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10 Weird Things From Latin America

One of my favorite things about traveling is being humored by things that seem strange or awkward to me.  We’ve traveled extensively through Central and South America and noticed many different customs, products and behaviors that don’t exist in the United States.  Each individual country does have distinct cultural norms when compared to their neighbors, however, we were still able to observe some common weird things across them all.

weird things

No Flushing of Toilet Paper into Toilet

List of 10 Weird Things in Latin America

1. Don’t Throw Toilet Paper in the Toilet

No matter where you are in Central or South America, toilet paper is thrown in the trash can or waste bin.  This is a challenge initially for those traveling from the United States.  Sometimes, subconsciously you inevitably throw it in the toilet, but be aware it can cause a toilet to blow up.  It’s not their practice to dispose of toilet paper this way and their plumbing is not built to handle it.  Every hostel you visit will kindly remind you on the stall door.

Your resource for Colombia travel

2. Liquids are Sold in Plastic Bags

The first time I saw someone with a plastic bag full of water hanging from their mouth I did a double take.  Bottled water is available, but it’s cheaper to buy your fluids in plastic bags.  Street vendors will sell all different types of juices and even full meals of chicken and rice in clear plastic bags.  These bags are similar to those your Mom used to put your lunch sandwiches in.  Yogurt is also usually a liquid and sold in plastic bags.

weird things

Bags of Leche (milk)

3. Streets are Named After Dates

This can be very confusing when following a map and conversing about it to your travel partner. “Where do we turn?” “9th of October.” “I asked where do we turn at?”  The dates are usually significant to the region, such as independence day and other holidays.

weird things

Streets Named by Dates in South America

4. Unfinished Buildings

Iron rods stick out of the flat roofs of many buildings.  To a foreigner it looks like they just never finished the next floor up, however they are planning for the future.  We are more concerned with the appearance of buildings.  They are more concerned with the cost of the building.  It may look ugly, but if they decide to build another story, the cement floor is already complete and the vertical iron rods are ready for cement.

Is Guatemala safe?

weird things

Unfinished Buildings in Quito, Ecuador

5. Money Change is Rare & Precious

When using a cash machine, it usually dispenses large bills, however it is nearly impossible to pay with large bills.  This has been a common theme throughout all of Central and South America. You will find yourself making purchases in order to obtain smaller bills and exact change, but be aware, the retailer usually has a secret stash of change.

6. American School Buses Have a Second Life

You have probably seen our crazy custom Chicken Bus video.  Old American school buses, usually tricked out with creative custom add-ons, are the main mode of transportation in many Central American countries. It gets very crowded and you won’t be buying any tickets to get on these buses.  Hop on when it passes by and you will most likely have a two hour experience that you will remember for a lifetime.  Don’t worry about not having any snacks or drinks with you, street vendors will jump on selling the strangest things.

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Chicken Bus from Guatemala

7. Paying To Use Bathrooms

Public bathrooms are never free.  We usually have to pay a US quarter to use them and sometimes you have to pay extra for toilet paper.  The worst part is that they are far from clean or hygienic.

8. Security Guards Carrying Shotguns

Security Guards stand outside banks, museums, clothing stores, gas stations and sometimes even restaurants and they carry big menacing shotguns.  This can be a bit intimidating at first, but it’s a safety precaution and quite normal.

weird things

Security Guard in Zipaquira, Colombia

Soap Latin America

Axion Dish Soap

9. Dish Soap is a Paste

To some this may not seem so different, but when all you’re life you’ve only seen liquid dish soap from a Palmolive bottle, seeing a tub of paste with a sponge lying in it catches your attention.

10. Tuk-Tuk and Motorbikes

Many taxis in the small towns and villages drive tuk-tuks or motorbikes with carts.  It was quite exciting for us to catch our first ride in Guatemala. Tuk-tuks are cheap and quick, moving in and out of traffic.  Negotiate you price ahead of time, as would with any taxi.

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Tuk-tuk in Panajachel, Guatemala

And many more!  Please add things that appear strange to you from Latin America in the comments below.

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Andrés says:

Great list =)

I am from Colombia, all of these things are very normal for me.

It is funny to know people get impressed by these kind of things.

However, there is one that impresses the rest of America about United States citizens. United States citizens when asked “Where are you from?” They reply….”from America.”

A person from Colombia, Argentina and Brazil could also reply “I am from America” to the same question.

Not to mention when a US citizen says he speaks “American”.

Have you ever thought that when you say you are from America you are being ambiguous?

Valerie says:

P.s. I forgot the glas, people didn’t return the glass bottles

Valerie says:

Fun page! I’m from Suriname, the only dutch speaking country in S America. We seem to be unique as we have to put up signs not to flush anything but toiletpaper. and we have very few public bathrooms. Here they started pouring softdrinks into plastic because people did not return the bottles. I don’t see people doing it anymore but that could be because all drinks are now sold in plastic bottles. We start big run out of money and leave the buildings looking like # 4 unitl there is money to go on working! which may take years, no tax reduction here. We have a pretty amazing interior so come on over and have look!

Thanks for adding your South America experiences from Suriname!

Darian says:

You forgot to mention the “family” motorcycle for 4 or 5 or the inventive ways they carry things on motor or bicycles! :)

Revel says:

With generalizations – it means it is seen a lot more commonly than other places. More truth than fiction. The natives of the Phils and latin america are basically the same gene stock – then the spanish mixed it up – more in the latter. If the mixes of races was prevented, then latin america would be more developed i.e- Brasil, Medeliin, Argentina – more euro heritage.

Building half finished because the machistas are too busy chasing, giving piropos to the 1200 beautiful women that walk past the street at lunch. Undeveloped countries in LA because they think too much in the moment/present – Better to take advantage of someone now, for the opportunity won’t ever come again.

maria says:

Jason,
I think you should change the title of this post and instead of “weird”, write “interesting”. It is extremely important not to offend people when it comes to cultures, and our perceptions of them. Since you’re not from Latin America, obviously all these things seem strange for you, but they are not for Latin Americans. It would be exactly the same if a Latin American goes to the States to find really “weird” things, but that does not mean he has to name them as strange, which is a negative word.

Jason says:

Maria, thanks for visiting. The term “weird” is negative to those that view it as such, as is the case with many words. If we choose to view it as negative, then it’s negative, but nowhere is it recognized universally as such. Aracely is from Ecuador, but regardless, if I wasn’t married to her the post would still exist. This list consists of things WE found weird to us as US residents. That doesn’t mean they are weird to those from Latin America. It wasn’t written from that perspective, it was written from ours. This is blog is personal account and not written for a universal approval, it’s written from our point of view.

Please understand who writes the articles and who the audience is geared towards. Our readers are primarily from the US. Most of our articles are written from that point of view. If someone from Ecuador wrote an article titled, “10 Weird Things from the USA,” I would instantly recognize, probably without even reading the article, that it’s from the perspective of someone that doesn’t live in the US, and therefore wouldn’t take offense. I am sure there are lots of things in every foreign country to many people that are weird. No harm is intended.

This article is 1.5 years old. If I were to change the title, I wouldn’t be acting based on my opinions expressed in previous comments or what I felt when I wrote the article.

Aby says:

Are you sure you weren’t in the philippines?

Hehe

Jason says:

Everybody says that! I guess it must be very similar.

Ricardo says:

Sou brasileiro já morei na europa eásiaa .com toda certeza do mundo você nâo veio ao Brasil.aqui não tem nada a ver com o que você relatou.As vezes fico pensando que o Brasil nem deveria estar aqui na américa do sul,pois nem espanhol nós falamos,enfim somos um pais sem sombra de dúvidas longe dessas coisas nojentas que você encontrou por esses paises pobres.

Jolie says:

Latin America does sound a lot like the Philippines…

Jason says:

We have heard that a lot. Especially when comparing it too most of SE Asia.

Ivy says:

Hahahaha! This is one thing I do not miss about blogging. I thought it was a really good article. Of course, I’m from Tennessee, where only tourists wear the funny hats. :D

DORIAN ZULETA says:

THIS IS HILARIOUS………. I have 2 things to add

11. my grandmother
12. my grandfather

crazy ass people..lol

-dafunny1-

Andrea says:

Ah, yes – all wacky things we are noticing. But I am still disgusted by the first one…just can’t get over it.

chonpope says:

hi, im from Chile and i know is common to see those toilet paper signs in hostel’s rooms, I don’t know about the rest of south america but in Chile we have the most hard water in the world (a lots of minerals and stuff) so the plumbing is harder than any other place thats why people are carefull with bathrooms. Anyway in most residencial buildings and houses it doesnt work this way. And about the plastic bags is very funny you can even find boose in those lol
well keep coming to south america its great

Miranda says:

Keep in mind that a couple of these attributes are not necessarily what these countries would prefer. Quite a few of these are due to the financial state of the country. Try and be careful with your wording so it won’t appear that you’re boasting the “weirdness” of other countries.
Liquids in plastic bags exist because Plastic and glass containers are slow in production and really expensive. Also trucking/distribution companies go on strike often and leave many shops without products for weeks at a time. Bags are easier and cheaper to transport so more money can go to the company and distribution drivers.
Unfinished buildings are not a fashion statement in Latin architecture. It’s not uncommon for private contractors to take their employer’s money to finish a project and book it. Leave with the money and leave the building in whatever state they want. The judicial system particularly in South American countries is impossible so law suits aren’t common and it’s usual for business owners to leave the project the way it was left and move on and count their loses.
The preciousness of change comes in as a precaution of counterfeit bills which are very common in many Latin American countries. It’s rare that they’ll come in the form of smaller bills or coins in particular. Financial tiers in such countries are not very strictly regulated and therefore counterfeiters can have their way. Plus, there are many shady shop keepers that don’t care what kind of money it is and circulate whatever they get.
Paying for restrooms is simple. Vandalism and homeless citizens. Plumbing services are not entirely adequate so maintaining public restrooms is a huge hassle.

However, great observations. :]

Emilio says:

I’m Mexican and I liked this article but, for me, I don’t agree Mexico is part of Central America because we are not, we are very different about them even the Mexican North, Central and South are diferent between them; may the southern is similar to Central America but the rest of the country?
I know we have the “Chicken bus” but our aren’t so wacky!! In Mexico City has the modern transport sistem in the whole country (Guadalajara also).
So PLEASE don’t confuse Mexico (located in North America) with other country located in Central America because we are not central american we are north americans too. (even if it can seem that to simple view).
But away from that, this is a good report (I really don’t know the #4).

felipe says:

although you don’t want to you must admit you are mroe similar to south americna culture than nort.please, who are you kidding? Actually, you are part of latinamerican together with south and centrla american countries. you speak spanish and you are catholic, most porbably. so face it. you are similar to us.

Jason says:

We travel because we get to experience different cultures, environments, landscapes, people and behaviors. If we weren’t different, travel wouldn’t be as exciting.

Omar says:

I Respectfully disagree with Emilio, Even when Mexico is geographically in North America, I identify myself with all my brothers from Central and South America. I was born in the South of Mexico, just in front of the beach, but also I had the chance to live in the North of Mexico (just in front of the beach) where is a little more developed compared to the South, but its still is Mexico and people is the same warm as the rest of the country. None of us have chosen the place where we were born and that´s fine I would be the same happy being from anyplace in the world. I am not living in Mexico (at least for a while), but I am so happy when a I found a latin american brother and I have the chance to speak spanish and express my innermost thoughts in my language. It is amazing to speak without doing pauses to think what I will say next. As a country, Mexico can be a little (just a little) more developed than other Latin countries but we are still behind Brasil and Chile (we may be behind others as well) but is that important? important for what? Emilio, We have several bad issues in our latin countries such as corruption, violence related to drug issues, poverty, etc… So, we do not need to be enemies between us. As José Martí said, Latin America, unified! Send you a hug man.

Amanda says:

I just came from a trip to the Philippines.

Bill says:

Okay, time to lighten up. Carlos obviously just read the article without reading any of the comments or he would have understood before launching his little attack.

Sunny says:

Actually, I should note that the article is on Latin America, not just South America. This is such an incredibly broad geographical area to cover! It is completely understandable that people from countries where none of this applies are getting upset. But perhaps they in turn should understand that this is the reality for alot of countries which they may not have visited themselves. The article has certainly sparked alot of debate, which isn’t such a bad thing. We live and learn.

Carlos says:

#1 Is straight bull shit… #2 Is not common… #4 Not all buildings are like that… #7 They wont charge you in every single public bathroom you go… #8 Its usually stun rounds… #9 WTF are you that dumb?… In conclusion, the most stupid article about my side of the continent I’ve ever read…

Sunny says:

None of this is bullshit in most parts of Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador and on occasion, Argentina, Brazil and northern Chile. Are you from one of the more developed countries in South America Carlos? From a major city perhaps? That would explain why you are upset about this list. Or perhaps one of the other countries I haven’t mentioned? (I can’t comment on them as I never visited them). It would be good to know just for us travellers knowledge. But I can promise you, if you venture outside your own city or country’s borders and travel the South American continent you will see where the author of this article is coming from.

