By Holly Thomas
South America is really cool.
In fact, it is almost TOO cool. I’ve been there for the last six months and I’m a bit worried about the pressure of being creative now that I am home. When you’re in Ecuador or Bolivia or Peru or Colombia, you see things every day that send your mind in a million different directions simultaneously. It was so easy to have ideas out there. I guess because you’re in a constant state of awe, every place I went to was like reading a great first page of a completely different genre novel. Makes sense – new sights lead to new ideas.
Here is a list of the kind of things I mean:
- Once, in a market in Cusco, a woman was holding a baby in a blanket. I leant over to have a look, but it was actually a big old hunk o meat. Like a full on animal leg in a blanket. I also once lifted a pot lid in a local woman’s kitchen and there was a head in it, I’m not sure what animal it belonged to.
- Portuguese is a hilarious language. They add “ue” to the end of everything, so Facebook is pronounced FaceyBookey and Ping Pong becomes Pingy Pongy. You get the gist.
- In Arequipa, the rubbish trucks play an instrumental version of ‘Under the Sea’ from The Little Mermaid. Like our ice cream vans but way cooler and less creepy.
- In Colombia Uber is illegal. So if you catch one you have to sit in the front seat and pretend to be mates with the driver. The one that dropped me off at the airport told me his name was Luis, and made me say that really loudly several times when we got out the car. I was momentarily worried it was an elaborate ruse so he could kiss me goodbye, but he settled for an amicable handshake.
- In Isla Rosario there’s a plane wreck under the sea that you can see when you are snorkelling. I’m not sure I have ever felt so geographically close to death.
- My 22-year-old cousin thought that the abbreviation for sadomasochism was M&S, which still makes me think of people being aroused by a sandwich selection or antipasti skewers or something else middle class.
- In 1579 a convent was set up in Arequipa. Once women were in there, they were never allowed out.
- I overheard enough conversations between stereotypical travellers to fuel a few great book scenes:
“Tantric sex has its ups and downs. Its swings and its roundabouts. For instance, it can be really great to explore new things. But also uncomfortable when your partner has their hands on another man’s penis”.
- In Bolivia you don’t pay taxes unless your house is finished – so most people live in unfinished houses.
- Australians call flip flops ‘thongs’ and that is really gross.
- In Colombia I saw an unusual window display in a butchers. A severed pigs head with sunglasses on.
A lot more things too. But I have to save some, otherwise I’ll have nothing to talk about come September 12th.
I was worrying about how to be inspired, once I got home and was looking at the same things I had been looking at six months ago. But these last few days, the sun has been shining and I just saw a man jogging in a beanie hat! I’ve suddenly remembered how wicked London is. I think you just have to actively decide to be interested and interesting. Then hopefully the ideas will follow.