Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why Central America & Beyond

I knew I always wanted to visit Central America, just don't know when and for how long. I like the history, culture, and nature of the area. Also $US dollar can get you pretty far in this region (if you avoid the resorts).

I decided to go sometime in Nov after a tough stretch in my life. I debated how long and if want to do volunteer work in additional to taking a local Spanish class. I settled with 2.5 months because of holiday and tax deadline constraints. With that, there is not enough time for volunteer work or visiting Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. To do all that I probably needed another 2 month! May be I'll hit these 3 countries in late Fall this year, but with a family trip instead.

After reading the guide books and online reports on Central America, I realized that it will be the most dangerous area I have ever visited. I don't mind petty crimes, which one can avoid with common sense and being careful. But in Central America (especially Guatemala), people have guns, and they stop bus/car in broad daylight on the highway, and rob everyone on board - there is nothing you can do! And they will kill in a heart beat if you resist.

You can say I am a bit apprehensive about the trip - with being robbed the most concerned me. Luckily through my mom's home insurance, my camera/lens will be covered with $500 deductible. In additional to the normal precaution of fake wallet, money waist band, I got a "real" money belt to hide emergency cash.

Compare to preparation of this trip to Asia trip, I did much less planing for this trip. Partly because I have less time, but also because the transport logistic is less daunting than in Asia. Distance is shorter, no ocean to cross, excellent intra-country/international bus system, and single dominant language (except Belize - English).

After Central America, I think Southern parts of Africa, parts of South America, and left over Asian countries will be my next great and hopefully relatively cheap trip. Of course if opportunity (in term of discounted tour) presents itself, smaller trips to Turkey, Middle East, far Eastern Europe, might be possible as well. And there are still some nice road trips I can do in US: Western Canada/Northern Cascades, New England, and mid/southern California. It is alway good to look ahead :)

No comments: