• If Not Now When

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    IF NOT NOW THEN WHEN?

    This is a question my husband and I asked ourselves a lot in the year 2000.  We were recently married and always talked about taking an epic adventure to Bolivia.  It was going to be “epic” because we didn’t want to just fly to Bolivia, we wanted to get there by land.

    Today I will share with you my experience backpacking to Bolivia.  Bolivia is situated in the middle of South America and is a country that has a special place in my heart as both my parents are from there.  To get there by land, we would have to get through North America, Central America and finally arrive in South America.

    I will share the Good Better Best method to describe this Epic Adventure.

    I will tell you what was Good about the Trip,

    What could have been Better,

    And what the Best part of our Adventure was.

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    The Good.

    I loved the planning part of this trip.  To be able to take a trip of this magnitude, a lot of planning had to be done.

    First – the finances.  My husband Mark and I were both working at the time and every Friday when we got our paycheques we would go to the bank and convert some of it into coins – we had a big piggy bank we would put all the loonies and toonies into.  This was a special part of the planning because we enjoyed jiggling that piggy bank every chance we got, specially when one of us started doubting our decision.  We would just jiggle that piggy bank and know we were going for our dreams.

    Once we had enough money to go, we gave our bosses notice and quit our jobs.  I had a good job at a bank at the time and was called CRAZY for just quitting and going.  I didn’t care – I would say IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?

    The other thing we did to plan was purchased 2 LONELY PLANET BOOKS, one for Central America and the other for South America.  These books became indispensable.

    Whenever we wanted to know where to stay for the night, where to eat or what to see we would flip through the pages of those books and get our answers.

    After all this planning, finally on Sept. 30th, 2000 we were ready to leave.  We grabbed our backpacks and were off.

    Well, Mark was off.  I grabbed my backpack and could barely put it on my back let alone take 2 steps.  The backpack probably weighted more then I did and was impossible to carry.  After many things came off the backpack we were off!!

    It felt so GOOD to finally get on a bus and start heading South.

    What could have been BETTER about the trip: 

    When going on an adventure such as this, we knew we would encounter a certain level of danger.  We knew we had to be smart about how to carry our money. We didn’t want to carry our money in our wallets or in a fanny pack.  We bought a cool belt with a secret zipper on the inside of the belt going from one side to the other.  We rolled our $100 bills and put as much money as we could in that belt.  Another thing I did was to purchase a couple of padded bras.  I took the extra padding off them and made a secret compartment with Velcro where I could also carry money.

    Although we took many precautions, we still got robbed in Guatemala.

    We were staying at a dingy little hostel.   We went out to get some food and someone broke into our room and stole most of our valuables.  Our CD player and all our CDs were gone, our Digital Camera was gone and anything that looked like it was worth something.  We were very happy to see that Mark’s belt and my bras were left behind. PHEW!

    Our trip could have been better without this little setback as we no longer had a camera to capture the memories – but we still had the resources to continue the trip and were grateful for that.

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    We have come to the BEST part of our trip: 

    The best part of the trip was simply being there.

    In each country we made sure to learn a bit about their culture, we made sure we always tried the local food.  For my husband that included the local beer and the local coffee as well.

    We enjoyed authentic tacos in Mexico. I fell in love with El Salvador’s Pupusas – these are thin tortillas full of meat and cheese.  It’s great to see the skill when the local ladies patted these down.  The pupusas were delicious!

    We enjoyed watching the locals make freshly squeezed orange juice for us on the streets. And we indulged in the fresh fish in many of the beach towns. Another “Best” for this trip were the places we visited. I loved learning about the Mayans at the ruins of Tikal in Guatemala. I enjoyed climbing a volcano in Nicaragua – Volcan Masaya. I felt like I was in Paradise in Costa Rica as Mark and I rode on horses to see magnificent waterfalls. We enjoyed learning the history behind the Panama Canal.

    We visited many great places.  Of all the places we visited, my favourite was Machu Pichu – these are the ancient Inca Ruins set high in the mountains of Peru.  They truly are majestic. I remember standing there, extending my arms and just breathing the coolness of the mountains trying to understand how a place so beautiful had been lost for centuries.

    After all that travelling we arrived safely in Bolivia.  We were welcomed by my family with a big party where we got to stretch our legs and do a lot of salsa dancing.

    The absolute BEST part of the trip was when I received an email while still in Bolivia from my previous employer at the bank.  They wanted to hire me back and give me a promotion as Supervisor of my department.

    38 Days

    11 Countries

    1 Epic Adventure

    Have you been dreaming of a special vacation? Are you making it a reality?

    IF NOT NOW FRIENDS, THEN WHEN?