Stranger Danger vs. Trust the Stranger

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We are told stranger danger and don’t accept candies from strangers. The lessons you learn as a child tend to stay with you and the lessons on safety even more so.

Yet while travelling, you need to trust others. You don’t ever immerse yourself if you don’t get to know and trust people and learn about them. I mean even trusting that your booked tour will show up on time and will keep you safe, is a huge leap of trust in itself.

We had one such situation where we took a leap of trust, I in particular felt very scared as I had this irrational fear that we’d be kidnapped (I’m not kidding!), but ultimately it turned out to be one of the highlights of our Colombia trip.

We were asked by our Air Bnb Host in Medellin to go with his wife and some family friends to visit his brother-in law’s luxury villa out in the lush countryside of Amaga, which is 2hrs away from the sprawling & bustling city of Medellin. We were not doing anything on that particular Sunday so my husband agreed to go on this day trip.

Therein began my worried questions:

“I know our Air Bnb Host, __________, is very nice to us. But we don’t really know him…”

“ I don’t want to go into the car & house with people that I don’t know & take our kids there too!”

“ What if we are kidnapped for ransom? And we’ll be out in the countryside of another country…”

“What if we get into a car accident? Or the luxury villa we are in gets robbed while we are there?”

Due to my fears, my husband and I agreed to let our family & friends know back home of the exact location of where we would be on that Sunday (after I had made my husband get the full address of the villa) and to call/text us every few hours to ensure that we were ok.

With that small consolation, we got into the car with our Air Bnb Host & his wife (whom we met for the first time that day), set out for the drive on a sunny morning which was promising to be a hot day with azure skies.

And what an experience it was! We drove high up into the winding mountain roads and had brunch at Kachotis with fried arepas and eggs and with roosters crowing right outside of the restaurant. My sons were fascinated by the roosters and were busy playing outside. while we ate and I practised by growing Spanish skills with our new hosts.

And the house and the whole day itself! I think that deserves a post all on its own.

All I will say is that it was quite an experience to see how the very rich live. We spent most of the day at the outdoor pool and the outdoor jacuzzi, basking in the golden sunlight and enjoying the breeze coming off of the mountainside, which nestled us from 2 sides.

We returned back to our place at 10pm that night and I learned a new lesson that travelling is also about trusting and being confident to take calculated risks, so that you can gain the rewards of new friends and unforgettable experiences.

Totally relaxed & happy at a stranger’s villa in Amaga, Colombia

Totally relaxed & happy at a stranger’s villa in Amaga, Colombia

When Things go to Sh*t- Colombia edition

Little wonder that many families opt to play it safe and go to a resort, cruises or stay closer to home. At least, you can get the comforts of home.

Our eldest did get sick with a stomach bug; our baby projectile vomited in the car due to motion sickness while our tour guide, Luis, was zipping through snake-like mountain passes near Medellin. And of course trying to talk to a local paediatric clinic with our broken Spanish and their non-existent English was,

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Communa 13 in Medellin- An Urban Miracle

But after witnessing Medellin’s transformation into a bustling, vivid, architecturally beautiful, politically safe, infrastructurally sound city- I have to change my mind about urban revitalization. The Medellin, which I had the pleasure of living in for a month, was a long way away from its one-time reputation as Pablo Escobar’s hometown (base of his Medellin Cartel) and the Murder Capital of the World. 

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6 Reasons Why Adventure Travelling is Good for Kids

Oh there are so many reasons, I can tell you. We are currently travelling through Colombia now with a 4 year old and an almost 1-year old.

Is it challenging with many frustrating moments? Yes!

Do your kids act out, have tantrums, don’t want to eat different foods? Yes!  

Does your kids sleeping schedule go all crazy? Yes!  

Does unexpected things happen, which you have to deal with, improvise, even? Yes! Especially when they throw up all over you in a moving car  

Do you get to enjoy meals at restaurants focusing on food & good conversation with your husband? Not really.  

