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Slaves Latin America shares a common history based on European colonization, slavery and immigration of indigenous people – whose ancestors migrated to the area thousands of years ago and went on to form such ancient civilisations as the Aztec, the Maya and the Inca. The combination of these rich cultures with the colonial influence and the customs of the Africa slaves imported to the region by the colonialists, have helped to create an interesting and fascinating culture which is unique to Latin America.

Zampoña This melting pot of cultures is reflected throughout Latin American life, from music to cuisine, and from dance to literature. The modern music of the Andes is a true combination of Andean panpipes and Spanish guitars. The Brazilian carnival dance the samba has pure African roots having originated in the 19th century in downtown Rio de Janeiro’s so called ¨Little Africa¨. A more diverse and exciting culture is difficult to find.

Mario Vargas Llosa One way to gain a taste of this culture is to delve into a Latin America novel. The literature of Latin America exploded into the world literary scene in the 1960´s with authors such as Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa and of course Colombia’s Gabriel García Márquez the Literary Nobel Prize winner in 1982. Márquez’s most famous novel Cien Años de Soledad (Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967) has been translated into several languages and is an interesting and worthwhile read. Other authors to look out for include the Chilean Isabel Allende, Argentina’s J. Cortázar, Mexico’s Laura Esquivel and the Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo.

Brazilian Churrasco Whether, a spicy Mexican burrito, a renowned Argentinean steak, Brazilian Churrasco (a type of barbeque) or Peruvian Ceviche (fresh fish soaked in lime juice and chillies) Latin American food cannot disappoint you. The mixture of cultures has helped to create a diverse and exciting experience for the taste buds! Also you can’t miss out the luscious fresh fruits grown throughout Latin America. For example in Brazil not only can you find the familiar banana, papaya and pineapple, but there is graviola, acai, caju and maracuj to try. Or if you are feeling more adventurous why not try the traditional Andean dish of Cuy (guinea pig)!

The Uncle or the Devil Whilst Catholicism is the dominant religion throughout Latin America this has not seen the complete destruction of traditional Indian beliefs. For example on a high Andean pass it is possible to see the offerings left for Pachamama (the Incan representation of Mother Earth) or in the mines of Potosi, Bolivia the regular gifts left by the miners for Tio (the uncle or the devil) to help protect them in the mines. Also within the Andes it is not an unheard of occurrence for businesses in cities to hold ceremonies and to give offerings to Pachamama at the beginning of the harvest season, just as the farmers do in the countryside.

Tomás Gutiérrez Alea The world of cinema is not without its Latin America influences either. Latin America movies are an open window into this world of diverse culture. For example the films of the Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea give great insight into the Cuban revolution and Brazil’s Glauber Rocha is known for reflecting the reality of Brazilian society in his films. Other well known directors from Latin America are Peru’s Francisco Lombardi, Miguel Litín from Chile and the Mexican Emilio Fernández.

As you can see any trip to Latin America will offer an interesting and varied cultural experience.

Aztecas (Mexicas)
  Aztecas (Mexicas)
  Aztecas (Mexicas)

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