The Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls rest in the hills a little over an hour’s drive outside of Chiang Mai. This was our first motorbike adventure, and we were a little nervous about it. There were three of us so Carrie rode with our friend Julie (who is experienced), and I drove myself. I rented the motorbike for 180 baht from a place called Bamboo Rentals. The gas was empty when I picked it up so they directed me towards a gas station down the road. Luckily I had driven Julie’s bike around the lake the day before, so I survived my first leg on a read road without incident. Read more
We are hostel marketing consultants and in our years of traveling we have stayed at a LOT of hostels. The difference between a good hostel and a GREAT hostel is often so small that it’s hard to notice from an inside perspective. We have worked with almost 50 different hostels and hotels on five different continents. Our hostel marketing, consulting, writing, photos, and videos have helped many places jump the gap from failure to success.
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1) A Different Perspective:
When you are at your hostel day after day, you become blind to the real problems. You also get attached to things that are maybe not the best ideas. A hostel consultant can help you fix problems and think outside the box.
2) Knowing What Foreigners Want:
You know what the locals want; we know what the tourists want. Travelers want clean, easy, safe, and fun! Places and activities that might seem unexciting to locals might be exactly what travelers want!
3) English Promotions On Different Media Types:
Eye-catching social media posts are crucial to your success. Nowadays, many travelers only use Instagram and Facebook to plan their trips. Having a follower base and daily exciting posts are crucial to building your business.
Here are some examples of Instagram accounts from hostels we have worked with:
4) Keeping Up With The Times:
The hostel world is always changing. When you are managing a hostel there is little time for exploring other countries, scoping out your competition, or keeping up with events and attractions around your area. We love travel and the first thing we do when consulting with hostels is to get to know their area like a local, but seeing it though the eyes of a tourist.
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We specialize in making your hostel shine! iPhones can take pictures, but having professionally edited photos from real cameras sets you above the competition. Highlight videos let people feel like they are actually there from the comfort of their own home. They show how fun, clean, and comfortable your hostel really is. We want your hostel to be a tourist attraction in itself. A website blog highlights attractions in your area which increases the traffic to your website and your hostel!
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Summing up La Aventura Project in one post has left us here staring at a blank page for weeks now. The same questions run through our heads: “What did we do?” and, “What did we accomplish?” The jump back into life in the USA was quick, and we were immediately left with little time outside of work, back to normal US life. The world we came from was stuck in the backs of our minds, left to dwell in occasional yearnings and stories misunderstood by their listeners. When I have a street food craving at 11pm there is no friendly woman selling tortillas across the street. Saddening, but it’s also nice to have a kitchen.
Here is a quick list of answers to some of the more popular questions we have been getting from friends and family:
Yes, they did in fact have electricity in Latin America.
Yes, we got sick a few times from the food. But it was all delicious and we don’t regret trying everything!
No, we did not notice any drug cartel activity.
No, we don’t plan on settling down now or buying a house or anything like that.
Trying to make a list of our accomplishments sounded corny but I did it anyways to brag a little bit:
Learned Spanish to an intermediate level in which we could have decent conversations.
Traveled to 10 countries without flying.
Learned much more about Latin American history than we did at school, more than most North Americans know.
Hiked the Inca Trail.
Built our blog into a resource for other travelers.
Regrets: I wish we could have done more volunteering, but maybe you could say that we were more like scouts, examining the playing field. We did have two stays at WWOOF farms, one in Colombia and another in Ecuador. It would be fun to check out some more WWOOF farms in Central America someday.
The travel at first was much easier than I expected. The roads were paved and the buses as nice as the Megabus that we took in the United States. But as we entered Bolivia our luck was about the change. It was there that we experienced transportation strikes and washed out highways. Bolivia was by far the most “out there” country we visited.
La Aventura Project started as a film project and a longing to escape from it all. Along the way we wrote more and more and eventually were able to use the website to make the adventure last longer. We passed through phases of preferring writing over filming and vis-a-versa. Near the end we really dreaded the thought of returning to the grind of working class society. Here everyone makes little problems seem like the end of the world. There there were real problems.