But adventurous travelling, exploring a new country and interacting with people in their own language, sight-seeing, spending a lot of time walking & observing, has helped my children’s development in the following 6 ways:

1.) Both my children learned to walk early. My first one, walked right before his first birthday & my second one began walking before 11 months.

 2.) Both babbled early

3.) Very friendly and curious about people, seeks out and make eye contact with others to make new friends

4.) They are adaptable

 5.) They get an education which is unparalleled: learning new languages, eating different foods, learning to behave in public, subconsciously learn about history, sociology, architecture, science, geography...

6.) They get to see and understand privilege & that they as children are very lucky and privileged that they have the means to travel.  

What are some reasons you have travelled with your children? What do you feel your children have learned, while travelling? Please share your own listicle in the comments.  

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Panoramic view of Communa 13 in Medellin, Colombia. Communa 13 is an urban revitalization success story, going from one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in South America.  

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Old Town, Cartagena  

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Monserrate Summit, Bogotá  

Why You Should Vaccinate Your Child Before Travelling

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A major part of the reason why we are living longer and with healthier lives is due to vaccinations. We are now able to have immunity against common yet dangerous illnesses such as polio, measles, small pox, whooping cough, tetanus, diptheria, Hep A, typhoid, mumps, rubella, influenza, Hep B, Hep C, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, pneumococcal, rotavirus…and these are just a few that I have come up with.

Any of these illnesses would have killed vast numbers of children (and even adults) before the 1960’s or leave one with permanent disabilities including physical impairments, deafness and blindness.

In fact, during 1951-1954, an average of 16,316 paralytic polio cases and 1879 deaths from polio were reported each year. Meaning thousands of people would be left paralyzed due to polio, exacting a huge medical, physical, mental and societal toll.

Ask your grandparents, they likely knew people who had died or were severely affected by any number of the vaccine-preventable illnesses I mentioned above. Now think about it, how many people do you now know who are left scarred by these illnesses?

You have vaccines to thank for that.

Despite or because of the public health victories due to vaccines,  we are now seeing measles return in larger numbers. And part of the reason it’s happening is due to vaccine-hesitancy and high-speed travel, causing un-vaccinated people contracting and spreading the illnesses from one corner of the world to another, in a matter of hours.

So Please vaccinate your children. They are the ones most likely to get severely ill or die, due to these vaccine-preventable illnesses. If you had a surefire way to ensure your children can live into their old age and be healthy, why wouldn’t you do it?

When you are travelling this year, you can prep your family and protect them in the following ways. This will ensure that you don’t spend your precious vacay-time sick, or in the hospital and incurring HUGE financial cost:

  • Meet your family doctor or paediatrician. You can get prescriptions for travellers vaccines such as Typhoid (gotten from drinking or eating food made with untreated water). They can also administer the vaccine for free or a minimal cost.

  • Your pharmacist can also administer many travellers vaccines. There may be an extra cost, just ask.

  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine can be given to babies as young as 6months. Highly recommend as measles have cropped up in many countries. I have done this with both my kids and they are healthy, happy, and are not on Autism Spectrum (in case you were wondering).

  • Check your immunization card and see if you need booster shots. For Tetanus, you need a booster shot every 10 years.

  • A lot of workplace and private insurance cover the cost of getting these vaccines which are not part of your state or province’s regular immunization program

And for god’s sakes, please get your information from resources such as Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Public Health Agency of Canada. All of these direct links provide detailed and easy-to-understand info on vaccines, what they are made of and how they work to provide protection 

No, the former model with NO medical experience or training, Jenny McCarthy, is NOT a reliable source for life-preserving health information. Neither is that Facebook “vaccine choice” group.

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Montreal IS COLD! No Really, it is!

There, the winter air is so cold and dry that it burns your nasal pipes and air sneaks in through your heavy-socked winter boots giving you frostbite on your toes. Never mind the sheets of ice all over, so that you actually have to slide rather than walk, if you care to remain upright. 

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