So how's that trip to Argentina coming along, you may be wondering? Well, funny you should ask...
After further research and careful consideration, we ending up taking Argentina off the table (for this trip only; definitely still want to get there some day). It came down to a combo of cost (we couldn't get there on my existing frequent flier miles, at least not on the same airline), and temperature (December/January is apparently not a great time to visit, unless you're looking to go far south to see glaciers).
Discussion ensued, and we decided to consider various countries in Central America, where we knew we could stretch our economy-weakened dollars further, and go the distance on frequent flier miles alone.
Mexico quickly rose to the top of the list, and we were soon dreaming of road-tripping down the Baja peninsula, just us, a rental car and the open highway, sandwiched between days in hammocks with tequila drinks and ocean views as far as the eye can see.
But still, we were open to other options, so I decided to post an inquiry on Lonely Planet's Thorntree forum to see how people felt about Baja vs. the Yucatan peninsula. And oh, did I get an earful:
Hello, my thoughts are thus: You can do a road trip from Tijuana to Cabo, but your car is going to get car-jacked, and then later, you're going to get killed. Still, you will die with a tan, so good times. But I would lean towards the Yucatan. Not to be overly-sarcastic, but can I recommend maybe investing in a newspaper subscription? They've run a variety of articles on the problems in the border towns, which involve the deaths of 6,000 people last year. The U.S. state department just put out a travel advisory for the entire north of Mexico. These are good details to know.
I'm generally not one to put too much weight on US state department travel alerts, since I've done plenty of travel in places they deemed dangerous, but the sarcastic gentleman had a point. My research says it's not as dangerous as most Americans make it out to be, but really, is it worth the risk?
So we started looking further south, and eventually landed on Panama. Rumor has it it's the Costa Rica of 20 years ago, before the tourists and surfers took over and prices skyrocketed. Not to mention, my Mom has been there and loved it.
Which brings us to today: We are officially booked to go to Panama for 3 1/2 weeks, leaving December 21. We're planning a mix of lazy days in hammocks overlooking the Caribbean ocean, road tripping along the Pacific coast, and soaking up the atmosphere in Panama City.
I'm sure I'll be writing more as the trip gets closer, but in the meantime, here's a photo I found online for inspiration: