How Far Can You Go

Dear Family and Friends,


I like to believe that I am an expert in the utilization of public transportation. In the last 16 months, I have mastered  ( *snobby bragging voice* in addition to my  extensive knowledge of MUNI in San Francisco and the Bay Area Rapid Transit), Metro in Washington D.C.; Los Angeles, California; and Medellin, Colombia*. I am also quite familiar with public transportation systems in Hawaii*; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New Orleans, Louisiana;  and Denver, Colorado. I even had a very brief stent (a 10 minute ride) on Iceland’s* public bus.


How hard could it be to use the Masivo Integrado de Occidente (MIO) public transportation system in Cali, Colombia?


I take the T31 on the Troncales line from Capri Station 9 stops to Estadio Station. Very simple. To get to the mall, I can take T31 on the well-defined Troncales line 2 stops going in the opposite direction from school. Or, I can take the P10A bus on the Petrotroncales line for 4 stops. If I choose to take P10A, it’s a little bit harder to navigate because the stops in between my house and the mall aren’t always well defined, but my destination is clear as day. Also, the P10A bus drops me of closer to home and I can avoid crossing this really busy street. The first time I went to the mall, my friend dropped me off at home. The 2nd time I went to the mall I took T31 back home because I couldn’t find the bus stop for P10A (the bus stop are on two completely different sides of the mall). The 3rd time I went to the mall I was absolutely determined to take P10A home- you know, to try something different.


It was dark, but it wasn’t late. It was only 4 stops, and by taking P10A I would avoid crossing the busy street in the evening. Also, I knew the bus route was a straight path home; I was confident I would get off at the right time even though the actual bus stop is not very visible. I got on the bus and there were only 4 other passengers. I took out my book to enjoy a quick leisurely read because the bus was moving very slowly in traffic. I was enjoying my book- knowing that I would be home soon- until the bus made a turn. Now, sometimes busses turn, and then turn again, because some parts of the road are not conducive for the size of a bus. However, the bus usually returns to the same street further down the road.


But this bus didn’t. The bus that should have been driving along the periphery routes (Petrotroncales) was now along the trunk route (Troncales).


I kept riding further away for a couple of stops because I was hoping that the bus would eventually start heading towards my house. When I finally accepted the fact that wasn’t going to happen, I got off the bus and waited for another P10A that was going in the opposite direction.


So why did I tell you this long story?

  1. For posterity’s sake. 20 years from now I’m going to look back at these letters and remember that I was in Colombia at this point in my life.
  2. How often do we knowingly head in the wrong direction… and just keep going. Once the bus made the left turn, even though I knew at that moment I was 86.34% sure I was going the wrong direction, I still stayed on the bus for about 10 more minutes. It’s like when you have an argument and you know you should apologize or forgive the other person but you don’t. Or, you are doing something with your life (an un-fulfilling relationship, a stagnant career choice, a co-dependent relationship, or you’re building someone else’s dreams as you neglect your own) because something is holding you back from changing. How much longer, and how much further, can you keep going until you are ready to change paths?
  3. Escalation of commitment is real. Escalation of commitment is when you realize that all of the time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, resources and energy you put into something is all for naught… so you put in more time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, resources and energy because you are hoping that all of the previous time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, resources and energy wasn’t as worthless as you know it to be.
  4. It isn’t always as clear as getting on the wrong bus as to when you first start heading in the wrong direction. Maybe it started the first time you were asked to work overtime- but you really didn’t want to- but now you feel as if you are expected to put in 50-60 hour work weeks, or worse, work for free off the clock. Big problems usually have a subtle beginning; that’s why you are left wondering, “How did I get here? When did this start?”
  5. I believe that we should all move towards reconciliation and getting back on the right path with yourself, with people, and with circumstances.
    1. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for being beautifully human. Sometimes we really screw up and the only thing you can do is love yourself despite your mistakes. Being kind to yourself is more than enough. I found this quote that I’m going to leave right here for you: I do more acknowledging my emotions than policing them.  
    2. Sometimes you can’t rectify issues with some people, but if you try hard enough I’m sure you can with 98.723% of the people you will deal with in a lifetime. When I said, “try hard enough” that means sincerely admitting you were wrong or you were wronged.  I found this other quote that I’m going to leave right here for you: hurt people hurt people.
    3. One of the reasons I chose Christianity is because I see it as this love story of Christ loving people and rectifying all wrongs. As a Christian, I see my obligation on this Earth is to rectify all that I can. I feel like we should all try to leave things better than what we found them and put as much as we can back into right standing.  
  6. Don’t let how long you’ve been away decieve you into believing you can never return. You’ll will always make it home. I don’t know where/ what/ who/ when/ why is  “home” means to you, but I don’t think we ever really get to far from it. You know the feeling. You go away, or somewhere new, and it takes forever to get there. Somehow, magically, coming back home the same distance doesn’t feel as long as it took to get there. I find it deeply troubling to fathom the idea of not being able to go back to the place (or person, or thing) you feel at home… unless you have a brand new niece and your dad is changing your room to accommodate her and her needs even though she doesn’t live there- then you are like me: homeless, replaced, and orphaned.


As always, I love hearing from you- especially if I haven’t seen you in a while- whether or not you can make it to the end of these long letters. You can also find all of my old letters here; When I get home I’m going to update the site with some of my favorite pictures from Colombia.




*Truth: I only rode the public transportation system for 1 day; because I didn’t get lost that makes me an expert.