Culture

15 Stereotypes About Foreigners Visiting Latin America

Oh, stereotypes. What would intercultural relations be without a few simple-minded preconceptions of foreigners? Stereotypes surrounding gringos who visit Latin America are numerous. Some of them are actually a bit true, but, like most black-and-white views of the world, most are a huge exaggeration.

Tourism from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe brings considerable income to Latin American countries. Commercial relations between the Anglo countries and Latin countries have always been a cornerstone of the economy. So it is pretty common to spot rubios y rubias in the region. Here are some stereotypes that are common and sort of chistosos.

1. They fall for all the tourist traps
Real? A bit, but not too much. 

Credit: 0a94b0c0bc05108d9763972a93f4f2a2. Digital image. Pinterest

People believe that all foreigners will walk into the first establishment that offers crappy food and mediocre musicians performing “local” music. Fact is that most tourists are well-informed, particularly in the age of the internet. Ranking systems like Expedia and sites like Lonely Planet often advice against falling for the infamous tourist traps.

2. They are scared OF EVERYTHING
Real? Nope, not at all.

Credit: robbery-thief-robber-burglar-steal-money-bag-vector-20804951.  Digital image. Vector Stock

There is a misconception that gringos are afraid to go out because of the insecurity that plagues many big cities in Latin America (that is sadly true). Fact is, the contrary generally happens: many tourists fill emboldened and do not take the necessary precautions. Gladly there are always good, honest locals to guide them.

3. They encounter poverty for the first time and ask why people just don’t “work more” to solve it
Real? YES

Credit: mexico-poverty. Digital image. International Business Times

This is VERY common. When encountering poverty in the continent, many foreigners naively ask why people don’t just do more work, implying that locals are lazy. That is not how disadvantage works, compadre.

4. They just cannot consume spicy food
Real? NOT.AT.ALL

Credit: 150804122715-chili-peppers-large-169. Digital image. CNN

Most cosmopolitan cities are exposed to food from around the world, so many foreginers are well-seasoned eaters. Many can, in fact, out-chili the most daring Latino. Other foods that are widely consumed in the United States, such as Indian or Sichuan, have even more chili than, say, Mexican, so be prepared before you challenge a foreigner on a chili eating contest.

5. Foreigners are damn funny!
Real? Por supuesto

Credit: 43679_0. Digital image. eBay

Foreigners have la fama of being bien chistosos once that have a beer or two on them. Well, this is true… particularly when they attempt to wishiwashear songs in Spanish! Foreignerss that are definitely not funny, however: spring breakers who trash hotel rooms and throw up on the street como Pedro por su casa.

6. They walk around disinfecting EVERYTHING
Real? Partially

Credit: 84abb89cc44588566b56dafcc6a25d242eb67af01beeda90ac93923cc9266b26. Digital image. QuickMeme.

One of the biggest fears that foreign visitors have in Latin American countries is catching diseases. They walk around with a disinfectant in their purse and drink bottled water even in five-star resorts. A little precaution is fine, but too much actually turns insulting.

7. Some expect everyone to speak English
Real? In many cases, yes

Credit: american-tourists. Digital image. Modern Diplomacy

The worst tourists get offended when not everyone bows to them and speaks English. When someone asks you if English is your second language as if to insult you, just elegantly say: “Yes, actually, yes, and what is yours?” Even though English is one of the dominant languages in the world, so is Spanish.

8. But some really make an effort to speak broken Spanish
Real? Claro!

Credit: 43b14ffa92791f6259d172c05912405ba09fa23f. Digital image. Smashwords

Many awesome visitors make a huge effort to prepare before their trips and spend months learning basic words and phrases and actually attending Spanish school. We have met many that totally try to immerse themselves in the language and culture. Bien por ellos.

9. Older foreign couples fall in love with cute little towns and move there to open an B&B
Real? Yes!

Credit: changing-my-mind-about-san-miguel-de-allende. Digital image. The Travels of Bbqboy and Spanky

Towns like San Miguel de Allende in Mexico have become retiree central. Many couples buy a property and turn it into their dream business. They live an Eat Pray Love life well into their seventies, creating employment in the meantime. A win-win situation. These type of resting spots have become famous for celebrities like Johnny Depp, who made San Miguel his go-to place for chilling out in the early 2000s.

10. Young wild foreigners leave everything behind and open beach bars…. livin’ la vida loca
Real? Yep

Credit: zenzi-beach-bar-and-restaurant-at-calle—v6195748-720. Digital image. Oyster Hotel Reviews

Just like their older counterparts open chill Bed and Breakfast venues, young foreigners, many of which try to escape corporate life, open beach bars in places like Belize and Costa Rica. They live a life of sand, booze and one night stands. They change the suit for the rastas and become central figures in expat communities. Problem is: most of these expat bars are not intended for the locals, so there is not much attachment to the land.

