Traveling through South America has a way of staying with you.
If you still wear your alpaca sweater everyday or have acquired a hankering for pork rinds, you probably have spent some time in South America.
I find that every time you travel, you adapt a little bit, or a lot, to your new surroundings in ways that may be hard for you and your less-traveled peers to understand. Don’t feel bad. It happens to the best of us. I’ve compiled a list of character traits to help pin down the people who have spent a good amount of time in South America. Leave a comment if you can think of anything to add!
You know you’ve been to South America when…
- You crave arepas and empanadas when you’re drunk instead of pizza and lo mein.
- you’ve realized that they weren’t lying when they said that you can’t flush toilet paper.
- muscle memory has you throwing away toilet paper in the bin instead of in the toilet.
- you, or someone you know, have a cool Salar de Uyuni photo as your/their profile or cover photo on Facebook.
- you start calling ketchup “tomato sauce” because in Spanish it translates to salsa de tomate.
- you’ve either worn, held, fed or eaten an alpaca/llama.
- you know how to score prescription pills from the pharmacy, without a prescription.
- you’ve never been so sunburnt.
- you have, or know someone who has, crapped your/their pants…in public.
- you have, or know someone who has, been robbed.
- you recognize the value of the currency instead of having to do math to figure out the dollar amount.
- you bring along chicharrones for a bus snack instead of Doritos.
- coca tea becomes an acceptable substitution for coffee.
- you’ve found all kinds of weird flavors of Lays potato chips.
- you’ve literally been eaten alive by mosquitos.
- you’ve had nightmares from malaria pills.
- if you can’t talk about poops with someone at your hostel, you don’t want to be their friend.
- you were seriously impressed by the street produce.
- the thought of putting on shoes other than flip flops or hiking boots is daunting.
- you’re in a public place and immediately try to struggle with Spanish when talking to strangers, before realizing that you’re home now and can speak English.
- you don’t fear insects anymore.
- you hide your iPhone under your pillow before leaving the room.
- you see a sign that says “areas” and you think “arepas.”
- someone tells you it’s 23 degrees back home and you can’t believe they’re having such nice weather in December (only applies to Americans using the Imperial system during the winter).
- you think it’s acceptable to wear your alpaca sweater daily (after all, there is no warmer material).
- your cabbie stops at a toll and you prepare yourself to be searched by the police.
- ponchos are a warm and sensible fashion statement.
- you’ve made friends with at least one stray/hostel dog or cat.
by Rebecca Bellan