I have never been to Iceland, but have always dreamed of going. Since my wanderlust began, I have often fantasized of the faraway land, and what it would be like to lounge in its turquoise blue hot springs after a long hike. In my spare time I found myself consumed by countless reminders, including ‘Buzzfeed’s 32 reasons why I should visit’. Unfortunately, the magnitude of Countries I’ve put on my travel radar have me struggling to decide which take priority. As a lover of backpacking I usually opt to tackle regions at a time, fitting in enough places to deem a longer trip necessary. However, following my move to London, in which I had to layover in Reykjavik, I decided to place Iceland high on my top places to visit in 2015, and have promised myself to explore the dream-like country sooner, rather than later.
If you are thinking of planning a move to London, there are some things you need to sort out before you arrive. Planning is essential. Too often people forget to plan ahead and get caught with their pants down once they arrive. I know this, because I am one of those people. I always show up to the costume party dressed in regular clothes because I didn’t thoroughly read the invite, and I almost always find myself frantically searching for my misplaced my passport before needing to fly. Had it not been for my better half my arrival would not have accumulated into a series of unfortunate events that would have ultimately lead to my departure or perhaps even my non/arrival.
Anyways, so that you don’t make the same mistakes I had. Let me guide you through the process and make your move as stress-free as possible.
As I sit back and reflect on the year past, and the journey that has just ended, I realize I can not close that chapter of my book without saying thank you to those who helped get me to Panama City to catch my flight.
You see, it wasn’t as smooth sailing as you may have imagined. Sure it was the last few days of my trip, and I was a veteran in the backpacking department. But, if you have gathered anything from reading my blog, you’ll know that I have just about the worst luck. And that most of my “adventures” are misadventures in their own way as well. Those last few days brought with them so many road blocks, that even I was left feeling pessimistic and scared. Had it not been for a few incredible strangers, I may not be sitting here now, telling you the story.
When I set out for Puerto Viejo against the advice of my new friend the Aracnaologist who claimed it to be a “dump”, and “just another San Juan”. I had this idea that I would tan in the day, and write at night. I’d lie on the beach and do nothing for couple days in Puerto Viejo, then relax in Bocas Del Toro for another few, making the last shuttle to Panama City with one more day to spare. My idea was that I would kick the drinking, eat right and be so relaxed that my transition back home would be a breeze. I’d be tanned, and wouldn’t feel overly tired during the Christmas Holidays.
“Tan”. That is a funny word to describe what I did in Puerto Viejo, because I lost all the colour I had been working on during my time there. I probably should have read ahead, called a friend, or asked the audience. However, I just assumed further south would just be equally as hot as Nicaragua had been on the Pacific side. And it had been HOT. Like, no-point-in-drying-off-from-your-shower-hot because you’d be soaked-through-your-clothes-sweaty in moments anyway. BUT as it turned out, I had unknowingly and excitedly made my way over to freakin’ Green Season in the Caribbean side. Also more simply referred to as, Rain Season.
So I didn’t sit out in the sun, soak in some vitamin D, and bronze my whole body like I don’t really give a !%$^. I probably avoided some new beauty marks and more importantly any strands of melanoma, because lets face it pale is the new tan! At least, that’s what I’ll be telling everyone when I’m home anyway…
However, I did not anticipated falling in love with a place that I had only planned on staying a few days, because it happened to be conveniently on my path home.
I was welcomed by Pagalu Hostel, a new and inviting brightly coloured hostel, with the nicest bunk beds I had ever had the ‘luxury’ of sleeping on, equipped with a communal kitchen with a well thought out labelling system. Take that you chocolate milk thieves. It’s hard to imagine thinking of a luxurious bunk bed, but I had had my fair share of torturous sleeping arrangements. At Pagalu I had my own night light, charging station, and fan. So yes, apart from the smell of sweaty boys and the sound of others snoring so loud I thought a truck was backing up – it was, truly, luxurious.
