The highest point in all of Australia sits at about the same altitude as the average for the whole province of Loja, Ecuador. It doesn’t even come close to the lowest point in the entire city of La Paz, Bolivia, let alone the altitude of any of the surrounding mountains.

2015-11-07 Mt Kosciuszko 31
Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak, sits at 2,228m above sea level.
2014-11-22 Charquini y Chacaltaya 143
Chacaltaya, one of many mountains in the Bolivian Andes and by no means the highest, has an altitude of 5,275m a.s.l. at the point pictured here. This is before you even get to the summit (where it’s 5,395m according to Google, or 5,421m according to Wikipedia).

I like to tout these little trivia tidbits but am increasingly conscious of coming off as a total travel snob.

And ultimately, talking about altitude is just one of many meaningless comparisons and contrasts I could draw between Australia and the Andean countries. Describing or summarising cultural difference often feels besides the point. Using random criteria (altitude, money/cost of things, food eaten etc) to compare countries shows difference – but it doesn’t give any significance to that difference.

It is, however, a hint at the perspective you acquire after living in another place and culture – perspective that is difficult to articulate to someone who has not, well, experienced it for themselves. Providing a snapshot of all that you cannot begin to explain and that your audience cannot begin to imagine is, at least, a way to start a conversation on culture and living cross-culturally.

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  1. Hehe, I often joke about how flat Australia is as an Aussie. I learnt about it when I was at uni studying environmental science. It’s just such an old, tectonically and geologically stable land. We sit on our own plate so there are no mountain-building processes in Australia to get those really tall peaks. But, what we do have is the tons of deadly animals, especially snakes, compared to the rest of the world. Great, that’s just great – haha. Since we’re so isolated they had a long time to adapt and develop those wonderful poisons. Eww!

    1. Gotta love Australia! When I’m overseas I get lots of questions and astonishment about our lethal snakes and bugs (also about Fosters and boxing kangaroos) – I just laugh and enjoy it 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog and for commenting, JD!

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