South of our Border

When most people think of cruising in the Western Hemisphere, they think of the gentle breezes and talcum powder sands of the Caribbean Islands and Mexican beaches. Some may even venture through the Panama Canal. However, with the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics being held in Brazil, the world’s attention will turn to the rest of the South American continent.

South America Cruises Ferdinand and Isabella

Arch-Catholics Ferdinand and Isabella probably had more impact on the Latin world than any other couple in history. By Anonymous, via Wikimedia Commons

In spite of the fact that the nations of Latin America, from Mexico south to Chile, are our neighbors, we North Americans have much more in common with European culture. At the same time, thanks to Columbus, the Pope, and their colleagues, Europe and the Roman Catholic Church have had much more impact on Latin America than we have. Irony abounds and much of it is not happy history.

This is a land with spectacular natural wonders and important ancient civilizations. It was profoundly changed when colonialism fueled one of the largest migrations in human history. This resulted in countries dominated by populations with very confused genealogies. After fighting for their freedom, they generated so many species of dictators that the image of a Latin American leader became a caricature. Yet, in the Twenty-first Century, these nations are starting to take their place on the world stage.

We have a lot to learn about the past and present of our Latin American neighbors. The best way to do that is to visit their countries and listen to what they are saying.

In 1945, Walt Disney produced Saludos Amigos / Three Caballeros to give Americans an introduction to their Latin neighbors. Though dated in many ways, it might provide a very light-hearted start to your cruise south of the border. Ole!