My introduction to the town was also very pleasant. There was a lot going on in Puerto Viejo, and on my first night I was invited to a late dinner/ all you can eat Asian feast with 5 Girls! We waited until 10:30 to go to eat half price, which is way to late to eat, especially since it was my second dinner, but by know you should know I’ll do anything to save a dollar. Yeah, I was stoked considering all I had talked was beers and ball for the past 7 weeks. So I gushed, talking boys and ambitions whilst stuffing my face with local sushi, and sippin’ on Pina Coladas for the entire evening. *Side note: Don’t drink Pina Colada’s with all you can eat anything. Drink Water, Eat all you can Eat. Taking up no precious space with thick liquids.*
Waking up to the sound of rain slamming on the windows is probably one of the most soothing sounds in the World, so each morning was greeted with a warm and relaxing embrace. I headed into the common room, where there was local coffee already brewed and waiting for me, had my usual, and cheapest meal of toast/peanut butter/ banana combo, and wrote for the entire morning. It was there that I brought to you 3 posts in a week. The words were flowing out of me like the rivers of Lanquin.
In the afternoon I’d head out with the girls and grab a bike for the day, rentals were 3 dollars, and it was necessary to allow you the freedom of roaming around the town. From there decisions were made simple: Beach, Hike, Yoga, Vegetarian Lunch, Ginger Chocolate Smoothie, Markets? What ever we felt like doing for the rest of the day. Maybe, even all of the above.
The drive around town is incredibly picturesque. The more developed hub, with markets and second hand clothing stores, vegan eateries, and local artisans. You would have to stay for a month to unravel its true potential. Bread and Chocolate is a fan favourite for cool eats to start. But the shops are endless so there is no way you’d be able to see them all without a lot of time. Once you leave the main square, you head on towards the beaches, past the handmade stands, where fresh produce is sold for cheap, and you can pick up all your gifts for your friends. Moving past, you find yourself cruising along the road, through the jungle and endless Yoga shacks. Surrounding you is dense vegetation and jungle life expanding as far as you can see to your right, with the ocean looming through it in the distance to your left. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the first Beach, and from there there are two more from a further distance. To be honest, we never got that far. We only had two suitable beach days, and we didn’t want to waste any precious time in the Sun. I don’t think I have ever been so excited to swim in the open Ocean, I felt the epitome of true freedom.
That’s exactly the vibe that will enrapture you in Puerto Viejo. I sure as hell didn’t come back with any colour, but I did get the much needed relaxation I was so desperate for. I drove into the Carribean, tired, and ready to head home. I left wishing I had more time, and could stay forever. Life was as slow as it had been on Caye Caulker, but it was much larger, making each day vastly different than the next. And the food; I could feel the nutrients in my skin and I could see the difference in my hair. I ate Mango Salad for cheap, had eggplants and fresh produce in my stir-fry’s, coconuts for a midday snack, and indulged on copious amounts of Ginger. and I LOVE Ginger, I eat that shit raw.
If your not a foodie like myself, the wildlife will be sure to hook you during your time. Picture this, we’re riding bikes around, stopping at Ohm to sample some gourmet dark chocolate. Did I mention its free to try all the flavours? We literally stopped here every day, so eventually we had to buy some. Anyway, all of a sudden we find ourselves aiding in the relocation of a sloth that has made his way into the backroom, across the street back into the jungle. A wild sloth. I nearly cried in excitement, the 5 year old version of myself once again coming out to play. I have seen sloths before in South East Asia, but never wild. They are hilarious. So slow, so stunned, absolutely the cutest freaking animals in the World. And, they’re everywhere in Costa Rica.
Pura Vida is the motto in Puerto Viejo, which means Pure Life and it couldn’t be more accurate. Life was easy. Life was good. I planned on coming for a few days, just “because”, but ended up skipped Bocas Del Toro all together. I had found exactly what I was looking for in Costa Rica.
