10 things I love about Latin America

This place can be exasperating, but it is also beautiful, chaotic, charming. Here´s a small selection of reasons to love Latin America…

1. Everyone says hello to each other, all the time. They wish strangers good travels and happy eating; it´s such a cheerful and friendly way to interact.

2. The weather. Although I´m often uncomfortable, dramatic weather is definitely my preference. Give me blazing sun and tropical downpours over grey and drizzling anyday.

3. Not knowing what´s going on. This is often extremely annoying, but it´s also the start of all weird stories and hilarious escapades. Trying to decode a different culture´s behaviour is very amusing, as is the recurring realisation that you just cannot understand. I´ve had this everywhere I´ve been, and there´s nothing like it for reminding you that you are a stranger here.

4. Religions; in Latin America, religion is gaudy, celebratory and a heady mix of conservative Christianity and indigenous beliefs. It´s a lot more fun to look at and the stories surrounding religion are some of the most interesting.

5. Everything is more colorful. Parks, hostels, llamas´decorative headwear…it´s like an expression of life and certainly appeals to my tastes.

6. People know how to relax here. Walk slower, sit longer – no-one does a good lazy day in the public park like Latinos.

7. The parenting. Children play happily in the street or the countryside without the watchful eyes of an adult. They spend their time outside, with friends and siblings and no constant, mistrustful warnings of the various dangers they could come across. I think this is very healthy.

8. Animals are part of everyday life – pigs on the road, on the beach, dogs everywhere, horses, chickens…while more exotic wildlife is never too far away. We saw a man carrying a rabbit along in his hand. By a main road. Of course we have no idea why but it made a wonderful image!

9. Being talented and enthusiastic about dance is something to be proud of, not endured with reluctance and cynicism.

10. The soft drinks! Some people like to taste the local beers or wines of each country…my tastes are more teetotal. Different countries´soft drinks are by turn comedic, delicious and downright strange. My favourite so far remains Guarana from Brazil, but there´s still a few countries to go…

Nicaragua!

The internet here is really slow, so no photos this time unfortunately! I´m uploading them to Facebook so I don´t lose them, and will transfer some over as soon as I can.

We´ve been in Nicaragua just over a week now, and really enjoying it. Granada is a beautiful city, and after the relative isolation of Isla Ometepe it was wonderful to have multiple restaurants to choose from!

We also stayed at a wonderful lake, where we kayaked and swam all day. One of the best spots I´ve been to.

Now we´re in Leon, which I think I like even more, although it looks a lot grubbier. We went to the cinema for the first time – there was a Cameron Diaz film in English, with Spanish subtitles – and today went volcano boarding! Cerro Negro is incredible; the rocks at the top are still warm, even though it hasn´t erupted in ten years or so. You can also still see smoke rising from the crater. Hiking up in the wind, with boards strapped to our backs like Buzz Lightyear, was quite challenging, but luckily it didn´t take too long. Unfortunately on the way down I fell off quite spectacularly – although the guide insisted its not that hard to balance, and that even if you do fall off you won´t keep tumbling down – I did. As I went spinning down the slope the thoughts that went through my mind were; what a liar! and what if I never stop? It´s hard to think straight in such circumstances.

Emily enjoyed her trip more, although she wished she´d gone faster!! Definitely won´t be trying that again. Even before I fell, it was more stressful than fun. It´s a pretty steep slope and you can travel very fast.

Oh, I also got my hair cut. It´s much cooler now!