Tips During Your Drive to South America

Some tips for your drive to South America.

Toilets

Do not put the toilet paper in the toilet. Latin American countries generally have poor plumbing infrastructure, and you will clog up the very same toilet that you would have to use later on. Throw them in the trash bins provided next to the toilets.

Showers

A lot of Latin American countries have a large attachment to each showerhead that heats up the water. It may take a couple minutes for the unit to catch up and produce warm water. Be careful when you adjust adjust the levers while taking a shower and try not to electrocute yourself, as some of these attached units aren’t properly installed.

Money Belt

The money belt became very useful for many reasons. First, it allowed me to carry money securely around me at all times. I just wore the shirt over it, but you can wear it inside your pants for additional security. It does feel a lot safer than a wallet.

Weather

What they mean by ‘rainy season’ is not as alarming as it may sound. It’s clear by day, cloudy in the afternoon sometimes followed by an hour or two of rain, with cool nights.

Cell phone

You can either cancel your cell phone plan before you go, or put it on a Seasonal Standby plan. Call your respective service provider’s 1-800 number. Here’s Sprint’s terms:

Sprint Seasonal Standby

$5.95 Monthly Service Charge
$0.75 Per Minute Of Use
Please Call Customer Care to Change the Service Plan When You Are Ready to Return to a Standard Service Plan

Fuel Station – Full Service

Almost all fuel stations are Full Service. Tip the fuel station attendant a dollar or two.

Interacting with Children

Kidnapping and holding them for ransom is not too uncommon in Latin America. Do not be too friendly with children. Always ask before taking a picture of anyone.

Making the @ sign

It’s incredible how hard the @ sign is to make in Latin America (for example, drivetosouthamerica@gmail.com). There’re two ways to do this. Push and hold the left Alt (The Alt key directly to the left of the Spacebar) and push 6 and then 4 on the numerical pad on the right hand side of the keyboard, then let go of the left Alt key and the @ sign will appear. Or push and hold right Alt (The Alt key directly to the right of the Spacebar, may say Alt Gr) and number 2 directly on top of the ‘q’ and the ‘w’ key.

Argentinean Dinner

Argentineans tend to eat much later at night. Do not expect to be served before 7:30PM.

Other Notes:

  • It seems like several English speaking consultants have run amok in Central America and made several signs in English. Do not automatically assume that just because there’s a sign outside a store, restaurant, or hotel that the attendants inside will speak English.
  • Some stray dogs WILL run up to your car just to bark at you.
  • Apparently, Auto Hotels aren’t really hotels. It’s a cheap and easy place for two people to make love.
  • Banks charge about $5 for using other banks’ ATMs in international countries on top of 0.5% ‘Currency Exchange Conversion Fee.’ Decent way to overcome the heavy charges is to withdraw a lot of money each time you go, the amount depending on how comfortable you feel about holding that much cash and how long you plan on staying in that particular country.
  • Do your research on currency rates before you get to the border. Otherwise, you could get shafted with very unfavorable exchange rates.
  • Mexico City is known in their country as just Mexico. Same goes for Guatemala City and Panama City.

Next >> Darien Gap – Bypassing the impassable