Would you take your entire family and board a bus filled with strangers, hot and lack of air to travel to Costa Rica, homeschool your two young children and backpack through Central America and then living in Costa Rica? Some journeys take off quite fast while others require some type of planning and focus. Lessons were to learn as the purpose of this trip to teach her children the importance and understanding of the environment, respecting the culture of another country and learning about food, shelter and the different means of transportation. Living in a different country and not having the many amenities and privileges we are afforded here, learning Spanish, meeting the people and understanding the customs of the local citizens are great lessons for the children and for adults. Travel is not easy and going to various places you must understand the mores and customs of those living there. You also must not rejudge the people by race, color or stereotype them. Homeschool was their method of educating their children. This is not an easy decision for parents to make and undertake but the children of this author seemed to thrive, and the learning experiences were invaluable as they visited so many separate places.
There are several organizations that the author hooks up with when learning about the environment and conservation. Dealing with different populations and learning how to embrace the cultural aspects, educational and everyday routines of so many separate places. In several locations’ money was an issue, whether to remain in some places, learning about soup kitchen that serve the Indigenous populations and you wonder why she sold all their belongings and packed their clothes for a trip that lasted over a year. Natalie and Jocelyn were home schooled and on this trip would attend different schools and at one point even help their mother when she taught classes to children to learn English.
How do you save money to support your needs, and they lived and traveled like the people living in these places and rode as the title states on a chicken bus or chicken buses minus air conditioning? Traveling was not easy; the heat alone would take away their energy level at times and the transportation was shaky and tenuous to say the least. The interesting start learning about the sea turtles, bird and money rehabilitation and learning to make chocolate were great experiences for the whole family. Traveling required that the author obtained guidebooks and learn how to use several types of transportation. Understanding the bus traffic and how they run left them having to find ways to other station. The author describes these buses, crowded, hot and people standing in line just to gain a place on the bus. The author was hoping to see and learn more about the Pan-American highly, but the buss left. There were newer buildings and more to see. Villa Palermo was on the side of a hill, at the gate of the property you can feel the tension in the authors; mind as the cab began a downward movement heading straight into the car vehicle that was behind them. Luck would have it stopping inches from the can and wisely they decided to walk the rest of the way.
Nicaragua was next but not before dealing with three hours of wind and the scenery was beautiful going to Rivas. Seeing farms, enjoying the distinct types of green forests, the foods grown on the farms and hoping for a strong cool breeze along the way, plus animals living inside, this journey was enlightening and at times difficult. The village of SJDS is so beautifully described that readers might want to visit there too. Watching the USNS Comfort doc soldiers in the town surprised her.
Summer vacation back in Panama, San cito, and transportation woes are some of the focuses in Chapter 10 followed by winding down. Regular lives under rainy skies, short violent downpours not much fun. The popularity of her English class soared and some of the students wanted her and Lloyd to stay and open a school. Who could say no to that! She goes on to describe the classes and the students and the ESL lessons. With her daughter Jocelyn helping her with the lessons they moved on to the seniors’ center. The direction agreed that her daughters could attend the center twice a week to help the women with sewing if she taught English on Saturday. Going home to end their adventures the girls said gleeful goodbyes to their grandmother. Her glass had a pizza party and Manuel one of her students owned Discoteca Lucill and they had a final blast. Next they went to Nicaragua and enjoyed the local markets and the fantastic cafes, kids playing and the locals hanging out. Families that vacationed there would have no way of knowing how little they lived on. In Nicaragua they could get by on as little as twenty to twenty-five dollars a day including accommodations. Travesia, then they left Lago de Yojoa not really wanting to go dodging the market hubbub of Pena Blanca and enjoying the people and shopping at the markets. Guatemala was next and then Back to Belize. Not in a happy mood and expressing that they had skidded into Melchor de Mencos, a town net to the border and crossing back into Belize here was accomplished in an homage to the Keystone cops. She expresses they could have walked to the customs windrow with rugger legs from hiding Tikal, they hailed a cab. They entered Gelise and senses a drop in their heart rates. Fees were difficult to handle and negotiations and finding a hostel was next. The chapter goes into finding places to stay, how to find ways to sleep, the girls digging int eh sane and the end of the chapter I keep you in suspense. Mexico followed and then Cancun the Epilogue and telling people about their trip and their saying they were brave. There were many risk assessments, hope to avoid accidents and Natalie came down with a bacterial infection from the poor hygienic public pool in Quebrada Gandao. However, with all the difficulties, fun, educational experiences the author at the end said she would make a plug for community-based travel:
It benefits the local community and the local environment
Respecting the culture of the host community
Relying on local, family-owned businesses for transportation food and shelter.
Told in the voice of the author this is one travel experience that each reader can enjoy taking the journey along with her family and you decide if you want to try a community-based travel experience.
Fran Lewis; Just reviews