Friday, 30 October 2020

100 Years of Solitude: Why Don't We Know About Latin America

Guest post by Elizabeth Sorrell


I was 17 when I read Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. I felt insecure that I had only read literature from Spain and wanted to branch out into Latin American novels and poetry. Little did I know that I was about to fall into a rabbit-hole of research on all things Latin American (I don’t speak Portuguese, so I have a major Hispanic bias). I have latched onto many different aspects of Central and South American history, politics, and culture: the Guatemalan Civil War, extractivism in Colombia, and the Ni Una Menos movement that started in Argentina are just a few of the topics that I have thrown myself into. 

I study English and Spanish, but I’m pretty sure I only would have done English if it weren’t for One Hundred Years of Solitude, so academically and emotionally, I owe it a great deal. 

low angle photo of temple with latin american flags
Photo by Filip Gielda on Unsplash

Many, many things annoy me about education in Britain, but one of the first grievances I had was that unless you specifically studied Spanish, you wouldn’t know anything about Spain or Latin America. We know about the French Revolution in the 1700s and the Weimar Republic in Germany, but most people in my year were not aware that there was a civil war in Spain and a 36-year dictatorship that followed. This was even more so the case for Latin America which remains a mystery continent to people who haven’t consciously set out to learn more about it. General knowledge of the Hispanic world is seriously lacking in Britain, and One Hundred Years of Solitude is one literary example as to why that is.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude follows a century of the Buendía family tree. It is set in the fictional village of Macondo in Spain, but many plot points are allegorical to Latin American history, particularly that of Colombia. Most copies of the novel come with a family tree at the beginning as the names can get a little confusing (there are multiple characters called Aureliano or José Arcadio or Remedios) but the idea of legacy and the clinging to names that have left such tragedy behind is very touching to me. 

It opens with Colonel Aureliano Buendía facing a firing squad and remembering back to the day his parents (José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula Iguarán) took him to discover ice at a traveller’s fair. Time is non-linear and the tradition of magical realism is at the core of this novel, with Úrsula living to the age of 120 and a child being born with a pig’s tail. But one of the most poignant examples of magical realism is the worker’s strike.

José Arcadio Segundo is the only survivor of a massacre of workers on a banana plantation for an American fruit company when they demanded better working conditions. The army opened fire on the workers until José Arcadio Segundo wakes to find himself on a train of corpses to be thrown into the sea like rotten bananas. Yes, an American fruit company was responsible for the dire working conditions of Hispanic labourers and repressed their attempts to unionise and protest. Gabriel García Márquez didn’t just make this up. 

La Matanza de las Bananeras is a real historical event that occurred in Colombia in 1928 when the Colombian army opened fire on a worker’s strike asking for a six-day working week and compensation for accidents at work among other basic demands that we in the UK take for granted today. The death toll of the workers ranges from 100 to 5000 due to censorship of the event, and there is little information on the details of the matter. Nevertheless, it remains in Colombia’s historical memory and One Hundred Years of Solitude has worked as a historical source to recount the event along with other writers such as Álvaro Cepeda Samudio. I think it is events like this and their coverage that dissuades us in the United Kingdom (and even more in the United States) from learning about our history with Latin American countries. It is not uncommon for American, Canadian, and British corporations to exploit the natural resources and labour in Central and South America, from extractivism on indigenous grounds to the Chilean dictatorship of General Pinochet being called a ‘strong friend of Britain’ by none other than Margaret Thatcher, not to mention her ending a programme for Argentinian refugees during their inconceivably violent military dictatorship. 

The concealment of Britain’s dark legacy of colonialism and neoliberalist intervention requires the ignorance of the countries that have been on the receiving end of it. A lot of the political discourse follows the usual 20th-century pattern of trade benefits outweighing the loss of civil liberties and thousands of lives in the process. I can understand why we didn’t learn about Latin America at school unless we absolutely had to for historical context. But to continue hiding from our legacy also robs us of learning about the incredibly fascinating elements of Latin America that are both beautiful and enlightening. 

We have seen the faces of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, we have all heard Latin American music whether it be reggaetón or Argentine tango, and confrontation of our dark past with Latin America can open us up to when the extremely diverse and varied continent has to teach us. 

