This past Saturday, we entered our third country – Honduras. After two and a half months on the road, we are having a fantastic journey so far – all of our senses, thoughts, and emotions have been expanded and heightened. We are experiencing what can only be described as an amazing, life-changing adventure.
However, life on the road does have us missing few things. My Dad loves Letterman and so do I, so Dad, this one’s for you ~ here’s our first Top Ten List:
10. Subways & trains.
Since our initial flight into Cancun, we have only taken buses, shuttles & boats. In Mexico & Central America so far, there are very few train lines (the only metro systems we’ve encountered were in Mexico City and Guadalajara).
We assume this is because buses & minivans are cheaper. But, we dream of a nice ride on a good ole Amtrak train at this point. After weeks of taking minivan shuttles, we are very much looking forward to stepping on a “first-class” Greyhound-type bus to Northern Honduras tomorrow morning.
9. Reliable Internet connections.
Throughout Mexico, we were pretty lucky with fairly, reliable Wi-Fi connections. But, in Guatemala & Honduras, we haven’t been nearly as fortunate. Connections are often turned off during certain times of the day. And when they are available, it’s often as slow as old dial-up connections from the 1990’s. A Wi-Fi connection is a bit of a luxury and we really have no right to complain. We are so fortunate to be traveling in the age of high-speed internet & Facebook. It is invaluable in enabling us to keep in touch. But this lapse in internet connection oftentimes makes it difficult for Erik to get his work done or for us to post our latest blog and photos.
8. NYC drivers.
Yes. Believe it or not, NYC drivers are not the worst drivers in the world. I would feel safer in the back of a cab in Manhattan than I did in our most recent shuttle ride crossing into Honduras. Some of these drivers (and I am referring to tourist shuttle drivers, bus drivers, etc.) will ride the bumper of the car in front, pass on a double yellow with inches to spare, in the rain and through small rivers that often overflow the roads. And again – without guardrails. This last driver really should not be allowed to have a license. Erik & I looked at each other and squeezed hands throughout the ride out of sheer fear and the hope for survival.
This is an important one. I’m not saying that we haven’t felt safe in our travels. For the most part we’ve felt very safe, despite what you may hear in the news about this part of the world. Knowing that it can be dangerous in some places, we do take several precautions. I’m so thankful that we’ve lived in New York & Erik has lived in London. This experience gave us inherent street-smarts that are priceless on a trip like this. We wear money-belts on travel days, and as soon as we check-in to our hotel room, we lock our passports, credit cards and any large amounts of money (including our backup U.S. dollars) in our trusty portable, foldable steel-wired safe. If we’re going out for the day, we lock up our electronics and only take the amount of money with us that we think we’ll need for the day. When getting cash from the ATM, we spot each other and stand guard until the money is safely put away. We try to keep our cameras out of sight, for the most part, as we like to think of ourselves as “travelers” and not “tourists,” although the locals don’t really see us as such. We look up where we want to go on a map so as to not look confused and vulnerable, especially at night. We hold our valuables close and if I am carrying a bag, I will turn it around so the zippers face into me, especially in crowded streets & markets. At night, we only walk on crowded streets and in lit areas. The bottom line: be smart & sensible. It’s tough and wears on you a bit to always have your guard up and look over your shoulder. But, it’s become our way of life. And it’s necessary to keep us safe.
6. Paved roads (& guardrails).
About 75% of the roads in Guatemala are unpaved, bumpy and extremely treacherous. These mountainous dirt roads are often frequented by souped-up old U.S. school buses turned “local” buses, pick-up trucks with 10 or many more people holding on while standing up in the back (yes, we have done this). And as an added bonus, it rains a lot and there are usually no guardrails. This has lead to many a white-knuckled, hold-your-breath and hold-on kind of ride.
5. Real legitimate hot showers.
If you’ve never experienced a “suicide shower” in your lifetime, count yourself lucky. I’d say about 80% of the time, we’re taking our life in our hands as we step in the shower. These showers are basically electric water-heater showerheads, often jury-rigged with ratty, electrical-tape covered wires, just inches above the water overhead. I’m short, so it’s less dangerous for me. But, Erik, who stands at 6’2″, has to be quite careful in the shower.
4. Clean drinking water.
We really do take this for granted in the U.S. Most often, we need to buy bottled water, use our Steripen, or fill our bottles with purified water provided by our hostel, if we’re so fortunate. We need to brush our teeth with purified water and be careful not to get water in our mouths in the shower due to contaminants in the water. We are so lucky to have the option to drink straight from the tap in the U.S. Even the locals most often have no choice but to purchase huge jugs and install them in their homes, despite the fact that they cannot really afford it.
3. Washer / dryer.
Not that we had one in our apartment in Manhattan. But on the road, we are hand-washing something almost daily. While friendly on our budget, hand-washing in a tiny sink, often with no choice of water temperature, gets very old. Lately, we’ve been in rainy places (a good majority of our time spent in Guatemala) where things never dry, and even when they do, they still stink.
2. Our mattress.
In the two and a half months we’ve been traveling, we have slept in 26 different beds. While some mattresses were quite comfortable, others had us waking up with terrible backaches and dreaming of our memory-foam Orthopedic mattress, which is safely tucked away and waiting for us at home.
And the #1 Thing We Miss About Home is…
1. Family & Friends.
This really goes without saying, but we definitely miss gatherings and time with our loved ones and we most certainly miss all of the home-cooked meals.
I truly hope that this post doesn’t appear to be full of complaints. We feel extremely lucky and blessed to be on this transformative, eye-opening trip of a lifetime. We are luckier than I can sufficiently put into words. But, at the end of the day, we have found that we do miss these things about home.