Like all good things though, they eventually have to come to an end. But luckily for me, the end just meant the beginning of something new. I was making a beeline to Panama City to fly home for the holidays, before embarking on my next adventure.
I was happily two weeks away from joining my boyfriend on his side of the World.
In London, England.
Sometimes I have to remind myself why I choose to travel. When you’re back-packing, living out of hostels, sleeping on a top bunk in a dorm room that sleeps 6, it’s easy to get caught up doing something that may not interest you, for the sake of spending time with new friends.
I mean, part of the reason I travel is to meet new people, to listen to their stories and interact with different types of personalities from all over the world to get a better understanding of my own. Listening to others unique life paths always gives me a better insight to the one I’m taking. Through travel I have learned that it’s not uncommon to misunderstand where in the social/economic ladder I fit. Instead of finding out exactly what I want to do, I have found others who are searching as well. I’ve learned that it’s okay to take the time to learn more about myself before I try and be someone.
Travelling allows me to experience my life in a different context. I’m constantly being tested, and pushed outside my boundaries, no matter how comfortable I may be. Life on the road has thrown me into situations that allow me to learn more about myself, each day, discovering new strengths and new weaknesses. Sometimes I even get to overcome some of these weaknesses.
The reason I travel is not to have more friends, but more importantly to learn more about different kinds of people, and to see the World from the eyes of those who live in different parts of it. I travel to learn. I learn wisdom from those who are older than me, and am reminded by those who are younger, with hearts which have not yet been burned, to be open and kind. In a world where not everyone speaks the same language, I am constantly reminded of how crucial body language can be. How important it is to smile, and how a simple gesture such as a hug or a handshake, can make all the difference. Continue reading
As fun as Semuc Champey was, it was also exhausting. Matt and I decided it was worth it to our sanity to extend our time in Lanquin one extra day, and kick back and relax.
But do you ever wish that you can see into the future? You know, look into a crystal ball or something, and see what lies ahead.
The hassles you could avoid, if only.
In this particular case I am referring to spiders.
I mean, had we just stuck to the original plan and got on a bus at the crack of dawn the day after the excursion, I would never have ended up being bitten by a spider.
But I’m sort of getting ahead of myself.
I have been pondering on this latest post for a few days now trying to find the right words to describe the unforgettable experience I had at Semuc Champey, during our time in Lanquin, Guatemala. I can’t really tell you exactly how I felt because my emotions ranged from excited and overwhelmingly amazed, to nervous and down right terrified. It was truly the most memorable day I have had to date during my time in Central America. You know, one of those days you’ll never forget. As a person who is overly worrisome, and sometime anxious, I left our day tour of Semuc Champey feeling braver than I did after swimming with sharks, and as relaxed as I had been after going slow for two weeks on Caye Caulker.
If you are ever in Guatemala, give this place the number one spot on your list of places to see. Its a hidden gem, and a bit of a trek, but absolutely worth the ride.
And, since we all seem to respond better to Lists…
It was an interesting bus – or I should say van ride, over to the small village of Languin. Two spots had thankfully freed up, making it rather comfortable comparable to the other bus we had of the same size, on the way to Tikal. There were 5 of us Total, 10 spots in all, and I somehow managed to snag a whole bench to myself. I’m telling myself it was not because no one wanted to sit with me. Regardless , it made for a super relaxed first 5 hours! It was early when we left, so I slept for most of the morning. I finished my entire litre of water as it was hot inside, and started getting really restless like everyone else, 20 minutes to the eat and stretch stop, and really needing pee at this point. Then suddenly we were held up in bumper to bumper traffic, behind a truck full of overcrowded cattle. Our driver said nothing, not that we would have understood him anyway if he did, and jumped out of the front seat and started up the road on foot. We were confused, hungry, and at this point dancing in our seats because we all had to pee. How long would we be stopped here? Five minutes, twenty? After fifteen minutes of stretching our legs, hanging outside the car, and discussing how confused we all were, the boys decided they would try and find out, while I set out in search for a bathroom. “El Bano?” was the first word in Spanish I had learned, and quite frankly the only word I had actually remembered anyway. There were 2 houses in site, and I thought maybe one would allow me into their home to use their bathroom. I got two “No’s” followed by a lovely offering of cola, and some roadside chicken. The families were actually prepared for the road block and had set up vendors, selling pop, beer, food, ice-cream, anything to make a quick buck. But they wouldn’t sell me the use of their washrooms, or maybe they would have, had I only known a word of Spanish.
