Sunday, May 29, 2011

5 Hours To Go!

Today was my last full day in the US. I got a few last minute items for my trip, did laundry, worked out with Zack, and packed up my backpack. The picture below shows everything I'm bringing with me (although I had to take out a few things to make it all fit)

Here's exactly what I'm bringing:
-3 shirts
-2 pairs of shorts (one can also be used as board shorts)
-2 pairs of pants
-5 pairs of underwear
-5 pairs of socks
-1 pair of hiking shoes
-1 pair of sandals
-Basic toiletries
-A lot of medicine
-My Lonely Planet travel book
-1 small pot for boiling water
-Detergent for washing clothes
-1 regular size backpack to use as a day bag
-Misc items (sunscreen, insect repellent, etc)

And yes, it all fits into my backpack and weighs about 35 pounds (see below). I've even got a little bit of space left in case I acquire anything along the way!

Anyway, I'm going to try to sleep for a least a couple hours before going to the airport but I'll more likely save sleep for the airplane. I'll update again once I'm in Guatemala!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

About My Trip

The countdown until I begin my 3 month adventure: 4 days. Leslie, Meg, and I just flew back to Chicago from Boston where we spent 4 days with Mom and Dad. I've already purchased all sorts of camping/hiking gear from stores like REI and Eddie Bauer and enough medicine to stock a small pharmacy but I still fell like I'm forgetting a bunch of stuff. I'm trying not to worry about it though, since you can buy almost anything almost anywhere these days! Hopefully I don't lose anything or get robbed, but as long as I hang onto my iPod and passport I should be in good shape.

I will be traveling for 3 months. I fly from Chicago to Guatemala City on May 30, and return to the US on August 30 from Brazil (strategically planned a day before my birthday so I can expect to quickly replenish my exhausted bank account with some birthday money). I have only a rough outline of a travel itinerary planned out, so I'll mostly play it by ear moving from one place to the next. From Guatemala, I plan to make a detour to Belize since it's a country I've always wanted to visit. After Belize I'll travel south again through the remainder of Central America, back through Guatemala and on to Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. I'll then enter South America in Colombia and stay along the western side of the continent, visiting Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and finally ending in Brazil. There's tons of stuff I want to do in each place and I'm sure plenty more that I don't even know about yet, but I'll update on all of that as I go.

A backpacking trip through Latin America is something I've wanted to do for 4 years. Now that I've finally graduated, I'm excited that it's actually happening ! There's lots of reasons I'm doing this. Ever since I got the opportunity to study and travel in Spain and elsewhere in Europe, I've been itching to see new places and experience new cultures and languages. Of course there's a whole world of places to travel, so I chose Latin America mainly to practice my Spanish.  Secondly, while I'm definitely ready to be done with college, I'm not quite ready to start working full time (aka enter the real world), so this trip gives me 3 months to prepare for that.  Lastly, I have been interested in international development for most of my college career, so I thought it would be worthwhile to see firsthand some of the issues facing many of the developing nations in Central and South America. While I'll be moving back to the States after this trip to work in Houston, I have always had a desire to live in another country for at least a year or two to help solve some of these problems using my engineering background. I can definitely see myself doing that later down the road!

Thanks to all the relatives and friends who sent graduation money (especially Mom and Dad) for making this trip possible! I wouldn't be able to do it without you!

More to come in a few days!