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Category Archives: Literature

The most momentous book exchange of the whole trip!

The clock is ticking with only five days left in South America!  It’s bittersweet to be leaving this continent we’ve grown to love so much, but knowing that more adventures await further north!  We got lucky to find Literar-té in Taganga, the biggest book exchange we’ve seen in South America!  Finding the shop is kind of an adventure.  We saw the place mentioned in several blogs but none of them gave directions on how to get there!  So we decided to follow suit and not ruin the fun of the search.  Don’t worry, you’ll find it if you keep your eyes open!

One dog-eared, over-highlighted copy of South America on A Shoestring plus 4,000 COP ($2) got us a similarly well-loved copy of Central America on A Shoestring.  We have our issues with Lonely Planet’s accuracy, but we’re not the type of travelers to go totally guidebook-less.  It’s always a good reference when read with a grain of salt.  Five more days, Colombia, than adelante a Panama!  Is it just me or has this adventure gone way too fast!

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1/3 Highlights

As of January 27, we’ve been in South America for three months!  That’s about 1/3 of the total time we’ll be down here (assuming money lasts) so it’s quite a milestone.  Sometimes I feel like we’ve been on the road forever and other times it feels like it was just yesterday we landed in Medellin.

To celebrate our 1/3-iversary, let’s list some fun stats!

Days in South America:  95

Dollars Spent (not including flight): $3005

Countries Visited: 3

Books Read: 8 (Carrie), 7 (Zach)

Number of Laundromat Visits (not including hand-washing): 3

Bacterial Infections: 1 each

Things We’ve Lost
iPhone (Carrie)…The Infamous Bird Poop Incident
Water bottle (Zach)…just left it at a Couchsurfer’s house
Glasses (Carrie)…stupid lake
Sunglasses (Zach)…stupid ocean
2 rings (Carrie)…two separate places
1 shirt (Carrie)…I think this girl on our first WWOOF farm thought it was hers because she always wore orange!
Dr. Bronners soap (Zach)…”It’ll turn up!” he says
Umbrella…who knows???

And now, since it is Awards Season, we hereby present to you….

The 1/3-iversary Superlatives…a.k.a. the Best Of “So Far”

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), llapingachos (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee

Most Missed Food: Graeter’s ice cream and peanut butter (Carrie), Mexican food and cheddar cheese (Zach)

Most Missed Event: holidays at home

Most Missed Activities:  watching Oscar films (Carrie), cooking/baking, snowboarding

Most Annoying Phenomenon: loud music and movies on buses

Favorite Activity: The Inca Trail

Nicest People: Colombians

Favorite City: Cuzco

Most Times We Said “What a Crazy Place!”: Huacachina

Best Beach: Canoa

Best Shopping: Otavalo

Best Person We’ve Met: Oso the dog

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Authentic Cultural Experience/Cutest Kids and Puppies: WWOOFing at Finca Campo Bello

Biggest Party/Least Authentic Cultural Experience: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador

Goals for the Next 2/3rds of the Journey

1. Save money and get ahead on our budget in Bolivia!

2. Find a WWOOF experience where we actually get to farm!

3. Do more filming!

4. Improve our Spanish!

I know, I know, we really need to stop losing things and wash our clothes more!  Do you like this silly little superlative round-up?  Should we do one again after 2/3rds?

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

Seven years after Open Veins of Latin America was published, the author, Eduardo Galeano, added a postword chapter.  In it, he summed up the book, stating “This book was written to have a talk with people.  A non-specialized writer wanted to tell a non-specialized public about certain facts that official history, history as told by conquerors, hides or lies about…Open Veins has its roots in reality but also in other books…which have helped us recognize what we are so as to know what we can be, and see where we come from so as to reckon more clearly where we’re going.  The reality and those books show that underdevelopment in Latin America is a consequence of development elsewhere, that we Latin Americans are poor because the ground we tread is rich, and that places privileged by nature have been cursed by history.”  (Emphasis added by me.)

I can’t sum up the book better than that, of course.  It’s  an unapologetic history of the “pillage of a continent”, from the discovery of the new world by Columbus all the way up to the manipulative IMF banking practices and extensive US interference of the 1970s.  Galeano doesn’t hide his leftist leanings but the book is chock full of example after example that make him impossible to disagree with.  Imperialism, in all the ways it’s manifested itself throughout history, ruined Latin America and its effects will continue to be felt for centuries.

Has anyone else read this?  What do you think of that quote?

Reading List

I always try to read and research a lot about places before I go there.  I think it’s important to read more than just the travel guides and actually delve into the history and literature of places I’ll be traveling.  It gives me a lot more insight and helps me not feel like an idiot when talking to locals.  Here are the books I’ve already read or plan to read in preparation for this trip:

I read this in the fall and hope to read more of Marquez's books.

This is the book that Hugo Chavez famously gave Obama as a gift. It's supposedly a really critical history of imperialism in Latin America. I can't wait to read it.

Zach is reading this now but I call it next! Maybe I'll make him write a book report on here when he's done.

I found all of these books used on amazon.com for a couple dollars each when I searched "South America"

And of course the two essentials:

This will be our Bible.

I'm trying to do one chapter per week of this book.

 That’s what I’ve got so far!  Please leave any recommendations in the comments!