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Central America Resources: How Do I Use Them?

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In Article #3 – Planning: “Plan your verk and verk your plan”, we discussed the importance of planning. This article will assist you with the “planning of your plan.” The very first step in your plan development is to identify a potential trip departure date. This date now establishes the time availability to develop your plan. You can do it! Identify your potential trip departure date!

“Look in the sand, you will see my footprints!” In other words, this old saying means you can learn from my experience. Follow in my footsteps and you will likely return safely from your trip.

Follow the step-by step guide below and you will soon hold in your very own hands, YOUR PLAN! Wow! I sure wish these articles existed when I planned my trip!

Let’s get started developing your plan:

I recommend you buy the only two books available specifically about RVing in Central America.

PANAMA OR BUST – A 343 day adventure in a motorhome! by Jim Jaillet. (My book is the only book available directly related to RV caravanning in Central America.)
99 Days To Panama by John and Harriet Halkyard.

These books will give you first-hand information about things you will most certainly encounter on your trip. Neither book existed when I planned and took my trip.

The following identifies the list of specific information sources that I used in planning my trip:

  • Footprint Central America & Mexico Handbook 2003 by Peter Hutchison. ISBN 1 903471 36 2, thirteenth edition, September 2002 I found the Footprint guidebook amazingly 99+ % accurate. I highly -recommend it!
  • Mexico map by American Automobile Association.
  • Guia Roji (Red Guide), a road atlas published and bought in Mexico. Central America Map by International Travel Maps, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
  • Tourist Information Packages from the governments of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. These packages rated all the way from great to basic.
  • Local maps and pamphlets from the many places of interest we visited along the way.
  • The Internet, because of the wealth of information at your fingertips, acts as a primary resource.

I also found three excellent history books that added to my knowledge and enjoyment.

  • Triumphs and Tragedy – A History of the Mexican People by Ramon Eduardo Ruiz in 1992 and published by W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY.
  • Central America – A Nation Divided by Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr. in 1976 and published by Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
  • The Path Between the Seas – The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914 by David McCullough in 1977 and published by Simon & Schuster, New York, NY.

With all this information available, sit down and start reading! As you read, I highly recommend you use a yellow highlighter and highlight every location/tourist attraction that you would like to visit. Once you complete the reading process, you must make the final decision as to the total time element that you will allow for the completion of your trip. Then you will want to mark the locations/attractions on your applicable maps in a manner that makes them very noticeable. Now identify and mark the most appropriate route(s) that will allow you to see the maximum number of your identified locations/attractions within your time frame already established for the trip.

Now for the final step in the process! To the best of your ability, identify the total mileage on your marked-out route(s), then divide those miles by the number of weeks you plan for the trip. e.g., 10,000 miles divided by 40 weeks equals 250 miles per week. Now place weekly mileage markers on top of your identified route(s) and indicate the weekly date alongside the weekly mileage markers starting with the beginning date of your trip.

If you truly desire to return from your trip on your identified date, all you need to do is be physically (more or less) in the location of your identified weekly mileage marker and you will return when you desire. If you have no need to identify a return date, eliminate this last step and take your time. Who knows? You may travel for 10 years or just remain in Central America forever, joining others who found the experience so good they decided to stay!

Jim Jaillet is a full-time RVer, Adventurer and Author of PANAMA OR BUST – A 343 day adventure in a motorhome! Please visit my new Panama or Bust Yahoo Group.

Disclaimer: The author in no way can guarantee your safety in Central America. After all they are Third World countries and not without danger or the possibility of death. You go at your own risk. The author is only suggesting that with some planning, common sense and caution you may minimize your potential dangers and be rewarded with countless cultural experiences. 🙂

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