It took around nine hours to get to Flores. Trips can be easily arranged through any travel agent on the island, and it costs around 34US all in for a quick water taxi, bus transfer, and shuttle to the island combined. Our bus was spacious and filled with good company. We each sat cozily, two seats to ourselves, and began our journey onwards from Belize City. The city was quieter this time around, as it happened to be a Sunday; most of the shops being sealed shut with metal sheathing. Buildings were plentiful, colourful and closely grouped. Some more important buildings were lined with barbed-wire fences, but none had actual windows not covered by metal rods. Though the border was heavily guarded with armed security, assault rifles in hand, it didn’t take long to get through. In fact, it was kind of dodgy just how easy it was compared to other Countries I have previously travelled. You are required to pay around 25 US for departure and arrival fees combined, and you simply walk through the border, handing your passports to both parties required. They even have hagglers happy to change your currency into Guatemalan Quetzals (or pretzels as Jac would have us call them). We were neither searched, nor scowled for any reasons, which made the process extremely relaxed. I Bought a bag of chips for 20 cents and headed back into the bus to further our journey westward to Flores. One thing I did note however, was the lack of English spoken in the area. Virtually no one could communicate outside Spanish, which was contrary to Belize, as most Belizean’s could speak, or at least understand English. Continue reading
I have been very disappointed in myself in terms of the frequency in which I have been writing.. But when you meet such a great group of people you seldom want to spend time alone.
I’d like to say I spent the two weeks trekking and participating in daily adventure seeking excursions, so busy, I barely had time to sleep. But the truth is, on Caye Caulker, I didn’t do much of anything except bond with the 5 most incredible people I could have hoped to meet (and my good buddy Matt of course)!
When your travelling and constantly on the move, it’s hard to find time to sit down and write. Days are long and filled with so much newfound excitement, that its easy to forget to sit down and take a moment to reflect. This morning I was thankful for the rain.
As this trip approached I found that I wasn’t anxious nor apprehensive, as I was on my trip to Thailand. Instead, I welcomed all the possibilities that Central America would have to offer me. Parents were of course lecturing. Adults I find are often scared of the unknown, and spend to much time being caught up in the negativity the news provides them with surrounding foreign places. However I have learned the news is pretty biased. They rarely cover stories about all the joy foreign countries will bring you, but waste no time poisoning you with the horrors you may face, with some troubling luck. I wasn’t nervous. Instead, I welcomed all opinions, taking each suggestion with an open mind.
Some people choose to live a carefree life, some take comfort in feeling safe and secure. Some choose stability, while others long for constant change. Some are comfortable with what they already have, and others may search, only to find they never have enough. Understanding who you are and how you define yourself is important. To often we seek approval from our peers, and conform to an idealistic way of who we should be, rather than embracing who we are. We understand at a young age how unique we are, yet somehow lose touch of what makes us stand out, and we end up blending in.
I’ve always known I was different. Growing up, I never had just one group of friends. From elementary school until my college graduation, I had always roamed freely through different cliques. I have never completely required the attention of my peers, in fear of spending some quality time alone with myself. I sometimes get social anxiety in large groups of people, and often find myself politely disagreeing with the opinions of others, rather than conforming to them. I lose touch with friends more frequently than I’d like to admit, and make plans for myself more often than with friends.