The future: We will continue adding to the website and will be posting hostel reviews by guest writes. (More info if you are interested.) Our goal is for the website to grow and continue as we start posting our travel tales from the States. We’ll be beginning the US section of the website in September when we take a road trip across the northwest in the process of moving to California! We’re also working hard to edit the documentary and we’ll post updates on that front as it gets done.
Ending where we began: So now we find ourselves in much the same place we were in when the seed of the idea for La Aventura Project began. Making the most of the US and working hard to save money for future adventures. Dreaming and trying to decide which continent to conquer next. Asia? Africa? Europe? South again to finally make it all the way to Patagonia? We have no idea where we should go, but luckily we have awhile to decide as we work to replenish our bank accounts. The only sure thing is that we can’t stay here for too long, so una nueva aventura is unquestionably on the horizon.
Our first stop in El Salvador was the small town of Perquín, in the northeastern corner of the country. Famous as the stronghold of the rebel FMLN army during the 12-year civil war, it is now a very relaxed and beautiful mountain village with friendly people and fresh, cool air. The main reason that we went to Perquín was to check out one of the areas most devastated by war and to talk to some of the people involved. There is a pretty stunning museum in town, Museo de la Revolución Salvadoreña, where there is a nice collection of historical weapons, propaganda, and photographs, as well as preserved bomb craters, and tunnels where the rebels hid out.
The civil war in El Salvador, which lasted from 1980 to around 1992 and took the lives of about 75,000 people, was caused primarily by extreme poverty, uneven distribution of wealth (2% of the population controlled 98% of the wealth), and a repressive, dictatorial government. It is something we learn very little about in the United States, probably because of the fact that we supported the bad guys. Our government tends to go against any faction labeling itself “socialist” even if the capitalist side which we are arming is committing genocides. This is what happened in El Salvador. When the FMLN rose up against the government, the government responded by creating “death squads” which killed thousands of innocent civilians. The Reagan administration supported the government and the death squads by providing millions of dollars, helicopters, weapons, and bombs.
Even though a lot of Salvadorans still resent the U.S government for its involvement in the conflict, most have traveled or have had family members travel to the United States to work and they understand that U.S. citizens aren’t to blame.
There were TONS of weapons in the museum. They ranged from Soviet-designed firearms to those made by the U.S.A and Germany.
One of my favorite parts of the museum was their recreation of Radio Venceremos, a secret radio station that blasted FMLN propaganda across the nation.
Out behind the museum, visitors are invited to walk through a preserved rebel encampment where there are tunnels and other fortifications along with a bomb crater.
Every once in awhile, as part of a grand traveling team, you realize that your plans aren’t going to turn out as you had originally envisioned. This is not to say that change is a bad thing; we like to think of it more as choosing a different road and saving the other ones for later. Without making your read too much further, we have decided that we don’t have enough time or money to travel Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. However, the trip will not be shorter, just different. Bolivia has been calling our names and we have been thinking of spending a couple months there, hopefully finding a farm to work at that we really enjoy. After Bolivia, we want to go through Paraguay, not because we have heard amazing things about the country (we haven’t really), but because it’s a cheap route to Iguazu Falls (one of the biggest waterfalls on the planet) which lies at the corner of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. From Iguazu Falls we plan to turn around and backtrack through the same countries, hitting up what we missed in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. After traveling for so long, we have found how we like to travel, and that is slowly. Blazing through places is not as gratifying as spending real time and actually getting to know the countries and cities we visit. There has just been so much that we have missed already: the coast of Colombia, the Ecuadorian Andes, the Peruvian Amazon, etc… We are also dreaming of taking the sailing adventure from Colombia into Panama, traveling on the ground through Central America back to the U.S., and thus connecting our whole voyage in one overland line. Yes, we did have the dream of Patagonia to Alaska over land, but it’s just too much for now. We have a lot of life ahead of us (*knock on wood*), and we hope to complete this big dream a little later when we have a bit more money in our bank accounts for the more expensive Atlantic side of South America.
