.org and send us your original and high quality travel photography. Please don’t forget to include your Instagram name and the description of the location of each photo.Please remember to be patient since we do receive a high number of requests to be featured, but don’t be afraid to kindly follow-up after a few weeks if we still haven’t featured you.

Feliz viaje, viajeras!