Chantelle says:

i understand that it may be a little uncomfortable for you to read an article like this if you have strong machista/ nacionalista views. but for most of us who are from these countries or who are descendants of these countries now living in the US, this stuff is pretty light hearted and quite nostalgic. i have seen 6 of the 10 on this list in my parents’ country, Panama. the author could have chosen some really nasty or awful things to post…

BTW, i know of a carribbean latin country woman who practices #1 in tampa, fl. (wacala!)

Jason says:

Thanks for commenting Chantelle. It’s nice to hear alternative opinions of the article.

kay says:

I have lived in Central America in two different countries. I loved this article. There are things that seem unusual to foreigners to any country but I have experienced all of these first hand. It takes some getting used to sometimes. As far as the generalizations, I think you guys were pretty specific when you put the name of the country under the picture! Can’t get much more specific than that.

I enjoyed it! Thanks for the laugh.

Jason says:

Glad we could make you laugh Kay!

gavin says:

Nobody has mentioned so far that the with the exception of american school buses, everything on this list is found everywhere in the world that isn’t “developed”. Even the buses – that’s just the logical choice when they’re being sold off in large quantities by richer countries (you’ll see similar things elsewhere, it’s just a different type of vehicle that gets a second life).

This article is funny. It’s very “oh my god, I went to this one place and it was sooooo like, too real”

Jason says:

You are right Gavin they do occur elsewhere. It was mentioned several times in the comments that these things are popular in SE Asia as well.

I have to agree with Alyssa, I would have lost it at a much earlier stage of the comments. Some of the comments are so far from the intention of the article that I wonder whether we have read the same thing. And Bill’s title is indeed brilliant.
And Jason, I think it would have been as bad if you had used the term “strange”. It would have been interpreted as having a negative quonotation as well. :)

Bill says:

Suggested Title: ” A Few Weird Things I Observed in a Few Places That Happened To Be In Various Places Throughout Latin America But Not In Every Place and Are Not Indicative of Latin America But I Saw Sometimes In Some Places Which I Thought Were Great”

mono says:

Where is the “i like” bottom???

Jason says:

There is a Facebook Share button at the top of the post. Glad you enjoyed it.

Jason says:

I think that title would resolve much of the frustration felt by the readers. Thank you for being a genius. I nominate this as the best comment ever on our blog. Thanks for putting a happy spin on this article.

Alyssa says:

TO FUTURE COMMENTS:
I have been following the comments on this post, having commented earlier, and I would advise to everyone that has read the article and wants to comment to please read the other posts. It has already been left pretty clear that the article generalises, but this was obviously not done with bad intentions, just, I’m guessing, to make it brief. If you read some other posts in this blog you will probably find the author is in no way critical of countries in South and Central America, not in a bad way at least.
Things mentioned as “weird” here do not, obviously, occur in every country, or every city, or even every district of a given city. (tuk-tuks may not be seen in Miraflores but they are a common pest in Chorrillos).
These are just things they have seen during a trip that covered, I gather, most of South and Central America.
A way to have avoided all this sensitivity would have probably been to be more specific, as many of this things may seem out of context, and not so weird when an explanation is provided. (Milk in bags – cheaper).
As a South American, I understand how people may be bothered by these, personally, I would’ve preferred the word “strange” or “odd” but that is not my decision. Reading the perception of foreigners of my country sometimes makes me feel ashamed and I feel the need to explain, which is, I think, what others have done with a little too much anger.
In the end this is a blog article and people can’t expect it to be researched to the level of an enciclopedia. So to further commentators, think before commenting. This is an entertaining article and it does not intend to insult any nationality. It is a little too general, but too good readers, fewer words, right?
I really have to hand it to the author, I would’ve lost my patience a while back…

Jason says:

Alyssa, yes, toilet paper discussion, I remember. You are right, this article does generalize a LOT. When we initially wrote it, we had no intentions of trying to describe Central or South America. In my mind, I thought, “It would be fun to document all the strange things we experienced during our year long trip.” We used “weird” in the title because it was more catchy and interesting. However, now I realize “Strange” would have been more appropriate. Maybe it would have made a slight difference for readers. I appreciate you scanning our blog for other articles and realizing we had no mean intentions.

Thank you for visiting and thank you for your comments.

Chris says:

There are quite a few commentors that need to lighten up. Don’t take it personal, its nothing against you or your country or culture. If anything it smells a bit of inferiority issues.

BTW, everyone in the USA does wear stupid hats like far west. Well maybe not the hipsters melting into the sidewalks of Williamsburg, but they do have stupid hats. Not to mention the fact that this guy has earned the right to comment …he’s from New Jersey.

mono says:

(first of all, forget my english, ill do my best)
Ok, this article is absolutely wrong for more than 1 reason.

most of the country in latinamerica doesnt have or do most of the things you point.
you should have say that you found a few of this things in a few specific locations because sombody will read this and will travel to argenitna, uruguay, paraguay, chile, brazil etc… and will not find nothing of the things you point except for 1 or 2.

its obvious like you response some comments saying that you generalized a little but in this case you generalized a lot and it gives the absolute wrong idea of latin america.
im not saying that the facts are fake, only that you should put more emphasis saying that its not the normal thing everywhere.

its like somebody traveling to texas and say that in the usa everybody wheres stupid hats like far west.

just see how you ended the description “we were still able to observe some COMMON weird things across them all.”

Jason says:

I did generalize, but my intent wasn’t to create this article as a resource for describing Latin America. It was simply a post capturing things that seemed strange to us foreigners during our year long trip, which happened to be in Central and South America. We have lots of other articles on our blog that are meant as a resource. We mean no disrespect and enjoyed visiting Central and South America.

Daniella says:

Hi there. This is a really interesting article! However, I can see how some people would be bothered by your title. To say “weird things in latin america” is a gross generalization. I also feel as though pointing out the “weird” things about these countries carries a derogatory conotation. I am Argentinian and there are maybe just two points that apply to the culture there. At least, in Buenos Aires. I think where South Americans might get upset is the the whole generalization. People from the states who aren’t familiar with any latin american countries will read this article and depending on their gut reaction, will make an assessment on latin american countries in general. I may be biased (and many of you that are latin american would agree with that), but each country is quite unique and I would like for Argentina to be represented as the jewel that it is.

