October 2001, my friend Emma and I set out on a totally unplanned two and half month trip across Central America beginning on Mission Beach in San Diego. We roller-bladed, bused, coached, sailed, dived, rock climbed, swam, walked and horse rode our way across Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. A quick stop en route to England in Boston saw us arriving with the first year’s snowfall before Christmas.
MEXICO…After three days in San Diego we crossed over the border into Mexico and the hole that is Tijuana. We left as soon as possible travelling inland to Hermosillo. From here we travelled down the west coast to Los Mochis and took the Copper Canyon Railway to the breathtaking Copper Canyons and the beautiful mountain landscape around the town of Creel.
After returning to Los Mochis we went on to Mazatlan on the coast and spent a day relaxing on the beach at Isla Piedre. We arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second city in the midst of October festivals and went to the most amazing ballet at the Teatro Degollado. After this beautiful city we went to the picturesque small town of Patzcuro in the highlands and the university town of Morelia.
Next we found ourselves in Taxco, the silver capital, a crazy town on the side of the hills crammed with silver shops and VW Beetles. South East from Mexico City our next call was in Oaxaca where we drank beer in chilli sauce, ate fried grasshoppers and visited the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban. On from Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas and up to Palenque, the famous Mayan ruins in the jungle and the waterfalls at Misol-Ha.
Up onto the Yucatan Peninsula we stayed in Valladolid to visit the impressive ruins at Chichen Itza. On Isla Mujeres off Cancun it rained so we travelled to Chetumal on the border and entered Belize.
BELIZE…After arriving in Belize city we got the boat across to the tiny island Caye Caulker to swim with sharks, fish, drink, party and watch the sunset for six days. On mainland again we caught a bus to the border and San Ignacio for horse riding and canoe tours into ancient caves.
GUATEMALA…Over the border to the sleepy village of El Remate on Lago Peten Itza and to the wonderful Mayan ruins at Tikal. We visited Flores on the opposite shores of the lake and then continued to Rio Dulce where trekked through the jungle to swim into a pitch black cave to climb some waterfalls! From Rio we travelled via Guatemala City to Antigua in the shadow of the volcano and to the stunningly beautiful volcanic lake Lago de Atitlan where we stayed in the oil lamp lit village of Santa Cruz.
After the lake we went to the market at Chichicastenango and then worked our way back to Rio Dulce to catch a crazy catamaran journey up to Livingston on the coast. Out across the ocean to the stunning Sapodilla Cayes and finally past dolphins to the Bay Islands.
HONDURAS & NICARAGUA…We spent a fantastic week on the island of Roatan scuba diving and then headed across the country via La Ceiba and the less than pleasant capital Tegucigalpa to reach Granada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Many local bus trips and hanging around at border crossings found us finally in Costa Rica.
COSTA RICA…After a brief stop in Tilaran where I had the best pizza in the world, we reached Santa Elena/Montverde where we zip lined through the cloud forest, saw hummingbirds, sloths, tarantulas, porcupines, see-through frogs and vipers. After this we were finally in San Jose where we flew via a snowy Boston to home.