But I wasn’t always this way, I used to crave attention and acceptance. I would tell all my girlfriends every detail of my life, and considered solitary to be a weakness. I now recognize my independence as my greatest strength. People often say to me “You’ve changed”, and sometimes I think its meant as a negative remark. However, I consider it a positive attribute, because yes, the truth is I have changed. I have grown.
What I wasn’t realizing in my teenage years, was that I was looking for approval. In high school Facebook was created, I could see clearly in front of me how many “friends” I had, and how many comparable to those of my peers. In high school unfortunately you are defined by the opinions that others have of you, not by how you see yourself. It isn’t until you branch off and pursue your individual interests that you are considered an individual, entirely, as your own self.
Unfortunately, some people are still determining their self worth by the number of likes their selfie gets. Comparing their number of followers to those of their friends, and never feeling quite like they compare without following the latest Jenner trend. Some still feel the need to tell their friends all their secrets, instead of telling one person whom they know they can trust. They keep their mouth shut when they have their own opinions, but bitch and complain about their friends, to other friends when they disagree, instead of saying so in the first place. The problem is, these people are seeking acceptance in a society that has a hard time accepting. Rather than being secure, and confident, and accepting themselves, these people choose to blend. So when a friend, who’s been more privileged and given better opportunities gets handed a job, they can’t be happy for them. They’ll bitch to the other girls in the group, and discuss why their life isn’t fair, never bothering to make their own connections, and getting caught in a recurring cycle of self hatred. “Why her? Poor me. Its not fair.”
I decided a long time ago that I was going to stop blaming everyone else for my own misfortunes, and focus on making my life the way I wanted it to be, the way I know that it deserves to be. Not by comparing, not by copying. I decided that I was going to make my own path, probably stumble along the way, but ultimately, do what I want to do, follow my own set of rules, and be confident in who I am. Continue reading
My stomach and I have never really gotten along. In my second year of post secondary studies, its hatred for me amplified when I contracted the bacterium H-pylori, and was a bit to leisure searching for a diagnosis. I didn’t take it seriously when I’d land myself in the hospital with a bad hangover, or when I’d regurgitate my food mid sentence because of a burp. Instead I hoped that marijuana would be the cure -all for my symptoms and turned a shoulder to the issue. I had gotten way to familiar with my bathroom floor before finally getting to the bottom of the issue, almost a year later.
If I’m being honest here, let’s just say the indulgences of my 20 something life style may have had a direct influence on the way my body broke down that year. I binge drank my way through high school, and started experimenting as any University student does. I also, like most young females had my fair share of body issues, and may not have always given my body the proper nutrients its so rightfully deserved. Because of this bacterium I was underweight, my stomach bled from time to time, and I contracted a few ulcers. I did resolve the problem, but I struggled to get to get back to a healthy BMI.
I’m happy to say that my young and notorious lifestyle is now behind me, and I now conduct my life in an extremely healthy manner, eating the right foods, attending regular yoga classes, staying active, and I don’t party like a rock-star as much as I used to (what can I say though I’m still young ;)). But I’ve always known my stomach would get back at me one day, with a vengeance, for the hardship it endured at my hand. I did not however, expect the misfortune that took place on Koh Phi Phi during my adventure.
From the moment we set sail for Koh Phi Phi Don I was in complete wonderment. The boat made its way into the bay over transparent turquoise water, in front of us lay sparkling white curvy beaches nestled in front of luscious jungle vegetation. The dramatic limestone cliffs embraced us as we neared the pier, and even though the shoreline was extremely over crowded, it still appeared a tropical paradise. There are no roads on Koh Phi Phi Don, and subsequently no vehicles either. Everything is accessible by walking, and the entire traverse from the east to west end would take no more than an hour – though your likely to be distracted along the way as the strip resembles a maze framed by hundreds of attractions, shops and restaurants. For such a small space its actually quite overdeveloped, even after the rebuild following the Tsunami that tore through it in 2004. The beaches are absolutely exquisite, and the island itself is a tropical idyll, its hard to ever want to leave.