11. Foreigners, in general, cannot sunbath without ending up like camarones
Real? Hahahaha

Credit: Sunburnt-Shoulders. Digital image. Scuba Monkey

It is not uncommon to see unprepared foreigners rojos como shrimps or a mandril’s butt. This is a bit funny, but also dangerous and something that should be discussed. Skin cancer is the real deal: wear sunscreen, chaparritos. It is not uncommon to see foreigners lather themselves with coconut oil to get a tan, a very dangerous practice that actually burns skin cells beyond repair.

12. They will eventually run to the first McDonald’s they see
Real? Nah

Credit: McDonalds_cropped. Digital image. Josh Healey

Even though sometimes foreigners need the comfort of their food, not all go to Mackers for a Big Mac fix. Part of traveling is eating and most foreigners know this. Tacos, enchiladas, chiles en nogada… bring on the Pepto Bismol!

13. They ask for the Mexican, Chilean or Cuban word for whatever comes to their mind.. It’s Spanish, so.
Real? Sadly, yes

Credit: the-spanish-language. Digital image. K International

Many foreigners believe that people in Latin America speak… Mexican… Argentinian… Cuban…. and even though we all speak different variants of Spanish, we are united by a single mother tongue.

14. “I know a guy called Juan in New York, he is also from Colombia, do you know him?” Dude, there are millions of Colombians.
Real? Yes, and it is damn funny

Credit: d1566_066295-c1c3e05c-1236-11e4-ae81-95568c4ed36e. Digital image. The Apricity

It is true and super funny. Would you ask a gringo is he knows a John in Missouri? No last name, no other indicator… just John. No, right? Well, many americanos are sure that every single person of Latino origin must know each other. Oh, it is so silly it is kinda cute.

15. They think the whole region is either a tropical paradise or a godforsaken desert
Real? Carajo, esto pasa muy seguido

Credit: Arbol_de_Piedra. Digital image. Never Ending Voyage

The geographical reputation of the whole region is that every single landscape is either a desert where Speedy Gonzalez roams around, or a tropical Brazilian rainforest with massive iguanas. Well, Latin America does have those types of places, but also forests, snowy mountains and everything in between. Learn some geography, guys, it is not that hard.

This Bomb Cyclone Is Plastering The West Coast And Making It Tough To Travel

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This Bomb Cyclone Is Plastering The West Coast And Making It Tough To Travel

You may not have planned to stay home for the holidays—but our country’s current weather situation might keep you there. Two powerful storms have been forming on both coasts, which means that traveling for Thanksgiving may be a little rough (or even impossible) this year. As the severe weather culminates in blizzard conditions and hurricane-force winds, weather forecasters are warning people to exercise caution and brace for major delays. So instead of trying to venture too far out into the snow, it may be best to cancel everything and cozy up with some Netflix and hot cocoa. Or, better yet, some Netflix and coquito.

Those on the West Coast are at the mercy of a “bomb cyclone,” a rare weather phenomenon that has already happened several times this year.

Credit: NOAA

These storms form when the air near the surface of the earth rises rapidly through the atmosphere, causing an abrupt drop in barometric pressure. As the air continues to rise, currents are generated at the base of the storm, sucking wind into its spin and causing the pressure to keep dropping. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Really, a bomb cyclone is just a storm that intensifies at an alarmingly high rate, and the results can be catastrophic. Last month, a storm of this nature descended on the Northeast and knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of homes.

This particular bomb cyclone is expected to plaster California—from Crescent City to Bakersfield—with several feet of snow. If that song “White Christmas” is any indication, white Christmases don’t usually happen in Beverly Hills, so this forecast is obviously unusual. Many meteorologists have also described it as unprecedented. Some experts say that that’s the true danger of bomb cyclones: they can (and often do) sneak up on us.

Bomb cyclones are kind of like cold-weather hurricanes, with strong winds, heavy precipitation, and eye-like features at their center. Definitely not the kind of weather you want to fly through.

“Fundamentally, the impacts of a bomb cyclone are not necessarily different from other strong storm systems, except that the fast strengthening is usually a signature of a very powerful storm system,” said Daniel Swain, Climate Scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

So what exactly should people in the West expect from this cyclone? The National Weather Service office in Las Vegas has a storm warning posted from 5 p.m. PT on Tuesday until 4 a.m. PT on Friday and some places in Colorado reported as much as 30 inches in just 20 hours. As the storm develops, forecasters predict that at least a foot of snow can be expected across the plains by Thursday. This means that the central part of the country will probably experience the most flight delays, as airports in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul have already experienced widespread cancellations (as of Tuesday morning, nearly 500 flights out of Denver International Airport have been canceled).

As for the East Coast? There is no “bomb cyclone” predicted. Instead, wet and windy weather is in the forecast, paired with heavy snow. It doesn’t take long to realize that plunging temperatures and abundant showers are a recipe for ice, ice, baby – but so far, there are no severe weather warnings encouraging people to prepare for icy conditions. In fact, it’s expected that rain will clear the coast by noon on Thanksgiving, though wind gusts might grow to more than 30 or 40 mph in some places. All the more reason to sip a warm beverage and cuddle up on the couch.

If you’re bummed about the weather ruining your holiday plans, look at it this way: you’re bearing witness to some serious meteorological history.

