19 hours in Antigua.

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.

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17 Things to Expect at Semuc Champey.

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…

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The Misadventures On The Way to Lanquin

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.

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Touring Flores, and Jungle Trekking in Tikal

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. Processed with VSCOcam with s4 preset Continue reading

Go Slow, on Caye Caulker.

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)!

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100 Bottles of Belikin, and other drunken tales from San Pedro, Caye Ambergris.

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.

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The perks of being different.

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

The Attack of the Mosquitos on Koh Phi Phi Don

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetFrom 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.

The view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

But hopefully for you, you never end up in their hospital.

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Full moons, Limestone Cliffs, and Penis Caves

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.

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Pink and Purple

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.

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