But hopefully for you, you never end up in their hospital.
Travel days are always hard. We had been living in beachfront bungalows on Ko Phanang, at a family run resort called Sunsea. We each had our own bed, television and air conditioning, an area to hang and fold our clothes and a patio with table and chairs for the whopping price of $15each. This was our first long -term stay (4nights) in Thailand, and life was so at ease that I could have stayed on the island forever. The family who owned the resort were lovely hosts, feeding us delicious meals, happy to give us a ride into town, and there to answer any questions should we have them. Mornings started off with coffee and a good read on the hammock. A mid morning swim before lunch (my favorite dish of the entire trip was served here; a green coconut curry soup that heightened my taste-buds with aromatic local spices. Even though it was 30+ degrees I couldn’t help but endure the heat for a taste) Followed by some sight seeing along the island riding on rented mopeds that we carefully signed our lives away for (mum would have killed me), and ending with a group dinner fueled with laughs, a drunken board game or two, and 3 of the best friends a girl could ask for.
We were a bit disorganized heading over to Ko Tao, 15 minutes late for a bus we had to sprint to wearing 50L backpacks in 35+ degree weather, no room booked, let alone any idea of which area of the island we were staying. Nick took the reigns as our tour guide, because he had been doing this backpacking thing for a few months, which was terrifying because he undoubtedly had his sister doing the bulk of their planning so far. Nonetheless, your a bit at ease when you jump on a bus with 50+ fellow travelers, who might have a plan, but probably don’t, but may have a general idea for you. Thats the thrill of backpacking though, you just wing it. You can plan, but you’ll probably meet people with useful insights who will tell you tales of their journeys, and you’ll detour. You meet people everyday with a story, of a place and some helpful advice they share, and you roll with it. You take every day as it comes, and it always works out (uh sort of). This particular time we had put all our trust in Nick to lead us to our new destination.
The 22 hour flight to Bangkok was long, and as per my frequent misfortune the headphone jack in my seat was jammed on the 16 hour straight to Japan. Not the best luck, but hey, how can you feel pessimistic on a flight to the other side of the World? My buddy Pat whom was also travelling with me to meet Nick shared his headphone jack with me and we crushed the complimentary wine and watched movies the whole way. Some quick advice: be courteous with the liquid when your sitting window seat on a 16 hour flight, especially when those around you are doing the normal thing and sleeping, to better adjust to the future time zone. After waking the Japanese man up 3 times in 2 hours to use the bathroom after I’d broken the seal, I had felt bad and opted to strategically climb over him, which is hard to do under the radar when your buddy is laughing out loud next to you, secretly hoping you trip. Needless to say the rest of the flight would have been very awkward had he opened his eyes and saw me straddling over him trying to climb out. During a short stop in Tokyo to switch flights, the thrill of merely trying a green tea flavoured Kit Kat overwhelmed my curiosity and had me hungry for more. Upon arrival around 8pm, we we’re greeting by Nick and Alexis, two long absent familiar smiling faces, and that calming sense of home came over me – for a little while, until it was abruptly followed by the surging adrenaline that would keep me up for another 10 hours.
I made the first step into my soul search last spring when I left the security of a full time salaried position to back pack through Thailand. Against the advice of my mother, I decided to feed my curiosity, and see the moon from the other side of the world. My only regret would have to be that I hadn’t realized my desire sooner, and saved more. My best friend Nick was living my dream, backpacking for a year in over 20 countries. I only got the chance to do 6 weeks, and see 2 of them. He was, and will always be my inspiration. The kid can dream, apart from his love of less than mediocre jokes, he is always coming up with new ideas. The best advice he ever gave me was to take a second to realize what you have beyond equity, and live simply. He laughed at me when I told him how much my rag and bone jeans cost me, and again even harder when I splashed a bit of bleach on them the first time I went to wash them. He then went on to explain the depth in which that 250 dollars would serve me on the road, and the life long memories it could give me in place of a nice outfit. You see, when you live on the road, you don’t need nice jeans, you need pants to keep you warm, and once you learn to bargain, you can purchase some for as little as 10 dollars in South East Asia. You have with you what you can carry, so your forced to live only with what you need. You learn to live simply. Nick was definitely the jumpstart to the life I currently live, and I’m not even sure he knows it.
