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Regrettable travel moments

Can you think of a recent trip, vacation or even interaction where you wish you could speak another language?

By Bryan Bui

I felt like those were missed opportunities or moments that could’ve been amazing for creating indelible memories for life by simply connecting with others.

Villa de Leyva Plaza — Photo Credit: Bryan Bui

I can recall an experience in the beautiful colonial village of Villa de Leyva, Colombia, near Bogota. I woke up before sunrise that day for some miraculous reason, so I decided to hike the Mirador El Santo Sagrado Corazon de Jesus for the views and some exercise. After 45 minutes of casual hiking, I arrived at the summit. I was so entranced in enjoying the magnificent views of the surrounding hills and the beautiful town I didn’t notice that another hiker was enjoying the moment just like me. We both exchanged greeting smiles, and I mustered up what basic Spanish I knew to try to converse.

Me: ¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)

The Hiker: ¡Buenos días! Estoy muy bien, ¿Y usted? (Good morning! I’m doing very well, and you?)

Me: ¿Hablas inglés? (Do you speak English?)

The Hiker: ¡Qué pena! No hablo inglés, pero he querido aprender. (Excuse me. No, I don’t speak English, but I’ve wanted to learn.)

My new acquaintance was curious and happy to meet a foreign traveler and wanted to continue our chat. Unfortunately, she didn’t speak English. As you can see, my Spanish was not sufficient to even carry on a basic conversation. The conversation abruptly ended because I didn’t know what else to say in Spanish except to smile.

After the encounter, I had an overwhelming feeling of regret for not being able to communicate and learn more about the culture of this magical area.

The view of the town from on top of a hill.
Incredible views from Mirador El Santo Sagrado Corazon de Jesus — Photo credit: Bryan Bui

For those of you who are adventurous travelers, those are regrettable moments that should motivate you to change and learn ways to enhance your future travel experiences. Obviously, for me, it was to learn a new language. Spanish made a lot of sense in this scenario because I enjoy travelling to the Caribbean, Central and South America, where Spanish is widely spoken. I know your instant reaction is

“Learning new languages is hard or it takes a lot of time that I don’t have. My life is extremely hectic.”

Ask yourself an important question, is your life so busy that you can afford to miss out on life’s unforgettable moments? What are you waiting for if your answer is a resounding NO?

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