Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Back in DC

I arrived in DC in March, and after such an extended trip out of the area, I am back to stay.  I have learned and experienced so much about Latin America.  My trip took me through the Southern U.S., Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, where I ended up staying for two and a half years, employing myself principally by teaching English to the cariocas, or inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro.  I also helped folks rent out their rooms and apartments to soccer lovers coming in from all over the world for the World Cup.
One of my original objectives was to travel from my home in the DC area to Brazil and to see what I guessed would be a gradual transition from the American culture to eventually the Brazilian culture.  Indeed, as I moved South, I experienced the culture become less and less American and more and more Brazilian.  The biggest change was from the US to Mexico, with Mexican culture being sharply different than American as the language, the food, the beliefs and customs being very distinctly Latin.  However, Mexico, compared to countries further South, did share more with the U.S., being a large country with a large economy heavily influenced by the U.S. economy.  One characteristic of Central American countries is that because they are so small, the feel as though they are struggling a bit to retain their cultural and economic autonomy in the presence of such powerful economies as the U.S.
Finally, when I arrived in Colombia, it felt as though the country felt more autonomous.  It is large enough to support itself culturally and economically.  Its culture, compared to Panama and countries North, finally felt more South American and even more Brazilian.  Sensuous, confident, tactile, with autonomous dance, musical and cultural traditions that persist.
Ecuador and Peru actually felt like a distinct region--this was the original Incan territory, of the high Andes territory.  I actually loved this region for its calm, peaceful, and welcoming people, who were at the same time cosmopolitan in their outlook.  Especially those in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, there is a very Ecuadorian way of viewing the world, a view with is actually very contemporary, in touch with the latest world cultural and technological trends.
In the next post, I will talk about Peru and Brazil.