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Richly Clouded Memories

You never know when you’re in the moment how you’re going to look back at it years later, but I think this picture sums up the exuberant, freewheeling joy and sense of aliveness that sometimes comes with travel. And I think I felt it at the time.

When Kate, Bing, Sarah, June, the other girl from the hostel in Salento, and I were taking goofy silhouette shots in the dense fog of the cloud forest on top of La Montaña in the central Colombian highlands, I knew I had to cherish the moment. By that point in my travels, I had made enough real connections with fellow travelers over the years that I knew how deep and meaningful these intense, fleeting relationships can be because of shared, unique experiences. I knew that paths cross randomly sometimes, and you’re left forever thinking about people who are spread across the world.

What brought this particular group of travelers together was a tough hike up to the vista overlooking the Valle de Cocora. We had hiked for a few hours, through several microclimates, and across rickety wooden bridges that would only support one person at a time. We did this because we wanted to see the famed Palma de Cera, or wax palm, which the valley is known for. And we wanted to see the supposedly splendid view of the lush, rolling valley. But instead we barely saw each other because a thick, bewildering cloud settled in and obscured our vision.

So we goofed off, took dorky pictures of each other, and made sure we would always remember.

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