It seems like every girl in the country is gearing up to watch Julia Roberts find herself while traveling in Italy, India and Indonesia in Eat Pray Love. While the movie’s trailer shows some incredible food and drop-dead gorgeous locations, we couldn’t help but think that when it comes to both (as well as thousand-year-old spiritual traditions) those places have nothing on Latin America.
What if the movie—and the book it’s based on, Elizabeth Gilbert’s enormously popular memoir—had been set there instead? Which Latin countries could Gilbert have visited in her post-divorce search for the self-fulfillment Holy Grail: pleasure (eat), spirituality (pray) and an open heart (love)? Here’s the itinerary we would have chosen, now if only we could find Javier Bardem at the end too...
Gilbert gained 23 pounds gnawing her way through Italy. But really, how much pasta and gelato can you eat? We think she missed out on Mexico’s incredibly rich, diverse cuisine, which, as any Latina knows, goes far beyond tacos and enchiladas. Rich mole negro from Oaxaca, salty-sweet-hot chile relleno from Puebla, elote with chile and mayo from Mexico City’s streets: Can’t think of a tastier way to fill out your hips.
Ok, so meditating and chanting for hours while staying in an Indian ashram (or hermitage) is no joke. But it still pales in comparison to going on a spiritual retreat to Cusco and Machu Picchu and embarking on a vision quest with a Peruvian indigenous shaman via ayahuasca, a brew made from exotic hallucinatory plants. Ayahuasca has been credited with curing everything from depression to cancer and unlocking higher levels of consciousness. Users say it’s like a direct route to Pachamamma (Mother Earth). Meditate on that!
Gilbert headed to the tranquil Indonesian island of Bali to round out her year of self-discovery, and there, she finally felt free—and met her present husband, a hot, sensual Brazilian (played by a delectable Javier Bardem). But we say, why not just go straight to the source? Rio de Janeiro, right around, say, March (during Carnaval, of course!), is about as freeing as you can get anywhere in the world.