One day somebody’s gonna ask me about my trip to Central America — either for concrete information pertaining to their own plans, or run-of-the-mill “how was it” questions. (That very person might be senile me, starting now) So although the end result might bear more resemblance to a grocery list than a prose entry, here goes.
In the summer of 2012, Limor and I had been planning on going traveling to Central America as a post-degree trip. (We had both finished our Computer Science & Cognitive Sciences/Psychology degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) A few years earlier I had traveled around South America. I both loved it and learned pretty decent Spanish, which I felt transformed the trip into a much deeper experience than could ever be accomplished otherwise. Imagine the differences of traveling in your own country (a country where you speak the language) between a tourist who speaks the language and one who doesn’t. So some years later, when Limor and I got around to talking about it, I pushed strongly for Central America — a different (sub-)continent, but at least the same language. Limor is a very fast learner (and I’m a decent enough teacher) that a crash-course of everyday phrases and some Beyonce “Imprescindible” lyrics sufficed for her to understand Spanish-only (no-hand-gestures) conversations from day one. But I get ahead of myself.
My family are heavy travelers. About once a year we fly abroad for a couple weeks. Recent years have seen us go off to India, Ireland, Russia, South Africa; after a few years (and with the right inclination) you start getting exotic. (Central America isn’t super exotic, but it’s definitely above the cut for Eastern-Hemisphere families.) We combined our trip with theirs, as follows (hey, grocery-list warning was acknowledged):
- Limor and Sella (9 days in Costa Rica)
- Everybody: 6 days in Cuba
- Everybody: 8 days in Guatemala
- Agam and Limor and Sella: another 9 days in Guatemala
- Limor and Sella: another 10 days in Guatemala.
Altogether, for Limor and myself, it was about a week in Costa Rica, a week in Cuba, and four weeks in Guatemala. This was around September-October, which is an excellent time to be traveling in that area. It’s the end of the rainy season, (or not. Sources differ, but I can at least share our experience) which for us meant the occasional afternoon rain, but consistently clear mornings to afternoons. Importantly, since it’s the “off-season”, you see very little other tourists. This is especially noteworthy since at select spots you do see the scope of the tourist infrastructure set up — hotel billboards and the ilk — and you get the feeling that come high tourist tide, there should be thousands of people. (One guard at Semuc Champey, Guatemala, told us that in Semana Santa (Easter, peak traffic) they get +170,000 visitors a day. I sort of doubt his math, but the point remains that things could get hectic. Bottom line: come in the Fall.
The next posts will cover each country in detail.