Traveling in South America, to ME, has changed dramatically in the interim years between my first trip there in 1999-2000 and my trip there in 2012-2013. I noticed some of these changed during my 2009 travels but they stood out stronger more recently.
Music. Though it may be comforting to some, I feel that the influx and dominance of pop music from the U.S.A robs travelers of a potentially greater traveling experience. Rewind. When I arrived in Castro, Chiloe (an island in Chile), many years ago, I happened into a folk fest. At one point in the night both young and old community members danced and sang to a song played by a guitar and beat box player. I later heard this song in a restaurant and learn who the artist was. The song was about apartheid and somehow the entire demographic of this island an ocean away from S. Africa identified with the song. I was very moved. I still am.
Refridgeration. On my first venture into Bolivia I do not recall seeing more than a few units that chilled food to any extent. Chile, Argentina, and even Peru were all chilling food. I hurled countless times in Bolivia. I think after a while there were just no anti’s left in my body. Then I caught a severe chest cold in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I stayed in a hotel where the owners took pit on me. They heard my horrendous coughing and brought me tea. Then there was a knock at the door and upon opening I found a tray of freshly cooked food which I inhaled. Within hours I was barfing wildly. I am a really loud barfer so everyone knew. It’s kind of embarrassing actually. Anyway, it looks like some used refrigerators from the North have made it down there.
English. Other than tourists, I do not recall English being spoken by anyone on my first trip. It was great for me because I wanted to be immersed in Spanish to become fluent. It worked. I became the translator and city guide for each group of travelers I ran with. On my recent venture into Colombia and Ecuador I was really surprised at how much excellent English was spoken. Though I did not get to babble in Spanish as much as I’d have liked it was cool to see that change. I think is a fairly universal change though.
Travelers and attitudes. I am giving the majority of young travelers the thumbs down here. NOT ALL OF YOU because so many of you are awesome but the level of respect I am witnessing now is deplorable. I don’t want to just sit here and whine about it but there are a few rules your mother should have taught you. Treat others homes and belongings as you would your own. Be polite. Say please and thank you. Be respectful you over privileged little prick!
Things that have not changed:
Incessant dog barking. Uuuuugh! OK, I get it. Every dog in Latin America is a guard dog. OK, I have learned to carry earplugs. OK, but sometimes, well, most of the time, earplugs don’t do a damn thing. Well let me tell you a secret for the next time you need to get up early and and there is incessant barking right next to your head. Take a wad of bread, wet it down, crush half a sleeping pill up, and rub it into the bread. Throw it at the dogs head and go to sleep. Easy as 1-2-3. Maybe make sure you change hotels in the morning.
Cocks. I can’t carry a gun around so I am not sure what the hell to do about this phenomenon. It’s a damn nature thing to crow at ungodly hours, non-stop, all the time. Well, low and behold, we have a bit of etymology leaking from this awesome blog now. I know understand why men that are assholes get called “cocks”. Yes, male chicken, I get it. Daaaang!
Dictatorships. When will this stop? I mean these guys just pass the torch and if if its a “democratically” elected government they change term limits to “benefit the people”. It’s not everywhere but it seems like a fairly persistent problem.
Corruption. No country has nothin’ on nobody when it comes to corruption. Show me a country whose government is not corrupt. I bet you 5 it’s not alive if you don’t know it’s name!
It was fun to write this. I am sure there is a thing or two I am forgetting but my memory is fading. I used to not take many pictures while traveling and did not journal for several years. That is not a good idea. Write, shoot, and have memories! Safe travels all!