I want to go backpacking again. Either/both when I hopefully/almost finish my BSc this summer, for a few months, or earlier for a shorter period. Before starting my degree, three years ago, I had backpacked through South America for about 9 months. It was awesome. I am actively spending my time fantasizing about my next destination, quite likely (hopefully) with Limor.
The prime candidate at the moment is Central America for a few months in the next fall. While possibly offering slightly less in terms of globe variation from its more southern counterpart, the main killer factor is the language. I had spent a significant amount of effort in 2008-9 to get a good grasp of Spanish, and it surely made the all difference. I found being able to converse at any level with local people in their own language – and not just with tourism-oriented folk in their broken English, viewing you as a walking money-bag – turns a traveling experience into a much fuller cultural immersion than being stuck on a ‘gringo trail’ (an apt term for tourism world-wide). Personally, planning to travel with Limor, I am sure (from experience) she will be able to grasp the language fast enough to be able to understand and converse with ‘the locals’, which should significantly enhance the experience. The main other venue considered – namely, Southeast Asia – is a plethora of languages, not one of which do Limor or I speak ourselves, and any of which would be harder to learn than Spanish.Central America, however, will have to wait. As we plan/hope/think about spending +-3 months there, this will have to wait until we can both spare our time for that; finish our degrees, and then probably wait until ‘After the Chagim’ (how amusing, to delay plans until ‘after the chagim’, while still in February).
The vagabond’s soul knows no such postponement, however; as a more short-term fantasy, my sights have set on Bulgaria. The origin of Bulgaria as a traveling destination is, how awkward, 9gag.com, where a random post highlighted national nature scenes. Intrigued, minimal research reveals Bulgaria to be [almost] all the good things I am looking for:
- A cheap flight away from Israel. (On a side note, I am repeatedly amazed there is still no single, easy-to-use website that effectively allows one to find the cheapest way to fly internationally from point a to point b.)
- Ample nature hiking routes, including – and this is a clincher – potable stream water to drink from on hiking trips. This is what makes Patagonia, in my mind, to be as awesome for hiking as it is.
- Cheap standard of living.
- Language one (well, I) could get by on (I speak/read basic Russian, which is close enough to Bulgarian at least to get by.
So, to sum up, I am currently sporting a joint fantasy of backpacking in Central America (next fall, give or take) and hiking in Bulgaria (hopefully sooner). Thank you for listening.