I had an aha moment today. This, my last full day in South America, a continent I am in love with. I don't want to leave but I can't stay, it feels like a breakup that has to happen, regardless of what I want. Then it occurred to me, making me stop in my tracks: I have relationships with my countries. All of my issues with men can be explained in regards to countries I've visited. Let's take my home country, the US, for example. It's the safe choice, the good on paper guy. I could live a life in the US and it would be comfortable but not as exciting as say, exotic but risky Turkmenistan, the bad boy. And so, for the past 6 1/2 months in South America, here's a lowdown on my love life as told by countries.
Colombia: maybe you are my first love, at the very least I've been lusting after you since I first stepped into the magical realism world of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 years of solitude, offering a glimpse into romantic Caribbean life. More than ten years later when I finally stepped onto Colombia's terra firma, I was surprised by the depth you offered, not just the Caribbean weather I assumed you were all about but you are cold too! And let's not forget the many different activities and regions you offered: coffee zone, archaeological sites, the salsa dancing, and the jungle which I've yet to explore with you. But there's even more, you even showed me a surprising spiritual side. Oh yes, I was hooked by the sheer variety, depth and total enjoyment you proffered me even as everyone else felt the same, you are just so gregarious and charming.
But 10 weeks into our courtship, I got my usual itch and felt there must be something better out there, other hotties I could get to know as in the grass is greener. And fear of all fear, what if I get stuck and spend my whole time with you, my first option? But a little reality check in the form of your 90 day visa forced my decision to leave.
So on to Ecuador, my rebound relationship. I regretted leaving Colombia as soon as I crossed the border, things were immediately more difficult and traditional, more reserved.
Where was the fun, warm liveliness I had come to love yet obviously taken for granted? I was sick and cold and your high altitude just kept kicking my butt and the weather was gray and rainy. Ecuador, you clearly are not trying to win me over. So we did end up having a few good times (Quilotoa, Banos and Cuyabeno, I won't forget you) but we only lasted for 3 weeks.
I immediately fledinto Peru's arms. You might have noticed a pattern here, I go from relationship to relationship, never taking time to be single, but perhaps this topic warrants a future blog post ;-). I warmed up to Peru quickly, had some massive highs (quite literally as in the altitude, ahem) and some massive lows like the earthquake which ended up bringing us closer together. I flirted with going out with Bolivia and in the end chose to have a 2 week affair with Chile before running back to Peru. Our 9 week long courtship ended with a bang in the hot and steamy Amazon.
Which brings us to the present predicament. After another blissful three weeks with you, Colombia, I don't want to leave....yet again.
And so I've decided the best thing about having relationships with countries is I'm the only one who does the leaving. But please don't break my heart....let me back someday, Colombia. And I will try to not be jealous when I see pictures of you having fun with others. After all, this is an open relationship.