March 28, 2008

What I've Learned While Traveling in South America

Inspired by Esquire magazine's regular feature, here is what I've learned.

Keeping in touch with friends keeps homesickness at bay.

In small towns, there are always street dogs running around. All they want are scraps and some love.

Everything weighs something.


Indigenous people do not like having their picture taken.

Toilet paper: don´t leave the hostel without it.

Grilling on an Argentine parrilla is serious business. They don't care if it takes hours; for them, the taste of steak cooked over wood coals is worth it.

In first class, a 17-hour bus ride can be enjoyable.


If my daypack feels heavier than normal while I am wearing it on my back, someone is trying to open it.

Ceviche cures a sushi craving.

People love wearing Yankees hats, even if they don´t know exactly what the NY stands for.

Don´t travel on the Day of the Dead, especially if it falls on a Friday.

Hand sanitizer, peanut butter, and my iPod are worth their weight in gold.

Keeping a daily journal and a blog of our travels are major commitments.

Chileans and Argentines speak entirely too quickly.

Liability isn´t really a concept there. We´ve climbed the rafters of churches and walked right up to the mouths of geysers.



The whole continent is obsessed with soccer. Cities practically shut down to watch big games.

If I order one of my favorite American foods such as a cheeseburger or pizza, it will never turn out quite the way I´d hoped.

Vitamin B tablets will make you smell bad to mosquitoes.

Tang packets make purified river water taste good.

In Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, the set lunches at restaurants are a steal. A three-course lunch for $1.50? Count me in!

You have to shake a mercury thermometer before using it.

If you want to visit Argentine wineries, go to Cafayate instead of Mendoza.

All the dollar coins ended up in Ecuador, which uses the U.S. dollar.

Never wake a sleeping anaconda.



Sometimes Lonely Planet can be a little too enthusiastic when describing places. If they say a place is "off the beaten path," it will be overrun with backpackers.

I never met a hot spring I didn't like.

Street food is yummy
. Meat kabobs, fresh squeezed orange juice, caramel popcorn, churros, corn on the cob….

You can buy carne (meat) at a carnecería, libros (books) at a librería, but you can´t buy ferrets at a ferretería. They sell hardware.

Argentines and Urguayans love their yerba mate tea. Even on the hottest days you´ll see them clutching thermoses and gourds of tea with metal straws.

Portuguese doesn't sound a thing like Spanish
. We learned that the hard way.

There are still nice people in the world. In Saquarema, Brazil, a woman walked 20 minutes out of her way to take me to the one shoe repair shop in town. Instead of asking for a tip, she gave me her phone number in case I had any other questions.

You can buy anything at street stalls in La Paz. Batteries, eggs, you name it.

The best way to learn geography is to travel.

1 comment:

Jennifer Jodi said...

Great post guys! Was lovely to see you in person, albeit briefly.