The trip has ended, but the experiences live on. Here is a summary of what I truly experienced over the past few months. It’s long…but I encourage you to read it in its entirety.
I started off like a scared little puppy dog in Guatemala. The first day really set the tone of the rest of the trip. A friend and I headed to Volcan Pacaya and had the opportunity to hike all over molten hot lava…only in third world countries. I took Spanish lessons, and surprisingly, became some what decent at the language. Since I spent a few weeks in San Pedro, I was able to befriend some truly amazing people…people that I hope I stay in touch with the rest of my life. Guatemala was famous for the horrid bus system, and I did my best to experience just that. My ass cringes up when I think about the pain of sitting on those forty year old school buses. I had numerous moments of stupidity, and one of those consisted of when I chased a girl around a small town…without even knowing her name. Luckily, in the entirety of my trip, I only got really sick once. I played in some beautiful pools formed by a river, and in the process, traveled with a group of ten people, all from different parts of the world. Some of the best Mayan ruins still standing today are in northern Guatemala, and the visitation of this site blew my mind away. Guatemala came to a close with a visit to Livingston, which has a unique blend of the Garifuna race.
I quickly passed throug El Salvador and almost drowned when I attempted to surf. Never, ever try that sport…it’s horrid. Nicaragua was all around amazing. I experienced a baseball game and has a blast soaking up the colonial town of Granada. In Leon, I was able to have a lesson in history from someone who helped create it. I then met a girl in one of the most unlikely places…a bus heading towards the mountains. Although she only spoke Spanish, I somehow managed to convince her to go on a date with me. Spending time with her was by far one of the highlights of my trip. I concluded my Nicaraguan journey by hitting up the beaches in the South. At first, I didn’t care for them, but after a few days, I dreaded having to leave.
The only thing I was looking forward to in Costa Rica was seeing my sister. When I went to pick her up in San Jose, my solo lifestyle of travel was drastically changed. Traveling with girls was difficult, but never the less, I managed. We eventually headed back to San Jose, and I saw the girls off. I ended up meeting with a friend, and the two of us headed to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Beautiful and undeveloped…a good time was had by all. In all, I spent about a week and a half in Costa Rica, but I was anxious to get out of the ridiculously overpriced tourist destination.
Panama was just amazing…and now I understand why Van Halen wrote the song. Although I did not write that much during my Panamian stint, the experiences were to die for. I started off in Bocas del Toro, a beautiful chain of islands in the north. Due to time restraints, the only other part of Panama I saw was Panama City. There is a huge ditch, numerous historical sites, and one hell of a city to have the time of your life. The one part of my trip that I was most looking forward to was sailing through the San Blas Islands…and the trip definitely did not disappoint.
The last country I was able to experience was Colombia, and I couldn’t have chose a better place to end. I started in the colonial town of Cartegena, which also happens to be the hottest place in the world. Never the less, it was a beautiful city and I had the opportunity to sit in with a Latino band (for twelve seconds). In the process of traveling to Bogata, I stopped in Caucasia and Medellin. I would love to eventually go back and spend more time in each of these cities. In Bogata, I befriended numerous Colombians. I woke up late and stayed out even later in the frigid capital of Colombia.
I shook thousands of hands, made numerous friends, and probably have at least fifty people that I hope to stay in contact with. Not once did I ever receive a serious sunburn. I taste tested quite a bit of rum…and it’s official, Nicaragua is the winner in regards to having the best rum in the world. I spent hours upon hours of writing for this site, yet wish I would have even written more. I took almost 800 photos. I drank some of the worst beer known to man kind (but the quality of rum made up for it). I learned more on this trip than I did my entire career at the university. I ate some amazing food, yet also had to put up with some food that I hope to never eat/see again. I realized how big of an asshole Ronald Regan was (towards Central America), and firmly believe that he has the gold medal for being the worst president in the history of the world.
People have asked me if I have a favorite country. That is a very difficult question to answer, but I finally figured out how to summarize it up. Guatemala by far had the best sights to see. Overall, I had the best experiences in Nicaragua (combination of sites and people). Easily, the people of Colombia were the friendliest, and I truly enjoyed getting to know many of them.
I am not a changed person, but a more well defined/educated person. Travel does that to you. I was hoping that this trip would get the travel gene out of my system. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I can’t wait to hit the road again, and hopefully, it’ll be sooner than later. This isn’t the end of the story, only of chapter one. I have said this before, and I will say it again. If you have enjoyed the crap I have published, I encourage you to subscribe via email or a reader. That way, when I start my next trip, updates will be sent nicely to your email inbox. And yes…I know I have horrible grammar. Please, no need to correct me in the comment section.
Stevenson was right. The best thing is to just move. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. It can be in poverty stricken India, living the high life in Dubai, backpacking across the Andes, or just traveling to a town ten miles away from your home. Travel changes you, no matter where you are. I firmly believe you can be in the best place in the world and have a horrible time, or be in the worst place in the world and have an amazing time. It all depends on what you make of it and what you truly want to experience. I was lucky enough to be in some amazing destinations while also having a great time. Go travel. It doesn’t matter where, but just do it. Learn responsible travel, and instead of staying on a resort, get out into the communities and into the lives of the people who live there. Learn a little about the history, and share that knowledge with whoever you happen to meet. Drink a beer with a stranger. Travel… but more importantly, travel to move.
There are around 190 countries in the world. I have been to almost 20. I have a long ways to go.
Chapter 2… coming soon.