Check out Elizabeth on her socials below!

Portfolio - Elizabeth Sorrell

Twitter - @sorrell_sorr12

Saturday, 24 October 2020

A Mini Room Renovation with Photowall (+ Discount Code)!

AD/Gifted: This post contains gifted items however all opinions are my own.

The lockdown renovation bug is still very much alive in my household and this isn't the first room we have decided to decorate in the past few months! We've lived in this house for over 8 years now and slowly (but surely) it is starting to change to how we like it. Most rooms were either purple or bright orange when we moved in so it's come a long way since those days but myself and my mum are always in the mood for a redecoration regardless of the season!

The 'room' that was subject to our interior design eye this time was the hallway and landing! A place I think that is often neglected in a house as it's just somewhere you walk through to get to another room, but, let's not forget that first impressions count! This is the space that is seen as soon as someone comes into our house so it's important that you let them make an entrance.

We decided to spruce up the hallway and landing a bit to make it a bit lighter, brighter and more welcoming. It is by no means complete but you can get the general gist of where we're going with this mini-renovation! Here's everything we're doing to smarten up our hallway and landing and some tips for you!

Renovation Tip 1: Colour

We're a big lover of colour in this household, not quite bright purple or orange walls level of colour but we like to inject a bit of vibrancy into a room. Enter Photowall! A Swedish brand that offers thousands upon thousands of incredible designs and prints that are guaranteed to liven up any room and make it your own. Not only do they have an abundance of prints, wallpapers and canvases to suit any taste but I also love the fact that they are considerate to the environment also, something I am trying to work on this year!

It took me and my mum hours to decide on something that we both liked but eventually, after much deliberation we ended up choosing a galaxy Canvas print. We both loved the fact that it wasn't obviously a galaxy and when you first look at it you might just think it's some abstract shapes but when you pay closer attention to it you start to see the outline of the planets, the little rocket in the corner and the stars to the side. We got the 100cm by 60cm size to really make a statement as we have quite a big hallway and it fits perfectly where we wanted it to go.

galaxy wall print of various colours on white canvas photowall

Assembly was surprisingly easy and took less than 20 minutes to put our canvas together (thanks to my dad for helping with that and commenting on how 'well made' the frame was)! 

I really love the finished look of it as it adds that bit of colour to the hallway to make it a brighter and more welcoming space and the fact that there are so many colours on the canvas gave us a lot of scope to incorporate a whole variety of colours into the rest of the landing and hallway too in our mini-renovation plans! 

(Side note: this is on a wall in our hallway but I couldn't get a good enough photo that showed off all the colours in their full glory so here's a picture I took before it was hung up!)

Renovation Tip 2: Make it Personal

This is one of my favourite parts of the hallway as I love how personal it is to us. Essentially we decided to take prints from an old calendar we had, put them into frames and then display them. The calendar (before it was cut up) had different travel destinations from across the world and we've framed the places that we've been to so that every time you walk past you can stop and have a little reminder of where we've travelled in the world. 

coloured prints in coloured frames by mirror, console table and hallway. coloured vases and plants at side

Hopefully, when travel is more widely allowed again we can continue to add to this wall with a whole host of new and exciting places that we've been to! At the moment it has images of Budapest, Barcelona, Prague, London, Amsterdam and Rome and we're excited to start adding more places - any recommendations welcome as I'm always looking for new places to travel to! We also tried to incorporate some of the colours from our Photowall print with the frames to tie everything in together and make it work as a scheme.

My other favourite part of the hallway is where we have this amazing print of the family alongside our two llamas. I think it looks so lovely and the cartoon image always attracts comments from passers-by too!

two brightly coloured llamas beside family photo frame in mini room renovation makeover

Renovation Tip 3: Lighting

Our hallway and landing is quite a dark place with not much natural light coming into it - it made taking some of these photos a nightmare, I must say! To try and combat these we've installed some very snazzy lights along the stairs to try and make the space a bit funkier and to add some much-needed light.

