February 17, 2012

Travel is Like Oxygen

Antigua, Guatemala

Travel is like air to me. Really. If I go too long without it I feel like I start suffocating. Then the only way to feel better is to start planning a trip. I definitely prefer international travel because the places are so different from the US, though the South has often gotten the reputation for being a country of its own. Didn't Reese Witherspoon say you should need a passport to come down here in one of her movies?

This weekend we are headed to Hilton Head, SC to visit Honey's sister and brother. This led me to think about the need for travel and vacations and how some people don't take them. I can't imagine. I save for travel before I save for retirement. And I realize kids, jobs, puppies, etc get in the way but people in the US have the bad rep for not using their vacation days and that makes me a little sick inside. I usually over spend my vacation days and have to take some with no pay. I'm totally okay with that.

Vacations are amazing and (this may sound a tad bit exaggerated, but it's not) vacations are one of the things that makes life worth living. Yes I said it.

This thought process continued and led me to think about my first big trip by myself--Central America. I had been working at a well-known learning center as one of the directors. I had to deal with sales goals, parents, scheduling teachers, organizing all the tutoring, and I hated it. My stomach would start cramping up when I pulled into the parking lot because of the stress. One time I had to go straight into the bathroom when I arrived because I thought I was going to throw up.

So I told them I quit and was moving to Central America. 

Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

At the Mayan ruins in Honduras

I didn't really move there but I did spend about 3 months traveling around and kinda learning Spanish. I explored, rode chicken buses, stayed at hostels, learned to scuba dive, met amazing people, lost 10 lbs because of some scary Honduran sickness, tried surfing, learned about the Maya...

Maya women
Bonus: I gained more understanding and awareness about myself than I could have ever working in the US 40 hours a week. The different people, experiences and perspectives you find when you travel are so enriching. 

This trip inspired me later in my career as a teacher to write a book about Guatemala with students and it inspired me to be a better, well-rounded person in every endeavor I take on. So yes it even helped my work. Now even the career minded Americans should be okay with it. Check out this link if you want to see the book.

I am positive I will write about bits of this trip again on this blog at some point, but I will leave you with a few more pictures to enjoy.

Sunset over lake in Guatemala
Huge ceiba tree in Tikal

Temple I in Tikal

Boats to cross a river

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