Central America in a nutshell
From Mayan temples and Aztec ruins, great nightlife, crystal waters, to active volcanos and lush vegetation, Central America has it all. 10% of the worlds’ biodiversity can be found in this part of the world, making Central America one of the richest eco-systems on Earth.
Getting around Central America
Central America is a fairly small region of seven countries – Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, with a total area comparable to the size of France. Overland travel is cheap and easy to navigate, although not the most comfortable.
Buses come in various forms, from the air conditioned first-class services to the pimped out chicken buses. Chicken buses (“camioneta” in Spanish) are colorfully painted old school buses from the US and are the most common form of public transportation in Central America. Since chicken buses mostly transport poor locals, they are very cheap, but they take a very long time to get to their destination. Petty theft can be a problem, especially on routes frequented by foreign travelers, so make sure you keep your valuables in a safe place and keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
There are several large companies that operate long distance buses across Central America, and many first-class buses have security checks before boarding passengers to avoid on-board robberies. Security guards are also present at bus terminals and sometimes at gas stations as well. Although traveling with a long-distance bus company is a lot more expensive than traveling the same route in a chicken bus, you will save a lot of travel time and will be able to enjoy the ride in an air-conditioned cabin with comfortable seats. Tica Bus is a first class service that connects many of the countries and can be a good option if you need to cover a lot of ground without many stops on the way.
Minibuses are privately organized tourist transfers between cities, usually operated by a tour agency or hotel. Much more comfortable and faster than local transport, they are also a lot more expensive.
Air travel is not a common way of getting around and flights are very expensive.
Digital Nomad Scene
Lake Atitlan in Guatemala has become a popular digital nomad hotspot in recent years, and is recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. Antigua is also another popular destination for digital nomads in Guatemala. Panama and Costa Rica are also popular with digital nomads, although the cost of living in these two countries (and Nicaragua) are much higher than Guatemala, El Savador or Honduras.
Costa Rica: Pads are widely found in most grocery stores and pharmacies, but tampons might be a little harder to find, and are expensive and limited in variety. Birth Control is legal and found abundantly in pharmacies across the country. Morning-after pill is illegal and unavailable. Abortions are illegal here.
Panama: Pads are widely found. Tampons with and without applicators are available in large cities (Panama City and David, mainly), at supermarkets and pharmacies. Birth control pills and morning-after pills can be bought at pharmacies.
Honduras: Pads are widely found. Tampons with and without applicators are becoming more common and can be found in major supermarkets. Might be wise to bring along a few tampons as backup. Morning-after pill is illegal and unavailable.
Guatemala: Tampons and pads are easily available in Guatemala City, at supermarkets like La Torre or Paiz. Birth control pills and morning after pills are not widely available, and it is recommended to bring along your own supply.
Nicaragua: Tampons are not widely available; your best bet would be in a pharmacy or chain-grocery stores in a large city. You can get birth control pills and the morning after pill very easily at any pharmacy although selection is limited.
El Salvador: Tampons are hard to find, and it is recommended that you bring your own supply of tampons. Abortions are illegal in El Salvador, and birth control pills are expensive and hard to come by.
Belize: Tampons are hard to find, and it is recommended that you bring your own supply of tampons. Birth control pills and morning after pills are available at pharmacies.