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Some tongue-in-cheek questions about South America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Some tongue-in-cheek questions about South America

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1. Posted by findemundo (Full Member 127 posts) 11y

findemundo has indicated that this thread is about Peru

Following are several tongue-in-cheek questions that I have asked myself over the last nine months traveling in South America. I post them here for entertainment value only; if you've ever traveled south of the Darian Gap, I hope a few of these put a grin on your face. But if you actually know, or would like to propose, an answer, by all means, add your two cents.

Why don't shopkeepers or taxi drivers have change, even after a bustling business day?

Why do street vendors display their entire inventory, even when it is 50 of the exact same pot, table cloth or bar of chocolate?

Why does a three-hour bus trip cost the same as a 10-minute taxi ride?

Why is the water supply so questionable, or is it really so dodgy?

Why do so few toilets have lids or rings?

Why can't you put toilet paper in the toilet? And where does it go?

Why do Bolivians STILL think Peruvians are crooks, Peruvians think Bolivians are pedestrian, and no one trusts anyone from Chile?

Why is the first meter of most tree trunks painted white in plazas throughout South America?

How is it that restaurant service gets worse the fewer people sitting down?

What's the difference between manjar and dulce de leche?

Does anyone in La Paz, Bolivia, have a day job? It seems the entire population is on the street all the time.

Why are most Bolivian taxis imported from Japan and converted from right to left-hand steering?

Finally, just to make sure you don't think I'm being a culture-shocked jerk, I ask the following.
Why, in the United States, don't we have Internet cafes and public toilets like you find down here? I'd be willing to pay 50 cents back in the U.S. to go to the bathroom :)

2. Posted by john7buck (Respected Member 458 posts) 11y

Thank you! You've taken the thoughts right out of my head!

A few more:

Are there actually traffic laws in South America, or are they more like suggestions?

From what hours do people in Argentina actually sleep, and how do they manage to always look so good? Is it the mate?

Is it necessary to ask for the check before a waiter/waitress will acknowledge the fact that you might be finished?

I'm sure I could think of many more, but unfortunately I'm at work and not enjoying South America for what it is, a brilliant place!

Like you, I don't want to seem like a jerk, but you're right ~ some things run through your head and you never think to ask.

3. Posted by Kingwindle (Respected Member 301 posts) 11y

That is the best mail I have read in ages, it is so true, i even asked the same question to my mate yesterday, why are the trees painted white!!
Brilliant...

4. Posted by aleah (Full Member 400 posts) 11y

Hi there,

I've been told that trees are painted white at the bottom to avoid overheating or bursting of the tree. Because the white color reflects the sun shine and prevents that the stem gets to hot.

I thought thats a good explanation.

a+
-KAT-

5. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

I have answers to some of these:

Why don't shopkeepers or taxi drivers have change, even after a bustling business day?

So that you will say...keep the change (mind you, the only do it to tourists).

Why do street vendors display their entire inventory, even when it is 50 of the exact same pot, table cloth or bar of chocolate?

To give the appearance of having many different things, it got your attention right?

Why does a three-hour bus trip cost the same as a 10-minute taxi ride?

Oh that one...yes, you are just getting ripped off by the taxi driver.

Why is the water supply so questionable?

It isnt questionable...it is in fact dodgy. You learned from an early age: DONT DRINK WATER OUT OF THE FAUCETT, BAD BAD BAD...poor infrastructure, most countries in S America are still developing...

Why do so few toilets have lids or rings?

Because people steal them...

Why can't you put toilet paper in the toilet?

Because people steal them...

Why do Bolivians STILL think Peruvians are crooks, Peruvians think Bolivians are pedestrian, and no one trusts anyone from Chile?

I was born in Peru so I will refrain from answering this question...

Why is the first meter of most tree trunks painted white in plazas throughout South America?

I like Aleah's response...sounds like a good one.

How is it that restaurant service gets worse the fewer people sitting down?

Because now the staff can relax, they just take it to an extreme and forget about the very few left...

What's the difference between manjar and dulce de leche?

The country who names their desserts...

Does anyone in La Paz, Bolivia, have a day job? It seems the entire population is on the street all the time.

Hmmm, dont know that one...

Why are most Bolivian taxis imported from Japan and converted from right to left-hand steering?

Import tax from certain countries make the car more affordable than others...

Finally, just to make sure you don't think I'm being a culture-shocked jerk, I ask the following.

You are not being a jerk Joshua...like Kingwindle, I think the thread is brilliant!

Why, in the United States, don't we have Internet cafes and public toilets like you find down here? I'd be willing to pay 50 cents back in the U.S. to go to the bathroom

Just as the answer for everything else here in the US...liability issues? (if someone falls in the public bathroom, someone will be sued )

6. Posted by areinstein (Travel Guru 2788 posts) 11y

Lets see if I can answer these:

Are there actually traffic laws in South America, or are they more like suggestions?

Yes, there are many laws, but people havent learned to follow them yet. Traffic laws are more like, "lets see who can make to the light first, the one that does has the right-of-way...".

Is it necessary to ask for the check before a waiter/waitress will acknowledge the fact that you might be finished?

This is totally a cultural thing...

7. Posted by john7buck (Respected Member 458 posts) 11y

Yes, there are many laws, but people havent learned to follow them yet. Traffic laws are more like, "lets see who can make to the light first, the one that does has the right-of-way...".

How true. I was down in Peru/Boliva about a month ago. On my final day of travels, I arrived back in Lima and had the entire day to kill before flying out again at midnight. I befriended a local taxi driver (for a fee of course) who drove me around to several of the sights. After dropping me off for a few hours in Miraflores he picked me up again in the afternoon to take me back to the airport and we hit rush hour. Rather than sit in the stop-and-go traffic with everybody else, he proceeded to gun it into the left lane until on-coming traffic forced him to push in as close as possible to the cars to the right. When we would approach 4-way stops, he would not miss a beat with the gas pedal, but would rather blare his horn (which was actually equipped as a siren instead of a horn). Mind you, I had about 7 hours left to catch my flight. The best part is that the entire time he was berating the driving skills of his countrymen(women). If it wasn't so humourous, I would have been scared witless.

8. Posted by steff (Travel Guru 1160 posts) 11y

I'm sorry not to be able to answer one of your questions, I can only add another one which has been in my head ever since I'd been to Venezuela.
Why is it that all the street signs, traffic lights and billboards at the roadside have lots of what looks like gun holes? I noticed that when I was travelling by bus and I didn't want to ask a local.
Does anybody know?

Cheers,
Steff

9. Posted by Scorpion73 (Budding Member 8 posts) 10y

I believe the tree trunks are painted white, to help prevent insect infestation.

10. Posted by numero1 (Respected Member 295 posts) 10y

From what hours do people in Argentina actually sleep, and how do they manage to always look so good? Is it the mate?

Is it necessary to ask for the check before a waiter/waitress will acknowledge the fact that you might be finished?

I believe the mate to be the key to your answer here. I spent much time in Argentina this year and from general observations (combined with what the locals told me) I believe they sleep in 2 shifts first is from 6pm-10pm, then dinner, then 11pm -2am, then out on the town until 9am. Difficult to adjust to, but I got used to it.

Yes, ask for or gesture for the bill, otherwise you will sit there for a long time.;)