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14th November 2013

The L.A complex

Sophie on the diverse range of travellers she met on her journey across Latin America

So I just returned from travelling in Latin America in my post-graduation ‘gap year’. Did I find myself? No. Did I write my ‘coming of age’ Bildungsroman? Unfortunately not. Did I return all spiritual, with my hair in dreadlocks and wearing mala beads? Thank goodness I did not. I did however manage to meet, in my heady travels, an assorted array of peregrinators. Latin America is not like Costa del Thailand, in so much as one can encounter a more motley, diverse cross-section of those who travel. They differ somewhat from those audaciously urinating in the sea at the full moon party. This is probably due to the fact that the region is somewhere your mum tells you to avoid because of the dangerous likelihood of being kidnapped by drug traffickers. Thus, none but the brave (and marginally more interesting) bother. So let’s evaluate these travellers I met along this less-travelled road…

The Hispanophile: They adore anything and everything Latin American, which is completely valid, so long as they don’t impose their veneration upon you! This is naturally impossible for them, as the very nature of the Hispanophile is fanaticism; their compulsion to preach to you is inescapable. Their obsession is exemplified through patronising questions like “have you ever heard of something called Ceviche?” – these Latin American cultural references are apparently esoteric, and only the Hispanophile have access to this sacred information. Moreover, they try to out-Latin you, by code switching to Spanish in a conversation with predominantly English native speakers, merely to prove that their Spanish is exalted above everyone else’s.

Affability rating: 5/10

The pretentious competitive traveller: These travellers try to eclipse your experiences by visiting obscure places. They will pose questions to you within seconds of your meeting, like “Have you been to Ushuaia?” When you answer in the negative, as the competitor suspects, they exhibit a unique look of mingled conceit and pity, to leave you in no doubt that you are not a real traveller – you haven’t been to these arcane places, therefore they are the superior explorer. What is profoundly irritating about these characters is their travel tales of mythic proportions to undermine accounts of your adventures – cue physically impossible, preposterous story, peppered with “what a legend” and other intensely exasperating platitudes and epithets. How can anyone surpass anecdotes that are complete fabrications, without descending to the depths of the fictional falsifier? It is beyond the bounds of possibility, a fact the competitive traveller is fully aware, securing his title as the supreme voyager.

Affability rating: 3/10

Sinfully boring cokeheads: These individuals are the most boring people in the history of civilisation because they possess a single note; they exclusively and monotonously drone on about cocaine, and devour cocaine, ignorantly complacent that they’re funding Farc rebels with their habit. These characters are so dull they make Latin America boring, which is no mean feat! But they’re really nice guys, with big hearts! Their good nature has plenty of room in their bodies to blossom, thanks to their loss of appetite induced by excessive cocaine consumption!

Affability rating: 0/10

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