23 September 2018
First of all, I’ll address the elephant in the room. It’s been 8 months since my last post… I know, I know. So much for being accountable.
After 8 months, you can imagine I have a lot to say, but I’ll try to keep it as concise as possible. This post is about our time in South America where we spent our first 4 months.
South America. Unfortunately I’m going to have to be downer and say right of the bat, we found it underwhelming. We can partly blame ourselves for being ignorant and not making a real effort to learn Spanish, and boy, you need Spanish on this continent!
I had these huge expectations to see amazing things, meet tonnes of cool people and be musically inspired by exposing myself to the exciting flavoursome latin beats. In reality, we saw a few cool things. The Salt Flats in Bolivia were genuinely a highlight, and we tended to love the places that were barely mentioned in the Lonely Planet, charming places that had not been overhyped and overrun by tourism. We met a few lovely people too, but it was not what we had envisioned. Oh and I learned pretty quickly that the latin genres of Salsa and Reggaeton are not for me.
I’m not going to mention everything we did as it will surely bore you. However, here are the countries we visited in those first 4 months; Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia.
Most of the time we stayed in hostels to take the social option, however the reality is that most hostels were empty. There were occasions where Alida and I were the ONLY people in the hostel (which would have capacities of up to 50 beds). As for the culture itself, yes they’re known for being passionate sexy party animals, but when you peel all that away we felt an undertone of very heavy energy. It often felt like the locals saw us as burdens, perhaps a representation of wealth they will never have, and rather than seeing us as tourism cash cows, we often felt resented. This is a stark contrast to our favourite travelled country, Cambodia. Whilst the people there don’t have much, and they know they don’t have much, they make the most out of their situation. The land of cheeky grins is how I’d describe them, all despite suffering huge societal tragedies so recently in their history.
South America also put a strain on Alida and I, and our plans. In Bolivia, Alida was looking for flights to Asia (Cambodia, in fact!) as in her view, she would rather go somewhere she could enjoy herself rather than wasting her time. On the other hand, I wanted to stay. Not because I was having a ball, but because I didn’t want to be a quitter. I wanted to soldier through and tick off all that I had set out to do. After all travelling is about character building and that frequently comes from tough situations, not easy ones.
We made a compromise and skipped part of the continent and shortened our time there. By June we were very ready to fly to Mexico.
Now, as far as personal growth, did I get anything out of it? Not really I hate to say. Musically, did I get inspired? I did write a few songs over there, but in all honesty, not really. Turns out Latin music isn’t for me. It didn’t resonate with me and I could not dance to it! (And I consider myself an alright dancer). I wasn’t able to become very inspired through meaningful personal experiences or the local music scene, which was very disappointing for me.
So there you have it. I know you wanted to hear funny stories, inspiring anecdotes and to live vicariously through my adventure, so I’m sorry to be a negative Nancy, but that’s just honestly how our experience was. Please note that this is only our opinion. A language barrier also played a huge part, so if you do go to South America, be sure to take some Spanish classes beforehand – it’ll take you a long way.
Do not fret though people! The next post will be about Mexico, and just quietly, the mood changes drastically.