So from South East Asia (SEA) to South America (SA) and my my is it different. Where to start? Well for starts, the weather, from plus 30 degrees in SEA to 10 degrees in SA. It´s bloody cold and hell it reminds me of London – of course it wouldn´t be a problem if I had packed clothes for such weather but I did not. Trouble is whilst I did research how to travel around SA and what to see, I didn´t really consider the weather too much. It is their autumn here, winter in a few months, brilliant. On the plus side, it isn´t peak season so fewer tourists.
Language – of course, Spanish is spoken predominately here if not Portuguese. I´ve been lucky enough to find some people who speak English, some locals, some travellers etc but on the whole, people don´t speak English here, why should they right? My Spanish is pretty much non-existence, well at the moment at least, abysmal I know, so here´s the aim, to try and learn enough Spanish to get by here before I return home.
I did factor in the fact that I speak next to no Spanish but was that going to stop me from travelling to this part of the world? Hell no. In the week that I´ve been here, I´ve been asked if I was scared to come, truthfully yes, a little but again that wasn´t going to stop me. I met a Mexican guy who said he wouldn´t go to Germany unless he could speak German. Fair play but for me, I think, what´s the worse that could happen? You end up in some situation where neither of you understand but then something has to give. My father raised me to believe I was capable of anything and whilst growing up I always questioned this, hell most of the times I didn´t think I was anywhere close, the older I get, the more I hear his voice and the more I think, sure I can at least try and do this.
It does come down to belief, belief in oneself, belief that no matter what, you will be okay, you will get by, no matter how shitty the situation, you will make it. I have this belief and it increases ever time I make it to another town. I´ve had some very interesting conversations, me talking in English and well most locals replying in Spanish. Initially I didn´t understand anything and so it didn´t matter what they said but as the week has gone on, I´m beginning to guess what is being said, still doesn´t mean that I can reply of course, but it´s something – right? I´ve had many a conversations with people pointing at things and hell it helps.
People say mis-communication is bad, it may well be but what´s worse is no communication, trust me, going to a country, not speaking the language, that right there means you have no way of articulating your opinion or expressing your feelings. It´s crappy to say the very least but then, thankfully you meet people who can speak some English and your back in the game. Yes, it´s not ´proper´ English but it´s something.
I´ve managed to meet more locals at hostels here then I did in SEA. Here many of the locals travel around, some taking a break but many simply working or travelling away from home. They are intrigued to hear that I´m travelling solo – alone and that I decided to come to a continent, a country where I don´t speak the language. Now, the amazing thing with these people is the conversations you have, listening to their outlook on life, having a laugh every time they mis-use a word so instead of skiing we had skying and instead of the godfather we had the grandfather. Now, yes I can work out what they mean to say but what they actually say is so much funnier.
Travelling solo, meeting all these amazing people is all fair and well but it´s only for the moment, the one/two days and then you move on. It´s such a shame because half of the time you meet people that you really click with and hell it would be great to get to know them more, share another drink, another trip but everything is limited. So, you´re forever introducing yourself to new people and no I´m not bored or fed-up of this yet but I get the feeling that I will be.
Another thing I researched about SA was how safe it was travelling around alone. Now most websites, people I met etc told me to be aware as it isn´t as easy or safe to travel around like SEA say. I did give this some thought but again I didn´t let this put me off. My father always told me to be fearful of no one other than god, easier said than done I know but again I hear his voice when making such decisions and he´s right. I will ensure I do everything possible to keep myself safe but if I´m gonna get mugged then there´s little more I can do to prevent it.
I believe we all have choices, for everything we do/don´t do in life. We make these choices everyday and that ultimately shapes who we are and where we get to in life. I believe we had little choice when we were born, we didn´t exactly chose to be human beings for instance, perhaps we would have chosen this if we had been given the choice. In the same way, I believe we have little choice when we die, we come unexpectedly and we go unexpectedly. I believe these two things are pre-destined but everything in the middle, our entire life, is down to us, where we work, where we live, it´s on us but if tomorrow my time is up and I´m going to get run over, it will happen and there is very little I can do about it.
So I chose to see something different. I decided to get away from squat toilets, motorbikes, roosters, tuk tuks and rickshaws. From watching monks to seeing nuns, from massive, ancient temples to beautiful churches and cathedrals. The landscape is different, no never ending rice fields, instead you have corn fields. Here you have markets but no night markets. Sleeping buses here so much better, seats are amazing and you get served a hot meal! Now there´s something SEA could encompass. I´ve also managed to cook in hostels here, after six months, which is great.
The one big similarity of SA and SEA is this chilled vibe. I walked in on a peaceful demonstration to legalise weed. Masses of people took to the street, you could smell the weed, many had dreadlocks and you could hear Bob Marley. Reggae has spread to ever corner of the Earth. Here people get high and well for the most part there is a hippie culture, all about peace and love. Yes there is a financial situation, there is unemployment but there is calmness, relaxed atmosphere which well we don´t really have back in London.
All said and done, I´m lucky to be here, I get that, I´m happy to have come this fair and hell I´m thankful. I get people feeling envious, I do, but here´s the thing I´m not married to the love of my life or in a amazing relationship, I´m not in a dream job or getting a promotion, I´m not a entrepreneur or business owner and I´m not a home owner. So yes whilst I´m out here, travelling, experiencing something amazing, many of friends back home and people that I´ve met along the way, all have something amazing too, something they wouldn´t want to give up, something they know is priceless. So here´s to all the amazing things/people we have in our life, to all our loved ones, to those that make our day special, to those that give us that much more, without whom we wouldn´t get to where we wanted to, without whom I wouldn´t be sat here today.