Today it’s exactly 17months since I left the UK with a one way ticket to Mexico. I had 2 nights accommodation booked in Tulum, and nothing else. Looking back, it’s no wonder I was in tears of sadness, anxiety, and fear at the airport, with some excitement thrown in. mostly it was a wrenching of my heart as I walked away from my parents, unsure when I would see them, my sister, or my friends again.
I chose to travel in Central America because everyone seemed to be in South East Asia, and I wanted to go somewhere different. Since my Geography teacher at school taught us about the Himalayas (she’d travelled there) I’ve wanted to go there too, drawn by ideas of a longer trek in the mountains, but I didn’t want to pay for an expensive tour, and was too scared to go alone. Likewise the Salar de Uyuni in Boliva have long held an appeal, but I was too chicken.
Central America, on the other hand, was different enough but Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica seemed suitably culturally different to be an adventure while adequately popular with tourists and travellers that I wasn’t scared of going. As for Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, I figured i’d see when I got there, and could always get a bus through if it was too much. Turns out Guatemala and Nicaragua where my favourite countries, although getting over Culture Shock when I first arrived in Belize definitely enabled me to ease into traveling though Guatemala and Nicaragua. conversely, Costa Rica, while a beautiful country, just didn’t quite hit the spot for me, Probably because of a combination of travel weariness, I was ready to go somewhere easier, start of the rainy season, comparatively expensive prices, traveling alone and missing travel buddies, and everything seemed so geared up for tourists that I felt I was seeing Costa Rica through a superficial veneer. It just wasn’t the right time for me, and that is why I would like to revisit Costa Rica.
Traveling Solo in Central America has taught me so many things, and I’ve grown a lot and changed subtly because of my experiences there. The most important things I’ve learned are that I am perfectly capable of solo travel, the worries and the stress of being lost in an unknown city not knowing where your going to sleep that night is also liberating, and unbelievably freeing, as long as you know that everything works out in the end, something I’m a firm believer in. The unknown is whats scary, but finding out about destinations is easy, and even the most of the beaten track destinations have been visited by someone else before. I guess it’s no surprise then that my loose idea of heading to Australia and South East Asia before finally returning to the UK have been swept away. Instead I have little idea of where I’ll go, or when, and I’m finding myself curious about places I would never have considered before, and seeking inspiration about specific destinations alongside the where what and hows.
It’s a bit unfair to lump a whole continent together, but I know very little about Africa. It would probably fit on a postage stamp. But after reading a post by A little adrift about Africa, I started to half consider actually going there. I’ve read a few more articles since, and seen a couple of documentaries, and I’m still considering Africa. Sure it’ll be scary, and I know safari’s are expensive but that I would want to see Africa’s amazing wildlife while there. perhaps a volunteering opportunity would be a great introduction before more independent travel. I don’t know if/ when I’ll get there, but it’s definitely on my radar.
Despite India being a popular destination for travellers it’s never really appealed to me. I think it’s the preconceptions I have of India being full of big, bustling busy cities, (I am not a big city person) and essentially just a crazy culture. I’ve heard tales of female travellers being groped in India, and I’m not sure I’m bolshie enough to deal with all the hustle and bustle and opportunists. It’s stupid really, India has beautiful scenery (which I love) and I’ve met some awesome Indian expats in New Zealand (and back home). I think it’s past time for me to consider India.
China is one of the largest countries in the world. I spent months in Central America exploring an area that would fit over 10 times into China, and similarly so with New Zealand. Again, it’s a country I know pretty much nothing about, (except for seeing amazing views of the Great Wall, busy Beijing and Chinese New Year) which really doesn’t amount to much. Again, part of my reconsideration comes from meeting a couple of interesting Chinese people, which made me more curious. The movie Mulan, (the proper non Disney one) was deeply moving, but it also scratched the surface of a whole wealth of history I barely know of. It surprised me, I’m a great lover of the outdoors, but being an Expat in New Zealand, which has very little, has given me a better appreciation of cultural history, and a desire to discover more about great civilizations.
So there you have it, 3 destinations I would never have considered visiting are on my radar. I don’t know if I will visit them or not, but I’m definitely going to look into it, and hopefully one day I’ll make it there. Who knows where my path will take me. What Destinations has travel opened your mind to?