21 Funny And Annoying Things People Visiting Latin America Keep Doing
Travelling is one of the most eye-opening and wonderful experience. Getting to know other cultures makes us less self-centered and empathetic. Of course, you have to be open for this. Traveling in today’s globalized world also produces funny and annoying situations when cultures clash. These are some of the most common when people from the U.S. and white Europeans visit Latin America. The West and Latin America have a long and often adversarial relationship so you gotta be extra sensible when visiting, comprende?
1. Saying “no problemo”
Repeat after me: “No hay problema.” The dreadful “no problemo” doesn’t make any sense. You are welcome, no hay problema.
2. Asking if people put lime on Corona to disinfect the bottle
Believe it or not, some people have been known to ask this question. Lime just gives the summery beer some freshness, because let’s be honest: it is kinda bland.
3. Wearing Frida Kahlo paraphernalia
We get it, you are on a Latin American trip. You don’t have to be too obvious to show your love for the region. Plus, Kahlo was a devout Communist and she would have hated to have her face plastered everywhere.
4. And Che Guevara t-shirts
Did you know the United States allegedly orchestrated his death? Che is a pop culture icon for many, but for others, it is the materialization of violent political ideals.
5. Pretending as they can really take chili heat
When waiters warn people that the food is really spicy, they often wave their hands and take a brave bite. They disguise their pain but they are not fooling anyone. Really hot chili can ruin your palate, so refrain from it!
6. And then telling war stories of how everything that comes in has to come out
People can get a bit too scatological when they narrate their trips. They describe burning butts and fiery poos in excruciating detail. No one cares, really. It gets worse if the culprit is a frat boy coming back from Spring Break.
7. Saying “mi casa es su casa”
Stop it! It just sounds fake and almost no one says it. Yes, Latin Americans are very generous and hospitable people, but this is not really our region’s slogan.
8. Pontificating on how good the U.S. is to the world
World history is complicated and many Latin Americans have a complicated relationship with the U.S. and with colonial European countries. Don’t discuss politics unless you are willing to engage in serious political discussions about the U.S. or European interventionism in the region. Be prepared to leave your black and white worldview behind.
9. Using patches with the Canada flag on them to camouflage their identity
Be proud of who you are. Latin Americans appreciate honesty and pretending to be from Toronto if you are from Wichita won’t really get you anywhere. You will find out that most people will be super welcoming.
10. Booking tours to get to know “the real Latin America”
Dark tourism to places like the Brazilian favelas is just wrong: people are struggling, they are not zoo animals. Learn to respectfully appreciate cultural differences and try to understand other people’s struggles.
11. Trying to bring down the price when buying from indigenous craftspeople
Indigenous merchants barely make ends meet. If an old lady is selling you a bracelet for 50 pesos give her the 50 pesos and don’t try to bring the price down. It is unjust and insulting. Just ask yourself what your minimum acceptable wage per hour would be and think that this person probably spent hours making their product. See the point?
12. Being “funny” by quoting The Three Amigos
Yes, the classic Steve Martin movie is funny, but we don’t appreciate being laughed at… and not all Latin Americans are Mexican.
13. Calling the United States “America”
Let us get this straight: America is a continent that stretches from Canada to Argentina. The United States is a country. Two very different things. We are all Americans.
14. Fearing Montezuma and his revenge
If you think you are going to get sick with everything you eat and run to the first fast food restaurant you see (McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc… yes, we do have them in Latin America), you will miss out on a fundamental aspect of traveling: eating. Food is culture, chaparritos.
15. Try to pick up Latinas with silly or gross pickup lines
Thinking that gorgeous women are gonna fall at your feet just because you are a foreigner is a big mistake and a big misconception. Plus, it perpetuates colonial attitudes that Latinas are just sick and tired of. Woo them like a gentleman.
16. Asking for burritos anywhere South of the Border. Get a taco or an arepa or something authentic for a change.
Burritos are really a Tex-Mex thing and are only consumed in some regions of Northern Mexico. If you go to Argentina and order one they will probably laugh at you… or worse (Argentinians do take their food quite seriously).
17. Wear ponchos and sombreros… dude, just don’t
Do not dress up as other cultures. It is in bad taste and it is insulting.
18. Describe Latin American poverty as “exotic” and “interesting”
If you come back from your Latin American adventures with a renewed sense of responsibility and care for humankind that’s awesome. But if you come back thinking that poverty is “interesting”… then shame on you. Be respectful and don’t just shove your camera on people’s faces.
19. Buy cheap “authentic” souvenirs Made in China
All the moms and aunties want some memento from an exotic Latin American trip right? So people tend to buy ugly reproductions of Inca and Aztec idols that are made from plastic in China. Do the research and find the authentic souvenirs that help the people.
20. Asking about the drug cartels everywhere they go
Wouldn’t you be tired if people asked about your country had to do with traumatic experiences and death? Yes, the cartels exist and are a problem, but Latin America is so much more than its violence.
21. Saying they like real Latino music and bring up Ricky Martin
Nothing against our dear Ricky, but Latin American music is far more than that and reducing it to pop phenomenon of two decades ago is not that nice. Try listening to some Rubén Blades, güeritos. Or some Celso Piña.
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