Jason says:

Whenever articles list things of a place, there will always be people disagreeing. That’s natural. It could be an article on best things to see, best things to do or weird things from.

This article covered all of Latin America, because that is where we traveled for one year, so it fit our blog well. If we traveled to Europe, we would have called it “Weird Things from Europe.” And Europe is also very big and different between each country. If an article was produced of Argentina only, there would still be tremendous differences even within the large country of Argentina. In my small hometown state of New Jersey, USA, there are great differences. People in North Jersey live an entirely different life then people living in South Jersey. And what is strange in South Jersey, might not exist in North Jersey.

So no matter how big or small of an area, there will always be generalizations that can’t be applied to that entire area. And that is fine. It’s also true.

There aren’t old American School Buses in South America, but they are all over Central America. So to say, “They don’t exist in my country,” is correct. These are just things that seemed strange to two Americans traveling for a year though Central and South America. A light hearted, fun article to enjoy.

Rachael says:

oh also advertisements and political campaigns are painted on the side of buildings and on brick walls on the side of the road! this was all over Peru and Nicaragua

Jason says:

Yes, this is very common. Advertisers such as Tigo will paint your bodega blue for free, but of course, they get their logo advertised.

Rachael says:

Green light means best option, red light means go for it anyways and pray you don’t get hit!

Silvia says:

Im from Argentina and I know very well Uruguay and Chile and I can’t say that those things are normal in that part of South America excepting the milk bags and the streets named after dates (but that happens in Spain too)
BTW, Guatemala is central America.
I think you generalized too much saying “South America” I guess that the very south is different to the north of south america and with central america.

Jason says:

Silvia, thank for checking out our article. I just wanted to let you know that it’s not a South American article, it reads “Latin America”, which is why Guatemala is included.

Sarah-Fey says:

I am living in Quito, Ecuador right now and all of these weird findings are true to Ecuador! Although, I’d like to share that I have heard the reason buildings have the iron rods left free at the top is because you don’t have to pay taxes on a building that is not finished. This is why unfinished buildings are seen more in the poorer part of a city.

Jason says:

Yes, Sarah, we have heard that buildings are left unfinished for tax purposes. We hope you are enjoying Quito!

Marie says:

Most of these aren’t even surprising.. all of these could be found in the US as well, except maybe the drinks in plastic and cops with shotguns. you’re actually not supposed to flush toilet paper in the toilet; so many plumbers have told me that’s why the toilets always get clogged.

Lyra23 says:

Nice list! But… some of these things are quite common in Europe too… Milk in bags is also sold in Spain. It’s a measure they took a couple of years back to save cardboard and be more ecological…

As for flushing the toilet, same thing, you can see that in Germany, in France, Spain, Italy, Holland. It’s to save water from being wasted, that’s all.

Streets being named after dates is also common in European countries with a fairly long and significant history. Its to commemorate the city or country’s victories (or defeats) and the victims that died for their country.

Overall, many of these things are also common in so many european countries… Nevertheless, it’s a pretty entertaining list :P

Farewell!!!

Neverthele

Something I found interesting in Peru was when I was in the men’s restroom, using the urinal, and a female janitor just came in and started cleaning the counters. In the US, this would never happen, the female janitor would make sure the bathroom was empty before coming in.

Luis says:

Im from Colombia but have half my family spread all over latin america,Panama, Chile, Puerto rico, argentina.. i liked this article it reminds me of home haha these things are all perfectly normal to me, i miss the Chivas!

Jason says:

Luis, I am glad you could relate and found it entertaining. The article was intended to be fun. Ah yes, the Chivas. Uncomfortable, but lots of fun.

Axia says:

Actually, the first four are seen in Argentina. They are not the norm but they are there. Not the rest, though,

Franco says:

Hey! Almost none of those things are usual in Argentina! Except for the preciousness of money change. LOL.
Who the hell doesn’t flush toilet paper down the toilet? Certainly no one I wouldn’t consider quite disgusting.

Jason says:

I know, they aren’t all present in all Latin American countries, but we did experience all these things during our travels from Central to South America. And we did enjoy every bit of it.

T says:

Hahaha this made me laugh so much! I agree with all of it except there are no tuk tuks in Peru. That is where I studied abroad for 7 months and experienced the bagged liquids, dates for street names (i lived on avenida 28 de julio), etc.
Weird things I noticed:
Eggs and milk are sold room temperature. (never got used to that) Hot water magically changing into freezing cold water after you’ve been in the shower for about 16 seconds.
Piropos or cat-calls from all the latinos. At least for the gringas this is a common occurrence in south america, not so much in the US.
Car alarms going off literally every .6 seconds starting at around 7am.
There are NO lemons to be found in Peru. It’s all about limes.

There are so many more strange things but it’s all a part of the beautiful culture :) Thanks for the post, I loved it!

Jason says:

Ahh, but there ARE tuk-tuks in Peru. They are the main mode of transportation in Mancora Beach, Peru. It is a beautiful culture. I am so glad you loved the post, and thanks for stopping by.

LB says:

There are also tuk-tuks in Villa El Salvador, a district of Lima.

Chris says:

Came across this looking for the name of the guy that did a tattoo for my buddy in Antigua.

I think you’re right on target to talk about differences, and most people find it interesting. Likewise, there are instances that most U.S. citizens who travel (especially in the 3rd world) will find subtleties which will change their viewpoints against many of the excessive norms of the U.S. I do find it funny though when I meet people looking to test my pompousness as an “American” they are usually also Americans. By a quick check of the map, if you live in the Western Hemisphere, and aren’t European, you’re more than likely an American of some sort. Semantics at its finest.

Wanted to add a few more differences that aren’t the industry standard in the U.S. especially in a politically correct or bourgeois sense:

Public Urination- Anytime anywhere pretty much, I am not surprised at all anymore to turn around at work, the market, on the way to work, on the way home, seeing a guy taking care of business,

No Peta or Bob Barker- Dogs are not spayed or neutered and are everywhere¡ mostly trying to procreate. I always like to laugh that one of the hot spots is at the Mormon Church which is right next door to where I work and quite visible from the roof of the building we are working on. Its really nice and well mowed and made of all the nicest material, and of course the prime spot for canine adultry. Also (most) dogs are not cared for and are all extremely scared of people. I´ll save the details for the those with weak stomachs, but most reading here have probably been to the third world and know what I´m talking about.

Public Breast Feeding- This is one that has got some attention the past few years in the US, and frankly it wouldn´t be that big of a deal for me if just a bit of discression was used. In Guatemala all bets are off. The middle of the mall food court, at church, in the market right behind the merchandise, you name it. No blankets and no qualms at all. I also love it when someone like say an uncle or other family member will come and pat the baby on the head and talk goo goo gah gah while the kid is feeding.