Well, maybe—that’s yet to be confirmed. Still, isn’t it cool that California may experience its lowest-ever air pressure reading? No? What about the fact that temperatures throughout the state will be 15 degrees lower than the average? Not doing it for ya? Okay. Perhaps the real silver lining to all this climate chaos is that it’s forcing some of us to stay put and relax. The holidays can be a stressful time, and sometimes we just need a powerful winter tempest to make us kick back and chill. Regardless of what your plans are, stay safe out there!

READ: Get Ready For Some Much Needed Couch Time: 10 Latinx Movies To Binge-Watch This Thanksgiving Weekend

A Hospital In Mexico Was Keeping A Couple From Leaving Until They Paid Their Bill In Full And Tyler Perry Helped Them Out

Entertainment

A Hospital In Mexico Was Keeping A Couple From Leaving Until They Paid Their Bill In Full And Tyler Perry Helped Them Out

Tori Austin / Facebook

Imagine: you and your boo are on your dream vacation, kicking back and sipping chelas on a Mexican cruise. Suddenly, one of you gets sick—like, really sick, and you’re rushed to a hospital in Mexico in critical condition. It sounds like a nightmare, right? Well, this happened to an American couple about a week ago. When they were faced with a $14,000 medical bill, film mogul Tyler Perry took immediate action to help them out.

Tori Austin’s fiancé, Stephen Johnson, suffered a sudden medical emergency while on a Carnival Dream cruise ship. He was diagnosed on board with diabetes, pancreatitis, and a kidney infection that required urgent dialysis. He was rushed to Centro Médico Americano, a private Mexican hospital in the city of Progreso.

A health administrator told NBC News that Johnson was “near death” when he finally made it to the medical center on November 14.

Credit: Unsplash

“He suffered kidney failure and is currently undergoing dialysis,” the administrator said. Johnson received three days of intensive care, which included an endoscopy and dialysis. After everything was said and done, the hospital bill totaled $14,000 and the hospital, Centro Médico Americano, prevented the couple from leaving until the bill was paid in full. Austin even claimed that hospital staffers locked the windows to ensure that they could not leave, and threatened to call the police if the couple tried to take off.

Whether or not those steps were actually taken by hospital staff, preventing patients from leaving before paying their bills in full is not unusual for private hospitals in Mexico. Many of these hospitals require patients, especially international patients, to pay their fees upfront, because they don’t have an effective way of billing patients after they have been discharged. If they don’t have travel insurance, Centro Médico Americano does try to help patients find a way to pay through credit cards or money transfers, but what if you just don’t have the means to cover the cost?

Well, you hope that Tyler Perry gets word of your situation.

After seeing a news report on the couple’s dilemma, Tyler Perry contacted Austin and sent a payment to cover the bill, which by that time amounted to more than $16,000.

Credit: tylerperry / Instagram

Perry also offered to pay the couple’s travel expenses back to Atlanta once they were permitted to leave the hospital. According to NBC News, Centro Médico Americano said on Saturday that they had not yet received Perry’s payment. However, the hospital did note that international transfers typically take several days to process, and conceded that the couple would be free to go on Monday if Johnson was healthy enough to travel. In the meantime, Austin expressed her gratitude for Perry’s support.

“Today I am thankful for and will always be thankful for Tyler Perry,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. She also shared positive feelings about Carnival Dream, affirming that the company “has been great” and that she will continue to “only cruise with them.” Additionally, in spite of this chaotic experience, Austin wrote that she would definitely continue to travel to Mexico in the future.

“What is going on with Stephen has nothing to do with the entire country, it has to do with this particular hospital,” she wrote. “We were unaware that this particular hospital and administration staff have been known to take American passports and hold them for payment.”

“I love MEXICO and the Culture,” she added. “I’ll be back again but will leave on my own terms. We have no ill feelings for the country or the people, just this hospital.”

Credit: Tori Austin / Facebook

The website of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico informs U.S. citizens that unexpected hospitalizations in Mexico can be “a difficult experience.” They recommend that if a traveler ends up in a Mexican hospital, they should “obtain the estimated cost of proposed treatments, request an itemized bill every day, and, if uncomfortable with costs, change hospitals if medically possible.” The Embassy states that hospital quality in Mexico varies, and there are different types of hospitals with a range of protocols.  

The Embassy also confirms that the couple’s experience is not unique, warning that “while most U.S. citizens have acceptable hospitalization experiences in Mexico, some have reported hospitals failing to provide an itemized list of charges, withholding U.S. passports, and delaying medical evacuations.” The Embassy reiterates that “the U.S. government does not pay for medical care overseas,” but some private insurance companies do. So, if you have insurance, make sure to check with your insurance company before leaving the country, to know what services are covered in case of an emergency.

If you don’t have insurance, don’t let that hold you back from setting out to see the world — just do your best to stay safe, and cross your fingers that a good Samaritan steps in if something unexpected happens.

READ: Atlanta Will Be The Site Of The First Latino-Owned And Operated Production Studio