So I dropped everything in Ajax, it had never been enough for me, even when I was younger I knew it. I found no room for growth, no inspiration, and nothing challenged me. It never pushed my boundaries, never taught me anything new about myself. It just was, and people were happy just being, but I wasn’t. I longed for new adventures, and new ideas, and Ajax was the last place I would find them. Some people call it home, but I’ve learned home is not physical, nor is it necessarily geographical. It is a feeling, and you feel it where your soul is at ease. Its the most comfortable feeling I’ve ever felt; I found home living out of a backpack.
I was lucky to have my close friend Alexis catch my disease and drop her job as well for the adventure. Her and I started our life long friendship over tequila in Cancun a couple years back, and as far as my travelling had gone since then, she had always shared it with me. She is a great travel friend because she plans and researches, and helps add a bit of structure to the my otherwise haphazard life. We packed 6 weeks worth of living into 50L, and being someone who has access to a privileged life, and a ton of clothing that was difficult for me. How liberating though, not knowing if I was ready. I must have gone over my list a million times and still thought I was forgetting everything leading up to it. But there it was as soon as I stepped into the airport, that feeling I longed for, my curiosity consuming my thoughts. I lost all my fears, and though the complimentary alcohol on the 22 hour flight helped a bit, couldn’t dig to the back of my mind to find anything worth stressing over.
I’m lying on my mat in savasana waiting for class to commence. I can hear the hurried sounds of people scrambling to get a good spot in the studio, and have to remember to come back to my breath before I start fussing over the day’s events in my mind. I shouldn’t have said that to a colleague. I spent too much time on social media today. What am I going to eat for dinner? Hell, what am I going to wear tomorrow? Breath. This is why I come to yoga. To leave my neurotic thoughts, my anxieties and all my inhibitions at the door. I focus on my breathing, its simple. I listen to the instructor as we glide slowly and serenely from posture to posture, inhaling and exhaling and I leave it all behind for an hour. I’m free.
I’m sorry if I seemed a bit cynical in my last post. Though I didn’t find necessarily what I was looking for in San Juan Del Sur, I cannot say that my time there was a complete waste. I was surrounded by 6 great people with whom I had grown to love individually. We spent days, sometimes doing nothing but watching seasons of game of thrones. We always had great conversations, and shared our stories, really getting to know more about one another. I learned from each and every one of them, and was once again reminded just how beautiful it is to be unique. I mean, if we were all the same, I’d imagine we would never laugh, never learn, never truly be.
For the last 6 weeks Reese, Jac, Matt, Corey, Stu and Max had been my family. We looked out for one another. We teased and embarrassed each other like any good family does. We even got into arguments with one another from time to time because that’s just how comfortable we were together. We were honest. I found I could be myself, and could let all my guards down and completely let go. They treated me equally, never like “a girl”, I was their wing-man at the bar, and if anyone was bothering me, they were my boyfriends.
We were this rock band full of weirdo’s in our own way. Completely ourselves, and never treating each other with disrespect. We made meals together, sharing the chores. We cuddled on couches because there was never enough space, and slept on each other shoulders on the long drives. Though I was the first to go to bed the night before I left, everyone still got up early in the morning to say goodbye, Matt even walked me all the way just to be safe. They made me feel like I was home, and even though I’m not a massive fan of raves, I am a huge lover of friendship. I was actually quite sad when I decided it was time for me to leave the group.
We made the trip from El Tunco to Leon on a 3am shuttle. Past the half mark, time was slipping away, and I needed to get South faster than I was moving.
