Being a child in an upper middle class family, and having parents who love to travel, I have been fortunate enough to see may places and meet many different people. To be a little more specific, I have been to nine countries (all of which are in Central America and the Caribbean) and a dozen or so states here in the U.S. I have seen the arid hills of southwest Texas, and the beautiful colors of fall in New Hampshire. I have seen the gorgeous beaches of Mexico, and the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal. I have come to passionately love traveling, and each place has represented something new and interesting. Traveling has also given me incredible photographic opportunities, and has subsequently helped to further my skill. But of all the places I’ve traveled to, Central America has left the biggest impression upon me, and for several reasons.
I live in a reasonably large city, where it seems like there are more cars than people. It is eternally busy and traffic-ridden. Everyone seems to rush from one place to another. Everything is in one place, and buildings are almost on top of each other. Always bustling with life and activity. Eventually I got used to this lifestyle, and came to appreciate certain aspects of it. But Central America turned my perception on its side. As soon as I got there, it felt like life was moving at half-speed. There were very few cars; people walked everywhere, and they did so as if they had not a single worry in the world. On every street and at every corner, there were people. People chatting, sharing a laugh, a story, a cigar. The pace life was meant to be enjoyed and lived at. The pace at which a person could really take it all in. the atmosphere was one of relaxation and patience. And this was not just one city, or even one country. This was a phenomenon of the whole of Central America. Like I said, I found this way of life to be very alien, but it wasn’t long before I fell in love with it. After a few trips there, my perception (and preference) was forever changed.
The people there are also very nice, significantly more so than where I live. I do not know if this is because their main industry is tourism, or if it is out of genuine kindness. Either way, I certainly appreciated it.
Another thing that certainly impressed me about Central America was the flora and fauna. Here in North Central Florida, we have our fair share of wildlife in the form of birds of prey, fox, coyotes, etc. And being a lover of wildlife, I enjoy seeing them and being in their company. But Central America introduced me to all kinds of creatures and animals, animals I had only previously seen in colorful coffee-table books. In Honduras, we rode horseback through the rainforest and saw (as well as heard) everything imaginable. Monkeys, exotic plants and flowers, poison dart frogs, snakes, large birds, and all kinds of other fascinating things. At one point, I got the opportunity to pet a three-toed sloth named Alberto, who had the softest fur I have ever touched. On a river in Panama, I got to see howler monkeys and hear their famously eerie vocalizations. In Belize, I was able to hold a juvenile crocodile. Needless to say, I was in heaven. These experiences brought me to respect and love wildlife all the more.
Another thing that intrigued me was the relative lack of fancy and superfluous things, an overall plainness and simplicity. But to say that it was plain does not at all imply that it was boring. There was plenty of life and activity. It seemed to me that the people had no preoccupation with such things, that they knew where their priorities laid, and it wasn’t in material things. They seemed to be perfectly happy without them. Coming from a place where things like fancy technology, new cars, and expensive clothes are exalted, this came as quite a surprise to me. I must say, it was a surprise I rather liked.
These reasons, among others, are why I fell in love with Central America, and these reasons are why I promised myself I would one day return.
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