As I plan more of my trip and read posts from others who have traveled throughout the region my list of “must do’s” is growing – much faster than my wallet. The entire region is full of Fun Exciting Things – though this can probably be partially contributed to the fact this is my first major trip.
I know that I won’t be able to visit every region of every country or visit every single place I want – my main focus is volunteering and I will certainly be traveling on a shoestring budget. I absolutely plan on taking advantage of my surroundings and splurging on certain things – isn’t that what this trip is about?
Though my trip is still several months away I have already created a list of Things I Must See/Do. Here are five of those things:
1.) Take Spanish classes. The first question I’m asked when talking about my trip, usually following “don’t drink the water!”, is “Do you speak Spanish?”. When I shake my head and admit that no, I don’t speak Spanish, I get the “Are you crazy??!” look. How do I expect to travel through an entire region when I don’t speak the language?
They have a point – while I’m not completely starting from scratch my very limited Spanish knowledge will not get me far. I remember the very basics but I can certainly write it much better than I can speak it and to listen to someone else talk and comprehend? HA. Forget it!
I am working on improving my Spanish now (more on that later!) but I know my pronunciation will significantly improve when I have no choice but to talk and listen. I’ve been saying I’m going to learn Spanish for years now and it’s finally become a non-negotiable.
If I’m going to travel the region then I’m going to speak the language! This is why one of my first goals is to spend some time at a Spanish language school doing some Spanish immersion prior to the start of my volunteer placement.
2.) Ride a horse along the Caribbean. Guys, I have a confession. I have never, ever in my country girl life ridden a horse. I was the girl with the room full of every type of horse decoration, poster, and model possible but I’ve never actually had the opportunity to ride. It’s kind of pathetic, to be honest.
Like everyone else I have this romanticized idea of riding a horse along the Caribbean (or any beach, I won’t be too picky!) and I figure this trip will be my only chance for a while.
Not sure when or where this will happen but I was inspired by Alex’s experience riding in Puerto Viejo so that may very well be an option.
3.) Ruins, Ruins, and More Ruins. Perhaps the thing I’m most excited about on this trip is the opportunity to visit so many ruins. I am completely fascinated by the history and culture behind these things. It just completely amazes me to put into perspective the work and technology it took to create such massive empires that are at least still partially standing today and compare it to what we have now.
Beyond just visiting the ruins I want to take the time to learn more about the history of the Mayans and the ruins. I want to make this a cultural learning experience – not just me standing on some rocks taking selfies.
I’ve visited Mixco Viejo on my previous trips to Guatemala so I’m looking forward to visiting Tikal and Copan as well as other ruins on this trip.
4.) Volcanoes! (Or singular volcano?) Volcanoes seem to be another plentiful throughout the region. While I have seen a volcano or two from a distance (hey, Lake Atitlan!), I really want to see one up close, hopefully hiking to the top.
Why? I really have no idea – it’s just something I’ve developed an extreme desire to do. Which volcano? I also have no idea. Suggestions are appreciated!
5.) Spend at least one day/night in each country. My journey will be taking me from Costa Rica to Mexico so traveling through almost every country is a given. However, I want to make a point of spending a little time everywhere. While I don’t intend to spend as much time in each country as I will be spending in Nicaragua and Guatemala I am setting a goal to spend at least one day/night in every country in Central America, excluding Panama as I’ve already been there. Ideally I’d like to spend a few days everywhere but I don’t want to plan too much so we’ll start with one day/night everywhere.
Have you done any of these things? Any advice? I’d love tips or suggestions as to what ruins, volcanoes, or cities to visit!