Llamas in Chile are like cows in the US

28 Signs You’ve Been to South America

Traveling through South America has a way of staying with you.

If you still wear your alpaca sweater everyday or have acquired a hankering for pork rinds, you probably have spent some time in South America.

I find that every time you travel, you adapt a little bit, or a lot, to your new surroundings in ways that may be hard for you and your less-traveled peers to understand. Don’t feel bad. It happens to the best of us. I’ve compiled a list of character traits to help pin down the people who have spent a good amount of time in South America. Leave a comment if you can think of anything to add!

You know you’ve been to South America when…

  • You crave arepas and empanadas when you’re drunk instead of pizza and lo mein.

    Arepa con huevo, a Colombian delicacy

    Arepa con huevo, egg arepa, from Cartagena, Colombia

  • you’ve realized that they weren’t lying when they said that you can’t flush toilet paper.
  • muscle memory has you throwing away toilet paper in the bin instead of in the toilet.
  • you, or someone you know, have a cool Salar de Uyuni photo as your/their profile or cover photo on Facebook.
photo credit- Blake Matich

photo credit- Blake Matich

  • you start calling ketchup “tomato sauce” because in Spanish it translates to salsa de tomate.
  • you’ve either worn, held, fed or eaten an alpaca/llama.

    Only costs a few soles to hold a baby alpaca in Peru

    Holding a baby alpaca in Cusco, Peru.

Alpaca hair makes a warm material for clothing in Peru.

Rocking my warm alpaca sweater from Peru.

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posing with a llama in Chile

Alpaca dinner

Alpaca dinner

  • you know how to score prescription pills from the pharmacy, without a prescription.
  • you’ve never been so sunburnt.

    Intense sunburn from an Ecuadorean sun.

    Nearly a year later, and I still have those tan lines.

  • you have, or know someone who has, crapped your/their pants…in public.
  • you have, or know someone who has, been robbed.
  • you recognize the value of the currency instead of having to do math to figure out the dollar amount.
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Chilean money

  • you bring along chicharrones for a bus snack instead of Doritos.
mmmmmm

mmmmmm

  • coca tea becomes an acceptable substitution for coffee.
  • you’ve found all kinds of weird flavors of Lays potato chips.
they really do taste like pollo a la brasa from Peru

they really do taste like pollo a la brasa from Peru

  • you’ve literally been eaten alive by mosquitos.
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not as bad as the people who look like they’ve had a herpes outbreak on their calves, but still

  • you’ve had nightmares from malaria pills.
  • if you can’t talk about poops with someone at your hostel, you don’t want to be their friend.
  • you were seriously impressed by the street produce.

    Large avocados found in Medellin, Colombia

    AVOCADOS THE SIZE OF YOUR HEAD

  • the thought of putting on shoes other than flip flops or hiking boots is daunting.
  • you’re in a public place and immediately try to struggle with Spanish when talking to strangers, before realizing that you’re home now and can speak English.
  • you don’t fear insects anymore.
  • you hide your iPhone under your pillow before leaving the room.
  • you see a sign that says “areas” and you think “arepas.”
  • someone tells you it’s 23 degrees back home and you can’t believe they’re having such nice weather in December (only applies to Americans using the Imperial system during the winter).
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kill me

  • you think it’s acceptable to wear your alpaca sweater daily (after all, there is no warmer material).
  • your cabbie stops at a toll and you prepare yourself to be searched by the police.
  • ponchos are a warm and sensible fashion statement.
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being a weirdo with matching ponchos

  • you’ve made friends with at least one stray/hostel dog or cat.
Found a dog to play with in Salento, Colombia

Made good friends with this good boy in Salento, Colombia

Randall, the house pup of HI Arica

Posing with Randall, whom I met in Chile.

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by Rebecca Bellan

 

 

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