One of the nice things about traveling solo is that you can take a day off whenever you feel like it. Sometimes you want a little down time to sit and reflect, or just laze about. If you´re running around on a tour, there isn´t much opportunity for that, but if you´re traveling on your own, you can do whatever you like.
So I have spent most of today quietly, either in the Internet cafe or just walking around town a bit, reading a book, thinking about some things my coach/career counseler said right before I left, and generally relaxing.
People have remarked that solo travel is a lot more effort than organized tours, and this is very true. There are a lot more challenges in solo travel, and you need ingenuity and adaptability to get around. You will probably also see “less” than you would on an organized tour (as in, fewer of the touristy high points)–there´s a lot less efficiency when you have to figure out bus routes, etc. yourself, especially since you can´t know for sure when and how the buses run until you actually get there.
But there´s also the opportunity to meet many people and experience the journey in a way that you never would on an organized tour, where you´re largely insulated from the culture except during certain prepackaged activities. Yes, you can see Angkor Wat in four days on a flying tour, or spend a week in Thailand being shuttled between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. But you wouldn´t get a chance to ride in a tuktuk, make friends with the guy selling freshly barbequed skewers of chicken, pork, and beef on the street corner, live with Tibetan cave yogis, or spend four days with an Akha weaver, learning her art. There´s a special joy in spontaneous travel that I feel is true for life, too–the more you venture off the established track, the more intense the experiences you´ll have.
Not all of them will be good, of course–there´s been a lot I haven´t liked about Guatemala–but there have been a lot of unexpectedly fun things as well. Like life, you can take it either as a series of adventures, or a comfortable tour–or switch between them. I think it´s nice to have a blend, but I get enough normalcy at home. When I travel, I want adventure.
And, speaking of adventure, I´ve just bought round-trip tickets from Guatemala City to Belize. I´ll be leaving Monday, May 2, and returning Friday, May 13, just in time to catch my flight back to the U.S. (And I´m not worrying about the date, either…I´m Wiccan, and 13 is a lucky number for Wiccans. 🙂 )
I´m thrilled to announce that I´ll be in Belize for the annual Cashew Festival, which sounds like fun. See http://www.belizeanjourneys.com/features/cashew/newsletter.html for details. Sort of like the Gilroy Garlic Festival, I imagine, but on a smaller scale. I hope to be on ground for it, though I might already be out diving. (Ooh, hurt me. 🙂 )
I´m definitely going diving in Belize (it is after all one of the best diving sites in the world), and going to some of their abundant wildlife preserves. There are also some Mayan villages in rural Belize, and one or two small Mayan ruins, so who knows–I might get my Mayan experience after all. 🙂
Off to language school,