December. The end of the year and the end to my four-month backpacking trip through Central America. I made my way through Costa Rica, Panama, and flew to Colombia to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year.
As much fun as I had, this month was not without its bumps and bruises. Here’s what December looked like through my eyes:
I did a bunch of adventurous activities all over Costa Rica.
Zip lining, climbing Ficus trees, waterfall rappelling hiking, surfing, swimming – you name it; I did it in Costa Rica. There are so many adrenaline-pumping activities to do in Costa Rica, I’m actually surprised at how many things I did in the two weeks I was there. I’m still working on the GoPro footage of zip lining and waterfall rappelling, but here’s a look at a few things I did do:
I also got my phone stolen in Costa Rica.
Due to my own stupidity, my phone got stolen again this year. To make a long, dumb story short, I fell asleep with my phone on some comfortable sofas in my hostel and woke up without a phone. I felt like such an idiot for letting my guard down, and it kind of set a bad tone for the rest of Costa Rica – I was just ready to get out of there. Costa Rica was expensive enough as it is; losing my phone was just enough to put me over the edge and make me ready to keep moving on.
I got rained on every day in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
I expected Bocas del Toro to have sunny skies every day, but it turned out to be quite the contrary. I was in Bocas for a week and it rained almost every single day. And I’m not talking just a light sprinkle; there was a downpour every day, usually while I was walking from one place to another. It was disappointing, but the one day of sun I did experience was bliss. The rain also wasn’t so bad because I was in the company of a few hilarious friends I met earlier on my trip. We rented an apartment in Bocas del Toro and made it our home, having dinner parties and probably a few too many cervezas. There are so many beaches and places I wish I got to see in Bocas, but I’ll just have to save it for another time when the weather is better.
I high-tailed it to Panama City.
With a flight booked to Medellín, Colombia on Christmas morning, I decided to prolong my stay in Bocas del Toro with my friends and high-tail it to Panama City via overnight bus. I heard the overnight buses in Central America were cold, but I was not expecting frigid temperatures for the entire 12-hour ride. It was borderline unbearable but worth it to save on one night’s accommodation and get to Panama City by morning.
From the moment I arrived in Panama City, I felt like I was back in the U.S. Skyscrapers and huge apartment complexes towered over me and the mall was just like any back home. Yes, I went to the mall. I really needed just a tiny piece of normal life, so I spent a day perusing the mall, replacing my cell phone, and buying a few more articles of clothing I really don’t need.
The best part of Panama City was the old town – Casco Viejo. It was Christmas Eve, there was a band of policemen playing Christmas carols and everyone was out and about. I went on my own photo walk of the old town and struck up a few interesting conversations with locals. It was just how I wanted to end my trip in Central America.
I celebrated Christmas Eve in style…kind of.
Being alone on Christmas Eve was exactly what I wanted. I booked a hotel on a last-minute booking site, landing me a really nice room all to myself! I made tinto de veranos, ate chocolate, and watched Christmas movies all night.After a few hiccups along the way in Costa Rica and Panama, I really needed to spend some time to myself to relax and reflect on my trip. Christmas Eve was the perfect time.
I flew to Medellín, Colombia for Christmas and New Years.
Bright and early on Christmas morning, I began the second part of this backpacking trip – South America! After my first stint in parts of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile in 2011, I was left with a deep curiosity to explore more of the continent. This time around, I’m starting from the north and working my way down. I flew to Medellín, Colombia to celebrate Christmas with some friends I met earlier in Central America. It was so nice to celebrate the holiday with friends I already knew in a rented apartment instead of in a hostel with strangers.
We also rang in the new year in Medellín, which was fun, crazy, yet somewhat anticlimactic as a screen showing the time in the park cut out and no one actually knew when it was midnight. It was still a lot of fun, though!
The past two weeks in Colombia have flown by and I’m having a great time. My plans are pretty vague and I’m just going with the flow and seeing what happens. Traveling through South America feels slightly more intimidating than Central America because the continent is so large. Though there is a “Gringo Trail”, there are so many options and places to go that I’m struggling to figure out my exact plan. Maybe the best plan right now is to give in to spontaneity! I think I’ll just go with that for now.