Worth the Climb

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During my time in Bogota, Colombia I embarked on two gorgeous hikes in the Andes mountains. The views were breathtaking, and I was often lulled into a long, peaceful trance as the green hills cascaded in front of me for miles and miles. The air was clean and crisp, and the physical challenge of it all was strenuous, yet rejuvenating.

Hike number one was through the town of Guatavita, a sacred place about 1.5 hours outside of Bogota where the ancient Muisca tribe once reigned from 600 to 1600 C.E. Before the hike began, we were taught all about the Muisca – they worshipped Zue the sun god and Chie the moon goddess, believed that we should spend vast amounts of time in self-reflection, and were extremely creative.

On a guided park tour through all of the mountain’s lushness, we were lead up to Lake Guatavita – a beautiful blue lagoon that was a powerful, spiritual place where the Muisca people performed many rituals, and it is where the legend of El Dorado was birthed. To this day, many believe there are gold treasures nestled in the bottom of the lake.

After the hike down from the lake we briefly visited the local town, which offered a few small restaurants, shops, and vendors. Here is a bit of what I captured during our trek:

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View from the top of the hike
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Lake Guatavita

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Hike number two consisted of a longer expedition through the rugged forests, vast plains, and sky-high mountains of Suesca – we climbed rocks & boulders, crawled through cold & claustrophobic Colombian caves, and walked for a total of about ten miles.

About these caves…IT. WAS. NOT. EASY.*deep sigh of relief* I will say this was one of the most challenging things I’ve had to do both physically and mentally in my adult lifetime. Navigating through the caves required a decent level of skill, upper body strength, and mental discipline.

We had a total of five major physical tasks we had to complete to proceed to the next part of each cave – this included scaling and squeezing through rocks, swimming through ice-cold water, and climbing rickety ladders made of wood. Think of American Ninja Warrior but inside of pitch black caves deep under the ground.

About 12 of us did this insane activity together and we were each others’ cheerleaders. There were tears, moments of frustration and panic, and finally a sweet feeling of accomplishment at the end.

Views from the hike and inside the caves:

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For me, making it through to the light of day at the end of the caves filled me with overwhelming elation. It was a pristine moment of growth, and I felt it in every inch of my bones. I now feel like I can do absolutely anything in this world – maybe even skydive, and that’s saying A LOT (I have a crazy lifelong fear of heights).

The whole thing was an obvious metaphor for life, really – you’ll have to push through places and moments that seem totally impossible. You’ll have to gather every ounce of your strength, and even dig deeper for more that you didn’t know was there, while riding the wildest emotional rollercoaster. But in the end, you’ll absolutely always make it out.

I’m now in Medellin, Colombia for the month of March, so new posts coming soon!

Besos,

Ash

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Pueblo Mágico

Tepoztlán, a colorful and cozy town about 1.5 hours south of Mexico City, greeted us this past Sunday morning with its cobblestone streets and little unique shops. It is said to be the birthplace of the Aztec serpent god, Quetzalcoatl, and is popular for its weekly craft market – full of a plethora of handmade trinkets, fragrant foods, and live music.

Avenido del Tepozteco

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Street Market

With our hibiscus-water filled gourds in hand, we started the day with a long hike up the town’s sacred mountain called Tepozteco – a hike that was so extremely steep and intense it felt like an Olympic game (or maybe I’m excessively out of shape.) After stopping maybe 20 different times to catch my breath and chug hella water, I made it to the top of the mountain.

The view was more than worth the climb.

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Gourds for water

We got barefoot on woven wicker mats and began a guided chakra-healing yoga session. The sun was hot enough that it gave us all a little sunburn but we absorbed all the vibrant energy it sent down as we changed poses.

The session left me feeling recharged, balanced and relaxed.

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On the highest peak of the mountain was an ancient Aztec pyramid that we all climbed after yoga – we joined locals sitting on top of the pyramid, who also came to admire the vast view in front.

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After a terrifying climb back down the mountain with slippery, uneven rocks – which I’m still eternally thankful I made it down without an awkward fall – we all broke bread at a delicious lunch at Los Colorines. Every inch of the restaurant had a bright pop of color and walls were covered with intricate pottery pieces.

Later, we spent a bit of time exploring the street markets, the local cathedral grounds and enjoyed a refreshing scoop of Mexican ice cream.

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Tepoztlan gave us a taste of a beautiful, small-knit community with a mountain that took us away from the bustling sounds of daily life in Mexico City. Even the ice cream shop was run by a family with an inspiring story. I didn’t want to leave, but it’ll be added to my list of travel faves for now.

XOXO,

Ash