Women Travel Latin America interviewed Alone Together author Camille Mansell about her travels through the region and what inspires her to share her stories.
What inspired you to write your story for Alone Together?
The naïveté of my first day in Latin America has always stuck with me. Especially now that I live in Colombia and travel frequently around the region for work. I smile at my excitement and enthusiasm to get out amongst it all and I remember that moment in time right before I was about to succumb to an ongoing passion for this part of the world. That day I learned a valuable lesson in how a little bit of preparation can help to reduce your vulnerability, and also that when there is so much kindness from strangers, you are never truly on your own.
Why do you think women should travel Latin America?
Besides being fascinating with an amazing diversity of sights, landscapes, cultures and customs, it’s a region where you can keep coming back to a new country and it will somehow feel similar but be totally different to the last. Plus, I can’t speak highly enough of the steak in Argentina or the Sublime chocolate bar you can only get in Peru or Bolivia.
What is your best memory of your Latin America adventure, and why?
Some years after my very first trip to South America, I went back with my Mum. I took her to places I’d visited and loved in Argentina and Peru and then we spent four weeks in Mexico visiting as many ruins as possible. Somewhere on the border with Guatemala, we stayed in a rustic cabin where tarantulas sought shelter from the pouring rain. While staff members sprayed the giant spiders with oversized cans of insect spray and swept them up into a dustpan, Mum calmly took off her sandal and in one swift motion, smacked a tarantula climbing across the wall. After it fell to the floor, she kicked its hairy, inert body out the door and into a puddle. I observed the whole thing while squealing and jumping up and down on the bed. That spider-woman moment always reminds me that I have a fearless mother who, had she been born in my time and circumstances, would have traipsed all over the world on her own.
Describe the region in three words.
Hospitable, captivating, unmissable (as a destination)
What advice would you give to a woman considering a trip to Latin America?
I always recommend learning some Spanish before leaving home. A bit of Spanish makes you feel more comfortable and a little bit safer. People are often surprised that English, or rudimentary English, is not as widely spoken or understood in other parts of the world. Secondly, just go. If you really want to come to Latin America, just make it happen and don’t listen to the naysayers – especially if they have never been here. You can choose to take the well-beaten gringo trail or go off the beaten track, on either one you’ll find incredible adventures awaiting.