Eating For a Long Healthy Life, Part Two: Passion, Food and Life In Latin America   Leave a comment

When I mention that I am living/moving to Latin America, one of the first questions is about how hot the women are. Perhaps that is an effect of the sometimes intentionally mixed messages that marketers use to sell travel and everything else. “Colombia is Passion” is the country’s national tag line. What images does that conjure? There are marriage and introductions agencies whose websites are full of young women in bikinis or sexy poses to promote and sell seats on their single men tours, though I have heard that not all of the men are single. Sponsored by one of the liquor companies, the sign in the San Jose, Costa Rica airport says “Welcome to the Happiest Country in the World.” If you have the wonderful opportunity to enjoy the food at Delfines Con Amor, a San Jose restaurant, one of the menus items is “Viagra 5000 Volitos.” Sopa de mariscos as it is called on many menus in Costa Rica and Colombia, which is really a poor man’s stew that locals have known for generations to be a great aphrodisiac full of zinc and other sex drive nutrients, promises to deliver 5000 volts of fuel for one’s sex drive.

It is easy to think or believe that Latin American is full of wanton hot young poor women whose values are less than immaculate and hot Latin lovers awaiting gringas on every corner with Antonio Banderas smiles. These marketing ploys have made some a lot of money. It is also true that from Avenida Central in San Jose to Zona Rosa in Medellin and the campos close to Risaralda tight short skirts and bare mid-rifts, tight jeans revealing bulging crotches, long flowing manes and swinging hips on high heels pony walking on cobble stone sidewalks all are the norm in many places in Latin America. Young and older lovers sit on park benches making the expression “get a room” nonsensical. Hit the clubs and the dancing can make an American made candle melt without striking a match. Yes, prostitution is legal in many Latin American countries – though pimping or financially benefiting from a prostitute’s work is not. At night some downtown San Jose streets can be filled with transvestites, some looking like a Glamour magazine photo shoot and National Park can be full of gay men looking for their next escapade.

But be careful not to paint a whole region of the world with a marketers brush. Virtue is as honored by many as it was in their parents and grandparents time. In some ways it has to be because many are still living with their grandmothers and mothers. Here, passion refers to a commitment to one’s values and beliefs. Many Latin people, even poor people living in shanty’s or homes where multiple generations share a bed, are passionate about their desire to enjoy life. This is in stark contrast to the wait until the work is done lifestyles of many western cultures. I have been invited to friend’s homes on a Sunday afternoon where family members and friends gathered around salad, rice and beans, patacon, avocado salad, a chicken or fish dish and a few cervezas or homemade fruit punch. Their homes filled with stories, joy, music and laughter reminded me of growing up in Rand, West Virginia during simpler times.

They say Latin blood runs hot. Perhaps it is the fact that these countries are rich in coffee, a natural stimulant that there is no denying gets blood pumping through one’s veins like it is on steroids. Or the fact that they have a high vegetable rich diet, salads served with most meals and vegetarian selections or restaurants in abundance, giving their hearts a chance to have healthy blood flow which gives other parts of the body a chance to function at peak efficiency. Who knows! What I do know is that life is to be enjoyed without many hang-ups. Understanding that liberates one to enjoy their lives, all of their life as a whole, not fragmented pieces to be repressed and/or hidden because some parts may be judged as less than pure.

There are more holidays in Colombia I think than in any other part of the world. Schools are closed in Barranquilla for Carnivales. “Disfruta al goza” my friends tell me. Enjoy yourself to the fullest. Money does not seem to define happiness in Latin America. Perhaps it can’t!  I have learned a lot about rebalancing my life, and my judgments, since I have been in Costa Rica and Colombia. Latin America offers a different view of life and living. Very little seems to be repressed here. That is a huge contradiction for some and one of the beauties of these countries for others. Even poor people can live without worries. Joy, living and the belief in God’s blessing is a serious way of life for many; that God will both provide and forgive. It is this liberation that fuels a passion for living, sharing and enjoying what is in front of one. On the coast of Colombia it is the rumba, partying without worry. In Costa Rica it is Pura Vida. For me it is letting go and learning to enjoy life from a different vantage point.

Posted June 13, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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