Children in the back seat- Nope, looks like Brittany Spears would be alright in Guatemala. Always held in the arms in the front seat, or sitting on the middle console, sometimes breast feeding. And I will add that driving is WAY safer in the US. You thought Candadians (sorry I’m from WA St. and B.C. drivers are horrendous) and teenagers were bad? At least they´ve had TSE and had to pass a drivers test. This also goes for motorcycles, and scooter where you can see a family of 4 riding down the street with the two year old riding the handlebars.

Food Storage- It is very common to take something like a soup or rice or noodles off the the stove, set it on the floor for the night and serve it again the next day. Its kind of the school lunch philosophy where one day there will be meatloaf then there will be spaghetti, then hamburger gravy (which I used to love!) Except usually on the third day here its served cold. I guess it wouldn´t be that big of deal if there weren´t a ton of flies all over the place. Of course I haven´t gotten sick yet so…maybe the U.S. is just overly germ conscious. Also, eggs do get refrigerated, while I grew with this as a norm, it is very tough for many from the U.S. although many tell me its because eggs here (Guatemala) don’t have salmonella.

While I don’t necessarily find these things of much concern, and although they would be seen as very taboo in the U.S. I would like to echo your sentiment that different doesn’t mean bad, just different. Heck, where I’m from a plea to a public urination charge will get you a sex offender tag. I appreciate the acceptance here.

Chris says:

should read eggs DO NOT get refridgerated

banned? haha says:

It seems you’re the one with the “masked anti sentiment” here my friend.

A homework for you:

“…é que Narciso acha feio o que não é espelho…”

Bill says:

And what would my “anti” be, my friend? I love Latin America. Perhaps I’m generalizing too much. I love the parts of Latin America I’ve visited. The article was written from a U.S. perspective, for (I assume) a largely U.S. audience (it’s in English). From that perspective, and for that audience, the things listed seem a little “weird”. Not bad, just unusual. Please, tell me. What “anti” am I exhibiting in defending the article? Felipe, on the other hand, was obviously voicing anti U.S. sentiments.

Pascual says:

all of this things are fake if you consider Chile and Argentina as part of latin america

(except: public bathrooms, the name of the streets and the milk (only milk) in plastic bags.

Bill says:

This is a much more valid criticism, and didn’t have anything like the anger and masked “anti” sentiment that the first writer had. Perhaps the article could have been more country specific with each item. Well said, Emmanuel. And, by the way, your English was perfect.

Emmanuel says:

Hi! I’ve read your article, and I must agree with Felipe comments. I’m from Argentina and I find that the title it’s like… waaay generic. You don’t seem to specify where did you exactly saw these things besides Colombia, Ecuador or Guatemala (I’m just telling by the pictures there).

Now, what I have to say:
The toilet paper thing: In Argentina you just throw the paper in the toilet. Probably the hostels you were put those warnings because of the amount of people that uses the bathrooms. They probably don’t want to pay plumbing services. Also, at least in Argentina everyone besides the toilet paper, uses “bidet”.

Liquids are sold in plastic bags:
Only milk and yogurt. Otherwise, I’ve never saw water sold like that. I’ve went to Bolivia and Peru, and neither of those countries did that too.

About the streets:
That’s true, but it’s not always like that. There are cities in Argentina, like La Plata, that uses numbers. But yeah, mostly they are dates or historic heroes names.

Unfinished buildings:
At least in the places I’ve been, if a building looks unfinished, it probably means just that. They are either still building it or they stay as “frozen projects” because of the country unstable economics.

The money and change, that’s true.

The buses:
In Argentina they are not American school buses or something like that. Actually, they are quite old. WAY too old. But still beautiful since they have the art technique known as “fileteado” all over.

About security, I’ve seen in Bolivia many guards like that. Not in Argentina, but people wants that (¿? Yeah, don’t ask).

Liquid soap is mostly seen on Mc Donalds and some other restaurants. Other than that, yeap, it’s a big bar of solid soap.

Tuk-tuks and motorcycles: I’ve only seen those in Peru and Bolivia. It’s weird to see those driving around in Argentina or Chile as far as I know.

Latin America is WAY too big and has many many different influences from different cultures + our own original cultures + the U.S. influence. That is why your title and most of the content seems way too stereotypical and generic, even if it’s not your genuine intention. I mean, I’ve been in places like Bolivia, which it’s only at about 2500 km. from where I live and… it’s amazingly different.

Anyway, sorry if my english isn’t the best. Greetings from Argentina!

Bill says:

Being a lover of Latin America, and having traveled in many countries south of my country’s border, I feel that I can comment on Felipe’s remarks. We have the same sort of attitude in the U.S. It’s called being “politically correct”, where to observe differences (and especially to criticize) is considered to be a very negative thing. I have seen several of the things mentioned, in countries I ADORE. It didn’t make me think less of the countries. I could make a long list of odd things about my country, too (as I’m sure could Felipe), but still, I love my country.
And the “American” thing is bogus – also politically correct. I am sensitive to it and try to never use it, but I have never – NEVER- heard anyone from Latin America refer to his or her self as an American. Chill, Felipe. Things are what they are.

Felipe says:

I’m sorry, but I live in Brazil and I’ve never seen any of the things you mention in this post.
I think you should be more careful with titles that generalize regions or ethnic groups. I’ve seen very strange and stupid things in the U.S. too, but I don’t say I saw it in North America because I’ve been to Canada and I’ve never seen stupid things there.
And you are not “America”. You just live in America like me or any other guy in Ecuador or Chile.

Jason says:

Felipe,
I am pleased that you have come across our article and found the time to comment, however it seems that you have stated some misinformation. Nowhere in this article do we call ourselves American. We are from the United States, as written in the first paragraph.

Brazil is only one country of many in Latin America. The culture between the United States and Canada is similar. The culture between Latin American countries has similarities.

You seem to have read this article as a bashing of LA, of which it is not. When someone travels away from home they experience or see things that are different, odd or strange to them. In no way is that supposed to be taken negatively. Seeing different things is what life is about.

So to generalize in this article is not to harm, since the generalizations are not to be taken negatively. I asked that you please read this article clearly and with a good attitude and you will see there is no negativity in it.. unless you personally add it.

