Without sounding too cliched, time surely is flying… It’s not like I’ve been having fun seeing tourist destinations or buying gadgets or nicely fitted clothes. I’ve finally felt like I’m in a good space where the simple act of going for a walk and saying hi, chatting to locals in the street gives is freaking awesome and more satisfying than seeing any tourist attraction or going on a Zara shopping spree.
Since the update last month I’ve slowed things down even further and I believe that I’ve found my groove. I’ve been to less cities and it’s allowed me to get a better feel for the place and met some cool locals and fellow travellers. I would’t have thought I’d spend two weeks here in San Pedro, Guatemala, and I’ve had fun learning Spanish as well as meeting new friends here and abroad. Here’s a little wrap up of the past previous month. It may sound like I get all Confucius but hey, I’ve had plenty of time to contemplate 😛
Mexico is big
You don’t realise it but the size of mexico in landmass is close to to Vietnam, Thailand and Burma pieced together. My original plan to spend 3 weeks there but I ended up staying for nearly 6 weeks and barely scratched the surface. Starting in Mexico city in the south and zig zagging across to the pacific and then to the Carribean side left a huge area in the north that was left unexplored. For a while I felt like I was chasing the deadline and thinking too much about getting the next stop without enjoying each place to its full potential.
All travel plans are out the window
I still have a general direction of travel southwards but the route and what cities has most definitely changed. I haven’t decided which ones however I will just go with my gut and leave it to fate. All I know is that I will need to decide whether I will make my December 11 departure date from Santiago Chile. From Colombia onwards there really is no option to skip or ‘fly through’ countries. They are massive countries and the only means affordable are via buses or boats. With the speed that I’m travelling I will most likely miss it. Woops!
Appreciating nature more
I haven’t quite turned into a tree hugging hippy but with slowing down and avoiding larger concrete cities, I’ve actually enjoyed mixing up my time between meeting new people but also allowing time to myself. Mainly those times have been during the crystal clear morning sunrises on top of a mountain, stunning sunsets on the hostel rooftops or being on or under the water. It’s a simple act that I didn’t appreciate enough back at home, but better late than never! Finally, experiencing the cenotes of Mexico and the pristine waters of the around Caye Caulker was a major highlight and opened my eyes to how amazing nature is but also how easy it can be to screw it up.
A lot of people have asked me if I’ve gotten homesick and I’ve responded with an emphatic ‘no’. The opportunity to discover new places and meet new people far outweigh any benefit of being at home. Before leaving, I made the decision to sell everything I owned and to rid myself of any possessions and obligations that would possibly bring on any form of homesickness or make me come back home. Car, clothes, gadgets, kitchen knives, rice cooker, golf clubs and snowboard. Things that I worked hard over the years to accumulate and was a huge part of the last 12 years, I was by now happy to part with and leave with just a backpack which has been sufficient enough to keep me warm and happy. Yes I have some of my close friends and parents in Oz, but they are just a quick skype call away.
We are pretty lucky back at home
Most people are poor here. The poverty you may encounter on a trip here might not look bad but you only need to go into the suburbs a few blocks away from the tourist areas and you’ll see people basically living in tin sheds with a wood fire burning and barely the basic necessities that we take for granted. Even at the hostels I’ve been to, you can get a room as low as $2 a night and they all have WiFi in an area that only 30% of the population have access to the WWW I (I know what a nerd). Those who work, do so for 6 days a week and would only dream about travelling to the neighbouring countries. Regardless of their situation, many are still kind and happy to crack a smile and greet you with a ‘hola’ in the streets.
Getting over the fear of learning a language
I was scared shitless up till now about learning Spanish. Sounds crazy but I had fear of not learning anything and I would be a total failure only learning the words “gracias’ and ‘bueno’. At the start I thought I could just ‘get by’ but immediately in Mexico I knew that there was no way I would. I only did a total of 20 hours and I’m so far from being an expert but I understand a lot more signs, menus and have very basic conversations with people. Now the next step would be to put it all into practice throughout the trip.
The next month
I’ve pretty much caught up with my blog in terms of updating you on the geographical location. I’ve underestimated how time consuming it is to write something legible as opposed to writing material for work in bullet point form. Travelling slower has allowed me to spend more time on the writing and I plan on expanding the content beyond just locations and more about stuff on my mind but also travel and more food related posts.
I’ve enjoyed my time here in San Pedro but most places speak English so if I’m to improve my Spanish then I need to throw myself into deeper waters. I’ll be moving onto Semuc Champey and then to Honduras next to do some more diving in Utila and possibly getting my advanced diving qualifications. From there I’ll make my way quickly to Panama where I’ll sail to Colombia.
So my friends, does it sometimes take a trip elsewhere or a simple break when you’re removed from the day to day life to appreciate the simpler things in life?