I Was on My Way to China, Got Stuck in Colombia, and Ended Up in Israel

Nope, nothing ever works out the way it’s supposed to.

By the time last December had rolled around, I was facing a major life decision. I had been offered my dream job, but I had also grown increasingly weary of New York. It was too hectic, and I needed to slow down.

My other option was a six-month contract in Beijing. The opportunity in China would give me a chance to explore the world, because after six months in Beijing I would have filled my pockets high enough to be able to do something a little more substantial. In New York, however, I would be limited to just one- or two-week vacations.

I put months of thought into this, and by the time I had to make a final decision, I think I had pulled out the majority of my hair. Did I want to stay a little more settled and follow a traditional career route by involving myself heavily in the local industry, or did I want to take off into the unknown again, in search of more adventure?

Well, I think you probablyknow whatI decided.

Guatape, Colombia
View from La Piedra in Guatape, Colombia

Everything Was Ready to Go…Until it Wasn’t

Before flying to China, I decided to spend a month exploring Colombia. I had never stepped foot in South America before, so I wanted to experience it before buckling down for another 6+ months in Asia. At the beginning of February, I flew into Cartagena, Colombia, with nothing but a one-way ticket and a bag full of clothes.

Three weeks into my trip, I began to worry. I was in the metropolitan city of Medellin awaiting further information on my flight to Beijing, but my contact had gone off the grid. I had been trying to get in touch with him for two weeks. In the interest of good faith, I remained positive.

Another week went by. Still nothing. Per the details of our contract, I would fly to Beijing on March 1st, with a layover in Hong Kong, where I would acquire my visa and granted permission to work.

That was two days away, I was still waiting in Medellin, and I hadn’t even heard a whisper.

I had already made huge announcements to my family, friends, and readers (yes, that’s you!) that I would be spending half of the 2015 year in China. Many people promised to visit, and more than a few began planning their trips, pending scheduling information from me.

The problem was, I didn’t have any scheduling information. In fact, I didn’t have any information whatsoever. No matter how hard I tried, I simply could not get through to my contact or get any details on our arrangement. I had made plans and adjusted my entire schedule for the year to accommodate it, and the man who held all the cards had disappeared.

Everything that I had bankedonwas falling apart in front of me.

Monastery, Guatape, Colombia
At a monastery in Guatape, Colombia

A Lesson in Letting Go

March 1st came around, and I still wasn’t in Asia. No, I was in Colombia. Waiting. I was fraught with stress, having bitten my nails down to the quick. What was going on? Where did he go? He knew I turned down an amazing job opportunity in NYC, and he knew I was flying to Colombia with a one-way ticket.

I held it together for a day or two, still trying to think the best of my contact in Beijing. On top of everything, he was an old friend, one that I had worked with previously. Who lets someone turn down their dream job, just to leave them stranded in a developing country?

If there’s one thing that traveling continues to teach me, it’s how to let go of control, and how to survive my way through even the worst of circumstances. This was going to be one of them, and I was going to have to relinquish my resentment and move on.

What other choice did I have?

Yellow Bridge, Salento, Colombia
Crossing a metaphorical bridge in Salento, Colombia

The Universe Intervenes

Many bottles of beer and aguardiente later and I found myself on the emerging side of a funk.

I realized that, frankly, there were much worse situations to be in. No, I wasn’t being abandoned, I was actually being given a heavy dose of freedom. I was in South America with nothing to do and nowhere in particular to go. Most people would kill to be in my shoes.

So I spent three extra weeks in Colombia, exploring the people, culture, and food of this otherwise under-appreciated country. And then I went to Ecuador, where I find myself today.

But something happened during that time–I received an email with a very enticing invitation. The Israel Ministry of Tourism was reaching out to me, asking me to be their guest. Now tell me, what does someone do when they have nothing to do, nowhere to be, and an invite to Israel for the following month? They say yes. They say, “hell yes!”

And so I did.

READ NEXT: Looking Past the Conflict in Israel

About the Author

Jeremy Scott Foster

Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.
  1. Doug can suck it, his loss! I have a feeling something amazing is going to come out of all this…just sayin’ 😉

  2. No mention of this amazing valentine’s day competition you entered in? 😉

    Glad to see that you are coming out of your funk. Looking forward to your posts on Israel soon 🙂

  3. Serendipity! It’s amazing how life works out! How fabulous going to Israel.We were supposed to go there last year but it didn’t work out so I look forward to living vicariously through your posts. Have fun!

  4. Sometimes when you finally manage to close one door another one opens with even a nicer surprise in it. As you say, travelling teaches you to let go. I must say, I sometimes have a hard time doing it, but when I do and open up to new things, nicer things eventually happen.
    Have fun in Israel!!

    1. That’s what I’m hoping for! And surely I don’t even know what that surprise is yet, but I guess I’ll find out in due time.

  5. Haha, that’s cool Jeremy. Losing control is where real adventure begins I reckon. Great that you’re looking at this as a positive (as you said, what choice do you have?). Best of luck in Israel.

  6. Wow you are such a lucky dude! That was really shitty of your “friend,” and I hope at some point he has a very big apology for you! But extra time in Colombia + an invitation to Israel… I’d say things definitely worked out in your favor 😉

  7. Wow, what an amazing story! It proves that the life of constant travel is always filled with unexpected twists and turns and we must have the power to get past them smiling and enjoying the experience. Although I am sure that Asia would’ve been amazing, at least the Universe, as you said, decided to turn your way and give you a different option. Plus, Israel is closer to China than Colombia is, so you’re on the right track 🙂

  8. So you never heard from the guy??

    My favorite quote, “Let go. . . or be dragged” is relevant here. Good job being positive, and wow, crazy adventures lie ahead!

    1. Nope–disappeared. That’s a great quote, and perfectly sums up the situation! Positivity can be a hard thing to hold onto sometimes, but we do our best!

  9. AWESOME! You’ve certainly embraced the “take the path of least resistance philosophy”. I’ve found that it’s often the best way to travel and to live. GOOD FOR YOU!

    1. Indeed! Sometimes you just have to let things happen. You can’t always fight them, no matter how much you want something.

  10. Sounds like it was just meant to be. Israel will be much more beautiful this time of year than China anyways ;-). How long are you planning to be there for? Looking forward to reading all about it!

  11. It’s amazing how things somehow fall into place when you least expect them to, isn’t it?
    Enjoy your trip to Israel, can’t wait to read all about it.

  12. Columbia sounds like a blast! Thanks for keeping the ol’ travel torch-a-burnin, it’s inspirational. Can’t wait to her about Israel, you rock amigo, miss ya, catch you on the flip!

    1. Such a blast! Hope everything is well in Asheville–I’ll be sure to give you a shout next time I’m around!

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