Tag Archives: health

Central America aka The Gringo Trail

My experience on backpacking the Gringo Trail in Central America can’t really be described in a couple of words. I was a first time solo traveler and had no idea what I was doing. Which, in hind sight, was probably the best way to go into it.

Central America constitutes more than just the countries listed below – Belize, Honduras and Mexico are left out because I didn’t visit them.

Guatemala 

My first stop in Central America was Guatemala. I landed in Guatemala City, a city with a lot of crime and not many options for tourists.

IMG_1156.JPG

After the scariest bus ride of my life, I arrived in Lake Atitlan. Situated around the lake are several little villages, each with their own vibe. Boats run across the lake daily and you can grab one for few dollars to visit each of the towns, since there is no road connecting all of them.  I stayed here for a month working on a farm in San Marcos La Laguna, the hippy-est of them all, attracting a ton of new-agers.

Highlights of Lake Atilian were going to the Butterfly Sanctuary in Panajachel, the Women’s Weaving Cooperative in San Juan La Laguna and camping at Indians Nose overnight to see the sunrise in the morning.

Next stop was Antigua and OMG DID I LOVE ME SOME ANTIGUA. I don’t know if it was because I stayed in sleepy San Marcos for a month or what, but everything about this place just felt right. Here I stayed at a home stay with some other backpackers who were also learning spanish. Well, they were learning Spanish. I was trying to and failing.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-7-23-03-pmHighlights of Antigua include a night out of care free dancing, a ten-hour round-trip overnight hike up Acatenango Volcano to see the sunrise and El Fuego booming and a local soccer game featuring a very animated hype squad / drum line.

El Salvador

Initially, I did not plan on going to El Salvador at all. It’s pretty dangerous and over run by gangs. The kind of gangs that have such control of the country that buses stop running after sun down. But, plans change, especially when traveling and, in this case, I’m so glad it did.

Highlights include Edward (the one-winged Pelican of La Tortuga Verde), the locals in Juyaya who told us that if we go to the store and buy a frog they’ll cook it for us, getting stuck in Rivas overnight because there were no more buses running.

I guess some of these memories don’t really sound pleasant from an outsider’s perspective, but El Salvador ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Nicaragua

img_1433

By this point in the trip I had been going for about two months and had met enough people to start a small village. I had already booked the Pullmantur Cruise and knew I was going to Europe after, so I was a little tired and not wanting to spend a ton of money. Hence, I mostly remember Nica as a place where I relaxed, swam, and read.

Still, I had a lot of fun. Highlights include the Tortuga Boolada Hostel in Leon. That place was so relaxed and everyone was really friendly over breakfast. Surfing at Playa Popopyo, where they held the World Surf Championships a few years back, was a lot of fun. I nearly died, but still, good times. I’ll also never forget exploring Ometepe and the clean waters of Ojo de Agua.

Costa Rica

_DSC2906.jpg

Since it’s the most expensive country in Central America, I barely spent any time in Costa Rica. The time that I did spend here, two weeks, was spent teaching Yoga at Tico Lingo, a Spanish School in Heredia. It was a chill two weeks spent doing a whole lot of nothing with the other volunteers and teaching small classes to the owner of the school and some of the students. I found this program through Workaway.info.

Panama

img_1828

Oh Panama, the last stop on my trip before taking a 14 day cruise to Portugal. I think I only spent a day or two here and it rained a lot, but it was a fun couple days as I stayed in this beautiful colonial mansion-turned-hostel called Luna’s Castle in Panama City. There I had the pleasure of meeting a fun group of people traveling together and we all went out and danced to Rihanna’s “Work” for what was probably the 1231st time that month.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

To vaccine or not to vaccine?

With more than 40 states reporting wide spread outbreaks, flu season is definitely underway. Usually people don’t start getting sick until around late January/early February, but this year it is striking particularly early and particularly hard. According to the CDC, about 24,000 Americans die each year during flu season. Which makes me wonder, why don’t more people get vaccinated?

Personally, I’ve been weary of vaccines and most conventional medicine since High School when I began researching and experiencing the pitfalls of conventional medicine. Not only is it expensive, but often the quality of care is poor and many patients are given a slew of drugs with harsh side effects. Next to antibiotics, vaccines have accumulated quite a bad reputation.

It is believed that vaccines:

  1. Cause autism
  2. Contain mercury and other toxic ingredients
  3. Have never been tested
  4. Don’t even work

As a result of these beliefs, this is why many people avoid getting vaccinated while others run to health clinics, but it is hard to determine which side is actually right. On one hand, getting the vaccine is said to be 62% effective against the flu. Additionally,  the research correlating autism with vaccines is scarce. This is especially true considering the first researcher to ever make this accusation has since been unveiled as a frued, resulting in all his work being discredited.

On the other hand, it is hard to completely disregard all the vaccine propaganda when stories such as the polio vaccine causing “vaccine-acquired paralytic polio” are being released.

Despite my qualms with conventional medicine, I think I’ll be getting a flu shot this year. For me, the benefits outweigh the potential side effects. My advice is that in the end, it’s up to the consumer to do their own research and make their own choices.

Tagged ,
Advertisements