I have just returned from an incredible journey to Honduras and Nicaragua. I find myself drawn to the Latin countries not because they are some of the cheapest countries in the world to travel to, but, perhaps because of the spirit of the people who live there. They are born into extreme poverty, constantly reminded by the steady flow of tourists, of a life they dare only to dream of.
After a tiring two day journey home, a couple of chicken buses and an eleven hour flight, I arrive home exhausted. I ditch my backpack inside the front the door and stumble up to the bathroom for a shower before bed. The bathroom sparkles with cleanliness, and as if anticipating my arrival, offers a soothing shower with a generous stream of constant hot water. This will be the first hot shower, and the cleanest bathroom, I have seen in a month. I wander to the kitchen and open the fridge, yes it is empty except for a shelf full of fancy sauces and condiments, but I know with little effort that it will be full the next day.
How easy life seems as I glance around the room taking in the spoils of a life well lived. So why am I drawn to these poverty stricken countries, where each day your next meal is speculated, not taken for granted? Yes it's the rich history and colourful landscape, yes it's the Latin music so vibrant and heartfelt, yes it's food prepared in soulful yet dirty and barren kitchens, yes it's the sea and it's many bountiful gifts, but it's really, the people. It's...their wide white smiles on tired brown faces, their heartfelt sincerity as they wish every passing stranger a good morning. It's their tolerance as they tirelessly serve demanding tourists food they themselves cannot afford to eat. It's their acceptance that their dreams will only be dreams with no ability to reach for them. And for their spirit and strength that so few of us know or have had to uncover.
Each time I visit Latin America I am in awe of these people. In one of the most dangerous and poorest countries in the world, I experienced only love, generosity, curiosity, tolerance, strength, acceptance, faith, humility and above all...gratitude. The people from the poorest countries have given me the greatest of gifts. To experience life without all of the noise and distractions is to experience humanity unspoiled and at it's core.