OK. It’s been a month I’ve been back from my nearly 8 month trip around South and Central Americas. The following text is to look at things and various elements I loved the most about the Latin World. Things I have found myself missing pretty much instantly upon my return to Europe. It’s basically a nemesis to this piece, where I’ve listed things I was not to miss from Americas.
1: Colours and Smells
Latin World is the most colourful world I’ve ever seen. The houses are painted with vibrant colours, while the plants are an equal opposition or let’s say a boost, adding another sensation to that visual concert of colours.
Furthermore, IMHO, Latin people are willing to spend some time to add little extra touches of love to their everyday reality, things like placing pots with plants here and there or they just simply sometimes clean up around the house, often including communal areas.
To me, such small touches make Latin World more visually stimulating than many overcrowded historical tourist traps in Europe as well as the expensive modern corporate chrome&glass architecture.
2: Humanity & ❤️
I personally believe that in Latin World, there’s more of something what I would call general togetherness. I’ve witnessed numerous situations of people helping strangers to push a car if it doesn’t start or with lifting heavy loads and so on, as opposed of witnessing such situations in 21st century Europe.
I’m not saying that helping a stranger is considered to be a weird thing in every European country, especially if taking the southern regions into the consideration. Maybe it is the cultural bond between the Latin-based language countries, maybe it’s just about the sun or maybe it’s just being a reasonable human, when it comes to common interactions between people.
I could also possibly be the fact that many people still remember the conditions they’ve lived during the miserable parts of their history, such as various Civil Wars, Military rules or dictatorships and it makes them to appreciate every moment of peace, not taking it for granted. I don’t know what it is. All I know that small deeds is important.
Not to sound overly-romantic, I must re-balance the information I’ve provided so far with other elements and observations I came across. The humanity I’m talking about here doesn’t apply everywhere, especially the tourist industry, an element every non-Latino looking traveller is forced to live with in Americas during his or her journey.
Tourism in Americas is like everywhere else but it’s further boosted by the massive economy-based contrasts and one’s consequent gringo-status. From this point of view, tourist industry is often toxic, predatory and SCAM is also present at no low levels in certain areas.
And last but not least, there’s poverty and crime. Numerous areas are often dangerous to visit even for the locals. In nearly 8 months, I haven’t seen or witnessed anything bad myself but I was mostly moving on the relatively safe gringo trail. I haven’t seen much of the real life of the people whom are suffering from the economical challenges – I mean not many locations on gringo trail are real Latin World – so what do I know?
3: Rhythm and life-loving
I hope that I’ll keep the life-loving fever I’ve caught in Americas for as long as possible and to sustain it, I’m willing to compromise on (some) other things, I am. The way people enjoy life there is tremendous. I can only think of Italians to be able to compete with Latinos, especially with Argentinians.
A bit of dancing goes on at any time somewhere near you. Numerous community or family sessions keep popping up everywhere with collective signing and so on. There are various street musicians and artists, even political rallies before the local elections reminded me of mini carnivals. A lot of life takes place on the streets. It’s a tradition and it’s a beautiful one 🙂
4: No stress
Connected to the previous points, the mañana attitude might not be easy for some visitors, especially when they are from countries where services work like a Swiss clock but when you think about it, unless there’s a fire – why rush? What happens to you if you wait for your bus 30 minutes longer?
5: Fruits and juices
Oh, the juices of Latin Americas. How I enjoyed ordering you, even when I didn’t understand what fruit you made from. And the combined-fruit ones, all the Mayan Waters and all their colourful sisters. You are to be dreamed off. And when they put soda in you, you have bubbles! Heavenly!
And after having few the night before, in the dreams you are materialising next to one’s bad only to leave the dreamer very dissatisfied upon waking up, when realising you were just a dream.
Vale. This doesn’t cover the whole Latin World. For example in Chile they have some sort of an obsession with instant coffee. Bolivia and Ecuador have awful coffee habits either but as soon as you enter Colombia, it gets fantastic. The coffee culture is in the blood. Central Americas as well. Not to mention the buenos Buenos Aires.
Well, European coffee culture is not that bad even if a large portion of its market has been swallowed by chains. But – you know as soon as you enter Italy – you see that things can be taken to another level when it comes how coffee could taste and where you drink it and that is the level of Latin World, after all, coffee is from there.
OK, this is a tricky one. Generally, nature is pretty in many places around the world. I’m not sure if it was the lesser crowds or the dramatic shapes of Patagonia, Iguazú Falls or Bolivian Salt Flats. I’m aware that it’s only my subjective opinion but it was somehow more spectacular if compared to what I’ve ever seen before.
This point probably combines all of the above ones. To be honest, I am not sure what it is with Caribbean. The crystal clear waters with palm trees and reggae attitude towards things? You can see those things in other places as well. Or is it the fact that after a night out everyone say’s hi?
I don’t know what it is. It’s just different. If you are in Panama, you are pretty much able to see both oceans in one day so the difference shows fast. Caribbean is just more cool somehow, it’s just like if it came with some added ingredient. Tell me what is it?
I am aware that quite few of the above points are interconnected. One could argue that I could have just said that there’s a good coffee, tasty fresh juices, pretty nature and that Latinos are generally happier and warmer people with bigger sense for community life. Of course it’s not such a black&white thing. Every place in the world has its portion of ignorant assholes just as well as every place has their own share of nice people but that’s for another debate.
One thing is for sure – small things matter. You know, the good deeds. Small acts of humanity. Only if everyone made just a small effort from time to time. A tiny effort to be nice. Actually it’s easy. Just stop for a second and think about the bigger picture. I know, it’s not always easy, especially if you are having a bad day – but who knows – maybe this is the day you will end up on a receiving end 😉
And if you’re having a really shitty day – because those also happen from time to time – try not being a dick at least. Upon returning to Europe, I observed that not being a dick would also be a massive contribution from some of us 😉
Seriously, being nice is easier than we often think 😉 Just stop for a second… The world needs it right now. I’m sure you know what I mean 😉