Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Leaving Guatemala

Today is a very busy day, because tomorrow morning I'm leaving Guatemala - the place I've spent the last three months of my life. I have errands to run, things to pack, souvenirs to buy (any special requests, speak now), photos to take, and good-byes to say. And only about 24 hours to get it all done.

Parque Central in Xela. 

I've definitely enjoyed my time here. I've made some great friends, and dedicating time and energy to learning another language has been more rewarding than I yet realize. It's not easy leaving Xela behind (difficult good-byes have been a consistent theme since before I left Alaska), but I'm also excited; this next part promises to be interesting and rewarding in many different ways.

Laguna Chicabal in the crater of an old volcano near Xela. A sacred site for many of the Mayans.

The biggest news is that I've decided to go forward with the trip to visit my brother in Indonesia and then other parts of Asia and Europe. I'm not entirely sure if this is the "right" decision, but I do think it will make me happy. I'm really looking forward to it, and that's a good sign.

The current plan is pretty similar to the one I posted at the bottom of my last post. Since most flights from the US seem to stop in Japan anyway, I will fly from LA to Tokyo on April 18th to visit my friend Ray whom I met in Germany in 2007 (link to his blog). After a week in Japan I fly to Jakarta spend a week or so learning what it's like to be a Marine in Indonesia, and then start making my way north through East Asia.

So far the flights to Tokyo and Jakarta are the only tickets I've purchased, and thus the only firm commitments I've made. This is good, because it allows me the flexibility to change schedules along the way or to do a complete 180 and return to America for more Spanish lessons or volunteering if I decide days upon days in trains and buses just aren't for me. There's a pretty low probability of that happening - I'm going forward with the Russian and Chinese visa applications (more on those headaches in a subsequent post) - but I do like to keep my options open.

Tomorrow morning I will take a bus north from Xela toward San Cristobal de las Casas. That should take about 8 hours, and if I'm lucky, I'll arrive in time to catch an overnight bus to Mexico City (additional 12 hours). From Mexico City I'll fly to Tijuana or San Diego. I decided to fly rather than bus/ferry through Mazatlan per my original plan, because my research suggests I'm going to need at least a week on US soil for the Russian consulate to process my passport and issue the visa. Flying will buy me an extra 3 or 4 days at about the same price as a bus ticket.

As always, I'll try to keep my map updated with my latest progress.

Also, I've added a new, mostly unrelated section to my blog for those of you with time or interest. 

Buses, trains, planes, boats, people, schedules, paperwork, languages, time zones, datelines .... As I've said before, the logistics for this trip are going to be one of the most interesting parts. Wish me luck!

Hold on tight and watch your step. 


  1. This sounds so awesome! I'm not sure what your personal goals are for this adventure, but I know that firsthand experiences with diverse cultures can only give you a better appreciation for the challenges faced by those who want to effect global change. -drdf

  2. What a great adventure Thomas! It's interesting to hear your thoughts both the positive and not so positive and follow you on your journey. Enjoy the next leg and keep writing!