It’s my first day in Medellin, Colombia.
I walk out the door with a mission: Get bacon and eggs, go to an ATM, and get a SIM card.
I don’t know where I’m headed – I just know that a few blocks to the right, there is a main road, and somewhere on that main road might be the things I’m looking for.
The catch? Without a SIM card, I can’t use Google Maps. And since I don’t speak Spanish (yet), I can’t ask for directions.
I get to the main road and start walking down to where I think there’s a grocery store.
A local man approaches me and says something in Spanish. “No comprende,” I respond, and then we fist bump and laugh.
I walk for ten minutes or so, but still don’t see anything. I just keep passing dozens of closed shops (I guess this is common on a Sunday in Colombia).
I consider turning back, but then I remember how badly I want some bacon and eggs, so I keep rolling along.
Another few minutes pass…
Just as I’m about to turn around, a grocery store pops up out of nowhere around the corner.
I let out a sigh of relief.
I walk in and see an ATM. I withdraw a few hundred thousand pesos.
Then I grab some bacon from the refrigerated section. Next step? Eggs.
But I can’t find the fucking eggs. I pace back and forth along the refrigerated section. I feel like I’m losing my mind. How could a grocery store have no eggs? Is there some sort of chicken shortage in Colombia? WHAT’S THE DEAL?!
But then, to my surprise, I see a whole row of eggs. They’re not refrigerated. They’re on a shelf. I don’t even get this concept, I feel like the eggs would rott. I dismiss this thought and put a dozen eggs in my basket.
I walk up to the check out line, and in broken Spanish, I ask, “Tú tienes SIM card??”
“No,” the cashier responds. Looks like I’m out of luck for the SIM card.
But still, I feel accomplished – I completed most of my mission, and I can get a SIM card later.
I head out of the store. I remember walking to the store in an “L” direction – I took a right out of my apartment, then a left on the main road, and saw the grocery store… or so I thought…
So I head back that way. But there’s a problem…
I don’t recognize any of the new surroundings. I pass a church on my left, and an empty plaza on my right. Where the hell am I?
Maybe I somehow missed a turn or something. So, I take a right and start heading down a side road. But this just leads to even more confusion.
Everything looks the same…
And to make things worse, the street names and numbers don’t make much sense to me.
I have no idea where I am. I walk aimlessly for the next few minutes, trying to figure things out.
Fuck I need Google Maps right now…
At this point, a funny thought pops into my head…
“Am I lost forever?” I laugh to myself…
Instead of scrambling like I may have done a couple years ago, I take a deep breath.
I think back to my walk to the grocery store. I remember seeing a red building in the distance, and a billboard with a Spanish musician named “Federico”.
I just need to find those two landmarks.
That’s when I look to the left at an intersection and see the billboard. I walk towards and it look back – the red building is in the distance.
I start to remember this road – and I know I’m now on the right path.
I’m officially NOT lost forever.
[My mom is gonna be so pumped]
Whether you walk through the streets of a foreign country without a cellphone, or take an unfamiliar path in life, you might just get lost along the way.
But getting lost isn’t a bad thing. It presents new challenges, and can help you discover some awesome new things and meet new people along the way.
And it cements the idea in your head that no matter what life throws at you, you can make it through. You can figure it out, and everything will be okay.
It’s scary getting lost – but it’s also exhilarating.
And I think that people don’t do it enough.
They walk the same familiar paths throughout their whole lives – unwilling to take the risk of something new and foreign.
And they miss out on the beauty of getting lost.