I just posted this on the Thorn Tree Forum on the Lonely Planet site. So I'll just post it here as well:
Hello everyone! I've been a longtime reader, enjoy this site thoroughly, and this is my very first post to look for advice on my upcoming travels. I have decided to embark on an open-ended trip for at least 6 months, perhaps up to one year. The purpose of this trip is to study and immerse myself in Spanish to gain fluency and to also practice and study Yoga daily. I've been living in a big city, working a stressful job for the last 4 years, dabbling in Yoga practice and Spanish study on the side, and it is time to slow things down, center all of my efforts on these two passions, and live as a blissfully disciplined student surrounded by the beauty of the tropics.
On October 31st, I'll be arriving in Guatemala City early in the morning. I am still formulating my itinerary, but the preliminary plan is to take a shuttle or cab to Antigua and stay for 2-4 weeks. I can check out Spanish schools and Yoga studios. After a few weeks, I will make my way to San Marcos La Laguna and plant myself there for 2 months until my travel visa expires.
At the end of January, I had originally thought about flying to Costa Rica, and staying there for a month or longer. The more I research prices, the less I feel like traveling there and think perhaps the Yucatan might be more of what I'm looking for. I've looked into Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and they look promising. If I like the area, I could stay until my travel visa expires again.
Perhaps around March or April, I'll fly to Nicaragua to continue this Spanish/Yoga journey. I have not researched too much about places to visit in Nicaragua, however, Ometepe has definitely caught my eye. My family refers to me as a monkey, I eat an awful lot of fruit just like them, and I'd love to live somewhere where monkeys also live for awhile. The Inanitah community looks like somewhere I'd love to hang out/practice Yoga/volunteer for some time.
I'm posting this to get advice about how to do this kind of trip inexpensively, and also to help plan out which places I will visit. I live an inexpensive lifestyle, and I wish to travel the same. My food costs will be low as I never eat out, always buy and make all of my food, and I live on fruits, vegetables, and starches. When I arrive in a town, I'm alright with staying in a cheap dorm for maybe a few nights, but my goal is usually to seek out a cabina or other modest accommodation to rent for the month. Other costs will be if I elect to attend Yoga classes, or Spanish classes. The ultimate goal of this trip is to become fluent in Spanish, and as I already study daily using many resources (I see myself as an Intermediate student), I don't view private classes as an absolute necessity, just another stepping stone along the way. I predict, my willingness to make mistakes and interact with native speakers will help much more.
I practice Yoga everyday, and will continue to do so during my travels. Thusly, I'm seeking places with spiritual vibes, laid back people, and plentiful fruits and local vegetables. I have a call to teach Yoga, and a secondary goal of this trip would be to obtain a Yoga Teaching certificate, however the least expensive training course I've found is around $2,000 . Maybe I'll find a studio I love and try for an internship; or continue with my current knowledge and build upon this by taking the time to read the plentiful Yoga literature I have and myriad online resources.
Thanks for reading this long post. I'm putting this out there to hopefully get some general feedback about how to manage this trip, and get out of it that which I'm seeking. The plane ticket to Guatemala is bought. I have $1,200 budgeted for 3 one-way plane tickets: Gua. to MX, MX to Nic., and from Nic. back home to California, and also for cabs/shuttles. For food and accommodations I can spend $3,500-$4,000. The longer I stay, the more I'm willing to spend. I hope to travel for at least 6 months, but a part of me wants to keep traveling at least until my 30th birthday on June 28th, and spend this day somewhere beautiful. I'm single, will be retired from my city job, and do not have a property or lease to pay for, so this is definitely my opportunity to travel for a prolonged period of time, maybe even a year. Any advice will be of help. Thanks!
