When I told people we were going to Colombia, the reactions ranged from a joking “South Carolina?” to serious-toned “South America?”, followed by a slightly insulting, “Are you nuts?” The people who asked the latter question knew that I meant the collective we, as in my ever-agreeable husband, always energetic four-year-old son, and easygoing four-month-old baby boy. “I know it won’t be easy”, I would say, “but my childhood friend is getting married, and I really want to see if we can make this happen.”
I was determined to see this family travel challenge through, if not to prove the naysayers wrong, to prove myself right. So, after doing my due diligence of surveying family and friends and even a handful of random parents at the playground, we decided to move forward with our plan. We got the kiddos passports, booked our rooms, and went down an inevitable rabbit hole of travel blogs and colorful Google images of the beautiful port city, Cartagena.
I closed my eyes and before I knew it, we were there.
Meeting friendly locals at the open market. Wearing our smiling baby and walking hand-in-hand down cobblestone streets. Teaching our preschooler how to say clever expressions in Spanish. Introducing the entire family to new and exotic foods. Swimming in the sparkling Caribbean Sea. Dancing Samba in the street way past our usual 7:30pm bedtime. It was magical. We had become lifelike versions of the Google images we had admired for so many weeks leading up the trip.
And then I opened my eyes.
I cleared my throat and called the bride. I told her about our valiant effort to make the trip a reality; yet it was a dream we could not realize. Long flights with inconvenient layovers. Ten plus hours of travel. Vaccines and health concerns for a baby under six months. Work conflicts. Timing. It just wasn’t in the cards.
I know that despite all the potential challenges, Cartagena would have been a wonderful experience. In addition to being there for my friend on her special day, I really wanted to make the statement that having a new baby who is also our second child would not deter us from seeing the world. I wanted to prove that our passport stamping days BC (before children) were not lost. That going to Target without children in tow or going a whole thirty minutes without getting spit-up on are not the extent of our current day adventures. But the reality of having two small kids and going on a big international trip simply cannot be reconciled. Not for us and not right now, and that’s okay.
For now, Cartagena exists solely in my mind, but I know when the time is right, we will make a big trip happen as a family of four. We will explore, walk, eat, swim and dance our way through a new and beautiful place. One day, we will give our kids the world. Our day for adventure will surely come.