One day my good friend Bill mentioned that next week he had a vacation coming up and nothing yet planned. Though I was getting comfortable being home with the family, I would not pass up a chance to travel somewhere. So Bill and I got to planning.
We wanted to explore a few countries nearby with our limited time. We looked at some options including the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica, but found that travel between the countries could prove difficult. Haiti also did not seem like a very attractive destination (earthquake wreckage and all). We even considered a cruise that could get us to a few destinations, but we scratched the idea when we couldn’t find a cruise itinerary that would match our timing or preferred destinations. Then everything fell into place when thinking over a comment Bill made. “I can’t believe we didn’t bother to go to a world wonder last time we were in Cancun…”
So it’s 2012. How appropriate than to have an end of the world tour focusing on Mayan ruins throughout Central America? Bill laughed at the idea, so we were good to go.
Now to buy our tickets.
We first secured a one way to Cancun (since it was so cheap) and figured we’d buy the return ticket later… “Later” turned out to be the morning that we were actually leaving.
We were contemplating a few options:
1. Mexico-bus-> Belize -ferry-> Honduras -bus-> El Salvador -bus-> Guatemala -flight-> home
Problem with this option was that the ferry from Belize to Honduras didn’t match our timing, which meant the only other option was to find and convince a fishing boat to take us to Honduras.
2. Mexico -bus-> Belize -bus-> Guatemala -bus-> El Salvador -bus-> Honduras -flight-> home
This option was looping around and finishing in Guatemala. The only negative with this route, would be the large amount of driving throughout the not-so-safe Guatemala!
We decided to go for Option 1, fisherman convincing, so we bought our one-ways from Guatemala City to Newark. We also booked a rental car for a speedy drive to Chichen Itza, straight from the airport, since we needed to arrive before the park closed and going by bus or tour just didn’t seem feasible.
You’re on a pretty tight schedule when touring 5 countries in 7 days.
Since Bill and I were working all week, we only had a couple of hours to plan the whole trip. Which meant not much was planned. Luckily Bill picked up both the Lonely Planet and Frommer’s Central America, so we could plan on the way. After we got our tickets, we had 5 hours to pack, sleep, and head to the airport.
Before we knew it, we were on a flight to Mexico with an hour stopover in St. Paul, Minneapolis. We had our last American meal at Arby’s before getting on the plane to Cancun.
I wanted to sleep because I was exhausted, but the excitement of the trip kept me awake… Oh and the mid-western lady sitting next to me.
She loved to talk.
Lady: “So are you Chinese?”
Me: “Yeah my mom’s Chinese.”
Lady: “Ohh I see. So you speak Chinese?”
Lady: “I get my manicure at a Vietnamese place. One lady’s English is pretty good. I mean you can understand her. The other is not so good. She doesn’t speak much.”
Me: (nodding and wondering what this has to do with our conversation)
Lady: “You would understand them right?”
Me: “Uh. No, Vietnamese is completely different.”
Lady: “Oh right, it’s like a dialect.”
I gave up at that point and pretended to fall asleep.