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AQ's Solo Writing

Short Story 6

Costa Rica, Belize, Peru, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala 

[Part 3] 20 Memorable Countries for Solo Traveling Adventures

March 2024

Contents

Countries to visit

Introduction

Welcome to Part 3 of this short story. In Part 1 (Short Story 4) and Part 2 (Short Story 5), you traveled to fourteen countries (seven from each story). For Part 3, you’ll get six additional countries (15-20), highlighting one vivid encounter from my solo travels. You know what to do from here.

15. Costa Rica
15. Costa Rica

La Fortuna/Arenal resonates with me the most out of Costa Rica’s four main domains (city, rainforests, mountains, and beaches). There are a bunch of activities to do in La Fortuna, such as zip-lining, horseback riding, ATV driving, bungee jumping, volcano sightseeing, hot springs (unisex spas), and the heartwarming Sloth Trail. Still, the upward and downward rainforest hike at the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges has me active and speechless.

About every 15 minutes, I walk across a long wobbly bridge made out of steel and aluminum. I’m on the highest hanging bridge, 147 feet above the massive rainforest, surrounded by greenery and vegetation. It feels like I’m floating above the trees, observing Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano, inhaling and exhaling fresh air through my nose. The sounds of various insects, birds, monkeys, and other animals feels relaxing and peaceful instead of alarming.

It's raining now. Rather than saying to myself, “This sucks!” or “Damn, I’m going to get wet,” I continue hiking on the ascending and descending trail in a meditative state. The Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna is a calming and trance-like experience, even though the hike is more than a walk in the park.

Countries to visit
16. Belize
16. Belize

The tour boat stops in the middle of the ocean, and a group of dark brown-colored sharks swim in front of it. The woman tour guide pours dusty food into the water, attracting more sharks as they pile on each other for the food. The stingrays join the fun, discreetly roaming underneath the water.
 
“You can go inside the water now,” shouts the tour guide. I quickly dip underneath the ocean, wearing snorkel gear, and the water is shallow, roughly three to five feet deep. About ten sharks and ten stingrays move quickly and freely in the ocean. My adrenaline is pumping. I’m not scared, but I'm not comfortable. I closely monitor the sharks and sting rays as they swim beside me from all directions, as if I'm a harmless sea creature. I don’t feel threatened by them either.
 
The woman tour guide goes underneath the water and grabs a three-foot-long shark. “Hurry, you can touch it,” she hollers. I gently pet the head of the shark as if it's a dog. It feels like thick, rubbery sandpaper. This is awesome! I feel so energized and satisfied. The shark and stingray snorkeling at Caye Caulker island, about an hour from Belize City by water taxi/boat, is the holy grail of Belize tours.

Traveling abroad
17. Peru
17. Peru

It’s been a long three-hour drive up the mountains from Cusco City to Rainbow Mountain. Still, there’s another steep 30- to 45-minute trek to arrive at the top of Rainbow Mountain. Factoring in the cold winter-like weather, regardless that it’s March, the 11,000-foot altitude above sea level, the wet terrain from the early morning rain, and a storm that can strike any minute, this upward hike isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Other than going by foot, I can ride a horse, take a motorcycle taxi, or drive an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) for an additional fee. I’ll make it to the viewpoint in 10 to 15 minutes rather than 30 to 45 minutes walking.


The steep trek has me breathing hard through my nose, and it’s only been less than 10 minutes. This altitude is no joke! I need to take a break for a minute or two to catch my breath.
 
I make it to the top of Rainbow Mountain. What incredible scenery! The colorful, circular mountainous valley contains dark red, olive-green, and tan color themes. After taking a few pictures of the stunning region, I hike the bonus Red Valley route, another 30 minutes uphill to take more pictures of the majestic red and green mountains. I make it to the tour van 45 minutes later, soaking wet from the hail storm. Even though Machu Picchu is Peru’s main tourist attraction and worthwhile, Rainbow Mountain is also high up on the to-do list.

Traveling in Peru to Rainbow Mountain
18. El Salvador
18. El Salvador, 19. Honduras, 20. Guatemala

El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala coming in June 2024, so stay tuned!

Check out 14 other countries, seven in Part 2 (Short Story 5) and seven in Part 1 (Short Story 4)!

AQ's Solo Writing
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