Felipe says:

I just think that if this is not your intention you should think better – before answering my critics – if you’re not beeing preconceptious by the moment you list “weird things” from “Latin America”.
Maybe changing the title would be a nice start.
Goog luck on your blog.

dorthe says:

What about the missing clocks!! In southamerica you never see any clocks at all – and if you do (fx in the plaza da armas) it has stopped ticking a loooong time a ago… In other words if you yourself do not wear a watch you have no idea about what time it is!! What a difference to the western time-fixed everyday-life…

Erin says:

ahahahaha! brilliant list. the pasty dish soap always throws me off too. and why is it always accompanied by a gnarly looking sponge??

Trevor says:

Yes, living in Peru I know all these to be horrible true… Thanks for the good laugh though!

Mary says:

I always bring home the dish paste.. its much better for getting sticky dishes clean. I agree with all of your observations having lived in Ecuador for weeks at a time. The armed guards don’t scare me as much as the crooked transit police. My taxi always gets pulled over on the way to the airport looking for a bribe. I love the coastal cities and the pitahiya (dragon fruit). I think my latest chuckle was the difference in price btwn coke and Pepsi. Coke is more expensive for some reason. Also our yogurt has gelatin added to make it a solid.

Bill says:

One more thing. Where does the (money) change go? Does everyone have a jar at home they refuse to part with? I’ve found that to be one of the most frustrating things about travel. We’ve even had people refuse to sell us things because they didn’t want to give change (which we didn’t have and couldn’t seem to get).

Jason says:

I have no idea, but it’s a good question.

dorthe says:

I think it is some kind of complot for the merchants to get rid of their 5 cents caramels…

Bill says:

I’ve seen all of these in Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Honduras. I’ve also seen squat toilets in Paris (in marble, no less). And pay toilets almost everywhere, with varying degrees of cleanliness. Some even have attendants (which you tip) – I like those. Armed guards are a common thing in many places in the US and Europe, though they are often not visible. That’s what I love about travel – it shows me that some things aren’t good or bad – just different. And as much as we think our way is the best way (no matter where we’re from), there’s another way of doing things. A different way. Viva la difference.

Andrea says:

Love this post! We are heading to South America for the first time in March and I had no idea about most of these things. I feel more prepared already!

I hated the money exchange bit I couldn’t do a thing with a $100 brazillian bill yet that is what the ATM gave me. I wasn’t too surprised by the pay toilets, her in Japan I’ve come across a few pay for toilet paper places.

Jason says:

Basically the ATMs gave you bills you couldn’t use. It was so frustrating.

This is one of the best lists of its kind that I’ve ever seen! I lived in Ecuador for 1.5 years and must say that all of it is true. The dish soap paste was really weird and sort of drove me crazy. Same for the liquids in bags! :)

Jason says:

Glad you enjoyed it Lisa! It was a fun list for us to put together.

EU says:

Funny article! I got a bit scared in one of those chicken buses from Guatemala City to Antigua, and I am a Southamerican myself!!! hehehe…

Regarding toilet paper and public bathrooms, throwing the toilet paper in the bin is common practice in public places but not at homes. Be glad you pay for the public bathroom. If you find it not too clean when you pay for it, imagine if you can use them for free!!!! (I’ve experienced many public bathrooms in Argentina many years ago, disgusting!).

Oh, one more thing! Plastic bags for milk and yoghurt are ok but buy them at the stores, where they have fridges to store them!!! :)

Enjoy your travels!

Jason says:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Throwing toilet paper in the bin doesn’t bother me at all, it is just different than what I am used to living in the United States. We bought lots of food in plastic bags while riding on the Chicken Buses. And as you stated, it probably isn’t the most sanitized container.

anca a says:

JB, the first 3 items are absolutely valid for all latin countries in Europe as well. It must be something in the blood :)

JB says:

Here are some things (not necessarily weird) I have noticed traveling in Latin America:

1. People honk their horns for any and every reason, not just passing through intersections as noted above. Most of the time I have no idea why they are honking but it is so prevalent there must be a secret pattern to it…

2. Just like honking, people whistle all the time. I think this might be a step above (or below) the communication patterns of dolphins.

3. The concept of a line or queue is completely alien to people in these countries.

4. Related to #3, most people have no situational awareness or perhaps just don’t give a rat’s bottom, especially when walking on the way too narrow sidewalks.

5. Related to the comment about lifting shirts to air the bellies, no matter how hot it might be, shorts don’t seem to exist in the wardrobes of most people in these countries. Jeans are the rule.

6. You may have to throw the toilet paper in the wastebasket, but outside of the home, the entirety of mother nature becomes a garbage disposal.

anca a says:

Nice article. But I assure you that with two or three exceptions (especially the shotguns :)) you can find the same things all over Europe especially in Eastern Europe but not only. In Vienna you pay for bathrooms about one euro but…at least they are very clean.

Jason says:

Thanks for sharing Anca. We hope to visit Eastern Europe someday.

anca a says:

Well, I know Romania is a little remote and the information might be scarce and not very accurate, there are a lot of things you mihjt want to see – for backpackers there are perfect destinations. I intend to starting writing on my blog (my dog’s blog in fact :)) a few articles to promote some exceptional things to be seen here. And if you ever wish to come here, please contact me – I’d be glad to receive you in my house and guide you.

Carolina says:

HI, I’M FROM COLOMBIA AND I WOULD JUST LIKE TO SAY THAT WE NEVER HAVE ARMED GUARDS OUTSIDE CLOTHING STORES OR RESTAURANTS, I AM AWARE OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK MY COUNTRY IS LIKE (DANGEROUS, MENACING, ETC.) BUT IT IS NOT ALL TRUE AND BY DOING SUCH GENERALIZATIONS YOU LEAVE OUT EXTRAORDINARY THINGS ABOUT US! ALTHOUGH MOST OF THE THINGS YOU SAY AR TRUE, THIS IS MAINLY IN VILLAGES AND SMALL TOWNS, SOME OF US DO FLUSH TOILET PAPER DOWN THE TOILET… JUST SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT!

Sunny says:

I agree that travelling in Colombia is not as dangerous as all the hype and it is one of my favourite countries in Latin America – particularly owing to the warmthy and friendliness of the people. But tourist magnet Cartagena IS crawling with armed police and security guards whilst other countries like Bolivia do have armed guards outside banks and some businesses, including supermarkets. Sorry, but its just a fact!

Jason says:

If you continue to read our blog you will find many articles about our time in Colombia and how much we loved it. These are not criticisms of Latin America, these are simply things that are different to somebody like us, who is from the United States. I am not criticizing the fact that toilet paper is put in a waste bin, I am saying it’s a different behavior than one we practice in the USA. Many security guards do carry shotguns, and again it’s just simply different to us. The article is meant to be light-hearted.

