Translating to “the hurry/haste kills”, this is one of my favourite Spanish expressions. I first heard it as the name of a great little hostel in Salta, Argentina, and it stuck in my head since. After leaving Cusco I burned through northern Perú to reach Guayaquil to sort out my US exchange visa. By the time I crossed the border I was dead tired, had a raging cold, and couldn’t shake a headache for two days – so I wasn’t on death’s door but the unbroken cycle of overnight busses, shitty hostel beds, and cramming in a bunch of activities had taken a toll. It was starting to feel a little like December and I didn’t want to revisit that. More than that, I wasn’t living the la prisa mata lifestyle South Americans enjoy. I hadn’t had a siesta in days!

In around 10 days I went from Cusco to Ica/Nazca/Huacachina to Lima to Huaraz to Huanchaco to Guayaquil. There were some beautiful places I rushed through and a lot I skipped over in between. After this sprint I decided to quit planning ahead more than needing to be in Panama City for May 20th to catch my flight. The rest can work itself out. The thing is, it wasn’t as fun as it could be – and when travelling stops being fun, what am I doing it for?

Remember, it’s not the speed that kills, but the haste. If I am hurrying from place to place and not taking it all in, I feel too much the observer. At the same time, sometimes the scene doesn’t interest me so I move on after a couple of days in search of the next little adventure.

Since Perú I’ve been travelling at my preferred speed. That’s not the muy lento some with big budgets and endless time can enjoy, but equally it’s not the whirlwind ride I was on. The clusterfuck of long and expensive bus journeys, squeezing a bunch of different activities in under two weeks, changing climate every couple of days, and the interminable planning (I hate planning) reminded me to slow down and enjoy it. Although, and this is more to the point of “I hate planning”, if I don’t like the vibe of a place I know I’m free to go when I please.

Unfortunately in Perú I did have to rush, and that brought on what my friend Amy calls “FOMO” – Fear Of Missing Out. I could have done a longer trek in Huaraz or visited Máncora beach between Huanchaco and Ecuador. I would’ve liked to see Paracas off Perú’s central coast. Unfortunately I’d planned poorly and needed to reach Guayaquil quickly ahead of some important paperwork that needed my signature. It worked out in the end because Ecuador surprised me and now I have more time here in Colombia (yes, my blog is that far behind) but at the time I was aware of not fully enjoying my experiences. Trying to cram a lot in to a short time paradoxically made the FOMO worse, because I was daily making decisions between doing one thing or the other; do I go to the Nazca lines mirador, or stop in Paracas for a day? (In retrospect, the Nazca mirador was a poor choice).

What it comes down to is this: I want to immerse myself in South American culture. South Americans are never rushed, even if they’re running 20 minutes late for an appointment you made a week ago. They’ll just laugh, shrug and tell you “tiempo latino, amigo”. And you know, they’re the happiest bunch of people I’ve ever met. La prisa mata; the hurry kills.




2 thoughts on “La Prisa Mata

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