I stared at myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth. Today had finally arrived and I was a little more nervous than I expected. I looked myself in the eyes, taking it all in. I’m about to travel to Central America for four weeks, by myself, and only knowing how to say a select few words of Spanish. “Maybe if I keep brushing I won’t have to leave?” I thought to myself. My two minutes of brushing turned into five. And as I gave in and rinsed my mouth, I thought, “maybe I should floss today, too.”
Despite all mental sabotage, I made my 7 am flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth, terrible turbulence and all, and jumped onto my connecting flight to Cancun, Mexico.
I stepped off the plane around 5 pm, feeling like a caged animal finally released into the free. The extent of my preparation set in; Aside from a few words, my Spanish sucks. I have no idea what the exchange rate is or what currencies are used throughout Central America. And to top it all off, my phone is at 17%. What if this is the only 17% for days?
From the research I had done, I knew I was looking for ADO buses to Belize City. I followed the floods of travelers until we reached the parking lot. There were locals everywhere, pretty much harassing us newbies for cab rides, tours, and buses. I was directed to ADO buses where the woman told me it would be $660 for my bus to Belize City. I’m sorry, what? My “research” said it would be $40. So I kept repeating $660 until she clarified “$660 Belize dollars.” Oh. Big difference. Here’s $55 AMERICAN dollars.
The 5:30 bus took me to the downtown bus depot where I was to wait for my 10:15 pm overnight bus to Belize City. With a lot of time to kill, I walked the streets, got some quick food, and returned to the depot to escape the rain. There, I decided to use the restroom.
First off, it cost me five pesos to use. Okay, fine. Then I examined each of my potential stalls. Two did not have a seat, and none had toilet paper. I chose the “nicest” of the four, next to a taken stall with a guy in black boots. I thought I was in a horror movie.
You might be worried about the lack of toilet paper, right? Remember my packing list? My 4k experiences and wet ones have come in handy sooner than expected! For all my stress, this was a proud moment of victory. Michael: 1 Central America: 0.
It was also time to put my money belt on, which was to me, the true beginning of my journey. I quietly pulled it out of my backpack, put my passport inside, and buckled it around my waist. I pulled my shirt down and observed it in the mirror. A bit noticeable, but at least covered and close to me. I stared at myself, expecting to find some reinforcement, a new sense of confidence, a difference in myself pushing me to go. Instead, I started laughing. I’m not really sure if I’m prepared or ready for any of this, but here goes nothin…