Mexico always leaves me pleasantly surprised and La Paz was no different.
I quit my job 3.5 months ago to travel full-time. I was embarking on a 3-month solo trip throughout Central South America. This would be my first long-term trip, my longest trip traveling solo, and the longest amount of time I'd spend outside of my home-state. I have now returned and to say it was an adventure would be an understatement.
Here are some things that happened on my trip:
- I cried in my taxi on my first night because it finally hit me that I was about to embark on a such a new experience. I had no idea what to expect & my parents were freaking out about me traveling through Latin America alone. What if they were right? What if the worst did happen?
- I returned to love in Tulum, Mexico after having previously experienced the town with an ex. I intentionally started my trip here so that I could create my OWN memories, without them being soured by the thought of someone/something that once was. And so I did. I took back Tulum.
- I swam with sharks in the blue waters of Belize, but the captain on the boat offered us so much Caribbean rum that I hardly remember the experience. I guess that's what pictures are for, right? 😩
- What's even more crazy? I stayed in a hostel in Caye Caulker, Belize named 'DIRTY MCNASTY'S. LOL...wh...? Enough said.
- I went sailing for the first time in Belize 🇧🇿 for 3 days. No showers, cell service, etc. I should also mention that all 3 of the boat crew were easy on the eyes, especially the captain.
- I got the chance to spend 3 days snorkeling in the 2nd largest barrier reef in the 🌎.
- I camped & slept in a tent for the first time - on a remote island in Belize. When I peaked from behind my tent at dawn to pink skies, I nearly cried.
- I camped & slept in a tent for the second time on a Volcano in Guatemala. We watched as the volcano erupted through the night right under the star filled sky.
- If the 13,045 ft hike to the top wasn't hard enough, I shed a tear once we got to the top...not because I'd FINALLY made it, but because I realized that I'd lost my phone on the way up. After feeling like I was going to die and my legs were going to give out, It was the tip of the iceberg. 😭 1 month of photos GONE! Stupid, beautiful Volcano.
- As a result, I traveled for a month without a phone and everything was fine. I used like...real maps & stuff. Like, I didn't die.
- I camped for the 3rd time in the Peruvian Andes Mountains on 3 day, 18mile(30km) trek to Machu Picchu.
- I couch-surfed alone for the first time and made a life long friend. Sure, I feared for my life on the first night but my host ended up showing me his life in Belize. He'd prepare meals, help with laundry, show me around town & more all out of the kindness of his heart. We even illegally crossed the border just to go to his favorite bar over in Guatemala. Sorry mom.
- I rode a motorcycle for the first time in the Nicaragua. After stopping at a smoothie shop in town with my Canadian friend, two workers invited us to go dance salsa in town with them. They told us to meet them back at the restaurant at 9pm. When we arrived, they were waiting for us on their bikes. Well...when in Rome, right?
- I connected with people from all over the world, from Peru to Norway. White & brown, old & young, straight & gay, etc...it didn't matter. It doesn't matter. It's amazing how quickly strangers can become friends. How you can share things with them that you haven't shared with those you've known your entire life. How you can share intimate moments with them that you'll never forget.
- I lived with a Guatemalan family to help with my Spanish. Although things got REALLY awkward and we sometimes had to use Google Translate to communicate, mi Madre(Sylvia) never failed to make me feel at home when she'd call me down for breakfast before school each morning. Anytime I'd feel uncomfortable, I'd remind myself that I asked to be challenged.
- I took one on one Spanish classes in Antigua, Guatemala and it really helped push me closer to my goal of becoming fluent. Also, every interaction I had..in taxis, in markets, in restaurants, and with new amigos/friends.
- I went salsa dancing every chance I got & attended so many free classes. I loved every second of it!
- I fell in LOVE with Reggaeton! J balvin, Maluma, Nicky Jam 😭
- I stayed at a wonderful place in Nicaragua called Maderas Village. I met the most inspiring people here. It seemed that everyone had also quit their jobs to travel and/or work on their own personal projects. We had conversations that I didn't even know my heart needed.
- The sweetest Isreali girl taught me how to surf the golden waves of Playa Maderas in Nicaragua. She spoke nearly 5 languages and she was such a bad*ss. Just a traveler who offered to show us to surf. I met so many awesome Israelis during my trip and although I never had a strong desire to visit before, I do now.
- I tasted exotic fruits that I didn't even know existed. Maracuya, Guanabana, Pitahaya Mamoncillo, Apote...
- I ate alone in restaurants & sat in many coffee shops alone. It was always awkward at first, but I learned more & more each time that what others think of me is truly none of my business.
- I met so many amazing women who are just killing it at life! 💁🏾
- I volunteered on a sail boat for 6 days from Panama to Colombia. In exchange for cleaning dishes, preparing food, and sharing my experience with you all, I received a trip in the San Blas Islands at no cost.
- Honestly, I was ready to get off that dang boat after 6 days. I didn't know it then, but my soul needed the solitude and the sea.
- I woke up one day & decided to go paragliding in Medellin, Colombia 🇨🇴 and it was pure ecstasy. It was then that I decided fear wouldn't stop me from doing anything in life.
- I also got robbed at knife-point in Medellin, Colombia. Oh, the literal highs and lows of travel.
See: Travel Insurance
- I trekked for 3 days in the sacred valley of the Incas on the way to Machu Picchu. Within 10 minutes, I was thinking "NUH-UHHHHH.*huffing & puffing* I *huff* CANT *puff* DO *huff* 3 *puff* MORE *huff* DAYS *puff* OF *huff* THIS *big puff*". But of course I could. I might have been last but I did.
- I questioned my own beliefs/views about my life, myself, relationships, religion, and everything else I've been taught.
- While I need Google Maps to drive 20min away in my hometown, I navigated foreign lands alone. While I thought I was shy/introverted, I made new friends on a daily basis. I surprised myself many times.
- I learned that there are plenty of fish in the sea and they are only waiting to meet you. So, don't trip over F*boys(or girls).
- I fell in love many times - with the strangers that so quickly became friends, with every sunset I saw, with the chaotic markets I visited, and each new chance life presented me with when I arose each morning.
- I visited Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia & Peru.
- I thought I was confident before, but this trip gave me more confidence than I've ever had.
If you are considering a booking a trip, applying for your dream job, quitting your job, or doing anything that scares you....please do it! I cannot promise the journey will be perfect, but I can almost guarantee that it'll be worth it.
I am so grateful that I was able to see the world in this way. Since I only returned 2 weeks ago, I haven't had the chance to fully process the past 3.5 months. However, my phone notes are FILLED with videos, blog post ideas, and more. I can't wait to share everything with you all in more detail.
NEXT UP: EUROPE. I head there in less than a month. If any of you have recommendations, please let me know! I will be flying into Paris & bouncing around.
Note - These are bullet points that I originally wrote in my iphone notes. I then posted them in a private fb group & received phenomenal feedback so I decided to share it here. Hope you enjoy.
If you enjoyed this post, please comment & share. Your engagement helps me to continue sharing. Thank you for reading. xx Ciara