Consider this a wish list of sorts. As I touched in another post, travel is going to continue to be weird, but if things can get close to what we might consider normal, then these are near the top of my go-to list.
My first two trips to Mexico were to Cancún. I loved the beaches and visiting Chichén Itzá, but I want to see a different, more authentic side of our neighbors to the south.
I read somewhere that 70-90% of the world’s mezcal – think a smoky version of tequila – is produced in the Oaxaca region and I would love to visit an agave farm to sample some of the spirit right from the source. It takes a certain level of dedication in this craft. Agave, the plant from which mezcal is created, is very slow growing compared to grains or grapes used in whiskeys and wines, so the farmers and distillers have to put upwards of a decade worth of work into a single batch. I prefer to sip mine with an orange covered in sal de gusano, or worm salt.
Known as the food capital of Mexico, Oaxaca is famous for its mole and tlayuda – both right up my taste bud’s alley. The region is full of many different microclimates which means the locals have access to a lot of various, fresh ingredients. You can enjoy meals from street vendors, small cafes, and flagship restaurants owned by world-renowned chefs. Mexico is more than tacos and empanadas and I want to find out all about it.
Caye Caulker, Belize
Just south of Oaxaca is Belize, one of the newer additions to my near-future travel list. Caye Caulker is a small island with only one inhabited area, but it sounds perfect. The people operate on island time and cars are prohibited. As someone who commutes on a highway every day to work, I would love a break from driving and traffic. Golf carts are used instead for transportation.
While it is the only Central American country without access to the Pacific Ocean, honestly… I don’t think I’d need it. Ever since we were introduced to diving in Koh Tao, Thailand, I have wanted to finish my PADI license and I’d love to complete it here. Belize is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef and therefore tons of dive spots including Shark Ray Alley and the Great Blue Hole.
In this area, you can find many ruins from the Mayan civilization and I’d like to spend a day learning the history of Xunantunich, Caracol, or visiting nearby Guatamala and seeing Tikal. The Mayans were such a unique people and I’m fascinated by their technologies and way of life.
Moving away from the Central American region, Japan, and specifically Kyoto is almost undoubtedly my number one travel destination. I love just about everything about the country – the food, the history, the aesthetic – it’s just a place I’ve fallen in love with the idea of. I got a small taste of it when Rachel and I were flying back from Thailand. We had an 8(ish) hour long layover and took a train into Narita City, but that just wasn’t enough.
Probably the most iconic image of Kyoto are the thousands of torii gates that surround the city and lead into the Fushimi Inari-Taisha shrine. I love the simplicity, but yet subtle power, that the design displays. The Gion district houses artists, cherry trees, and a traditional Japanese feel. It’s the combination of ornate tradition and welcoming modernism that attracts me here.
My first layover in Japan afforded me the opportunity to enjoy ramen and donburi. I won’t miss the sushi next time. Maybe I can share it with some of the monkeys in a Mt. Kurama hot spring.
Pho. Okay, next country.
But in all seriousness, Vietnam is such a beautiful country that is a lot more diverse than you may think. While I’d like to see the differences between the north and south including Ho Chi Minh City, I believe Hanoi will give a bit more well rounded experience of the country.
I would definitely want to take a day or two to adventure away from the city and check out Hao Long Bay, but the rest of the time I’d be more than happy to eat around Old Quarter, stuffing my face with as much bánh xèo and bún chả as I possibly can. Water puppet theater and museums are plentiful to get away from the hustle and bustle of traffic and presents a good way to enjoy some culture and learn a little history.
Africa might be the most diverse continent in the world which makes figuring out what region I want to explore first extremely hard. With Egypt and Tanzania fighting hard for that spot, I’d have to say Morocco is leading the way, due in part to its proximity to Portugal and Spain – two more destinations in my near-future plans.
Despite several travel bloggers that I follow saying Casablanca is skippable, I’d find myself tempted to visit the scene of one of my favorite all-time movies, but Marrakech offers a plentitude of sights and things to do to make it the more attractive stop (plus there are night trains if I felt compelled to visit Casablanca or Fes.)
The colors look mesmerizing and I can only imagine the sounds of the souks selling lamps, rugs, and other souvenirs or the smells of the spices and food stalls. I long for that. To get lost in the medinas, navigating only by the occasional glimpse of the Koutoubia mosque, yeah… that’s what I want to do. 2021, you need to get your act together so we can make this happen.
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