I’ve had a few people talking to me about Latin America and express different ideas about what they think a lot of Latin America is like. So I thought I would weigh in on a few interesting points that I have learnt over the years.
South America has opposite seasons to North America. So when it is winter here it is summer and summer here means winter there..
Temp: South America has very diverse temperatures and weather climates. Being a very long country it runs from from above the Equator which averages about 40 degrees with a humidex of 80% all year long to the South of the continent which can see snow accumulation and below freezing temps in the winter months. Also, a vast majority of the countriesto the west, run along the Andes Mountain range. Some of the highest in the world. At heights of 15,000 feet or more some places are cold and can see snow on occasions all year round. For the tourist altitude sickness is also a concern, causing headaches and pains and shortness of breath.
Rain and draught are also common in different areas of Latin America. Some places have seen very little rain in years and have turned into nothing more than dust bowls. Also, some areas have cold and hot deserts. Places that rarely see rain but temperatures stay low. During the “ winter months” they receive rains so heavy they wash out roads, flood entire areas, and cause massive land slides.
Are most of the roads paved. Fact. Over 70% are. Myth, over 70% are. No didn’t make a mistake. Paved may mean many things to many people. Paved really means at some point in it’s history they had a hard surface but may only be rugged shards of asphalt, or even turned back to sand. However, many areas around major cities have pretty good paved roads, but they often have interesting hazards. “ Sleeping policemen” are large speed bumps randomly placed to try and keep traffic speed under control. Also, potholes that can swallow up entire tires are also common place. Not to mention the many animals you find left to wander along the side of the roads, such as cattle, goats, pigs horse etc. etc.
Is it Dangerous.
Off course we hear a lot on the TV and movies of the lawlessness, random violence, corruption and the seemingly total disregard for human life. None of these are to be dismissed, however, with an emphasis on however. Latin America is no worse than most other countries in the world. Most places are safe if you use common sense. Don’t go down dark allies or places you know you will find trouble. Almost
everyone you run into is going to be kind and helpful to one degree or another. People are not running around to harm others. They are just living out day to day life like everywhere out. Sure there are always exceptions but isn’t that the case in any country? What we see on the news is only the bad. To bad the news doesn’t report on all the kind hearted gestures billions of people show towards each other everyday. Guess that just would not sell, except around the Holiday Season.
The roads are dangerous. As I stated above, most are poorly kept. Some roads such as the “Death Road” and other in the Andes hold particular concern. Other drivers in Latin America are also a real concern. Also, there are deserts ( cold deserts, meaning they are 1000’s of km’s of barren waste lands) crossings not meant for the faint of heart, some little more than cattle trails and over run by sand, and after a rain can be deep rutted mud pits, that can swallow the entire front end of a car or motorcycle.
Water and Food.
For those who are little more adventurous, there is always local delicacies such as Turtle eggs (Nicaragua) , Guinea Pig or llama brains ( Bolivia), Mondongo , which is made up the 4 stomachs of a cow stirred into a soup ( Columbia). How about
some “chicken of the trees”, which can be purchased in most countries and is Iguana, that can also be bought fresh at the market. Or for those who prefer finger foods I am sure you can find almost any sort of bug fried up for you at the local market. Bon Appetite.
Water can always be a concern, however, most places are set up for backpackers and tourist so fresh water that is purified is now very common almost everywhere one travels. Though it doesn’t hurt to be a pop drinker or carry some chlorine pills just in case.