I absolutely adore these lights (shout out to my boyfriend for getting them for my 21st birthday) as they have so many different settings that you can change for any mood or setting. They plug into the wall and come with a remote which is also incredibly handy and it's so much fun to just stand and play around with them too.

mood lighting alongside staircase, led light strip that changes colours

They attached really easily to the side of our staircase as they have a sticky underlayer that works for most surfaces. I think they add so much to the space and really make the room feel completely different from before. It feels quite futuristic and so snazzy to be able to change the colour of the room at the touch of a button so I am a big, big fan!

Those are three small tips and things that we've done to try to re-invent our hallway and liven it up a little. It wasn't the biggest of renovation projects but often it's the small changes that make the biggest differences to a space and our hallway definitely has a bit more life breathed into it now! 

Photowall has also been kind enough to give a 25% off with the code agirlwithview25 (discount off any product on the site + valid for one month), so if you're looking to spruce up something in your house now is the time to do it! There are so many great pieces on their site, I could browse for hours!

What do you think of our mini room renovation? Where would you re-decorate in your house?

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The Hallotober Tag

Surprise! I've hit the blog this week with a double post for the first time ever! If you haven't already seen my post from earlier in the week about Autumn and Winter travel destinations then you need to check that out! 

Today I'm back with a very old-school tag which I'm very excited about! I *think* this is the first time I've done a tag on my blog and I'm very excited for it! 

Thank you so much to Sophie from Love and Literature and Wool of the King for the tag - be sure to check out their fab posts! And thank you to Of a Glasgow Girl for creating it! 

So without any more delaying, here are my answers!

pumpkins stacked up on wooden crate with lettering

Friday, 16 October 2020

The Best Places to Visit in Autumn + Winter

Guest Post from JoJo's Cup of Mocha


It’s that time of year again! The leaves begin to change, hoodies and jackets are worn, burgundy and maroon makeup are worn, and all the spooky festivities begin. In my book, it is officially fall and I am super excited about it! It is also a great time to travel as well as there are a variety of places to go, attractions to partake in, and events to attend. Although this year is a little different due to the pandemic there may be some activities and events going on!

If you are looking to do some travelling during September and October, then check out these 5 awesome places to visit for the fall season!

person pointing at map with coffee, laptop, polaroid, passport, camera
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Friday, 9 October 2020

Mineralissima: The Vegan and Cruelty-Free Mineral Makeup Brand you Need

AD/Gifted: This post contains gifted items however all opinions are my own.
The beauty industry is changing and the demand for vegan and cruelty-free makeup products are fast becoming a priority for both brands and consumers alike. Mineralissima is a brand that focuses on being great for your skin and the planet which is something I've tried to be a lot more conscious of in the past few months as I've tried to adapt my beauty regime to become more eco-friendly. Its products are perfume-free, suitable for sensitive skin and allow your skin to breathe which are all things I look for in a foundation - no-one wants to look completely clogged up with makeup, it's not a good look!

Mineral makeup is something I used to use when I first dabbled with makeup wayyy back in the day. I remember my mum used mineral products and it was something I liked using as it was so natural on the skin and didn't look like you were wearing makeup at all. I absolutely hate looking like I'm wearing makeup so anything that looks just like skin is a winner for me!

blotting powder, mineral primer and mineral foundation on white sheets with silver jewellery in background

Friday, 2 October 2020

21 Things I've Learnt in 21 Years

Happy Mean Girls Day, and also happy birthday to me! Today, (3rd October) is my 21st birthday and I am beyond excited! If you know me in real life you will be aware of how excited I get for my birthday from around July and August. I'm not sure what it is about birthdays that I love so much but I count down the days for months in advance and my excitement builds every day. I'm not sure what this birthday will be like in a COVID world and for the first time since being at uni, I have my birthday at home as term has been pushed back a week (my birthday is normally the first week back).

I've seen a few people do these types of posts on "special birthdays" (though in my opinion, every birthday is just as special) so I thought I'd give it a go. 21 is actually a rather large number so I feel like I might struggle a bit to come up with 21 things but I'll give it a good go! I've been on this earth for 21 years now so I think it'll be fun to try and think of some wisdom that I have learnt in my 21 years of being alive.

gold foil 21 balloons beside bookshelf with ribbons
Photo by Kortnee Greenfield on Unsplash


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