Friday, April 20, 2007

This IS globalization!

Last December I was in Ecuador in the famous Otavalo Market, near Quito, in the high Andes.
I was a wonderful place, you could see the kind of things that turists appreciate but you could see also that it was that way not because it was deliberately cultivated to amuse foreign people, but because local culture is still alive. This is to say that I support cultural diversity as long as people is interested in conserving it without external pressures. I do not believe that the culture of a person must be determined by the place that person is born, or skin color, or that cultures are static sets of memes designed to be worshipped and not changed in the slightest way.

That was why I loved Otavalo. It is a wonderful blend of the old, the new and the foreign. It is a symbol of the Globalization I crave for, not getting McDonalds everywhere, but mixing things from different places to achieve a truly unique way of life. Diversify, not homogenize.

As I have traveled to few places and in those places the people spoke either Spanish or English it was a strange experience for me to be surrounded by people speaking an unintelligible language, as is Quechua. A lot of people used it for their daily comunication. A lot of endemic corn and other plants varieties were exhibited at the place, an uncommon view for me, used to the standard corn cultivated in Venezuela. So far nothing unexpected, althought it did not seemed like a fake tourist scenario, like indeed looked some people in restaurants along the way and two little girls who stepped into our bus to sang in Quechua.

The unexpected comes here:

What the hell are Didgeridoos doing in the Andes?! Those instruments, IMHO, aren't exactly part of the mainstream culture. You don't see Jessica Simpson playing one, or many famous didgeridoo players on hollywood movies. Yet, here they are. Or something that looks amazingly like didgeridoos. That was really exciting for me, to see that cultures begin to merge in bottom-up fashion, no matter what the cultural dominant forces are. Of course, Otavalo is not a bubble, and around the market you can see all kind of stores selling contemporary western clothes, shoes and the latests MP3 players.

What is important here is not rantling about the loss of a "primitive" and beloved culture rather than exploring the possibilities of many different cultures sharing a common pool of values, artifacts and expressions, each one sampling them on its own way, even if it is with distinctive historical patterns, as is the case here. I am sure that there are many more examples in Otavalo of foreign stuff, but for me the "authenticity" of Otavalo is not an issue as long as they don't claim that musical instrument from the Pacific are autoctonous. For me, finding non-autoctonous things out of the mainstream in Otavalo did not meant Otavalo is less authentic. It means otavalo is more exciting and heartening about the possibilities of creating new cultures different form the old ones and different from the new homogenizing trends.

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Hello. There are billions out there

This blog is about my very particular point of view about living in this incipient global age.

I am 24 years old guy living in Venezuela. Never going abroad until I was 22. Now I have been in several places, seeing how different can get things, but also how similar in some aspects.

My English is not good, my grammar is awkward, but blogging helps to improve my abilities.

I do not pretend to be a voice of majority or to speak for the country whre I live or for the developing world. I only speak for myself. A a young man perpetually outraged by injustice and stupidity, from a poor family, a guy who have had wonderful oportunities thanks to Globalization. A man who wants no country.

Quoting Alfred Bester:

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination

Well, the last two lines have yet to be true. Maybe they will someday.

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