Highlights from Chapter MMXI

After 3 months of traveling through Ecuador and Peru, I’ve arrived in Sucre, Bolivia where I will begin my next townie mission. As I get settled here in Sucre, I finally have a chance to catch my breath and reflect on what the hell happened this year.

2011 served up an overdose of adventure, uncertainty and personal growth. It showed me what true love looks like and what heartbreak feels like. It tugged at my self-conscious and developed my self-awareness. I spent half the year traveling the States on a Great American Road Trip and the other half, traveling deeper in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. I’d say it was a pretty damn good year.

Here’s a look back at the adventures of Tourist 2 Townie in 2011: 


Salsa Dancing in Medellin Colombia
January - Kicking off the Salsa Mission in Medellin Colombia

I witnessed the sun come up on twenty eleven from a random apartment in Bogota, Colombia and watched the sun go down on January from the Café del Mar in Cartagena, Colombia. It was the beginning of my Colombian Salsa mission and Salsa classes were sweaty yet productive.  My crush on Colombia was heavy.

January Destinations: Bogota, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Taganga, Tayrona National Park, Gautape, and Medellin, Colombia

Favorite Post of the Month: The Greatness of Hidden Gems


Medellin Colombia Skyline
February - Feeling alone and crippled in my beautiful new home of Medellin

Hands down the worst month of the year. A few days after returning from an amazing trip to the Caribbean coast and settling in Envigado, Medellin, I fractured my ankle playing basketball at the local University. My dreams of Salsa stardom were immediately put on hold. An even worse pain came a few weeks later when I decided to end a yearlong relationship with one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met in my life. I realized it wasn’t fair to lead someone down a path I wasn’t ready to commit to. It was tough but necessary.

February Destinations: Medellin, Colombia

Favorite Post of the Month: 6 Ways I Deal with Loneliness as a Solo Traveler

– MARZO – 

Medellin Colombia Nightlife
March - Picking myself up with help from the electric nightlife in Medellin

I moved into a new apartment in Envigado with a Colombian family and focused my energy on launching the new T2T site, exploring the city and recovering from February’s setbacks. Armed with a very open and honest policy, Medellin proved to be the perfect place to blanket heartbreak with late night exploits and adventure. The only problem with jumping back into the game like this was all the salsa dancing and aguadiente drinking didn’t help my swollen ankle one bit.

May Destinations: Medellin and Cisneros, Colombia

Favorite Post of the Month: Photo Essay: A Colombian Finca


Wedding Season begins in Charlotte, North Carolina
April: Wedding Season begins in Charlotte, North Carolina

April was a transitional month as I left Medellin mid-month to head back to the States. It was a bittersweet change because I was getting into the rhythm of Medellin when it was time to head home. At the same time, I was happy to be back for Easter and to kick off wedding season.

April Destinations: Medellin, Colombia – Rochester and Buffalo, New York, Morgantown, West Virginia, Charlotte, North Carolina

Favorite Post of the Month: Un Dia en La Vida – Medellin, Colombia (Video)

– MAYO –

Bay to Breakers San Francisco California
MAY: Volleyball and PDA at the Bay to Breakers Race/Party in San Francisco, California

I made the difficult decision to stay in the States and take on some work instead of returning to Colombia for the month of May. Making the best of the situation, work granted me the opportunity to eat my way through the best Mexican restaurants in Tucson, Arizona and explore two of my favorite cities, San Francisco, CA and Park City, Utah.

May Destinations: Rochester and Buffalo, New York, Tucson, Arizona, Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah, San Francisco and San Jose, California

Favorite Post of the Month: The Bay to Breakers Experience


Vancouver Riots 2011 - Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup Loss
June: Pre-game interview for local Vancouver television before game 7 of the Stanley Cup

The great Pacific Northwest! I was so excited to have the chance to visit Seattle, Portland and Vancouver for the first time last summer and it definitely lived up to the hype. I relapsed at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, overdosed on lunch carts in Portland and binged on food trucks in Vancouver. Besides all the eating, I made time to experience my first travel industry event at the TBEX Conference in Vancouver and managed to come away unharmed when riots broke out after Vancouver’s Stanley Cup loss. I ended the month visiting my newborn nephew in Indiana and enjoying the Greatest City in America like a tourist.

