Wednesday, March 9, 2016

To Plan Or Not To Plan, That Is The Question

In my best John Oliver voice." Our main story tonight, Pre-planning. It is more than just funerals". If you do not know who John Oliver then you are missing comedic genius along the lines of George Carlin and John Stewart.

To pre-plan a trip, portions of a trip or anything for that matter is an interesting new experience for me. Historically I am a "show up and see what happens" traveler or possibly pre-book a room at my next location. This has always given me the flexibility to stop where I want, when I want. It has also provided me with interesting "wander around aimlessly looking for a bed late night when everything is full" situations. You listening Copiapó Chile?

My friend Antonia is a pre-planning juggernaut. Flights, hostels, villas and treks. You name it and it has been researched, planned and pre-booked. I suspect she would pre-book her restaurant meals if she could. You walk in and your food and drink are on the table without the hassle of dealing with a menu. Hey, I like that idea. Anyways, I have decided to follow her example about doing quality research and to have a plan instead of flying by the seat of my pants. It is an interesting learning experience to say the least. Who knew it would make so much sense.

10 Foot Boa Constrictor near the peak of El Hoyo

I have 8 weeks to travel which it is quite a bit of time and I can do hit up many places. Challenge number 1 is my C4 tourist visa. That is my 90 day visa that expires on March 22nd. It is valid in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala so you have to leave those countries before it expires. As I am heading North to Mexico the logical stop is Belize. I have never been and look forward to what it has to offer. Once in Belize I can cross back into Guatemala or the other C4 countries for another 90 days. All good, no big deal. Challenge number 2 is when to cross into Mexico. I will be getting a 180 day tourist card when I cross the border. My jobs starts on May 4th and ends on August 13 which is 109 days and this gives me quite a bit of flexibility and options. I like options.

I think the Mexican Yucatan in all it's glory is calling me after I hit up Belize and Northern Guatemala. This will have to include the cesspool that is Cancun. There will be warm weather (not the brutal heat that is Leon), beach front hostels, snorkeling on barrier reefs, Mayan ruins, colonial towns, active volcanoes, long treks and cool nights. The bus rides will be reasonable and the boat trips short and hopefully event free. There will be a diet of fresh seafood and cold Caribbean beer, multiple border crossings and currency exchanges with sketchy dudes.

Guiding on Cerro Negro with my third pair of shoes. The volcanoes ate my Merrells like popcorn
Something I learned a long time ago. You can not do everything! You need to pick your places and activities and make them yours. This is your trip, well my trip. Listen to what people have to say about their trips (when they are not staring at their mobile devices), read, research and get new ideas. Go where you want. Do what you want to do. Remember to talk to people, locals and travelers. Make the effort and change your day, even your life. The things you discover along the way about where you are and who you are will astonish you. Be open to them

Here is my basic itinerary. There are some gaps with hostel bookings but those will be taken care of once I am in Flores and my Jungle Trek is booked.  Considering the number of locations, hostels, boat rides, beach front hotels, tours and Mayan tour adventures, if I was to book this through a travel company such as Gap Adventures (who are great) it would cost about $6000. I will be pulling into Tehuacan having spent about $1500. That is 8 weeks of budget travel for half the price of a 1 week snore fest an all inclusive. I believe that is what sets apart a traveler and a tourist.

**** As a quick meander. I have had 3 full days and nights of rest. No school, no hikes, no lesson planning or trip prepping. I have been sleeping soundly but oddly I have been waking up like a zombie to the now soothing sounds of the local roosters. I am completely zoned. That never happened, even on 5 or 6 hours of sleep, when I was busy. I woke up ready to go.  Instead of 6:00 I sleep in until 7:30 (living large) and like I said, dragging myself to the kitchen. Maybe it's a subconscious thing, maybe it's an exhaustion thing or maybe its a body recovery thing. Either way I have been moving pretty slowly the last 3 days and have even tossed in an afternoon nap each day.

Road Trip - March 15th to May 4th. 5 Countries in 50 days

Leon Nicaragua -  La Union El Salvador - San Salvador, El Salvador
March 15th - 8:30 am Pickup
Cruce del Golfo through the Gulf of Fornseca

San Salvador, El Salvador
March 15 - 17
Joan's Hostel - Calle del Mediterraneo No. 12 

San Salvador to Antigua Guatemala
March 17 - 21
OX Expeditions and Hostel
Antigua, Guatemala
Hiking Volcano Acatenango March 19-20

Antigua Guatemala to San Ignacio Belize
** C4 Visa expires on March 22**
March 21 to 25
Chaltunha Hostel

San Ignacio to Caye Cualker
March 25th to March 29th
Pause Hostel

Caye Caulker to Ambergris Caye
March 29 - April 3
Sandbar Beachfront Hostel

Ambergris Caye to Tikal Guatemala
April 3 - 5
Jungle Lodge Tikal Hostal

Flores/ El Mirador
April 5 to 13
6 Day jungle trek to Tintal, La Muerte, El Mirador, Nakbé and La Florida

Flores  Guatemala to Chetumal Mexico
April 13 to 14 (?)
Rest and Beer Day

Chetumal to Telum
April 14 to 16
Visit Telum ruins

Telum to /Cozumel
April 16 to 20
Do nothing but snorkel and read on Cozumel

Cozumel to Cancun to Chitzen Itza
April 20 to 22
Hotel Chitzen Itza - Piste Mexico
Visit Chitzen Itza ruins

Chitzen Itza to Merida
April 22 to April 24
Ruins, Ruins, Ruins

Merida to Palenque
April 24 to April 27
Did someone say ruins

Palenque to San Cristobal De Las Casas
April 27 to 30

San Cristobal De Las Casas to Oaxaca (we-HAH-ka)
April 30 to May 4

Oaxaca to Tehuacan
May 4

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