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From OptiMYz to the world: My trip of a lifetime

Winner of the Mayan Encounter contest talks about her adventures.

Walking on Water

Almost all of my close friends are world travelers. They’ve been everywhere and done everything. Me? I always thought it was better to buy something that would last. Like furniture or training gear. Not a ticket to sit on a beach. We have beaches here in Nova Scotia, right? But then one day I got a phone call from David Holt at OptiMYz magazine. He quietly explained that I had won the Mayan Encounter Tour contest through a sweepstakes they ran on Facebook. And do you know what? I thought of all of the costs that would be involved and I said, “Naw, give it to someone else.”

That night, I laid in my bed and I couldn’t sleep. I had never been out of Canada, I had never done anything exciting and I had so much training gear I had to empty out a closet to hold it all. So I emailed David and told him that I changed my mind; I would accept the free trip. Fortunately, the contest hadn’t been redrawn so I was on my way!

Making new friends at Caye Caulker.

Making new friends at Caye Caulker.

The Mayan Adventure Tour included travel through Playa del Carmen and Tulum in Mexico; Caye Caulker, Tikal National Park and San Ignacio in Belize; and Antigua, Rio Dulce, San Jorge and Panajachel in Guatamela. What an amazing first trip! Along my journey I met a scorpion in my hotel room; I swam in warm, crystal clear waters, I woke up to howler monkeys on one day and roosters on another; I learned how to pee silently when a hotel room only had saloon doors and I realized that material items aren’t what lasts.

The famed Mayan ruins.

The famed Mayan ruins.

What lasts is the change in your perspective when you experience other cultures. The memories and friendships you make along the way and the wonder you experience when you realize how much more there is to discover in the world is what you will never lose.

I am forever grateful to OptiMYz Magazine and Intrepid Travel. I would never have planned a trip like this on my own but now I find myself wondering about Thailand or Brazil or even New York! The whole world is waiting and I can’t wait to see more of it!

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Uploaded by Sally Arsenault