Change Yourself…Change The World.

Goodbye, Goodbye Latin America
March 7, 2010, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Plain Mary Jane

It has been three months since I’ve left South America. I would say that by now I’ve begun processing the place, but to be honest, I don’t think I had an experience that properly qualified me to even begin processing it.

I think that Latin America is a good introduction to traveling. If I could do it all over again, I would have chosen to start traveling through Latin America before heading over to Asia. However, I did this backwards, so it’s too late.

Here’s the thing: Asia is crazy. Asia is intense. Asia is jam-packed full of loud noises, strange smells, and people, people EVERYWHERE. Asia is IN YOUR FACE. Asia will kick your ass the moment you step off of the plane, and will continue to beat you down with an array of unforgettable experiences until the moment you leave the place.
Latin America is very, very different. Yes, there are people. There are cars, there are houses, there is food, there are all of the necessities and basic essentials that you will see in every country. But Latin America does not LEAP out at you. Latin America is subtle. Latin America is bursting with flavor, but it’s all in the aftertaste.

And so little old me, who had grown accustomed to this ‘in-your-face’ kind of traveling, shied away from the subtlety of Latin America. I went through an array of amazing experiences; I did a homestay with a Costa Rican family for a month, I learned Spanish, I lived in Paraguay for two months and traveled all around the country taking interviews with natives, and I traveled to Panama, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru on top of all of this. But I didn’t FEEL the culture in the same way that I did in Asia. I felt that while I had many cultural experiences and interactions, I didn’t fully appreciate or understand the significance behind them in the way that I did while in Asia.

Transversely, my integration into Asia was much slower than in Latin America. I knew that I had ample time to wander around and understand Asia, and so I took my sweet time. I read all kinds of books about India, Nepal, Thailand, Turkey. I questioned what social services in these countries really meant. And I went on an array of experiences with Carpe Diem and with my school that challenged a lot of local traditions and customs. My head was always on level with what was going on around me.
Latin America was more of a solo trip. I had a plan to go in there, learn about micro-finance, and enjoy the sights while I was there. I plunged headfirst into the continent with no prior knowledge or experience, and hit the ground running. I didn’t have the TIME that I wished I had to fully experience the things in front of me, because there was always a thousand things to do: my current research project, learning spanish, turning in papers, potential job and internship opportunities for the future, and onwards. I went into Buenos Aires, Argentina armed with a laptop and a recording device to transcribe all of my interviews from Paraguay, rather than spending my time REALLY appreciating the city. I spent 5 days in a room on Easter Island furiously writing away my research project instead of exploring the volcanoes or various maori statues. I arrived in Peru exhausted and ready to collapse, thinking about nothing much except my plane ride back to the United States the next day.

Now it seems like I may be going off of a complain here, and I’m surely not: I know that I had unbelievable, unforgettable experiences that SO many don’t have the fortune of doing. I am truly, incredibly blessed. I can’t believe that I have had the opportunity to travel to seven countries within a mere four months, and have that count for my schooling.
Merely the point I’m trying to make here is that because of these factors, my experience in Latin America was not as potent culturally, or as significant as my experience was in Asia. And while I wish that one day I really WILL go to Latin America when I have the time to experience all that it can offer, my heart still pines to go back to Asia.

My senior year ends in a few months, and then I’m graduated. Let’s hope that I can keep the traveling up after that.

Latin America: You were beautiful. You were magical. I am sorry that I couldn’t fully appreciate all that you had to offer. I dearly hope that I can come back under different circumstances, to truly know all that you have to offer.

Much love,

2 Comments so far
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Happy Birthday Brit, A little late!!Bet you had s a great day! Hope so!Love Auntie Deb & Family!

Comment by Auntie Debbie

[…] Paraguay in the past year. When I left South America last time (before the Peace Corps), I wrote a post about how even though I had spent a few months here, I didn’t feel like I knew a lot of the […]

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