The short version: this is a travel blog about Latin America.
Got it. Now the long version. Why do you like traveling?
What is so special about travelling? The American technology writer Steven Johnson actually sums it up very nicely in his book Farsighted.
‚Change like this slows down time‘, a friend wrote. When you‘re in your routine, frequenting the same old haunts, time seems to accelerate
‘We experienced more in that year than we had in the previous ten. We met some wonderful people, saw some amazing places and did some incredible things. It was awe-inspiring and beautiful and frustrating and scary and exciting – it was everything but dull’
So why this fascination for Latin America?
Unfortunately I do have the tendency to drift off the beaten track. No guided tours for me usually. No city centre. I prefer to take the subway to the edge of a metropolis and walk around endlessly, to get a feel for how the locals live. Or I go to a small village like Xilitla, two hundred miles north of Mexico City, to immerse myself into a rain forest and a crazy surrealist art garden in the middle of it.
Hence, where most Europeans travel to Asia or the USA when they go abroad, I am more attracted to Central America and South America. Because it is a road less travelled. Because it seems to be a way-of-life that is so different from ours. Because everyone in my surroundings was sceptical about it. Mostly because they hadn’t visited these countries themselves, as was the case with Russia. So just as I wanted to find out in 2016 whether Putin and his Russians were such bad people, I wanted to find out the same in the Americas.
And as I tend to slide off the beaten track, I also try to be more than a travel blog. With my journalistic background I at least try to go beyond describing what you can do in these countries, and also paint stories about the economic, political and societal background of these heartlands.
I embarked on my first long trip from January to April 2019. Travelled from Mexico gradually down to Costa Rica. That made me long for more, so I embarked on another long trip during the pandemic, from September 2020 to January 2021 in Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia. Another pandemic trip followed in December 2021 and January 2022 to Colombia. Chile, high on my wishlist, was finally visited for two entire months in December 2022 and January 2023. Let’s hope more trips will follow. Chile is the next target on my horizon.
Where does the name of the blog come from?
Well, I am a music fan. So when I started contemplating this blog and a name for it, obviously I initially thought of the more SEO-friendly (and sensible) options: www.travellatinamerica.com, www.centralamericaguide.com, etcetera. You can do the math 🙂
But that was too unpersonal. So I just followed my heart. And this phrase just kept popping up in my head.
Into the arms of America
It is of course the last line of the song Bullet the blue sky, by U2. I am a long-time fan of course, but this phrase perfectly describes on one hand the love for the continent, and the ambivalent feelings that come with it. Because Bono, the lead singer, went with his wife to El Salvador and Nicaragua in 1986 to personally experience the proxy war the USA was fighting there, officially as a battle against communism.
So, yes, Latin America can be violent. It can be difficult. But it also has a welcoming, warm, beating heart. You just have to indulge and let go. Into the arms of America.