I hope no one is too disappointed to hear that we won’t be completing our original route to a T. Of course, this could all change, as we are always open to whatever opportunities present themselves. But as of now, here is the revised rough itinerary:
February-March: Bolivia and Paraguay, then back through Bolivia
April: seeing what we have left in Perú!
May: enjoying Ecuador again and then beelining to the Colombian Caribbean coast!
June-July: Sailing to Panama, then traveling through Central America back to Ohio…a.k.a whatever else we can get done!
To update everyone involved in the film, we have been shooting SO MUCH footage! Highlights so far include the volcano in Baños, the Inca Trail experience, WWOOFing, and many personal testimonials about our culture shock. I know this sounds like a hodge-poge (it kind of is), and we are still on the lookout for more perfect documentary subjects. But, rest assured, a documentary WILL EXIST! We have not forgotten all of your generosity and we are working hard every day in hope of sharing this grand experience with others through art.
As for blog news, we’re feeling ready to supplement our income by adding some advertising! Any readers wanna give us some tips on how to go about this? We’re newbies!
Stay tuned tomorrow for the Inca Trail Day Three!
Our bus came into Bogotá late and there was no public transportation to our Couchsurfing hosts’ house. This meant we had to wait in line for 30 minutes for a taxi. No taxi driver we have had here yet has ever known where he is going. Carrie asked him, “¿Sabe donde?” “Mas o menos,” he replied. To us this meant, “I have no idea where we are going but I will drive around in circles for an hour, hope you don’t notice, and try to charge you for my mistakes.” Luckily this time we got the price up front so when he eventually did get lost he couldn´t rip us off. So after the 10 hour bus ride, 30 min waiting for a taxi, then 45 minutes driving around the city lost, we finally made it to our destination.
We woke early the next moring to check out the city. Jumped on the TransMilenio, which is a bus system that travels on its own road. It is very efficient and cheap at 1700 COP (less than $1) each, and an easy way to get downtown from anyplace. Bogotá is much more ordered with less of the amazing chaos that we loved about Medellín. The main roads are full of chain shops and car dealerships, sidewalks packed with men in suits reading the daily news. The first thing we needed was food since we haden´t eaten dinner the night before. In our Lonely Planet guide book (which has been very unreliable thus far…more on that later) we found a vegetarian restauraunt called Quinoa y Amaranto that we wanted to try. We wandered through La Candelaria which is very European with its skinny streets, although all the buildings are different colors which gives it that Latin vibe. Eventually we found the resuraunt. You walk into a small room with a cash register and behind it a small four-burner stove that they cook everything on. In the corner is a spiral staircase and you climb that and eat upstairs. They had a set lunch for 12,000 COP which included soup, juice, spinich pasta with pesto, a mushroom salad, and bowl of cherry jelly sauce for dessert. Muy delicioso! Not very Latin, but the best meal we have had thus far.
With our stomachs full, we walked to the bottom of the hill overlooking the city and took the cable car to the top. At the summit was Monserrate, a beautiful cathedral overlooking the capital city. The trip was expensive and the car was full of gringos, but it was well worth it for the view. The whole city was there before you, with clouds casting shadows and rain in the distance. We were happy to have a safe spot to break out the cameras and shoot some footage for the film.
Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to our indiegogo campaign so far!!! You guys are truly awesome. We are up to $350 with 90 days to go! Click here if you want to donate!
In recent news, Zach got his travel shots! He has been “a little bit infected with several tropical diseases” for the past few days now, hahaha. So there will be a lovely video post of that experience coming soon!
The most exciting news is that we officially registered our production company as a business! That basically involved filing a notarized form and paying $15 at the courthouse to make Journey Lost Productions legally recognized. We also opened up a business account with Chase so that we can keep all of the funds we raise for the film completely separate and provide copies of our bank statement to donors if they ask. It also means we can write off all of our equipment as business expenses when we file our taxes next year. This is all so new to me but the fact that I’m now officially a business owner makes me happy. Journey Lost Productions is real, yo!