There are things beyond our control. Things that force us to change our plans, to be flexible and spontaneous, things that humble us, that remind us that the world keeps spinning regardless of what we’re going through, things that make the impossible possible and the possible impossible. These unpredictable factors are known as force majeure—a mayor force the world unleashes upon us stupid, unsuspecting humans.
I started writing this post multiple times over the past few weeks, but something inevitably changed every time and I’d scrap my drafts, unsure where I was going both with my writing and my life. My crazy idea to buy a house in Italy didn’t pan out so I flew to Amsterdam to stay with a friend; I was supposed to go to Brussels next and maybe Cologne after that, but my friend in Belgium caught COVID the night before I was scheduled to arrive (she’s vaccinated so it was mild and she’s fully recovered now) and my friends in Germany have young kids so I didn’t want to risk bringing the virus to them after living what could be best described as post-pandemic life in Holland… which lasted for a few days before restrictions were brought back. Amsterdam in autumn was magical but I had to keep going, so I flew to southern Portugal.
This was my first visit to Portugal and I loved it. I spent about ten days in Faro, a small city on the southern coast with labyrinthine alleys and colourful buildings, traditional Portuguese black-and-white stone-cobbled streets sprinkled with falling yellow leaves and lined with orange trees, and giant stork nests that adorn the tops of churches and arches in the old town.
From the start, Asia—Oman, Sri Lanka, Maldives, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia—was my Plan B in case I couldn’t stay in Europe more than three months, and I was hoping to start making my way east in January after a month-long stay in Chefchaouen, Morocco’s blue city in the north. But omicron changed everything.
Senseless restrictions on southern African countries popped up in a matter of days and Morocco shut down its borders entirely. In less than 72 hours, my flight to Tangier was cancelled, my Airbnb host gave me a full refund, and I found myself, once again, staring at a cornucopia of travel apps, hoping they’d reveal where I should go next.
They didn’t reveal anything new, of course, just reiterated what I already knew: there are still too many restrictions in Asia (especially for a Colombian passport-holder), my European visa was about to run out, I waited too long to book a place in Istanbul for December, flights to Mexico were just as expensive as to Colombia, and now Africa was out of the picture.
So finally, after a couple of manic days spent searching for a sign, for a solution, for an escape, I admitted defeat: I’d have to go back to Colombia. The one thing I swore I wouldn’t do. At least I got to spend a few magical days in Sevilla, Spain, before hopping on a train north to Madrid and then flying back over the Atlantic once again.
After being locked down in Colombia for eighteen months, I was craving the world beyond the Andes, and coming back to the place I so desperately escaped in search of adventures, exploration, discoveries, and excitement in the USA and Europe was the last thing I wanted to do. But, here I am. So I’m going to make the absolute best of it, spend some time with my family, take better care of myself—adjust my recent habits around food, drink, exercise, and rest—and escape the European winter until my Schengen days reset in the spring. For now, I have to bend to the Universe’s will. And some deep stretching never hurts.
All photos shot on iPhone