Two Escobars - One Hughey / by Samantha Hughey

Once again I have traveled to another country that had my father precede my departure with the words: if you get taken - we aren’t paying a ransom.

  1. Where are my parents when I make decisions to travel abroad to potentially unsafe locations?!
  2. Yet again I have surpassed the odds of being, in fact, snatched off the streets of Colombia and am safely back in the US of A. 

So why Colombia? I haven’t seen as much of the world as I would like and now that one of my dear friends recently moved there I thought “why not?!”

However, the main reason I jumped continents is simple: I needed a break. 

This summer I was fortunate to travel quite a bit for the Olympic trials; coming home for 60 hours in between trips to do laundry, repack, and work a few days in the office before catching another flight. Then there were the actual Olympics: an entire year of work, love, sweat, and stress eating condensed to seventeen days of amazing content. (MAJOR props to the whole Digital Media Team for killing it.) But after the closing ceremony (which was SICK) - it truly felt like we had been running a year long marathon, and there wasn’t enough Netflix to binge on to help in the recovery (I say that and I totally went through Last Chance U AND Stranger Things within a matter of hours). 

To be honest, in the #SMSports industry, it’s hard to turn off. To not constantly be checking Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. To not have your phone buzz with emails and push notifications. To not spend a little too much time with Snapchat filters and on Reddit. But I knew that this was something that I needed. I needed to not live behind my phone. I needed the buzzing to be restricted. And while I will admit I did work a little bit while I was gone, I needed to hit the restart button…

 …and it was AMAZING.

 My friend and I were able to have real conversations. Conversations that had been reduced to WhatsApp messages in the past, but also ones that went uninterrupted because my phone was either not on me or stashed out of view. We went on a coffee tour - and I wasn’t consumed by the need to Snapchat or Periscope the entire thing. The four hour walk through the jungle we did on Sunday morning was filled with comfortable silence and chit chat - instead of my Hipster BBQ Pandora station singing in my ear as I would half pay attention to the conversation and mostly mouth the words to the song that popped into the queue next.

I even found the time to read (not one, not two, but THREE books), which is something I haven’t been able to do in who knows how long. I wrote without a character limit. I sat in a café enjoying my coffee without a project to worry about. 

Guys - I actually UNPLUGGED. Granted it was for only 4ish days (c’mon now, I do work in a very sensory stimulating industry - I can only last so long before I get fidgety), but it was so worth it. If you are not doing this every once in a while, you truly need to. I’m so bad at it, so I’m not going to harp too much on it but work-life balance is imperative and I will try to do better - by reading more (got a book suggestion?!), by going outside, I really want to try yoga so maybe I’ll commit to doing that? Who knows. But I will promise to find ways to turn off every so often for my mental health. And this way I don’t have to jet off to a still developing country where I don’t have a choice but to turn off my phone. 

Now I am itching to get back to conversations that consist of 140 characters and studying emerging trends & strategies now that football season is among us, as well as looking ahead to holiday content & PyeongChang!

 PS. In reference to the title of this blog: I watched the 30 for 30 on Pablo Escobar, Andres Escobar, and Colombia of the 1990’s. Now I do NOT recommend watching that right before you travel solo to the country, but I do recommend it. It’s beyond interesting to have watched that, then traveled there and see first hand the progress that Colombia has made in the last 20 years. Also, I was able to ask a local about he-who-must-not-be-named (I am a naturally curious individual, no wonder my folks continue to assume I am going to get kidnapped), and it was a great conversation - one that has caused me to geek out even more about the culture. With that - much love, and appreciation, to Roger for being so open to the nosey American.
And to Lucy - thank you for showing me a whole new culture that I would have never in a million years paid attention to; I love you and you can come back to the States now!