Our journey through Central America has come to a close. I am sitting in the airport in Panama City right now (completely alone for the first time in 3 months, might I add, because Chris has a different flight than me) attempting to reflect on the last 3 months.
We spent 13 weeks, visited 7 countries, stayed in 26 cites, traveled 2,644 miles, and spent 101 hours on public transportaion.
Here is what I have come up with so far: It was an unforgetable, once in a lifetime trip. Duh.
I am actually having a hard time figuring out my feelings. I have been going back and forth for the past week trying to figure out if I am looking forward to returning home or dreading it.
I am happy, but sad.
I am excited for the next adventure, but mourning this one.
I am nervous, but excited.
Somewhere inside me I feel like I just began my trip and have boundless energy to see and explore. But somewhere else in me, I am worn out and tired and glad to be done.
Basically if you can think of an adjective to describe feelings, I feel it. And also feel its opposite.
Am I making sense?
Probably not. Everything in me is all jumbled up!
These feelings are nothing I have ever experienced before, and I need to adjust to “normal” life again before I can really reflect on the past three months!
Besides the obvious of seeing my family and friends and pets, there are a few things I am really looking forward to upon my return to America.
Cooking. In a real kitchen
On the road, 90% of our meals were eaten out. When we didn’t eat in a restaurant or food cart, we cooked in the hostel kitchen which was typically quite small and crowded with other peoples things. I am so excited to get back to cooking my own food! This also means my eating will be back on track and I won’t be suddenly hit with a surprise visit from Montezuma seeking his revenge.
Working out regularly
I am not going to hide the fact that I am very excited to get back to Crossfit workouts! For the first month of the trip I worked out everyday-WODs in parks, finding Crossfit gyms and running. Then after a month, I stopped. The main reason being it was so damn hot. We didn’t just sit on our asses and do nothing, we walked and hiked A LOT. But, I like having a regular exercise routine and I really missed being part of a Crossfit Box.
Not sweating 24 hours a day
I like the cold-I live in New England. I also like the heat and sun, but the last 2 months of our trip were brutal. Sleep was tricky when I didn’t have a powerful fan blowing directly on me, and I would step outside first thing in the morning, be hit by a wall of heat and humidity, and immediately start sweating. I sweat a lot normally, so you can bet that in the Central American climate I was constantly dripping buckets. I am looking foward to summer in Massachusetts, warm temperatures with the ocean breeze and air conditioning readily available.
I have no shame in saying that I love watching TV. I take for granted how many possible ways I can watch any of my (many) television shows. There were a few times down here that our hotel had a TV(once an entire channel dedicated to Friends episodes) and we cherished those moments. I am excited to catch up on all of my shows and binge watch a few Netflix Series!
Using a big, fluffy, clean towel
I hated my travel towel. It was the worst one I could’ve picked. Small, and didn’t quite live up to its “quick dry” name. It was always damp, which means it always smelled. I also didn’t exactly enjoy using the same towel to dry off after a shower that I just used on the beach earlier in the day. I would be clean then the towel would make me dirty! I am so excited to take a shower and wrap myself in a huge, fluffy towel.
Not having to throw toilet paper in the garbage
This one doesn’t need a long explanation. In Central America the plumbing is not able to function if you flush toilet paper, so toilet paper needs to be thrown in the garbage. You get used to it, but sometimes its gross. I am excited to throw toilet paper in the toilet!
There are also some things that I will really miss about traveling and Central America.
Not having to work
I love speaking Spanish. I got pretty good at it by the end and I’m sad that I won’t be able to continue to practice and get better in an authentic setting.
Constantly meeting new people
I like to keep to myself, and don’t usually strike up random conversations with people, but I did love meeting locals and travelers on the road. We met tons of interesting people who are living completely alternate lifestyles and had some pretty cool stories. I also loved how kind and friendly and helpful most of the locals were.
Being able to pick up and leave whenever we wanted to
Other than making it to Panama City for our flight home, we didn’t have a time frame dictating what we had to do. It was really nice to leave a town whenever we had enough of it, whether that was after a day or a week. I liked waking up and knowing that we would get to be in a different city or country in a few hours.
Besides Costa Rica and Belize, the cost of living in Central America is far lower than the US. $20 for a hotel room, $1 beers and $3 for a full plate of food. We lived well, even on a modest budget. I will miss the low prices and know it will take some adjusting to get back into the swing if American prices!
Lots of things to miss and lots of things to look forward to. For the next week I will probably be found curled up with my dog, binge watching television shows, shopping at the farmers market and making myself home cooked meals every night. I am interested to see if I will suffer from any reverse culture shock at returning to the US. I’ll let you know!
Have you ever left your home for an extended period of time? What were you looking forward to after your return? What did you miss about the place you left?