By Tara Dowling
I’m sure if you’re on Instagram it’s not unfamiliar to see masses of people “living the dream” traveling the globe, taking amazing shots and looking like they never work. I remember when I first moved to Bali and Instagram was just coming out, I was trying to create a travel reality show with my best friend, documenting our wild adventures. But I never turned to Instagram to get it off the ground. Needless to say, it never happened. Years later I thought, “oh I have this great idea…I’m gonna get paid to travel the world and take awesome photos doing fun things through Instagram,” so I started my page, posted some old photos of my travels and waited for the followers.. they never came. When I looked deeper into the world of Instagram I started seeing I wasn’t the only one trying to do that, in fact, there were so many already successful people doing it! So there went that little dream. Sure I probably could have learned the tricks, invested more time into it, and possibly got it off the ground. But I was going to school and it just seemed more logical to put my time into that rather than to start a new business adventure. But the travel bug never left me, and the dream stayed alive, however, it only became more of a fun hobby with a small following.
Which gets me to my recent travels in Colombia. I continued my little hobby, documenting the adventure as I do, loving photography and anything new and unique. I was feeling pretty high on life, like I was actually in those moments I only viewed on other people’s Instagram. I was excited to come home with stories to share, and memories to last a lifetime. Till I got violently ill on my last day. Whether it was a stomach bug, severe dehydration, or something else I still don’t know. All I know is at one point I wasn’t even able to stand up and not being able to keep anything down, I started to get scared. I felt my body crumbling in on me, and I knew I needed real medical attention. Moments later I was carried out by 4 struggling Colombian men on a stretcher through the jungle resort. Up and down hills, sharp turns, and eventually placed in some sort of lobby. Then the fear came and I started struggling to breathe, in came the oxygen mask. For the next 40 mins, I was rushed in the back of the hotel service truck to the closest clinic, only to be told no one would be able to see me for at least 4+ hrs! There were pregnant women about to deliver who also were not being seen. Then the reality sunk in… I’m not in a first world country anymore.
Thankfully I was in such caring hands they found a private clinic to take me to where I was eventually seen and hooked up to IV, and slowly started to come back to life. Oh and I forgot to mention… my flight back home to the US was leaving in 6 hours! It was in this moment that I felt tremendous gratitude for where I lived. To be surrounded by hospitals and a reliable health care system, regardless of the cost. But truly if you live in California, get covered California, it’s worth it and is reasonable for every income!
They say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”…but what about the words that never get shared? I often struggle with Instagram because it usually only shares one side of things mostly the good, the beautiful, and the happy moments. So when we look into our own lives we can often feel alone or disheartened. Like we are missing out on life, or that we don’t have it as good as others. Well trust me, no gets to live without heartache. And NO ONE is perfect. But life IS perfect in its imperfections. So let’s remember that jet-setting around the globe, also means you have new bacterial you have never been exposed to, the possibility of getting robbed, day-long travels, missed connections, and mother nature to deal with. And maybe it isn’t always about capturing those breathtaking adventures. Sometimes the most meaningful moments are the ones captured in the small things; the look in a loved ones’ eye, your animal snuggled up against you, a home-cooked meal. For those are the things you truly miss when you are laying in a hospital bed.