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Central America

Wonderful Wanaka

Do you know what I like best about surprises? They come without waiting! Definitely comparable to Wanaka, a small mountain village located in between some scenic mountains and lakes. So far my favorite place in New Zealand where I easily could spend both summer and winter. And it wasn’t really on my list, I just drove by and liked it instantly.

I chose to pick up the subject surprises, because on the other hand you have plans and expectations. Before I went to Wanaka I went to Queenstown. A place everyone is hyping, talking about and say is the best place. And perhaps it is for 21 year old German back-packers who has never traveled before. For me, it was just the most busy, overrated and non-pleasant place so far in NZ. And the sad thing is I really was looking forward to it, but it turned out I didn’t like it at all.

So then I was really glad that Wanaka shows up out of nowhere. The place is not big at all, 6000 people living here and it’s a mecca for outdoor activities. I did some hiking, biking and beaching – in addition to a lot of relaxing and my new hobby: reading.

During my travels in in NZ I’ve met some other people also sharing my thoughts on both Queenstown and Wanaka, so I guess there is something about it and not just me being a weirdo (which I might be anyway though). Next time I visit NZ, I will definitely spend more time here.

The highlight (both literally and mentally) in Wanaka was hiking Roys Peak. A 16 kilometer hike to a summit on 1578 meters with beautiful surroundings. I did it with a girl from Hawaii and on the way down we took a 10 minute rest to gain some energy and also admire the view. After a minute, a sheep showed up 10 meters in front of us and apparently admired us for a couple of minutes posing like a supermodel in front of my camera. Somehow my deep senses come to think of a “parallel universe”. Ok, I do understand that you might think I’m really drunk now or maybe have been traveling with too many hippies, but the thing is I haven’t had a single drink so far in 2017 and the hippies haven’t influenced me at all. Anyway, to the point, what I mean with a parallel universe is that for example when you look at a girl/guy and think: “Damn, she was nice! And it would have been ever nicer to get her phone number”. There is actually a big chance she/he looks back and thinks the same thing, but no one dares to act. Especially in today’s society when talking to people you don’t know would be considered as braindead. Let’s say you are camping and lie awake watching the stars and gaze out into the universe thinking: “Maybe there is something out there…”. There is also a big chance someone or something does the exact same thing – far out there in the universe. Now, to travel out in to space is a pretty big deal. But to ask someone that you like for her/his phone number is not a big deal. I mean, what’s the worst thing that can happen? That he/she says no – but probably it will be a yes. So, would you ask? Would you capture it or let it slip?

My last latino stop: Mexico

In January 2014, when leaving Mexico, I told myself I would never go back. It had been one of my worst holidays with ingredients such as too much rain and a bad ear infection. Now, almost 3 years later, I came back and guess what: I was happy about it.

The Caribbean east coast of Mexico called Quintana Roo is pretty touristic and in my point of view pretty boring, but right now I didn’t care. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very scenic and the beaches are awesome and since I had been here before if felt like seeing a familiar face again. After 4 months of mostly intense adventure high and low it felt good being back in somewhat civilization being able to have good food, relaxing days and I was lucky having a Norwegian friend of a friend here to hang with. I knew him a little from before, but it turned out we had a lot in common and we shared many of the same thoughts. It was also really good to finally speak a Scandinavian language again and believe it or not, but the first few minutes actually was a little hard after 4 months of only English and Spanish. Once again, one of the best things traveling is the people you meet. There are mostly good people in the world and out traveling. Only because they are good people, doesn’t mean you connect. But when you find good people that you also connect with, that’s the jackpot!

So, it’s about time to end yet another chapter: Central-America. In my point of view Central-America could have been one big country. It’s pretty similar all over with tropical jungle, beaches, volcanoes, small cosy colonial cities and big dangerous capitals. I know I rushed it a little bit since I had to reach a flight from Cancun in Mexico, but still I think I got to experience much of it and a good mix. Now in the aftermath I’m really glad I visited these countries. Looking back I had a great time and I can really recommend this area for backpacking. It’s cheap, good climate, lots of different things to do, tasty food and even though these countries are said to be dangerous I felt safe everywhere I went. They are also small countries and it’s easy to get around with either (very uncomfortable public buses) or (just uncomfortable) faster shuttle buses to a little higher price.

I have been looking forward to this day a lot, when I finally will fly to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas. It’s my favorite city in the world with a lifestyle that really attracts me. It will be good to have some days in real the civilization to charge my batteries before going back to the backpacker-life and the next chapter of my adventures: New Zealand.

Mexico

(un)Belize(able) Caye Caulker – paradise or prison?

No shoes, no shirt, no cars and no problem – that pretty much sums up my stay on this small paradise island. Picture perfect palm tress, fine white sand and crystal clear water wherever you go. Sounds like a true paradise, right?

When you walk the so called “streets” of this island the locals (sometimes friendly and sometimes a little bitter) will try to speak to you and most of all they will advice you to listen to their motto: go slow! And on this island there really is no need to hurry, since nothing is ever more than a 5 minute walk away. I spoke to a lot of locals about how life on the island actually was and many of them had never left the island, so they don’t know a life or world beyond it. Some of them liked it, just relaxing, smoking weed and not doing much more than interacting with the visitors. For a guy like me visiting only 4 days (which is enough) it felt like a paradise – but for some of the locals the white beaches and blue water surrounding the island more feel like prison walls than a paradise, keeping them locked on this island. I truly understand them, I got “island fever” after just a couple of days and to spend a lifetime scares the shit out of me. So in one way I pity them, but I also believe that if you really want to change your life, everyone is able to do it – but it won’t change by itself, you have to initiate it. At the same time, once again, I got reminded of how lucky I (and probably you too) are that are born in a part of the world where it’s very easy to form your life the way you want it.

Coming from 5 days in the mountains of Guatemala and even sub-zero temperatures it was really nice to arrive to some real warmth and nice swimming water. Since it’s an island there was always a little breeze keeping the humidity down, at least this time of the year. I spent the days sunbathing, snorkeling and just relaxing with some people from Denmark, the US and Australia. One of the best things with traveling is to hear peoples stories and experiences in life. Sometimes getting inspired, and sometimes getting grateful for how your own life is. For example a Danish girl told me a heartbreaking story of how she lost her mom in a car accident. She had learned the hard way not to take anything for granted.

My time in Latin-America is soon coming to an end and I have one more stop left here before going to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas. To put it this way: it’s taco-time, Mexico here I come.

Belize