Monday, July 28, 2008

Touched by the spirit of South America

Maté – Flamenco – and the language
Like the guanaco and llamas which run free in the Andes, South America has a free spirit of its own. It draws you back.
This was my second visit.
But when I returned home, I was still caught in its spell.
So I ordered some maté - it’s the traditional drink which is passed around in a gourd and drunk through a silver straw.
Basically it’s a green leafy drink - like tea, but less caffeine than coffee or tea.
The drink in the photo is quite different. It’s made from Coca leaves (the basic ingredient for cocaine), it's a stimulant and given to tourists to combat altitude sickness in the Andes.

I signed up to learn the Fandango – a lot of foot stamping and heel tapping.
I’m also enrolled in conversational Spanish – the South American version is not very different to that spoken in Spain. In fact in the Barcelona region, the Spaniards speak Catalan and not Spanish!
And I have pulled out an old poncho which I’ve had for a long time.
In the freezing Tasmanian mornings, I don’t feel out of place.
Photo: Guanaco in the Andean foothills (Chile)
Photo: Coca leaf tea - and yes, I did get a touch of altitude sickness

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