I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of travelling. The world is full of so many places I’ve never seen, and all of them appeal in different ways. The biggest problem I have when travelling is deciding which places not to visit. So, it’s with some regret that I have to say that Ellen and I will not be going to Carnival this year.

Not nearly as cool a street parade as Carnival would be!

Not nearly as cool a street parade as Carnival would be!

It was pretty obvious to us that we weren’t going to make it to Brazil by early February to see the Carnival in Rio. We didn’t want to rush ourselves, and Brazil is fairly far off from our starting point in Costa Rica. Three months would not be enough to see the countries in between, so Rio’s Carnival was out. However, the second-largest Carnival is in Barranquilla, Colombia, just 900km away from here. Our cousin Daisy is in Barranquilla now, having been commissioned to create some marionettes for the Carnival. It’s almost as if the stars were lining up to get us to Carnival…

Except, they aren’t, and we’re not going. Hostels, campsites, hotels, and apartments are all booked solid months in advance of Carnival. Ticket prices to get there skyrocket, and people descend on Barranquilla from all directions. Deciding a week before Carnival that it might be a nice idea to see it just isn’t how it works. We checked the couchsurfers site for Barranquilla lodging, and all we found were notes from tourists begging for accommodation. If you want to go to Carnival, you have to plan in advance. Ellen and I don’t like to be tied down to dates and plans and pre-booked hotel rooms. We much prefer going where the wind takes us. Even if we could find a place to stay at the last minute, every expense will be twice its normal price during the festival.

Also, pretty consistently, the most irritating days of our trip have been ones when we’ve been in crowded places. Cartagena, the beautiful coastal city near Barranquilla, was gorgeous to walk around until tourists and locals were all bumping into me at every turn. Without fail, when the crowds came out, Ellen and I decided to head back to the hostel for a break. We ended up spending mid-day napping, playing games, and writing, and doing our tourist activities at the crack of dawn or after dark. Perhaps going to Carnival, when every square inch of Barranquilla will be packed with visitors, is not the best idea for me and Ellen.

Overall, though, the deciding factor in choosing not to go to Carnival is geography. Barranquilla is back north, and Ellen and I want to go south. Neither of us has crossed the equator before, and it feels like a big step for us to be entering the southern hemisphere for the first time. I have a bit of a fear that if I let myself backtrack, I’ll end up going back to places I know I like, rather than visiting places I’ve never seen.

It seems silly not to go someplace just because you’ve seen it before, but the world is big, and I’ll never have enough time to see every part of it. On this trip, Ellen and I are trying to balance the pleasures of immersing ourselves in a place for a long time, getting to know its culture, with the joys of moving on to new places. Not seeing Carnival is just a sacrifice we have to make so we can have a better trip. In the same vein, chances are we won’t be able to see the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador either. Them’s the breaks, and I think my trip will be fantastic even as we have to give some amazing experiences a miss.

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