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Why did I decide to start my journey in Guatemala? No, I didn’t throw a pin at a map and go where it lands (although I really want to do that someday)! I picked Guatemala because I have an unfinished journey there.
Two years ago me and a friend did a road trip through the southern coast of Mexico . It was the first place I’d been in Central America aside from Costa Rica (considered one of the safer countries) and I had developed ‘the fear’ before going. The fear that stops so many people from traveling places. The fear that something terrible would happen to me there – that I would be kidnapped, robbed or even killed. I didn’t give in to that fear and as it turns out the only bad thing that happened in Mexico was having to bribe a police officer for gas before we completely ran out, and he was pretty cool about it. Mexico wasn’t scary, it was warm and inviting. While we were travelling through the country I met a lot of other backpackers who either just came up from the rest of Central America, or they were headed south towards it. Prior to that I hadn’t really considered the possibility of backing through the entirety of Central America, but this trip made me realize it was a reality.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Upon arriving back in the cold winter of Edmonton, I immediately started planning my next trip. I wanted to see more of Central America, but Mexico was by far the cheapest entrance point so I flew back there with the intention of going further south. From the airport in Cancun you can easily get busses further south in Mexico, and from Chetumal you can get a 2 hour water taxi to various islands in Belize (you can also get an overnight bus to Belize city from the airport and grab a shorter water taxi to the islands from there). Within 24 hours of leaving Canada I had made it to the beautiful island of San Pedro, Belize. I spent the next few days Island Hopping across Belize with the intention of moving forward to Guatemala. After a not so slow weekend in Caye Caulker I grabbed a morning ferry to Belize City and from the port transferred to a bus headed to Flores, Guatemala.
Flores is the gateway to Tikal, one of the largest ancient ruins in Central America. Although I was only in the North, I fell in love fast and hard. I remember driving through looking out at the rolling hills of lush jungle, yearning to just keep going. I had made friends with some other travellers who were going through the country but I couldn’t go, I had to go back to Mexico to get my flight home. I was heartbroken.
It’s been two years and I haven’t stopped thinking about the places I still want to see in that country and the rest of Central America. When I decided that I was going to travel long-term Guatemala was my immediate first choice. Plus, it will lead me to South America, a continent I am undeniably in awe with yet having only been to one country there.
There you have it, there is some method to my madness (I think).