During my trip to the continent, I came across some surprising things about South America. Some you may know about some you may not.
Not many people smoke in South American.
Many South American countries have some of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the world. Smoking in many places, including some public places, is not allowed. Also, you will not see many people smoking on the streets.
Yes, football is a religion.
Going to a soccer game in South America is an experience. It is not for the fainthearted. In most countries, the stadium will almost exclusively be full of home supporters.
In these cases, the police can take the part of the opposition. The tension between the police and supporters can be extreme. If you are going to take children to games, make sure you know where you are going.
Catholic traditions are still strong.
Most countries still celebrate old Latin Spanish catholic church traditions. Even if you are not religious the pageantry is great to observe.
There is a lot of counterfeit notes around.
I came across more counterfeit money in South America than any other part of the world I visited. Beware of money street changers. They are the most high risk, but you can get a counterfeit note anywhere.
Many South American counties do not have a beer culture. Another one of the surprising things about South America.
South American is not like Europe, where you can find a bar in most locations. In some South American cities, bars are located in certain areas. These are usually where tourists stay.
The Mercado’s are amazing.
It is like going back in time. You can eat, drink and get your hair cut in the one place.
The Mercado’s are a great value place to eat the best of local food.
If you are on a budget, the local market is usually the best and cheapest place to eat. They turn over a lot of food every day, so the food is usually freshly cooked.
Demonstrations are quite regular.
It can be common to see riot police in many South American cities. I came across a lot of civil unrest on my trip. If you stay away from the protest area, you should be safe.
It is not always sunny.
Some of the main cities are in high altitude areas. For example, a typical day in Bogota Colombia can be as follows. Early morning cool. Midday warm and early evening cool again. Lima in Peru can be very cloudy for a lot of the year.
Of course, most of the countries are south of the Equator, so the seasons are in reverse of Europe and North America.
You can buy almost anything on the streets.
The streets are full of people trying to make a living. You can buy the most amazing things on the streets.
There is a lot of inequality in South America.
There is a lot of inequality everywhere, but in South America, there is even more. Poor areas are never too far away from rich areas. Rich areas are, of course, usually the safest as they tend to have a lot of police.
The old city centres are very interesting and full of life and commerce during the day. Unfortunately, a lot of El Centro’s become dangerous once shops close and night descends.
Alcoholics anonymous is not very anonymous.
Some of the best Latino and traditional music can be found in South America.
Each country seems to have a different musical sound. The continent is full of music.
Buses in South America.
Bus travel is prevalent in South America. The standards vary by country. It is worth paying a little bit extra for a luxury bus if you are travelling on a long journey.
I found busbud quite good on my travels.
Graffiti is massive in South America.
Good Graffiti can be seen in most South American cities. These are approved graffiti and add to these areas and make them more attractive.
Many indigenous people still dress and practice their customs in the way they always have. I found the indigenous people in Ecuador among the most interesting.
It’s almost impossible to get a pint of Guinness in an Irish pub in South America.
By the way, that picture is not Guinness. I could not find one to take a picture.
Eating out is really cheaper than buying in supermarkets.
In most South American countries people still, for the most part, use local markets to buy their food. This includes the many family-run small restaurants you can see everywhere.
I found most large supermarkets to be expensive in comparison. The large supermarkets also did not have a large selection from what you would see in Europe and North America.
If you want to read more about my travels click here.