I met Michelle and her partner Justin on a tour through Uyuni’s Salt Flats. Being from the same part of the world as my father, I was fascinated by her accent throughout as well as her kindness and deadly wit. Michelle is a world traveller who can make anyone laugh, in even the direst moments…and appreciates a slightly sweet Bolivian wine like no one else.
How has being English left its mark on you?
When I was younger, I didn’t like the idea of nationality – now I do, although perhaps I shouldn’t! I like the eccentricities of being British. I’m quite mad. Cups of tea, crumpets, being reserved. I also identify very much with the British sense of humor.
What would your 13-year-old self think about you if they met you?
They’d probably think I was very old, as anything over 25 is old to a teenager! I like to think she’d think it wasn’t that bad; “being old.” I think she’d think I was ok…if a bit potty. But I haven’t changed much in the end.
If you could meet your 13-year-old self, what would you say to her?
Try to be brave and don’t bother about what people think. At 13, you’re still very vulnerable.
How do you make decisions?
Justin (my partner) won’t have it as I don’t seem to make decisions! Options come and I take them or don’t. I’ve never made plans, things just seem to happen. I don’t feel pressure from society: I never got married or had children. Options arrive and you follow them or not. I must have made some decisions, but I don’t feel that I have!
Do you think you’re on the right path?
I deviate and come back. I’m more on the right path now than I have ever been. It’s a solitary path, but I’ve searched for other people or paths in the past and now I feel happy as I am.
How do you feel when you think about your future?
Quite content. I used to look for people to back me up, but now I feel content. If other people are around, great, if not, that’s ok too.
What fascinates you about England?
Ignorance. That there are so many ignorant people, conditioned people who don’t challenge anything.
Competitiveness, the way we let others live and die.
That I’m so thick sometimes! I really am quite dense. But also, I’m fascinated that I’m such a mixture: I’m introverted and brash. Sensitive and arrogant.
What scares you about England?
The same thing, ignorance.
The way we’re going.
My indecisiveness and that maybe I’m being too soft with things.