Hola hola to our small, but ever-growing band of adventurers! I’m happy to report that we had some great feedback from VFA’s first blog. One recurring question, however, was, “Who the hell are you anyway!?” While my intentions with this blog are mostly to inspire you in all things adventure, fitness, and travel, and not make this about me, I do see how maybe sharing a bit about the “man behind the lifestyle» could be beneficial. After a few days mulling this over and going from, “I’m gonna write my autobiography!” to “Don’t make this about you, Joel!” I decided that it would indeed be beneficial to properly introduce myself. Stand by, mi gente, as the floodgates of my ego are about to burst open! I’m kidding, of course. I’ll try to make this short, but as saweet as possible.
It was a crisp, autumn day in the 80s when Jose and Esmeralda, after dating for ??? months, decided that they should really complicate their young lives even more by bringing this beautiful creature into the world… too far back? Agreed. Let’s start a little later in this story. 😉
In all actuality, I’m just some Mexican-American kid from the Texas panhandle who decided that although home is truly where the heart is, I’ve got enough heart to take on a few more “homes.” My name is Joel De La O, and, on paper, I’m definitely not a kid anymore. In my mind—and definitely in my heart—I’ll always be that kid seeking his next adventure.
So, it was right around the time when I was set to graduate high school that I decided to make my own decisions regarding my future. My parents both expected me to go straight to college, and Pops assured me that they would cover my tuition at any school that I was accepted to. However, I seemingly forgot to tell them that I hadn’t actually applied to any universities because I had already made a decision to join the United States Marine Corps. Needless to say, they were both dumbfounded when I told them my choice.
I managed to survive those last few months of high school, and in the summer of my graduating year, I was off to bootcamp. Thereafter, I was given a choice of three different jobs in the Marine Corps, but there was only ONE that I really wanted. So, after boot camp, I made my way to the School of Infantry in Camp Pendleton, CA. My first year or so was fairly uneventful, until September 11, 2001. This changed the course of history for us all. Personally, it set me on my path to adventure, and I’ve never looked back since. In 2002, I was sent to South America as a machine gun instructor as part of a joint multinational maritime deployment. It was here that I fell in love with South America, and in particular, Colombia. I vowed to make it back one day.
Little did I know that after this deployment, I would almost immediately be sent to Kuwait for what was soon to be Operation Iraqi Freedom. I participated in the initial invasion of Iraq, and then again in 2005 for my second combat deployment before separating in 2006 (as you can tell, I’m definitely not a kid anymore).
Like most combat veterans, I had some issues re-adjusting to a civilian lifestyle. In some instances, I was very successful, and in others I successfully failed. After putting on that post- military 20lbs and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to get my ass in gear. First, it was running, then triathlons, and finally CrossFit. I took to CF fairly easily in that it was similar to what I had grown accustomed to in the military. No, it’s not exactly the same, and we could argue over CF in general for days, but that’s beside the point. I had found something I truly enjoyed doing and I was hooked! I initially took the Level 1 coaching course just to nerd out a bit, and because I was hoping for an edge over my classmates. But because of my first CF coach, Nick, I found the inspiration to start leading and teaching again. Little did I know that this decision would open the doors to a life that I had been secretly yearning for all along.
In early 2013, I found a home at Crossfit Zona G in Bogota, Colombia, and I’ve been a part of this family ever since. I learned a tremendous amount about myself and my new home during my first two years here, but as fate would have it, the travel bug bit as my visa expired. So, I was off to find adventure elsewhere. I took a two-year hiatus from coaching and did some more exploring through Central America and Mexico. I settled in Mexico for some time, but it proved to be too much for this gringo-mexicano. Too much tequila, too much cerveza, and too many tacos just to name a few… It was in Mexico, however, that I experienced my first skydive with my two brothers, and eventually my second with my Pops. I knew immediately that this was something I had to make a part of my life. As a result, a few years back I shot over to Whitewright, Texas—home of Skydive Spaceland Dallas—and enrolled in their skydiver training program. Thanks to these guys, I am now officially a licensed skydiver. If you’re in the states and looking to do your first jump or get licensed, check these guys out. You won’t regret it! Somebody share this with them… maybe I’ll get a free jump out of it! I eventually let my heart do the talking and my head do the listening, and here I am, back in Colombia. I know that no matter what happens, pandemic and all, I will always have one foot in my beloved Colombia. Until the world opens back up again, our goal at VFA is to share the beauty of Colombia and other parts of Latin America in hopes of inspiring you to come sweat with us! If fitness, adventure, and rumba (Colombia for party) is your jam, don’t hesitate to reach out and let us set you up with your very own Latin American adventure. Life IS about balance after all 😉
Well, that’s a quick rundown of who I am! I look forward to never having to talk about myself this much in the future, but I hope this offered some insights into the mind behind this madness I call VivaFit Adventures!
Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device demonstrating prodigious artistic prowess.
Hola hola to our small, but ever-growing band of adventurers! I’m happy to report that we had some great feedback from VFA’s first blog. One recurring question, however, was…
Who would have thought? Around this time last year, I was exploring Mexico City with my lovely madre when I decided to run the idea