Central America is a great place to be for people who are fans on adventure sports. In the last few weeks I've jumped off waterfalls, slid down volcano on a plank of wood attempted to learn to surf – yeah I'm the Australian guy who never surfed.
Ready for Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro
As is typical, I did all these things with various people I met along the way, all of whom had two things in common. The first is that they were generally more adventurous than I was. They were willing to jump off the higher waterfall or go faster down the volcano, while I've oft used the phrase, I'm too old to die doing something stupid. Which brings me to the second point; that they were all much younger than me.
I've gotten to an age now that whenever I meet new people in a hostel I'm the oldest one in the group 99% of the time. And much of the time it's not even close. In recent months I've hung out with people who didn't know who David Bowie was. Or the Doors. People who only know Ed O'Neil as the family patriarch in Modern Family. These people were born when I was close to finishing high school, and are now taking gap years before they start the rest of their lives. If they're anything like me, that may take a while. These kids are so young, I may have even felt old when I started travelling ten years ago.
Jumping from waterfalls in El Salvador - and no I didn't do this one
The question has to be asked have I gotten too old for backpacking? When should I stop travelling for long periods in hostels and cheap buses and replace them with luxury vacations sitting next to a pool at a resort?
The majority of my friends – both back home and others I've met along the way - have good jobs, houses (or at least mortgages) and are starting families. Some are even onto their second marriages. After two previous long trips away, I kind of expected that I'd be joining them soon too, but for the moment I've been getting home only to realise that I'm not ready for all of that – and may never be.
One thing I do want to avoid though, is becoming one of those crusty old guys you always see in the hostel. You know the one. They’re generally in their 50’s, bald and smelly, banging on about how “you kids these days have it so easy. When I was your age, I walked for 3 days across four borders while being chased by armed militia. And you think you’re travellers?!”
Am I the first Aussie to have their first surfing lesson in another country?
I'm sure there's going to be a time when I feel too old for this, and the negative aspects of backpacking (listening to other people, erm, enjoy each others company in the dorm - which has happened three times on this trip so far being one) outweigh the positives.
For now though, I'm going by the adage, you're only as old as you feel. And with very little money, responsibilities or plans for the future beyond the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2 months time, I'm feeling pretty young!