June Destinations: Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, British Colombia, Chicago, Illinois and LaPorte and South Bend, Indiana

Favorite Post of the Month: Vancouver Riots 2011 (Video)


Mountain Biking at Winter Park in Colorado
July: Mountain Biking at Winter Park in Colorado

From Chicago, I cruised back out west to enjoy the American summer in Colorado, mountain biking and visiting friends and family. After Colorado it was back to Park City for an incredible wedding of one of my best friend at the basin of Deer Valley ski resort. Lovely month.

July Destinations: Chicago, IL Denver, Golden, Boulder, Co and Park City, Salt Lake City, Ut

Favorite Post of the Month: A Visual Tour Around Arches National Park


August: Back in Upstate New York and "Working" at GVRC with this amazing crew!

Home sweet home. Back on the east coast, I reenergized and reflected on the Great American Road Trip and enjoyed wedding season. During the week I worked on new projects and spent time with the family, but once Friday hit the weekend warrior emerged. I also spent a week at one of my favorite places in the world, GVRC.

August Destinations: Rochester and Buffalo, New York.

Favorite Post of the Month: The Most Beautiful American Road Trip


Apple Season in Upstate New York
September: Apple Season in Upstate New York

Fall in Upstate New York. For me, that’s the sweetest combination on this planet. The Bills win games, the trees turn colors and it’s apple season! I enjoyed the fading summer with friends and family and began planning my next South American trip. Meanwhile, the comfort of home and thirst for adventure battled it out internally.

September Destinations: Rochester and Buffalo, New York

Favorite Post of the Month: Long-Term Travel vs. Life-Time Relationships


Volunteering at the Monkey Rescue Center in Puyo Ecuador
October: Relaxing with Sambo at the Monkey Rescue Center in Puyo, Ecuador

The itch was scratched. On October 5th I touched back down in South America where I started heading south from Quito, Ecuador. Any doubt I had for returning to life on the road was quickly replaced with the excitement and obstacles that lie ahead. This month’s highlights were random, ridiculous and heart racing. I mountain biked down one of the world’s largest active volcanos, got lost in South America’s largest market, faced my biggest fear, cleaned up monkey poop and had a relationship unravel too soon.

October Destinations: Quito, Cotopaxi, Otavalo, Baños, Puyo, Cuenca, Ecuador

Favorite Post of the Month: Otavalo Market in Otavalo, Ecuador (Video)


Learning to Cook Peruvian Food in Lima, Peru
November: Learning to Cook Peruvian Food in Lima, Peru

Another shady South American night bus ride into the great unknown brought me into Peru at the beginning of November. I spent the first two weeks burning my armpits on the Northern beaches of Peru and finished the month learning how to cook traditional Peruvian food in Lima, Peru. I’ll catch you up on all my Peruvian explorations within the next few weeks as I bring T2T up to speed.

November Destinations: Moncora, Trujillo, Huanchaco, Lima, Peru

Favorite Post of the Month: Eyeball Treats from Mancora, Peru


The view of Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu
December: Ending 2011 from high above Machu Picchu at the peak of Huayna Picchu

Saving the best for last. A month filled with adventure, excitement and stories I’ll tell my grandchildren about. My month started at the Truly Village Park outside Lima where I learned about the Hare Krishna religion, practiced yoga and ate some pretty tasty veggies for 4 days. From there it was a race south, stopping at the Poor Man’s Galapagos for a few hours in Paracas and then to Ica and Huacachina for 3 days of sandboarding and love making. Ica to Arequipa was up next where I took an intense, 1-night, 2-day trek through the Colca Canyon and then directly on to Cusco for the most amazing tourist travel experience of my life. The 3-night, 4-day Inca Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu was mind-blowing. I don’t know how else to describe it. For me, Machu Picchu may be overhyped but it is definitely under appreciated. After the Picch, I returned to Cusco to spend Christmas at an orphanage outside the city and then New Years running around the city center dodging fireworks. December was a slow month for the blog but a very fast month for life and travel. I promise to catch up on everything once I find my apartment here in Sucre, Bolivia.

December Destinations: Chiclayo, Pisco, Paracas, Ica, Huacachina, Arequipa, Cusco, Peru

Favorite Post of the Month: Top 10 Hottest Women of Ecuador (I put this post up to distract you from my absence)

2012 Goals & Plans Coming Up!

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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