The Caribbean Hopper

Hopping All Over

Hello There!

My name is Ibaia and I have been traveling solo on and off for around 26 years. My first solo trip was at 17 to search for my roots in Amsterdam. Since then I haven’t stopped, and have visited 45 countries and 11 UNESCO sites.
 
I am never alone though as for some reason if you let me loose I easily strike random conversations with random friendly people and dogs. Below is the last nice dog I met in Belize.
 
SuperDoginBelize-HoppingCaribbean

I have always avoided holiday packages, cruises and tours as travel in big groups separates me from what for me is the the real experience: Getting to know the locals, eating the food of the locals and traveling with the locals. Independent travel gives you the freedom to decide each moment what you want to do, is also much cheaper and the best way to learn a language!
 
I love nature; hiking to see the best views and any activities in the water. I grew up spending the summers snorkeling and catching fish from the rods we made ourselves out of bamboo in the remotest beach in south Spain. Then I got my PADI (scuba diving) certification in Malta in 1996.
 
I am lucky to have dived in waters around the world including the Red Sea, Australian Barrier reef, Cozumel, Indonesia, Belize’s barrier reef and most of the Mediterranean Sea.
 
I have seen the oceans turn from lively colourful shows with many fish species to grey areas with little life. Eco-Tourism is a great way to try redress the damage done to nature and also to strengthen local projects to support nature and wildlife.
 
During my trips, I have been often scammed and even attacked. What I have learned during the last 26 years of solo travel can be read here, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. I will show you how to travel cheaper, longer and greener. My long experience in budget travel, interest in local cultures and love for nature are the foundation of my blog.

Where have I traveled to?

Sailed Malta to Djibouti

Panawina Anthropological Expedition
-On the boat we had a decompressor to fill in scuba dive bottles, so I did many dives along the Red Sea. I have 5400 nautical miles experience as crew and I took the boat in as skipper in Djibouti harbour.

Africa – Visited 2x

– Once to villages of my ex’s parents, where I was the first white person in those villages (a kid cried and ran away from me thinking I was a spirit).
– The second time was part of the expedition above.

India – Visited 3x

– The first time I worked with Mother Teresa of Calcutta taking care of orphaned children in 1994. After that I traveled in Sikkim and Darjeeling in the North to Agra.
-Another time I went with friends to Goa.
-The last time I lived 6 months in India while doing volunteer work for Dalits (untouchables) in the field.

US – Visited 3x

-From Miami to Los Angeles in a camper
– Roadtrip through California along Route 1 – Visited an ex in Washington state and Oregon

Europe

– At 18 did interrailing around Europe for a month
– Many trips in Europe each year as family members and friends live in different countries.

South America – Visited 2x

– I went to the Amazon and stayed with the Indians in the jungle in 1983! We (my parents and 5 children) also visited 4 other South American countries by public transport.
– Was in Ecuador in 1998 when there was a state of emergency declared in the country 10 hours just after we arrived. There was an indigenous uprising threatening all the country.

Besides some of the above, I have also traveled solo in many countries including

Belize, Mexico, Australia, Taiwan, Costa Rica and Indonesia.

I have lived in 4 Countries (Spain, the Netherlands, India and the UK).

Where have you Traveled?

I've visited 45 out of 217 countries. That is 20.74%.
Why focus on the Caribbean?

I have already been to 6 Caribbean destinations (Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize).

I love them and I find them very open-minded and focussed on enjoying life. The Caribbean region has a great diversity in terms of in nature, culture, music, foods, etc. I never get bored of it as every Caribbean island and place is so different than the next.

I prefer to focus on a specific area to be able to cover each destination in depth. If you have been in a place for a while, you get to know the area inside out. I like being thorough.

I love to travel, adventure and the Caribbean. I put my 26 yrs solo travel experience to my next adventure which is to hop from island to island to enjoy the Caribbean in the best way.

What is your Photography Gear?

Photography is one of my passions and I have been taking pictures for more than 26 years!

I have had 3 cameras in the past. Currently I have a Canon DSLR 1100D and usually use a 10-22mm lens with it when I travel for landscapes or taking pictures of rooms and interiors. I also have 50mm, 18-55mm and 70mm-150mm lenses.

Is Counting Countries important to you?

I counted the countries I had been in, for the first time in in 2017, when I started thinking about making this blog.

Counting the countries you have traveled to does not make much sense if it is not seen in context. A weekend abroad staying with your friends from university is not the same thing as traveling 6 months through a country by yourself.

It is very common now in travel blogs to want to visit as many countries as possible. They even have created a club of 100. That competition does not really makes sense. It does not show how much you know of their culture, nature, traditions, history and food. It is also bad for the environment, to travel for the sake of counting countries!

I prefer to know regions thoroughly rather than counting countries. Hop Caribbean focuses on traveling around the Caribbean region and islands, but many of those are not independent countries, so don’t count (like Puerto Rico part of the US or Guadeloupe part of France). Travel without increasing the number of countries I have visited is totally fine with me.

Disclaimer: I agree! I have put the number of countries on the site since it is important for people to evaluate how much I have traveled. I don’t think it is an exact correlation but agree can be used as a rough indication.

Quirks

Swimming – Junior championships Spain
Scuba Diving – PADI Certification

Guitar – Play chords  (not notes)

Anthropology/Sociology Degree  – (University of Kent, UK)
International Relations Masters –  (University of Amsterdam, NL)

MCSE Microsoft & Apple Engineer Certification (2001!)

5 Years Online Marketing

 

Countries

Nautical Miles

Nationalities

Languages

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