I never recommend booking a 2 way ticket because your sort of stuck to this time-line, always worried about where you need to be, rather than focusing on where you want to go. You end up rushing, and subsequently sacrificing a lot of things you would otherwise have the freedom to do. It only made more sense to have a trip back home because of my plans to go to London after Christmas. I group booked my flights on cheapoair.com and saved over 800 dollars. Vancouver-Toronto-Belize-Panama-Toronto and then over to London for less than two thousand dollars!
Matt and the boys had all the time in the World, no plans, no care. But unfortunately for me I was time crunched, needing to get to Panama City for December 15th.
The shuttle to Leon costs 40 dollars, and the route crosses through Honduras before entering Nicaragua. Stamp Stamp 😉 The journey is over 12 hours, but the driver will take you right to your hostel.
We didn’t initially plan on going to El Salvador. To be honest I forgot the Country even existed, its never really talked about. If your about to look at a map, it’s the tiny Country bordered by the Pacific Ocean, east to Guatemala, and south west to Honduras. Though it is its tiniest, it also happens to be the most densely populated Country in Central America. But don’t let its forgotten space and repetitive characteristics steer you away, its certainly worth a few days and I’ll explain why.
Since we took a slowed pace through Belize and Guatemala, we realized it would be best to choose between Scuba Diving or Surfing. El Salvador, or Honduras. By doing both we would also be limiting our experience of either. They are both time consuming and money-eating pastimes, and your better off diving headfirst into one, then skimming them both. Plus it leaves you excited for a follow up trip to try the latter.
Anyways, we happily agreed on surfing, since we had a little taste of the coral life during our snorkelling trip. (I know scuba divers are screaming at me that its not the same) But as a lover of wake-boarding, and a jealous friend of those I left behind in Whistler happily posting opening day photos of its beloved mountains, we decided to fill our longing to snowboard with surfing instead.
So we headed for El Tunco, a tiny beachside village next to El Sunzal in the department of La Libertad. It reminded me of Bali in a way, but instead of morning doorway offerings and beautiful hindu statues, it offered me rice and beans for breakfast and a couple of picturesque rock formations. It’s also a tenth of the size of the famous Indonesian surf spot. El Tunco’s single sand strip is bordered by surf shops, standard eateries and board rentals along the way.
Now I know I’m not talking the landscape up that much, but the spot is actually illustrious in the backpacker world. Besides, the pictures speak for themselves. And though your probably by this point sick of rice and beans, El Tunco’s unique appeal, and captivating black sand beaches will grapple your heart and keep you for longer than you expect.
Ill skim the details of the bus ride over to San Pedro, Lago Atitlan, because by now you know they’re all long, boring and generally overcrowded. We even picked up a hitchhiker and her daughter on the way, and the two of them shared the last seat in the back. Needless to say, it was rough. More so for Matt and his 6 foot 10 frame, who was sitting front seat with the driver and another man (not a small guy) in the middle of them. But then more so for me again when I realized I didn’t have my sunglasses and would likely never see them again- along with my beautiful onesie.
So ya, I was irritated. But without room to move my arms to look in my bag to double check, and thinking back on the surprisingly long relationship I’ve had with my Ray Bans, I decided the only rational thing to do was remain positive. Everyone’s already irritated at this point, the last thing they need is the antics of a forgetful girl causing a scene because she has once again lost her sunglasses, only to find that they’ve been on her head the whole time.
But they weren’t on my head this time, and they certainly weren’t in my bag when we pulled up. By this point I had been trying to retrace my footsteps, only to remember that I had my sunglasses in my hand along with my wallet and passport. So I was really, really, trying not to freak out. My things were gone – or left somewhere, the hostel, the bathroom. I didn’t know, because the bus driver who had been half an hour late had the nerve to yell at us to rush, without giving me a second to collect my thoughts, do a last minute check, or even pee.