i was thinking the other day about what skills i've picked up during my travels in south america, about the things i couldn't do before and can now. now speaking spanish may seem like an obvious one, but a) i started taking lessons at least a year before i left england and b) you haven't actually heard me speak spanish have you? after
some thought i think i've narrowed it down to 3 key areas:
i could never get the hand of this, the breathing through a tube business was fine but the descending so deep your ears go funny part never seemed within my capabilities. i failed to understand it during my first scuba diving
accreditation, adopted an ungraceful leg-kicking technique whilst in the galapagos
before mastering it in playa blanca
. unfortunately my lungs don't hold a great deal of oxygen so my time at depth is somewhat limited - but at least i can get down there now
i remember riding a few times when i was young, but i can't think of a time since childhood when i've been on a horse. in south america it's only been a handful of times, in argentina
and here in venezuela, but enough for me to get a hold on the basics. i can now start, stop, go faster, go slower, turn left, turn right - so in many ways i know far more about riding a horse than most south americans know about driving a car.
opening a beer bottle with a lighter
back when i spent over 3 weeks at the same hostel in paraguay
i would practice this technique every night. it was the perfect training ground as there would always be a group of people getting drunk every night. whenever someone was thirsty i'd grab their bottle, spend 5-10 minutes struggling to open it, before an experienced bottle-openerer would snatch it from me it and pop it off effortlessly. it was a tough education, at times exhausting, at times humiliating, at times painful. but i courageously endured and while i'm still no expert, i can now consistently remove the bottle top in under 10 seconds. y'know, unless i'm really drunk.
a pretty impressive resume i'm sure you'll agree. i missed the olympics this year so i'm not sure if there's a triathlon event which involves snorkelling-horse riding-opening bottles but if there was... well i wouldn't compete obviously... but i'd sit and watch it, mumbling to myself i reckon i could do that
. surrounded by bottle tops.
here's the original