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Panama or Bust by Jim Jaillet

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You know you want to go to Central America or you wouldn’t be reading this article! Consider your two choices: 1) go in person, or 2) go as an armchair adventurer. Either way, you get to go! Let’s assume you desire to go in person. In this and the articles to follow, I will reveal tips, tricks and techniques that will greatly enhance your trip. You will discover insider secrets that I learned the hard way. Scarce and non-existent best describe the availability of dependable RVing information when I took my trip. But lucky you, you found my Central America article series! I should also identify what this CENTRAL AMERICA ARTICLE SERIES will not do for you.

In general it will not offer information readily found in guidebooks and on the Internet, but instead will present observations from my personal perspective obtained from my travels. My desire to ease your journey through the difficult aspects and to enhance your experiences in the more pleasant areas of daily RVing life in Mexico and Central America prompted me to write this series of articles. The primary purpose of these articles revolves around giving you an honest account of what you may expect to experience when you decide to take your RV into Central America. Assuming you desire to experience Central America, what keeps you from going? I know the most probable reason because I owned it myself for many years: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN!

This FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN results from the many past negative stories from that area. Let’s face it, many folks today take their RV’s and wander around in Mexico and go no further. Why not? I just explained the reason from my perspective, the old FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN! Our natural protective instinct kicks in by design and the tendency to shy away from something we believe may hurt us physically becomes our foremost priority. Hence, non-action results. But a long time ago I learned that by educating myself, I overcame FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.

I consider “THE SWEETEST FRUIT IS AT THE END OF THE BRANCH!” as a favorite adage of mine and I interpret to mean “To experience some of life’s greatest offerings, you must embrace the unknown and take risks.” I just love old sayings because they speak the learned truths of wisdom. “FOOLS RUSH IN!” applies in this context. But why should you take unnecessary risks? Discover truth from this wisdom. Through education you can protect yourself, overcome the FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN, and taste some of the sweetest fruits of life!

Here is my story:

  • I created the curiosity/interest to go to Central America by being an avid reader of history.
  • Despite this interest, for many years I owned and suffered from FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN!
  • During the years I also heard conflicting negative/positive stories which contributed to my fear.
  • After several positive stories of other people’s personal travels to the Central America region, I could no longer substantiate the conflict of my negative fears and I made the decision to go!
  • My trip Co-Planner and I spent one full year researching everything worthwhile we could find.
  • I took the “leap of faith”! I journeyed and returned alive, rich with countless cultural experiences!

So, in a nutshell, my creation of this CENTRAL AMERICA SERIES fulfills my goal to inspire people to go, if not in person, at least vicariously as an armchair adventurer.

In forthcoming articles I will discuss such topics as my negative and positive impressions of each country, planning, travel companions, safety, security, information sources, vehicle preparations, roads, money exchanging, food, water, border crossings, fresh/gray/black water tanks, banditos, mordidas (bribes), insurance, health issues, languages, documents, towed vehicles, pets, etc………

Central America consists of the countries of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Square mileage-wise, they will fit into the State of Texas, yet remain quite different despite being relatively close to one another. They offer a most unique mixture of scenery, climates, peoples, languages, food, and music.

I strongly urge you to educate yourself and overcome your FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN. Don’t miss the next installment “The Countries: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!” in which I’ll discuss my positive and negative impressions resulting from my visit. Stay tuned and remember my promise at the beginning of this article ………….


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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