It seems a shame to me that in the last 7 months, we didn’t see more, do more, meet more people.
We had plans to do and accomplish different things, and I kind of feel like we planned to do *more*) during the past 7 months of our lives.
My friend Patrick Shaw says that people greatly overestimate what they can do in a year, but greatly underestimate what they can do in ten years.
So maybe we should talk in ten years.
But thinking about it, I realize that we did do a LOT over the past 7 months in central and south America, and laid a foundation for coming back to this part of the world throughout our lives.
However, we had plans.
This post talks about what we had planned to do versus what we did.
(I have written this post to remember what we planned to do, actually did and didn’t do, and also should help others traveling through Central and South America to discover some great places and things to experience.)
We didn’t see lake Titicaca (Bolivia), or Lake Nicaragua.
But we did get to see the beauty of Lake Atitlan (Guatemala).
We didn’t see the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), Isla del Omitepe (Nicaragua), or the San Blas Islands (Panama).
But we learned to SCUBA off of Isla Colon (Panama) in a town called Bocas Del Toro.
We didn’t get to see whales or dolphins.
But we helped guard baby turtles and were part of their introduction into the world. We saw monkeys in lots of places throughout central America; saw llamas mating; hummingbirds and butterflies in Mindo, Ecuador; and many other animals and critters. We loved the variety of animals we saw, even if the insects were sometimes disturbing.
Language and culture:
We didn’t spend time living in an indigenous community, (though we spent lots of time around indigenous people).
But we speak Spanish pretty well now. (Thanks Maribel!) We speak well enough to be well understood, to receive compliments on how good our Spanish is, and to understand even difficult topics like politics and religion.
Because of taking Spanish class every day, and the time involved with both planning and getting from place to place, we didn’t grow our business in the way that we wanted to.
But I know 100% that our videos and written reviews of the places we’ve stayed in Antigua, Guatemala; Boquete, Panama; Quito, Ecuador, and Cuenca, Ecuador; have resulted in more bookings for the owners of those places. Our knowledge of marketing on the Internet has helped other people to grow their businesses. That’s exciting to me.
Ancient Cultures and Civilizations:
We didn’t get to San Augustin, Colombia; or in Peru – the Ruins of Kuelap, Macchu Picchu (due to flooding in March), or the tomb of Sipan near Chiclayo. But we saw the remnants of powerful and amazing ancient civilizations at Copan, Honduras; Tikal, Guatemala; Guayabo National Park, Costa Rica; Ingapirca, Ecuador; Cuenca, Ecuador; and Cajamarca, Peru.
We did not see Belize; visit Santiago, Chile; return to Buenos Aires, Argentina; nor did we get to most of the countries in South America.
But we saw every land country in Central America (except Belize); went to or near the top of five volcanoes in three countries (Irazu and Poas, Costa Rica; Pacaya, Guatemala; Masaya, Nicaragua; and Cotopaxi, Ecuador); we covered thousands of miles by bus, plane, car, in the water, and on foot; saw amazing markets at Saquisili and Otavalo, Ecuador, and at Chichicastenengo, Guatemala; got to the capital cities of Guatemala (Guatemala City), Nicaragua (Managua), El Salvador (San Salvador), Costa Rica (San Jose), Panama (Panama City), Ecuador (Quito), and Peru (Lima); and met many amazing people along the way.
I’ve recognized and let go of some of my own ethnocentricity (which I didn’t know I had); become a Spanish speaker; learned that the jungle is a great place for me to visit, but for short-term visits only; and have learned that even though the longest we’ve been apart in the last 7 months is 4 hours, Carrie and I love and appreciate each other as much or more now that we ever have before.
I feel like a year or more could be spent exploring just Ecuador and Peru, with a mention to the lifetime that could be spent exploring Colombia and the other countries in South America.
I do think that these are areas which we will return to at some (as yet undetermined) future point in our lives.
At the same time, 7 months in central and South America has given me an even greater appreciation for the country I call home, the place where I grew up.
The United States of America is a place where stores almost always have change for a $20 bill, many stores are open 24-7, the bathrooms nearly always have tissue paper and toilet seats, and the spirit of the people, more than anywhere else I’ve ever been, says both in word and in action, “we can do it if we’ll just work hard at it.”
I am so grateful for the opportunities provided by our travels of the last seven months, and I’m very grateful as well for the opportunities and life I’ve been able to have growing up and living in the United States.