Travel planning

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” ~ Mark Twain

I’m deep in travel planning mode again.  I love love love to research travel.  For some, it’s overwhelming – for me, it’s a passion.

So I have 3 weeks over the holidaze to travel.  The timing sucks, in terms of crowds and prices, but I am compelled to take advantage of the 2 weeks my workplace shuts down.

The goals for this trip are
1) see a new country (preferably a Spanish speaking one)
2) take a week of Spanish classes to improve my shaky skills
3) try diving, even if it’s just the silly explore scuba variety

When I was in Isla Mujeres, Mexico in August, I realized how much I enjoy speaking Spanish.  I’m not good at it, but I enjoy it.  I also remembered how much I love the warm waters of the Caribbean. 

This trip has evolved a lot since it’s inception.  I started out going to Bocas del Toro, Panama for 2 weeks of Spanish and diving.  Then decided I wanted some mountain time too so I planned to split my time between BDT and Boquette in the highlands.  Then I decided I wanted to travel around a bit more, so I ditched the full week in Bocas and brought the Spanish classes down to one week of the trip.

Soon after, I was turned off by Bocas for various reasons (bugs, lack of accessible beachfront accommodation) and shifted my focus to the Pacific coast of Panama and then up to Costa Rica.  I’ve already seen much of CR but I reasoned that taking classes would have me in one place for the week so who cares.

I should mention that in order to help the economy of the US and our neighbors, I’ve been keeping my international travels in the Americas this year.  I never considered going farther south than Central America because flight costs over Christmas are too high.

I can’t remember how the next shift happened, but after much wine, some friends convinced me that I shouldn’t ignore Mexico as a destination just because it’s next door – it’s easy and cheap to get there and  some of the best diving in the world is there.  That didn’t satisfy my #1 requirement (new country), so I started exploring Guatemala and Belize as places to visit in conjunction with Mexico.  I had all but decided on a week of classes in Antigua, Guatemala, followed by overland travel to see some Mayan ruins, then diving in Caye Caulker (no spanish there but eh).

But last week, another change of plan came when my old friend Stephanie expressed interest in meeting me for the final beach leg of my trip.  We’ve known each other half our lives now, have lived together and travel well together. So we are currently power-coordinating our schedules, desires and various flight costs, trying to find the best plan.  Cancun is by far the most affordable airport for her.  So right now, we are looking at 4-5 days on the Costa Maya (south of Tulum).  The fact that we are coming over New Years is presenting some budgetary and availability challenges.  If anyone has recommendations for non-touristy, non-yuppified towns that have sugar sand beaches with clear water, please let me know.  Eco-friendly is fab and off the grid is no problem.  Wheee!