I’ve been reflecting a little on my time in South America since getting back a couple of days ago. Taking time to experience other cultures, languages and perspectives on life in such an invaluable experience and I’d love to go back there one day – Peru was by far my most favourite country we travelled through and Rio de Janeiro the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to.

I have CDs full of photos which I’ll need to sort through and organise and then share with everyone but in the meantime, here’s some thoughts on my time in South America and how it (loosely) relates to blogging now that I’m back:

I forget how fortunate I am. When I saw people who are content and happy with so much less than the norm here, who are living such simple, yet hardworking lives, I’m reminded of how fortunate I am to be able to drink water from the tap, to have power, to have a tv, to have a computer, to be able to travel and so on. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race – and caught up in wanting more and more things.

Reading the blogs I do, I’m reminded of how often people are discussing upgrading their computer or buying the latest gadget. It’s easy to start wanting new things too. It’s easy to forget to be content with what I have already. It’s a personal challenge to see people with so much less being content, and not complaining about what they don’t have. The online and blogging world – while growing rapidly, is leaving others behind. I’m reminded to watch out for people who are forging new areas, who are just getting going with writing a blog. I helped someone today get a blog up to help kids they’re working with in a war-torn third world country.

I’m challenged by the work ethic of others. Everywhere we went someone was trying to sell me something or entertain me to make a quick buck. Whether it be toilet paper at the traffic lights, endless beads, tarot cards on the underground, a BBQ lighter while crossing the road, or a pen on the train – someone was making the most of the opportunities and people that came across their paths. People in New Zealand tend to hold back, to not bother people, to wait until someone approaches for help or to buy something – and that has its advantages and disadvantages. To see people desperate to make money and to be innovative and so hardworking for little rewards was challenging.

I’m inspired by their servant attitudes. In New Zealand, we don’t tip. I’ve travelled a lot before and found it difficult and strange to tip – I wondered if I was just a stingy person or if it just wasn’t part of my culture. While in South America, I found that I wanted to tip.

When we temporarily lost our bags (thanks to Varig…) a taxi driver took us back out to the airport, and came in and acted as our translator (even though his english was very very poor). He went out of his way to serve. People went the extra mile with their service and never were frustrated at our lack of Spanish/Portugese and loved our little attempts at speaking their language. In New Zealand, we pay for everything up front – and we found it awkward switching to paying for everything afterwards. They were embarrassed when we tried to pay before hang gliding or going on a tour. It was such a reminder of how important service is – how much of a difference it can make, no matter what you’re paying for.

The world is beautiful. People are creative. South America is a gorgeous place, full of contrasts in landscape and weather from the cold high Andes to the low jungle sweltering heat separated by only a half hour plane trip.

Seeing ancient Incan ruins and artifacts, traditional highly intricate woven rugs, bright clothing, hearing loud vibrant music and much more gave me new inspiration for coming back and creating blogs for others. It’s too easy for me to get caught up in online ideas for inspiration. So many blogs are clones of one another. There’s so much colour and life bursting out in other cultures and even around us where we live. Blog design has so much room to grow. Blogs could be so much more of a personal reflection of a person’s character and life than they are now. It’s easy to get side-tracked with the fancy new features and plugins coming out and not focus on creating something unique and beautiful.

I went to a design fair of emerging artists in Buenos Aires and was so inspired by the ideas they were coming up with that I hope to get in touch with one designer now that I’m back home. It’s great to see how creative people are all over the world.

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