My Top 5 tips for Central America
1) Poop when you can. If you find a toilet that has a seat, toilet paper, a door that locks and isn’t covered in piss, use it! Take advantage of it because god knows when you’ll find another the same.
2) Always have US Dollars. Pretty much any shop, bar/restaurant & hostel in CA will accept USD. It’s always handy to have if you can’t find an ATM or you don’t want to take cash out if you’re leaving that country the following day. It’s also great for border crossing taxes when you don’t have any local currency left or haven’t taken out the new currency.
3) Learn some Spanish! This especially applies for solo travelers. Unless you want to look like a twat everywhere you go, or make things much more difficult for yourself, then learn at least some basics!
4) Be patient. If having patience isn’t natural to you then you better learn to have some before you go! The travel in these countries is slow & painful and you will spend a lot of your time waiting. The same applies in bars & restaurants.. The service is nowhere near that of a western country. If you get frustrated waiting at a border or for a meal you’re going to have a really shitty time! Always add on 1-2 hours to your overland travel time as in my experience its standard to be late.
5) You know your body better than anyone.. If you think the chicken you’re eating isn’t going to settle well or the tap water you’ve been promised is perfectly ok doesn’t taste quite right, don’t consume it! My stomach hates third world countries and I made the mistake a few times of not trusting my gut.. Lets just say I had to find a decent toilet to survive those days!
5 Things I learned in Central America
1) To drink Rum – I haven’t consumed Rum in about 10 years (thanks to too many messy nights on it as a teenager.) Now it was my bottle of choice when buying duty free! Rum Punch all the way baby!
2) How to drink warm beer – This is a big no-no for most Aussies, but in most of CA its that, or don’t drink it at all! I learned pretty quickly how to enjoy it anyway.
3) How to enjoy cold showers – Out of the 7 countries and probably 20 hostels I stayed in I think 2 or 3 of them had warm/hot showers. Get used to it!
4) How useful it would have been to speak Spanish – Oh how useful! I don’t know how many times I would have been ripped off because I couldn’t even understand the price of things when I was told. I would just hand over the amount I “guessed” things were with a confused look on my face. Why wouldn’t you rip me off?! On top of that it makes border crossings extremely difficult, following directions is impossible and you mix out on a lot of the culture surrounding you. JUST LEARN SOME.
5) Not to look out the front windscreen of any moving vehicle – As in most first world countries they do NOT drive like we do. Its terrifying! I learned after day 2 in Mexico just not to look, even when the brakes were slammed on. You’ll save yourself a heart attack!
My Top 5 places in Central America
1) San Blas islands, Panama – PARADISE. Need I say more?
2) Caye Caulker, Belize – Caribbean-feel island with ragga men, cheap lobster and amazing rum punch.
3) Semuc Champey, Guatemala – Caving, rivers, bridge jumping, rope swinging. 100% FUN!
4) Utila, Honduras – The cheapest diving in the world, beautiful reef, party central.
5) San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua – PARTY! Sunday Funday, beaches, craziness!