Feeling Home in El Tunco, El Salvador

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.

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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.

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The Charming Little Town of San Pedro, on Lago Atitlan

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.

Breathe Jaime.

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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

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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