Excited to be planning a long trip to South America, including many countries which I haven't been to in around fifteen years and some I have never visited.
My last journey to Guatemala, Honduras and Belize was when I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter, travelling for 2 days over a cobblestone road to reach the ruins of Copan. That journey ended rather eventfully in a shipwreck and almost going into labour on the plane back to the UK. If you haven't read this story, it's on my blog entry The Accidental Mumpreneur
After 20 years of travelling to Latin America on a regular basis for work, I feel like it is time to fall in love with the continent again, its culture and its people and rediscover the real reason I set up Pachacuti. I spent most of the time on my MA in Native American Studies working with PhD students (I was the only person on my Masters!) who were researching the Mayan glyphs and I'm really excited to have the chance to do some research into these areas again as part of our trip on Voyages of Discovery. We'll be visiting the ruins of Chitchen Itza, Copan and Tikal. Or at least I will, I'm not sure I'll be able to drag Mark away from the fantastic snorkelling opportunities off the coast of Central America. The cruise is accompanied by a programme of lectures. I did offer my services, but Voyages of Discovery had already filled all of the lecture posts for the trip.
From Cuba, where there is a Latin American Handicraft Fair taking place, we travel to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and then to Cartagena where there is a Fashion, Accessories and Art fair on the day I arrive. Next it's two days in Venezuela. It's 19 years since I was last in Venezuela and I'm sorry to say that I had a really bad experience both of the country and of the men in particular, so I'm hoping that this trip will help to change my opinion of what I'm sure is a wonderful country. Next, it's cruising up the Orinoco, then Devil's Island and up the Amazon, before finishing off with several ports of call down the coast of Brazil. I'm particularly looking forward to travelling up the Orinoco as when I was working in Venezuela in 1991 helping to write cruising guides to the Caribbean, I was offered a fantastic job on a luxury yacht sailing up to the source of the Orinoco. I turned it down as thought that working on the cruising guides would be a good combination of sailing on a classic yacht and more academic work, but it turned out to be the most dreadful nightmare and I jumped ship about a month later.
I think my problem is going to be luggage allowance as I want to bring about 10 kilos of books to keep me going for 34 days: The Latin American Fashion Reader, several books about the pre-colonial architecture of the meso-American region, as well as a novel or two. I'm looking forward to re-reading two books which inspired me when I was sailing in South America and the Caribbean 20 years ago: Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss and The Saddest Pleasure by Moritz Thomsen.
In addition, I'm hoping that the trip will prove an inspiration for designing my 2012 Panama Hat collection, so sketch books and pens will also need to be brought in my luggage. Added to this, I'm planning to pick up the samples for our exciting new recycled, Fair Trade bag collection when I'm in Cartagena at the end of December.
I'm hoping to blog from the various ports of call as long as I can get WiFi, so look out for the journal of my Latin American Odyssey coming up from mid-December!