Michael says:

I have been to colombia 5 times now and I have seen security guards at almost every store with shotguns. This was one of the very first things I noticed along with the buildings that were unfinished.

Hal Amen says:

You nailed it. This is awesome.

Jason says:

Great list!
The toilet paper in the trash basket is a tough habit to break for a while even after you’ve come back home.
Jason

Jason says:

Absolutely! It was for Aracely.

Brookfire says:

I’m currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I was surprised when I first got here that most (though not all) of the toilets I’ve used in this city can handle toilet paper. Traveling outside Bs. As. is another story though, and even in the city I always check before I use new toilets.
As far as liquids sold in bags go, I was more surprised to realize that actually seems weird to a lot of people from the USA. I’m from Wisconsin, and I remember, probably 15 years ago (I was pretty young at the time), when milk in bags started to become known. My family has been using it ever since, and milk in a jug frankly weirds me out a little. I think the only place I know that sells it though are the Kwik Trip gas stations. They have white & chocolate milk, as well as orange juice and occasionally other types of juice. It was certainly strange though, the first time that a shop keeper in Ecuador poured a bottle of soda into a plastic bag so that I could take it with me and she could keep the glass bottle. Later I found out that people did the same with alcohol to sneak it past the pat-downs to get it into a concert.
And I always wondered what was up with the buildings that looked half-built.

Jason says:

When they offered us drinks on the bus from the vendors off the street, it was always in a little plastic baggy with a straw sticking out. Definitely interesting.

Kelly says:

Hahhaha this is classic! I remember the toilet paper thing all too well! I remember as I was preparing to leave S. America, all I wanted was a free, clean toilet that could flush paper! Such a hard transition to make coming from the States.. but then, once I returned, I had to remind myself where I was because I caught myself throwing paper in the trash again!
Hahaha. The building comment is too true as well.. you see this everywhere, esp in Brazil! Classic!

Jason says:

Kelly, the same thing happened to us. I kept going in our bathroom at home and seeing it filled with toilet paper. I kept saying, “Aracely! We are in the United States now, you can flush your toilet paper!”

Alyssa Meier says:

The first time I heard that people outside South America DO NOT throw toilet paper in the rubbish bin, I was really surprised. I have always considered it natural that paper should go in the bin to be with the rubbish, be recycled maybe (I know, that’s odd) and everything else goes down the sewer…
It’s maybe because, at least where I live, we have septic tanks, and we don’t throw paper because the bio-digestor or whatever it’s called in english, can’t process it, and it isn’t filtered to the ground either.
When I went to the US and found no rubbish bin in the bathroom, I looked around bewildered for a few moments then flushed it down feeling guilty.
Anyway sorry that wasn’t a very pleasant comment

Love the article, though. I’ve never had water in a bag (me being from Lima) but frozen chicha “marcianos” in the long narrow bags were my specialty when I was little.
We call the tuk-tuks “mototaxis” here, or “anconetas” in ancón.

Jason says:

Thanks for the comment Alyssa. In the United States the systems are built to handle paper waste, but that is not very common elsewhere. It’s not just South America, it’s also much of Europe and Southeast Asia. It’s one of those things that becomes habit and difficult to break, similar to the way you felt when you found no toilet paper in the waste basket.

Linda says:

Great list. I am currently backpacking in South America and keep finding more weird and wonderful things about this place every day. I posted a link to this on my facebook page “When I went travelling to South America”. Hope you don`t mind but it deserves sharing!

Jasmine says:

LOL I love this list… as far as the change goes, I always use my biggest bills at the grocery store.

One thing I think is weird is all the males-only pool halls that seem to exist in almost every single Latin American town I’ve been to. And those bars in which all the seats face outwards, so you walk by and there’s 30 men staring at you.

Mat says:

That only happen to beautiful girls ;)

Shane says:

On leaving Latin America did you spend 15 minutes playing with the toilet flush and making the sort of sounds usually heard at firework displays? Or was just us being children?

Really love this list. Took me right back to being there. And I totally agree that the “oddities” of the world make travel that much more exciting. Great post.

Peter says:

Great post…have been living in northern coastal ecuador for the past 8 months and agree with all things on the list…and have some add-ons:

-Loud, blasting, blaring music everywhere you turn, from shops, street corners, buses, houses, cars, you name it, at all hours of the day. Not seen as impolite at all to blast music from speakers at 3 am, for example. Generally speaking, we’re talking about the same 10 songs on repeat all the time. Personally, quite corny music, but that’s just me!!

-Shirts rolled up over big bellies, in the heat. No shame about it. If you’re hot, roll that shirt up and let the belly get some air, male or female, young or old. If you really want to be classy, its perfectly acceptable to stick your finger in the ol’ belly button and give it a twist. Not kidding, must see this ten times a day in rural coastal ecuador.

-Toilets with the seats just ripped off. For no apparent reason, you encounter toilets in public bathrooms (sometimes in really low-end hostals) with a perfectly normal and functioning toilet but with the foldable seat mysterioulsy missing.

I could probably think of more good ones but I’ll leave it at that, for now. I’d love to hear if anyone concurs.

April says:

When I was in high school in rural Michigan (in the 90s) the school lunches had the option of white or chocolate milk – in bags. First time I’d ever seen that and most kids thought it was weird. :)

Thanks for the great article! I’d never heard most of these!

Jason says:

I had never heard of the bags in the US before. Very interesting. Although it was mentioned above that they had them in Canada. Michigan isn’t so far from there. The closest thing I have ever seen is a Capri Sun juice, lol.

Bella L. says:

What wonderful memories you incite!!!!! I’ve never been to S. Am., but traveled alot between 1954 and 1969 in the Far East. I remember public “bathrooms” that were for everyone, not segregated by sex. Most were just holes in the “floor” (some tile, some dirt, some wood), some with water flowing thru. You just squatted and went. “Toilet paper” was either like waxed paper or crepe paper; it was in a stack, usually on the floor. Neither did much of anything about making you feel cleaner or drier. And all paper went into the bucket. Most people were very friendly and helpful, even though some of the places were very much affected by Americans during WW II. What memories!! Thank you and great journeys in the future!!!

Jason says:

The wax paper, yes, they had that! Never as toilet paper though, that would be tough. We had to bring our own toilet paper everywhere. The wax paper was used as napkins a lot. Didn’t really accomplish much.

Glad we can bring back memories.

