The road to South America started a few years ago. It was an adventure pipedream my pal Celeste and I talked about. At first, we thought we should go for a couple of weeks. Then we thought about a month. Then we thought about three. Time passed and the plan dropped away, but the dream didn’t.
At the beginning of 2012 I found myself in a special place: No house bond, no debt (just the credit card, now deep in the black), I am young (at heart, at least) and free. I have been haunted by a sense of the out-there, the distant, the sheer act of travelling (so beautifully put by Paul Theroux in his novel The Great Patagonian Express: “Travel is a vanishing act, a solitary trip down a pinched line of geography to oblivion.”)
Apart from these justifications, it just felt like the right time to leave after 12 years in an admittedly magical city, which has been in turn kind and criminally cruel.
I started saving and systematically informed those around me that, yes, this is happening.
Why South America? Isn’t it obvious? The place has been calling me for years. My dad’s been there twice and my mom once, and their stories and photos are endlessly fascinating.
South America’s natural diversity is, literally, unmatched. Deserts of sand and ice; forests, of the rain and cloud variety; mountains – among the highest in the world; rivers, lakes, glaciers.
Culturally, I mean, what do you want me to say? The diversity here is also unmatched. South America’s people are tenacious, warm, generous, friendly, funny, passionate.
South America’s city offerings will probably make it difficult to leave. I already don’t know if I’ll be able to abandon the urban sprawl of Sao Paulo. Buenos Aires is a seductress with a particularly stunning set of skills. Santiago is compared to Cape Town. La Paz just looks fucking awesome.
I’m incredibly interested in the politics of the continent. Latin America, most of it, is doing things its own way, and I have immense respect for that. I don’t think their challenges are that different from ours in Africa. A legacy of colonialism has left the place with massive divides between rich and poor, but they are positive. Education problems, drugs, ghettos, social unrest … these are South American problems, and these are South African problems. I can’t wait to see first-hand how these dynamic societies tackle their issues. I’d love to return with a sense of how we can apply their solutions to our own scenario.
(I had a friend in high school, George, who was from Venezuela. I always thought that was totally bizarre. I mean, who actually comes from Venezuela (and then ends up in Kimberley)? He helped me translate a Gypsy Kings song in Spanish once. Bless.)
Without fail, people ask: “Why South America?” These reasons popped into my head in a matter of a few seconds.
- Perpetual motherfuckin’ lightning
- Guns into guitars
- El Camino del Muerte
- Cuevas de Mármol
- Gocta (shh, don’t tell)
- Buenos Aires
- Llamas yo!
South America, while becoming increasingly popular, is also fairly off the beaten track. There’s certainly enough space to get lost in, should you want to. And I want to. It seems to offer a healthy balance of metro luxuries and rural roughing-it by-the-skin-of-your-teeth opportunities for change.
It’s hard to answer the “Why South America” question. I uhmd and ahd about this blog post the most.
To me, the reasons are self-evident.