A while back, I got some heat about our “10 Things We Miss About Home” post. I think some readers misunderstood the angle I was going for and the suggestion was made to write a future post about the positive side – which we thought was obvious! There are numerous pluses, of course, so here are our Top 10 so far.
1. Complete and utter freedom. With an open and flexible itinerary, we are free to choose where we go, where we stay, what we do, how we get there, everything. It is so liberating to not have any real schedule or deadlines, (except for the rare flight we book). Unlike a “normal” vacation, where you only have a week or two to explore and relax, we are on our own time. We don’t have to feel rushed and we can camp out for a bit when we feel like we need to, and try to live like the locals.
2. Every day is a new adventure. We have swam and climbed waterfalls, sandboarded down a volcano, swam in bat caves while holding candles above our head, gone extreme whitewater rafting, climbed active volcanoes. The list goes on. But, every day is a blank page and we get to choose what amazing memories we will make next. Although we are loosely following the common and well-defined “backpacker trail,” we can change it up and explore somewhere off-the-beaten-path whenever we choose. There is such a sense of utter excitement of waking up and not knowing where you’ll end up that evening, how you’ll get there, and who you’ll meet along the way.
3. Seeing the world. This is kind of an obvious one. But, the world is so much more beautiful and rich than you can visualize through a photo, read in a guidebook, or even see on the Travel Channel. We have gone to (and will visit) several places that most of our friends and family consider “dangerous.” After spending nearly one month in Colombia, which I was originally quite trepidatious about, we have been welcomed with open arms and friendly smiles. We have seen beautiful nature and met amazing people. The world really is different when you experience it firsthand. Even though some people thought we were nuts when they heard of our trip, it is so exhilarating to have the freedom to explore the world, instead of what many people do – comfortably sit in an office cubicle looking at a calendar on the wall and wishing you could see it one day. The truth is – you can.
4. Different foods. Each place we have been has had some unique food experience. Whether it was delicious refried beans in Guatemala, baleadas in Honduras (pictured below), amazing fruit juices in Colombia, chili-dusted grasshoppers in Mexico, baked hormigas (ants) in Colombia, every place has its own unique and traditional cuisine. It’s been thrilling to see, smell and taste these new (to us) foods and drinks. We cannot wait to see what is next.
5. Together time. On a long-term trip such as this, it is wonderful to get to spend so much time together. Back in the States, life can get so hectic and work schedules and other commitments can leave little social time to spend together. Although we occasionally get on each others nerves (naturally), it’s been wonderful to spend such quality time together. We have both grown individually and as a couple. There have been some not-so-pretty moments on this trip, and Erik still loves me, somehow. And for this, I am extremely grateful.
6. Learning a new language. Learning Spanish has opened up a whole new world to us. Having studied languages since I am a classical singer, I love learning a new language. But, this time is different. I am not learning a language to sing an aria or translate an opera. I am speaking this new language every day and getting my point across. Some days, I would say 75% of our day is spent speaking Spanish, sometimes even to each other. Our trip has been immeasurably enriched by this and I am so very happy we have learned enough Spanish to not only get by, but get us out of situations where people may have otherwise taken advantage of travellers who do not speak the language. Muy feliz.
7. New friends! We have met some incredible people along the way. Strangers helping us out, other backpackers, hostel owners, distant relatives we met for the first time. We have increased our Facebook friend list practically every day! I said to Erik just yesterday – “do I really have this many friends?” I used to see the world as a bit of a scary place. But, now I see each new place is a new chance to make a new friend. When you are travelling like us, meeting new people is a daily thing. It’s so easy to meet people and people, for the most part, have been really awesome.
8. Feeling like we are in a page of a history book. There are really no words to describe seeing firsthand everything you’ve only read about and seen photos of in books. It’s been incredible to see all the different pre-Columbian ruins, comparing all of the different locations with each other, and starting to understand how it’s all connected. Really getting to understand a region, its history, and people. Being able to sit at a table and talk to local people and really learn what they are all about. Those have been some of our richest moments.
9. Amazing photos. This is sort of a self-indulgent one. But, I love photos. To some of you, this will be no secret. We are so lucky to be travelling now and not 15 years ago, when taking a plethora of photos would mean shelling out tons of money to buy thousands of rolls of film and even more money to develop them. But, as of today, we have taken over 10,000 photos of the beautiful and magical things we have seen and experienced. Each photo is a memory that we will have forever.
10. Sharing our adventure. The journey we are on is amazing beyond words. The whole trip is a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey. And it is an extreme joy to be able to share it with our family, our friends and our fellow travellers. Although we are a bit behind, we are catching up and will soon be able to have you right with us where we are right now.
Everyday is a new adventure. And we haven’t regretted a minute of it.