I am overwhelmed. I’m sitting at Starbucks feeling utterly intimidated.
A girl gets her mum to buy her a Starbucks mug.
Two twelve year old girls enter, they’re dressed as if they were 21 and on their way to a party.
Most girls actually seem to wear pants that resemble underwear more than shorts or trousers.
People queue to spend five pounds on a milkshake that would cost them less than a pound homemade.
What is this place?
The worst is that it’s probably been like this for a while. Things don’t change overnight, and it’s probably not changed drastically over the last two years that I spent traveling through rural towns and uninhabited countrysides in South America. I probably just forgot, or only now have the ability to see these things in this way.
I feel distant. I don’t feel like I belong here in midsts of this self-obsession, need to look a certain way, and materialism. People own multiple cars, TVs, several wardrobes filled with clothes of which 90% hardly ever see daylight, and rooms filled with clutter.
Am I going to conform after a while? Did I use to? I don’t feel I was ever like them, but now I feel more less like them than ever.
I want to break free and disappear again, but I know I can’t. Going back into the wild seems appealing but isn’t the solution at this point. Shutting oneself off from the world and it’s problems is only a way of hiding. I enjoyed my time traveling, being alone in nature. But there was also some kind of lack of purpose. Something greater than me was missing. That’s why I came back, to learn something with which I can help in places where people live more simply. Coz I fit in there better, at the same time as hopefully providing a different perspective and knowledge that can improve the quality of lives in developing countries. But would that go hand in hand with turning a town into a city like we know them? As countries become more industrialised they tend to become like other industrialised countries; from pros like a good educational system to cons like sickening TV shows that tell you to look into the mirror, put on layers of make up and wear pants that show your bum cheeks and let your boobs almost pop out of your shirt (sorry for focusing on females, I guess they stand our to me because I am part of that group).
After returning from somewhere, a place always seems brighter in memory than it was in reality. There were all those things I missed along my trip; the availability of food I enjoyed, public swimming pools, or even just a shower with hot water. I didn’t think of all the things that I was gonna struggle with – people hanging on their phones and just passing each other like ghosts, the rules present in every aspect of life, the excess of stuff and amount of choice… And whilst I know there were a bunch of things that frustrated me in South America (no bus schedules, generally just being confused about how things work rather unsystematically, not being able to drink water from the tap…), I can now appreciate the “chaos”, and I miss things kike the stalls on the street selling freshly squeezed juices, the smiles on so many faces, and the generosity despite the lack of funds.
People ask me which one of the places I traveled to I liked the most. and I guess this post is my answer to that: none and every single one of them.