Saturday, January 30, 2010

3 weeks Written 1/29

We've hit our 3 week milestone and I cant believe how fast it has gone...well...I can believe it.  I think we've gotten in the travel groove and have developed a good pace.  I'll take a few moments to philosophize on what I have learned in 3 weeks of backpacking travel.  Everyone has packs and most are on the road for a month, 2 months, 6 months or years.  There are many British people and other europeans...Germans, Dutch, Austrians, French, some Israeli's, Canadians and only a few Americans.

There are 2 stages of travel, transport to a new place and spending time in that place.

Transport is the work.  We have our packs with us and our valuables carefully stashed in a few different locations.  This is the scarier part where we are most vulnerable to robbery or problems.  We are holding all of our important material possessions.  We have to figure out the correct form of transportation balancing price and comfort.  Since our spanish is poor, we are at the mercy of bus drivers to find the correct bus.  Our biggest concern on travel days...besides the safety of our bathrooms.  We forgo breakfast and coffee and try to limit our water consumption to a minimum.  Then  we arrive at our destination and with our packs on our back, we wander around with the guidebook trying to find the best accomodations, again balancing comfort and price.  Our intention is to check out as many places as possible, but realistically, we check a couple and settle with somewhere that we think we will be comfortable and has a good writeup in the guidebook.  The guidebook is so important for determining our path and finding cheap but comfortable restaurants and hotels and we read it constantly.

Then comes the easy part.  We settle into our new town.  We stash our stuff in what we hope is our nice safe room.  We walk around to get our bearings.  We peek into every restaurant, checking out the menus to find the cheapest and best food.  We meet other travelers and compare notes of where we have been, what we did there, where we stayed and ate and what we learned.  There are only so many places on the tourist trail and those places are on that trail for a reason.  Those are the places that have something to offer and thats where the other travelers are.  The travelers are a community and we rely on each other for company and information.  We have met people of all ages, nationalities and situations.  Our backgrounds are different but we have so much in common.  Obviously we all love travel and seeing as many new places as possible.  In Central America, we are all on a budget and are always aware of how much things cost and how much we are spending.  On a deeper level, we all love the freedom of life on the road.  We research and we plan, less to be prepared and more because it is something to do.  Everyone has some sort of loose plan but nobody expects to actually stick to it.  People talk about a "goal", like ours to get to Panama or Mexico or Brazil.  We hope to reach it but few people know exactly where they will be more than 1 or 2 destinations in the future.

We try to talk to as many different people as possible because everyone has a different perspective on a place.  Many people find Flores only bearable for a day or 2 while we were happy there for a week.  Livingston has gotten the most mixed reviews.  After talking to some people, we had almost crossed it off our list but since we have been here, we've heard some good things and realized that the only way to know is to see for ourselves.  The worst case is that we check into a hotel and hate it and move on the next day...not such a bad worse case scenario.

I love to find out how other people can make this happen.  I truly love this lifestyle and always in the back of my mind am trying to figure out how I can fit this into my life, maybe not permanantly but definately regularly.  Most people I know, take a vacation and then say "I was ready to come home".  They miss their family and friends, they miss their bed, they miss their home.  I can honestly say that I have never felt this "ready to come home" feeling.  Home has always sort of felt like a rut for me.  It is so easy for me to settle into a routine which soon becomes un-challanging and easy.  Every day here is a new adventure.  What will we see?  Who will we meet?  What are the showers like?  Can we find something cheap to eat that isnt a taco on a corn tortilla?  I love the challenge to find this cost/comfort/value balance.  I'm enjoying keeping careful track of what we spend to keep under-budget.  I love that I can get into doing something, concentrating on a conversation or not stepping in poo on a walk and then look up and see something completely new that I've never noticed or someone new and interesting with their own story that will fascinate me or something utterly breathtaking like a sunset or a bird or a mountain.

I feel free.  Every day is truly what I make it.


StephSegal said...

Hi! So excited to finally see an update. Wow, how liberating this must be for you guys. We are having a 'Guatemalan' dinner tonight, thinking of you. Pupusas, fried plantains and a heart of palm & tomato salad. We are doing monthly "pick a country" dinners with the kids, the extent of our cultural experience for now. One day, will take them on some travels. BTW--Aaron & I are looking at Costa Rica for our 10-year anniversary trip. Send us some suggestions!!! :-)
love, Steph, Aaron and kids