You know that place? The one you go to in your head while you are commuting or at work, and aren’t working because the feeling of wanting to be there or having been there takes up so much space that there isn’t room for you to think about anything else? If you’re like me, you are hanging out in that place almost daily and its exact location changes based on how you’re feeling, what is happening in your life, what type of adventures you are craving or where you have just been. That place has been so many locations before, but right now, THAT place is Central America. Like, ALL of it. I cannot get this relatively small but largely underrated region of the world out of my head. I am officially obsessed.
The fact that I know I am going there isn’t helping either. In my spare time, and in time that is definitely not spare, I Google and Google and Google places that are already on my itinerary to look at them one more time. Then, I search for new sources that confirm information I already have, just because. And each and every time a little bolt of excitement runs through me and I have a brief (what I like to assume is a) premonition about what it will be like to physically be there, warmth of the sun and all. The number of times I have done this with Belize and Guatemala in particular is getting ridiculous; I had to remind myself this weekend that there are A LOT of other places I need to learn about and that it is time to move on. Wow.
So, where does my deeply ingrained fascination with Central America come from? That’s an easy one; Costa Rica. While it wasn’t my very first trip abroad, my 2007 trip to Costa Rica is certainly what sealed my fate as an explorer and adventurer. My best friend and I went down there for 2 weeks and came back different people; eyes wider, minds open, worries relaxed, dreams bigger. I don’t know if it was the waterfall hike or the zip-lining in Monteverde, the lines of tiny ants marching across our beds or the hot-spring soaking in the rain while in Arenal, the perfect cold water showers or the deep hammock swinging reflections in Montezuma, the golden orb spider webs to the face or my absolute favorite hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, but Costa Rica got to me. And from other people’s stories of their time there, it seems I’m not the only one. The infinite memories of THAT place have not faded one bit.
This is undoubtedly what has me so ready to hit Central America again. If this tiny country, often the only one people consider in Central America, has so much to offer, what unforgettable places have I never even heard of yet? What is being overlooked? Where in Belize will I meet amazing people? What will I eat in Honduras? How much Spanish will I absorb in Guatemala? And of course, what new experiences will I have in Costa Rica this time around? Should I re-visit places I loved but had to leave too quickly the first time or concentrate on brand new spots? There is so much possibility I’m getting all lightning bolt-y again just writing about it.
Having finally moved past Belize and Guatemala and onto Panama I’m sure my pre-occupation with Central America isn’t going anywhere. As I delve into Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador too, I know I will only fall deeper under the spell that this region has over me. As a matter of fact, I’m sure that nothing short of exploring this region for the 5 months I have planned will satisfy me. And even then, I have my doubts that South America is even going to happen; I wouldn’t be surprised if after returning to Ecuador from Europe, I turned right around and made my way back up Central America, from the bottom this time! Because, why not?