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Things I Won’t Miss About South America

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As the sun sets on our time in Latin America, I find myself reflecting on our five month adventure. I’ll cherish the memories of trekking through the Andes, snowboarding down a volcano, swimming with turtles and river tubing through a cloud forest. But I have to admit there are some things I’ll be glad to see the back of!

#1 NOISE
If I could describe this continent with one word it would be LOUD. Leaving the constant car horns and traffic jams in the bigger cities you’d be fooled into thinking that the smaller towns and villages would have a more tranquil setting. But then you have the bloody roosters to contend with. Cock-a-doodle-doo-ing starts around the same time the local fiestas stop, making a quiet night’s sleep almost impossible. The Latinos talk loudly, laugh loudly and play music loudly. How dare they have such a care-free and happy outlook on life!

An impromtu fiesta breaks out in bustling El Alto near La Paz!
An impromtu fiesta breaks out in the streets of  El Alto near La Paz!

#2 PDAs
Speaking of care-free and happy, the South Americans really have no inhibitions. I’ve lost track of the amount of tongues I’ve seen being thrust down throats. In parks, at the beach, on public transport. And it’s not just randy teenagers either, it’s middle-aged folk too….boke! Even the wildlife aren’t shy, we’ve watched a couple of crabs getting jiggy in The Galapagos and and an endless amount of humping dogs. I even had the rather odd experience of seeing two moths mating on me. To be more specific, on my boob of all places!

#3 COFFEE
Everyone knows that South America is the home of coffee. What you might not know is that virtually every bean is exported and that the locals have no idea how to make a decent cup of the stuff. In Peru and Bolivia it tasted like coffee flavoured water at best.

A rare cup of the good stuff at Galleti in Quito!
A rare cup of the good stuff at Cafe Galleti in Quito!

#4 BUSES
From local collectivos to national coaches, I’ve grown to loathe any kind of bus journey. The collectivos, which are basically minivans with cardboard signs on the windscreen confirming the route, were a novelty at first. How fun it was to travel with the locals for pennies. But the lack of suspension and deodorant soon got the better of me.

Once upon a time we could smile during a bus trip!
Once upon a time we could smile during a bus trip!

At first glance the coaches we used for long distance journeys looked quite luxurious offering blankets, toilets, movies and snacks. But the drivers can be a bit heavy on the accelerator and the toilets are usually quite grotty. You can imagine the aroma of 40 grown ups farting and snoring through a 15 hour night bus journey.

It's not unusual for extra "seats" to be sold in the aisle, which adds to the stench!
It’s not unusual for extra “seats” to be sold in the aisle, can you spot our snoring neighbour?

#5 CORN
Corn is to Peru what potatoes are to the Irish. Apparently there are 55 different varieties, not that you can tell as it tastes the same whether it’s boiled, grilled, mixed with eggs or served with cheese. They even drink the stuff for goodness sake!

Anyone fancy a corn pancake thingy with honey??
Anyone fancy a corn pancake thingy with cheese and honey??

#6 AWFUL DRAINAGE SYSTEMS
5 months of placing my used toilet roll in a bin is starting to take its toll. The worst part of it is glaring into a bin full of everyone else’s soiled toilet paper and trying not to gag. Pedal bins are slightly more hygienic than a bucket in the corner, when the pedal actually works that is.

#7 INVASION OF PERSONAL SPACE
The Latinos like to get up close and personal, and I’m not talking about the teenagers in the park this time. Us Brits love an orderly queue, and it’s an unwritten rule that a respectable amount of space is left between you and the person in front. Queuing in South America is rare, when it does happen the guy behind you will be close enough you’ll be able to feel his hot breathe on your neck. If you’re extra lucky you might even get coughed or sneezed on. I’ve resorted to taking a subtle step backwards in these situations and casually whacking them with my rucksack….oops!

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#8 CRAP WIFI
Admittedly this is a serious FWP but it’s still a source of frustration. This blog was actually written over a month ago but it’s taken numerous attempts across two countries, three cities and seven towns to get it uploaded!

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4 thoughts on “Things I Won’t Miss About South America

  1. Crete also has bins for toilet paper even though they had flushing loos 3500 years ago. You think they would have sorted the drains by now!

    1. Lmao I know right! Wonder how long I’ll be looking for a bin in the bathroom in Canada before I remember where I am. Northern Colombia is the worst for plumbing so far. The streets are overflowing with waste water, add that to the heat and you can guess how it smells here ?

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