Since is February and if you’re like me (come on, admit it) you are constantly thinking about the hot days under the sun, next to the ocean or a swimming pool. But if you’re from a not so warm place, those might be only dreams or better yet, plans. Thus, if you are planning to spend a few weeks under the hot sun, I think you should read this because I will tell you, from experience, what you need to know before visiting a tropical destination.
All the below are things I really wished I knew when I left home with my heart wide open for my first ever trip to Cuba. Also, later on, in Vietnam and Phu Quoc, I’ve been shown that there are still things to learn in every destination and that no matter how well prepared you might think you are, there will always be new and unique things to take you by surprise.
Thus, from my humble experience, I am sharing with you all the things I wish I knew (and you should know) before visiting a tropical destination.
Lizards – they are your friends Now let me tell you a little story about our first night in Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba. Nobody had told me about these little friendly guys that were going to be everywhere. And by everywhere I really mean it: in your room, in the bathroom (my blue and yellow friend), on the nightstand, on the bed. And my first-degree encounter with one was just before we went to bed the first night, she (or he) was on the wall next to my bed! Needless to say, I woke up every hour that night, stood up and looked around to see whether the lizard was still there and we had to sleep with the light on for the whole vacation 😀
In Vietnam, I became comfortable with knowing them on the ceiling, but one insisted on surprising me and making strange noises from my nightstand once I turned off the light one night before bed. I still find it funny how I jumped at the other side of the room, but proud to say we didn’t have to sleep with the light on again.
In Sri Lanka, you will have to be prepared yourself to see Geko’s bigger brother. And its largest.
Insects – they will attack you from everywhere Especially mosquitos, even though that wasn’t an issue everywhere, but some of the places were packed with these big, nasty, insisting creatures. Especially where green areas mix with beaches, the perfect recipe for humidity. Nothing bothers them! Not even the repellant. And if you manage to miss a small spot, rest assured they will know where it is and bite you.
And if you are lucky and don’t have mosquitos, there will be bugs. Small, big, black, orange, fast, slow. In your room, bathroom, in the restaurant, on the streets. Hey, in some places you could even have them for dinner :))
Crabs – they as well will come in various sizes, colors, and forms. In Phu Quoc, one of my favorite pastimes on the beach was looking at the very small ones and their repetitive and sometimes aimless activity. I guess it related somehow to some of the work that gets done in a multinational company ha ha. These small fellows took their job very seriously and built little balls of sand over and over again, even though the waves or people walking by would destroy them.
In Cuba on the other hand, as soon as night came the huge crabs came out of their hiding places and wandered around the resort making it very likely for us to meet them on the narrow streets.
The smell – it is specific, especially close to markets or crowded spaces. Since we’ve talked above about high humidity, pour in a lot of fruit and vegetables and in some cases also fish, you imagine what this adds up to. You will feel it, but you will get used to it from the first day.
Monkeys – not everywhere, but in some destinations, you will encounter these little cheeky creatures you will need to pay special attention to. Why? Well, because they will take you by surprise and when you least expect it will come and steal something from you. Thus, make sure to have all your belongings on hand and don’t lose them from your sight.
Friendly smiling faces – I don’t know why, but people who live in warmer places seem to have the smile always on their faces. It might be the climate, it might be the way of living, the food, their convictions or beliefs, but one thing is for sure: they love and live life differently than we do. And no matter when and where, they will welcome you with a wide smile on their face. Even though they might not understand what you are saying or asking for. But who cares?
It sure is something we need to learn more and work on.
Water – when traveling to these countries we come to understand how important water is and how important is to make the best use of the drinkable water. You will have to make sure not to drink tap water or anything that has not been previously sealed.
All in all, once you get here (no matter where), you will fall in love and let all things pass by, while you take the whole ocean in!