Saludos todos los Fruitariones,
Your trip sounds awesome! I'm going to Nicaragua December 30th for 6 months to volunteer at a school and they offer very cheap housing for volunteers. I'm not sure if you would be interested in something like that, but the program is called La Esperanza and it's in Granada. I'm thinking there won't be too many vegans (let alone fruitarians) down there so maybe we could meet up and share some fruit! :)
Recently I've been thinking about tweaking the timing of my trip a little. If I can get my visa extended in Guatemala, I might just hop on a plane to Nicaragua for the second leg of my trip rather than the third as I'd originally planned. That would put me in Nicaragua from Jan 30th through April: perfect timing to meet up. I plan to arrive in Managua and make my way south to Ometepe. It looks like Granada is on the way, so it would definitely work out to meet up.
I have thought about volunteering and might do that as a way to extend my stay, give back to the community, and keep working on my Spanish at the same time. I know there is an intentional Yoga community on Ometepe that volunteers with the local community.
We will have to keep in touch and meet up when I'm there! Thanks for replying...
That sounds great Ryan! They are always accepting volunteers at La Esperanza too if you would be interested in volunteering at a school. Let me know how your plans go and when you will be getting to Granada so we can meet up! :)
I just posted in one of your other threads about Godfrey's style of yoga. I do have a few tips here. Most of the info I have got I think came from this site at one time or another, so perhaps you have already seen it. Here are a couple of links:
This is the most interesting one to me, and one I would defnitely visit if I was in Costa Rica
Also Pom has another project going, it sounds like he is not there at the moment, but there must be something going on, you should at least look at this site
The there are these guys who are also looking to establish something
All of these are low cost situations, as well I am pretty sure that Finca del Sol, has a raw angle, and teaches bodywork as well as possibly some yoga options.
I think these guys may take wwoofers
So, as you can see there is a lot going on in little Costa Rica. I have visited most of the latin american countries, and would agree that Costa Rica is more expensive, but the thing is there are a lot more new age, and alternative type foreigners living there. I found reasonably priced accommodation, and managed to live reasonably economically. I think you should maybe not skip it, in favour of cheaper destinations.
I think that probably your spanish lessons and yoga classes wwill be a considerable part of your budget depending on how much time you take to study. Granada, in Nicaragua is a very good and cheap place to study spanish I think it is about $4 US per hour there for private. The market in town has a better than average selection of fruit for Nicaragua, and the people are friendly, plus it is a historic colonial location. There is a pretty cool hostel there called The Bearded Monkey, you should at least stop by and see if it is someplace you like. The dorms are great, and the vibe is really good, there is a big leafy and cool courtyard to hang out in, and when I was there it was quiet, and had good internet etc.
I would also comment on a few money saving tips, occassionaly you can find options for camping out in either a hammock or tent, so I tend to carry one of those or both. There are both official and spontaneous ways you can do this. IE staying at a guesthouse, or resort that has a space for this, or is open to you staying on the roof, etc, and also when wwoofing, or staying with locals, while you travel.
Finally I would say that flying is not necessary and you can save money both by limiting your flights and choosing where you fly from and to. I consider public transport in latin america cheap, safe, and effective, plus it is a good way to immerse yourself in the culture. Sounds like you have a bit of time, so might make sense not to buy tickets in advance, and then if you do choose to fly, you can buy them when you are there, and compare the cost, and convenience of the two modes of transport. Remember that flights do not always leave on time, require you to be at the airport early, and often involve taxis, to get to and from. Plus there is the pre-clearance security, and other formalities to go through.
Guatamala is probably a good choice as a place to start, but often you can find very cheap tickets to other locations. I have seen flights as low as $200 one way to panama and costa rica. You may see other destinations this cheap, or find that you need to pay more as the bargains aren't available, but it is good to be aware, of the rates.
So hopefully some of that helps,
Possibly it is a bit late for some of the advice like flights etc,
But I am sure you will have a great time regardless,
Thank you for all of your tips and advice. As much as I have planned this trip, I am open to a change of these plans should better ideas or opportunities arise. As you said, my main concern is finding inexpensive Spanish teachers, so Guatemala and Nicaragua should be good choices. After this first 6 months, I will need to get out of the CA-4 countries. Based on your responses, I will definitely consider checking out Costa Rica.
Also, thank you for your response on my Yoga thread. I will look into those Devereux books for sure.