South America for me is a tinto at 7 in the morning in any place of Colombia, a blessed ritual to bear part of the morning. A herbs emoliente to warm up in the cold Andean places of Peru, for a good start or end of the day. In one of those little stands that are placed strategically from 5 to 7 am and from 6 to 10 pm.
Someone that’s on a hurry and takes a shared tuk tuk bicycle in any corner of Bogotá. A gringo that slips through the alive postcard of locals. Weather-beaten skins, tired hands.
I step up the pace guided by my instinct through the streets of any city, it doesn’t matter which one now. I adapt myself to the rhythm of the crowd in order not to stand out. I lower my eyes but at the same time I am attentive in order not to get lost. I feel observed sometimes in some specific places.
There are other times when I feel in the right place at the right moment. It goes away. I sit down and observe. I observe and sit down. I tend to forget that I’m on the other side of the pond. When crossing borders I take for granted what I’ve seen on the previous country. I reach a point where I may not be surprised about what I see anymore.
I keep on my way. I change from warm clothes to flip-flops in the blink of an eye. South America is like that, varied and peculiar. It’s a give and take. Social inequalities appear on the doorstep, in the daily menu soup and in local news. Surprisingly enough, prejudices by the colour of the skin are still on nowadays.
You learn that classism goes beyond the purchasing power and it gets in the skin colour, especially on those places where there was a virreinato (viceroyalty). What a good legacy Spaniards left there! Differenciate one from the other. Differences. Instead of focusing on what we have in common, we focus on what sepparates us. That’s so typical!
Even if my German-Noruegan appearance confuses people with my identity, my latina hips betray me (or they believe so). You are Argentinian, for sure! Chilean, then?
Landscapes make me feel small, insignificant and even indispensable in a way. A kid touches you and smiles at you, I want to play! I come back to reality. To that typical kindness of their traditional and wise people.
I come back to their typical colours, their markets, traditions, accents and words. Pata means dude in Peru and is a synonym of palta that also means avocado. Manyar in Peru doesn’t mean to eat or anything related. It means to understand while some Ecuadorians use cachar, from the verb to catch.
I dance with words and I actually love it. Arrecho in Venezuela is to be mad while in Colombia it means to be horny—oh, what a subtle difference!—. In order to relate to snobs there are loads of names; pinchado in Colombia, sifrino in Venezuela, añiñado in Ecuador, cheto or pituco in Peru.
There comes a point where I don’t know what kind of Spanish I’m speaking anymore. Is it my own vallekano extremiñazao or a Marcian mix of the language of Cervantes? I adapt words of each place and when I get used to them, vocabulary changes as we move from city or country. Just as me as I sharp my eyes looking for any chance that makes me grow or discover what’s beyond what’s not seen, beyond what they don’t want to show.
That’s what South America is and will be for me.
I leave you with THE video that sums the experience of wandering around South America for six months for words start to vanish.
A bit of inspiration with images of this walked path, to the rythm of music that goes inside of you. Thanks to the path and to everyone that came across it for this experience.
¡Que viva la América!
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