Thursday, December 6, 2012

My First Love: Central America

As much as I have a huge crush on travel and as much as I love traveling and all it has to offer, I haven't been to very many places. My first two defining travel experiences consisted of a summer in London when I was 17 and a summer in Paris 10 years later. And then I went to Central America.

Oh hi, Belize
Caye Caulker, Belize
My boyfriend and I had talked on and off about travel for years -- vaguely and with no real solid goals in mind. It was more of a, " Hey, we should go to here" kind of thing rather than a, "Let's save  up and book a ticket to this place" kind of thing. And then he went to Nicaragua with a friend for two weeks and loved it. The next year we decided it was time to take a trip together and we chose Belize. It was close(ish), it was warm and there would be no language barrier. So we booked -- and I loved it.

Oh hi, Guatemala
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
After Belize we decided to continue our foray into Central America and I was OK with that. Flights were relatively cheap, accommodation was affordable, it was easy to get around and so far, I had enjoyed what the region had to offer. Guatemala was no exception and I again, fell in love (longer, region-specific blog posts coming!)

Oh hi, El Salvador
Santa Ana, El Salvador
Could we end up with good travel luck three times in a row? Oh yes we could! El Salvador was a dream. I loved it more than Belize and more than what I saw of Guatemala (which was not enough. It's a huge country), but El Salvador packs  a big punch for such a small country. Beaches? check. City life? Check. Good food? Sure. Hiking, jungle, natural beauty? Yup, you know it. So yes, I continued to fall hard for Central America.

Do we stay or do we go?
Last year, when discussing where we would go (if anywhere), my first thought was to go back to Central America. We were unsure whether we could afford a trip and I originally suggested that rather than going further afield, we stick with what we know and love -- Central America, and in this case, Costa Rica and Panama. But, we ended up ultimately deciding on SE Asia. 

Now what?
This winter we've set our travel sights on India (unless I chicken out). Two (or more) months in that part of the world would be an amazing (and huge) challenge for both of us and something we've been talking about for a while. But I still feel the pull of Central America. I've never been to Costa Rica or Panama and the pull to check them out is pretty strong. But would it be a challenge? Does travel have to be a challenge? Would it be "enough"? I don't know. I want to figure it out soon since we'd be leaving early February and right now, I'm still in a state of travel confusion.

Do you have a place that pulls you back over and over?

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