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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me :)

Overlooking the volcanoes and city of Antigua in Guatemala
I'm writing this the day before my 27th birthday and I finally feel like I'm happy again since my husband went back to the States. After he left Antigua, I spent five days on the Pacific coast in El Salvador and a long weekend in Leon, Nicaragua. Now I'm finally on Little Corn Island and I can say it's for sure worth the effort to get out here. 

This 1.5 square km island is on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and required me to pull an all-nighter to reach here the day before my birthday so I can wake up tomorrow and just relax. I'm writing "journal style", that is, with an actual pencil and notebook. Beyond me the view is simply incredible (not what's pictured above, though that was beautiful too, but it's from our last weekend in Antigua together). Outside the back porch of my guesthouse in Little Corn, tropical green shrubbery grows abound with palm trees fringing the edge of the yard.

To the front of the hotel are rocking chairs facing the calm Caribbean sea. The best feature about where I'm staying (Lobster Inn, $20/night) is its spacious balcony around the property. It's very relaxing, breezy, and makes up for the expensive flight and terrifying 40 minute open-water panga ride. I was quite nervous as the waves were almost as big as those we encountered on the ferry from Honduras to Belize except this time the boat was considerably smaller.

Here in Little Corn there are no cars or roads, just pathways and nature trails. Wheelbarrows are common to carry heavy items and locals speak English with a fun Caribbean accent. After walking around and booking myself a 90 minute massage for my birthday, I promptly fell asleep for a four hour siesta before having dinner with two girls, an American and Austrian (who's celebrating her birthday today) that I recently met.

My husband left me a birthday present (I can tell it's some sort of book) all wrapped up with a t-shirt and medical tape before he left. Ahh the wrapping paper of travellers! I haven't peeked at all so far but I don't think I'll be able to hold out til tomorrow when I wake up, I might only be able to wait until the clock strikes midnight. Oh my god the mosquitos are eating me alive so it's time to go. Last thing I want is to wake up tomorrow with giant welts everywhere.

Good night world. When you read this tomorrow I'll be one year older, officially in my late twenties. How weird is that...

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Snorkelling with Sharks & Stingrays in Belize

Belize Barrier Reef

Get ready for lots of photos! We started our day with Carlos Tours in Caye Caulker and after boating for about 30 minutes we made our first stop where, to my happy surprise, we saw turtles immediately upon turning off the motor. These animals have quickly become one of my favourites and I loved how they swam about with complete indifference to me tagging along.  

The water was shallow, clear, and visibility was incredible. After snorkelling in Honduras, which I thought was good, I was blown away by how much better the reef is in Belize. The wildlife is truly abundant and, I noted before, makes you feel very small as you realize you're just a temporary visitor in this part of the world.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Mayan Ruins of Caracol

I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about traipsing through ancient ruins that makes me feel very small. I guess it just puts everything in perspective making me realize how many thousands of years humans have been around before me and how the species will do just fine continuing to exist long after I'm gone. It makes me feel small but part of something bigger at the same time. 

Visiting the Mayan ruins of Caracol in western Belize has been one of my favourite experiences so far in Central America. Our day started at 7am in San Ignacio in front of the PACZ tour office on Burns Avenue. My sister arrived the afternoon before and it was so nice to see her smiling face again. Everyone meet my little sister Rachelle!

Back to the ruins -- 14 of us piled into a van with our knowledgeable guide Bruce to begin our bumpy two and a half hour journey into the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. "It's going to get worse before it gets better!" Bruce warned. "Only the last 10 km before Caracol is paved road." He was an excellent driver though and navigated our van through muddy terrain that others weren't able to pass through. "Good thing we didn't rent a car," I muttered to Rachelle since that was our original plan. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

And Then There Was One...

I'm not quite sure how to preface this so let me just be direct and spit it out: my husband is on a flight back to the US and I'm on my way to El Salvador. 

Originally I had planned to write a post titled "How We Travel Without Killing Each Other", and though I may still write that one, my number one tip that I was going to say is to allow each other time alone. Well, here I am putting that into practice. 

I haven't been blogging much recently (not since I was in Belize) because I just didn't have the heart to carry on telling stories and showing photos while in real time M and I were trying to figure out whether each of us could compromise for the other and continue our trip as planned or call it quits. I'm not exactly sure where I'm comfortable drawing the line in terms of sharing my personal personal life on my blog, especially when it involves a husband who is quite protective of his privacy. So, my love, if you are reading this and starting to get upset about me oversharing our experience, please know that despite wearing dark sunglasses as I fled upstairs, the breakfast ladies have been looking at me with pity in their eyes all morning and hiding away in our room focused on storytelling is helping me move past my sadness after watching you leave earlier today.  

Before I go making this sound all dramatic, I should clarify that our relationship is just fine. There was no big blow out fight or trial separation or anything like that, it just got to the point where M was travelled out after two months on the road but I'm not ready to go back.

It began around the time that my sister came to join us in Belize. We had a whirlwind week starting in San Ignacio exploring the ruins of Caracol then went east to enjoy some time on the coast in Caye Caulker. Actually, if I really think about it, I'd say it started when it was time to leave Utila, Honduras. We'd settled into a comfortable routine on a mostly English speaking island and when our month came to an end it was time to venture into Spanish speaking territory. M felt nervous about this and I think I dismissed his feelings quicker than I should have. Unable to speak or read the language, he was entirely dependent on my very basic skills to get us around.

Back when there were three of us in Belize
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