Preparations for the trip

Preparation is as much fun as the actual trip!

So last night we started Spanish lessons in preparation for the trip to Central America, Nicaragua in particular and possibly Panama too. But more on that later.

The lessons are perfectly timed for us and Helena, who is from Venezuela is very good. So for 10 weeks on Tuesdays we will go and learn the rudimentaries. I took some Spanish a long time ago and Chris said he did Spanish 101 two years in a row so both of us are just beginners. It was a lot of fun and I know that at the end we will be able to get around without embarrassing ourselves too much. Not only is Helena teaching us the language, but social customs as well, just as or perhaps even more important than actually speaking the language.

The other preparation is in the research, always something I love to do. And finding places to go and things to do. Despite the fact that Nicaragua is supposedly the burgeoning "new place" to go, there is a dearth of info on the web. Yes, there's Lonely Planet which is helpful and of course the country web site and a few blogs. And there are quite a lot of individual web sites for tour companies etc but even finding a decent map is difficult. I went into a bricks and mortar Barnes and Nobles and the only map was of Central America and the north half of Nic was on one side and the south of the other - not a good idea!

What I am finding is that there are the expat areas along the Pacific side that are being promoted heavily and then there are the remote places like Sabalos Lodge and Casa Iguana which are much more appealing to me. But here I run into the issue of whether Chris will enjoy them or is he going to want to go to places like Rancho Santana an International Living project that has all the amenities and goodies that go along with an upscale resort. So I have to try to balance the travel to get some of both. And I will have to book and ensure we have the reservations instead of just heading out whenever we feel like it.

Another big issue is trying to figure out how we are going to get around the country - car is good but quite expensive. There are buses - cheap but filled with all kinds of humanity and animals probably - and boats. Or a combination of all three. So this is a lot of fun and I don't believe we will find too many people our age out there traveling this way.

So I will pitch AARP and Budget Travel - and wait to see if International Living is interested and whether Sailing will go for a side trip to the Bay Islands in Honduras.

On another note, I was thinking about how fantastic the technology has become to be able to write this blog, and immediately have it live. Back (way back) in 1996 when the internet was in it's infancy and I worked at Quokka, I can remember putting the stories together in Word, sending them to production who formatted them and then there was the big moment every couple of hours when the new content was "pushed" up live to the internet. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't and sometimes the whole system would crash. Then came the ability to write live and carefully push it up to the company servers and then out into the world. We all wanted this facility so badly and slowly - well not so slowly really, the technology caught up to our wishes and now look at us - look at all the blogs - anyone can do it, with pictures and sound and all the bells and whistles. It really is an amazing thing and one that I appreciate every time I do this. I used to have to actually build a web page to write my updates from all over the world. Now I can go into any internet cafe, anywhere in the world and keep everyone up to date on what I'm up to.

Not too shabby!