Nomadic Matt says:

They do the liquid in bags in asia too. Actually, i see a lot of overlap with s.e. asia.

Jason says:

Everybody is saying that SE Asia has some very similar customs / products etc. That’s interesting and hopefully we can observe them soon someday in SE Asia!

LeslieTravel says:

Great observations! I’ve lived in S America and spent 4 months there last year traveling. After coming from SE Asia, I noticed many similarities– e.g., the liquids in bags, having to throw toilet tissue in the waste can, the unfinished buildings and apparently tuk tuks too!

Bessie says:

Great list – makes me miss Latin America so much!!

I miss water from bags & the dish soap in the tubs – you could just rub with a sponge and get just the right about of soap! With the bags, I at least felt like they were better for the environment than bottles, my fav was in Colombia you could get like 3 liter bags of water. Super chevere!

Jason says:

I agree Bessie. I do prefer the paste soap too.

Loved the Article, and enjoy following your website (ever sence I met you in Torres del Paine, Chile).
I`m currently in Ecuador now, and I witnessed another strange thing – the drivers always `honk` before passing through a junction (with/without a traffic-light), I figured it`s to be on the safe side (because they never put sit-belts on :) )

Jason says:

You are absolutely right, they do honk their horns going through intersections. So where did we meet you exactly? Was it at the towers before sunset?

E says:

Yes, number 1 brings back a lot of memories! I lived in Mendoza for a semester, and once I almost laughed out loud in a bathroom in the university after seeing a handwritten sign that said: “Por favor no tire yerba al inodoro ni al lavabo, porque se tapa” (Please don’t throw mate in the toilet or the sink because it makes them clog). I found this hilarious, because it makes perfect sense here but seems really weird anywhere else in the world.

travvvelller says:

You are not just 2 backpackers.
You have an excellent sense of observing other countries.
Happy trails.

Jason says:

Thanks a lot, that’s very kind of you. And you take some interesting photos too! Now we have to visit Austria to take photos of street signs. That’s just too funny.

Marta Rodriguez says:

Hahaha.
Latin America has more and more than 10 ” weird” things.
Next time in here, if you take a look around, then you’ll see it.
Enjoy!

Jason says:

Oh, we agree. We could list many of them, but 10 makes for a nice short article.

Mat says:

As an argentinian, i’m totally agree with the money change. We use a lot of public transportation, and most of them uses coins on their ticket-selling machines. We usually have to go to banks to get some change, somethings we just buy something at a store.

Jason says:

We dealt with that on a public bus in Mendoza. It required exact change and we didn’t have it. We had to borrow another passenger’s metro card, because the driver didn’t have change either. It was awkward.

Mat says:

Wellcome to Argentina

Cam says:

Great observations. We found it odd that yoghurt and milk were not refridgerated and sold off a display in the hot sun.

We also found it very odd that almost all of the brick buildings in Quito were unfinished – too funny

Jason says:

And that unfinished building picture is from Quito. I forgot to mention that, about the warm yogurt. Yogurt is our favorite and we were always hesitant to buy it at a tienda where it was baking in the sun. Seemed so foreign to us. We eventually tried it and survived.

Millie S says:

I definitely agree with everything in this post! After spending a good amount of time in Guatemala – experienced everything on this post. So funny!

Ana O'Reilly says:

Nice post!
They sell milk in plastic bags in Canada too . That was new to me!
Shotguns are intimidating, I agree, but unfortunately the “intimidating factor” is necessary.
It’s funny you should mention streets named after dates as a weird thing. Being South American, I’m so used to it that I’ve never given it a second thought. I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere else except in the south west of France.
Nice website, by the way :)

Jason says:

Thanks Ana and glad you found us. Plastic bag milk in Canada too, huh? I will have to check that out. It doesn’t sit well in the fridge. And we did witness a few spills when someone moved the fragile bags.

trish says:

Usually, the milk in plastic bags are sold in bags of 3. We have milk jugs with a handle which holds the bag of milk upright in the fridge. The top corner opposite to the handle is cut off so you can pour the milk from the jug.

Thomas Power says:

Yes, the iron rods (point 4). Ever been to Juliaca in Peru? City of a million people and I don’t think there’s a single completed building there.

It’s true that they are left ‘open’ in order to keep building upwards as new generations arrive, construct a new floor and live upstairs. At least that’s the plan.

As Audrey says, in truth it’s down to taxation. If a building isn’t finished, you just pay land tax. If it’s finished, you pay property tax.

Guess which is lower.

Franco Vera says:

The “unfinished” constructions in Perú, it’s because they pay less taxes, when they haven’t finished it… that’s the reason. I think it’s the same in other countries in Latin America, except in Chile or Argentina.

Jason says:

We have heard that several times, so I believe you are right in your answer. Thanks for sharing Franco!

B says:

Neale, wet bathrooms are common, as I like to say the mode of cleanliness in lowland tropical bathrooms is “constant wetness” rather than attempting to keep it dry like it drier and higher places. After they are used, water is splashed on the floor to clear out any mud/dirt for the next user. This was no problem when we were using wooden clogs, but now it’s just gross.

Neale says:

These are all true in SE Asia also.. the thing that keeps coming to my mind and I need to write about is the “wet bathroom floors” on arriving here I went ass over tip 3 times in the first few weeks luckily nothing broken just bruises… for westerners who have never encountered a wet bathroom floor I’d say it is about the most dangerous thing I have come across…

Jason says:

I haven’t witnessed the wet bathroom floor thing, but it sounds like I will if we visit SE Asia.

I can relate to quite a few of these but I’ve never been to South America. Tunisia looked like one big construction site because of unfinished building. As you say, people build as much as they can afford to at the time then add on rooms or levels when they have the money.

B says:

Hilarious! So much like the Philippines. Except the streets-after-dates, and milk in plastic, but we’ve recently been working on the latter, unfortunately.

I had a bunch of Europeans over in the province and there were massive toilet problems because they kept putting toilet paper in the hole. We do it too, but I think Western people use more because they don’t wash their asses after wiping.

Jason says:

It’s true, we probably use a lot.

Audrey says:

This is hilarious – both the observations and the accompanying photos. One thing we heard in Guatemala about the unfinished houses was that the taxes were lower if the house was “in construction” so people just kept it like that forever as a tax break.

Change as a precious commodity also holds in the Czech Republic – giving exact change for a purchase is the sure way to make a surly cashier smile.

Jason says:

Makes a lot of sense. I guess the government has gotten around to tracking how long a house is under construction yet. They may want to consider closing that loop hole. The change thing is difficult isn’t it?

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