May 18, 2007

  • In Argentina, ATMs are known as ‘Links’.

  • Instead of saying ‘Adios’ when saying good-bye, people say ‘Ciao’. There is definitely an Italian influence.

  • Alfajores are the best! I love Dulce de leche and calafate flavors. They also have amazing chocolate that is served in bars in a
    variety of flavors.

  • What is known as dulce de leche in Argentina is known as manjar in Chile.

  • Chile and Argentina might seem really similar…but Chile is much more expensive than Argentina.

  • Easter Island – best to pull money out in Santiago as the one ATM in town was not accepting foreign bank cards.

  • Tipping is about 10% in all of the countries at restaurants. Look at bills because some places automatically add this; others

  • People on flights cross themselves before the planes take off. I noticed this is also done on buses.

  • People on flights are anxious to get off. If you don’t stand right away you will lose your turn. It’s not like at home where
    people wait for the people in the rows in front to exit first.

  • Always carry toilet paper. Better to be safe.

  • There will always be a rubbish bin next to toilets. This is used for everything…including toilet paper.

  • What says ‘South America’ more than women in bowler hats?

  • When going diving in the Galapagos, expect poor visibility due to the currents.

  • And for that matter, expect FREEZING cold water. Be prepared to wear a very thick wetsuit. I would advise for a wetsuit
    for snorkeling, too.

  • They love Coke Zero out here.

  • Chile is the most developed country. They have a large option to choose from in the grocery stores – this includes ‘leche
    descremado’ or skim milk (a far from common sight in the other countries).

  • Find out about bus companies before booking a bus ride. Especially for overnight buses. They can range from sheer comfort
    to about the most hellish experience on your entire trip. Best to find out. It is extremely worth the extra few dollars for first-
    class or the ‘cama’ bus.

  • Argentina has some great bus companies…complete with Bus Bingo! Oh. And most buses provide meal service.

  • Never wear anything of value. There are some great people who live in South America…but I found the best way to go
    about it is to not give anybody the benefit of the doubt. Consider everyone a potential thief. Not the best attitude to have.
    But at least you won’t be one of many that I met (myself included) that will be left without a camera, backpack, wallet, ipod,
    passport, etc…

  • The biggest communication gap will come in Brazil where nobody speaks Spanish and it’s near impossible to understand
    and/or speak Portuguese.

  • In Brazil, ATMs can be tricky. Many will not accept our cards. In times like this, you might need to change a bit of money
    until you can get to a location where you can find an ATM that will work. This can take a lot of bouncing around from one
    ATM to the next.

  • Watching the capoeira dancers in Salvador de Bahia is great. Just know that you are expected to pay a bit when they walk
    around. You are getting some great entertainment. It’s only fair. My advice is to buy a caipirinha to sip on while watching –
    adds to the ‘Bahian’ experience.

  • Taking flights in Brazil can be cheaper than taking the bus! (For example, a flight from Salvador de Bahia to Rio was $30
    less than taking a 26-hour bus ride!)

  • Despite what people say, it is possible to be a vegetarian in South America. Not like it affects me (as I am not a vegetarian)
    but there are tons of pasta dishes and sandwiches to choose from. There is also loads of street food that doesn’t contain

  • Who knew there would be so much fun shopping in La Paz, Bolivia???

  • Though I wouldn’t know from experience, there are many ways to do a fairly reasonable Galapagos trip. If you have time,
    book it once you get to the islands.

  • Easter Island has more than just moai statues! It is a rustic, tropical place where you can spend time just looking out at the
    water. There’s diving, trekking and horseback riding to be done out here.

  • Go out into Buenos Aires on a weekday. Go to a park and watch the dogwalkers with 15 dogs in tow.

  • The Palermo Viejo part of Buenos Aires is great. This is where we stayed and I would stay again in a heartbeat. It was nice
    to walk around Recoleta but I preferred to stay in this part with the great restaurants and boutiques.
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