1. Watching a pig being butchered doesn’t phase me.
I actually got all sciencey on it and was super interested in how pigs insides are put together. Mostly because I know they are very much like humans. So watching a pig be butchered was like biology class to me. And damn was it delicious! Don’t worry. There are no photos of this. Mostly because I messed up saving the whole folder of photos of the Colombian countryside when we reformatted my computer.
2. When saving all your photos to an external, check that they copied correctly using A DIFFERENT COMPUTER!
Yup, when you check the files while your external is still hooked up to your laptop, you will undoubtedly open the laptop file, not the external hard drive file, think that you have all the photos copied correctly, then not realize until 2 days later that you just lost a month worth of photos.
Number one cause of file loss?
Luckily the photos I lost are all ones I can retake next time I go back to my Colombian family’s house. Unfortunately, they were also about 3 months of blog posts and the videos/photos of the pig butchering.
3. I have the opposite reaction to altitudes.
I learned that the higher up I go in altitude, no acclimatizing needed, I can run around more, drink more, and not get hung-over. It is awesome. Bring on the Himalayas bitches!
4. Always carry your own tp.
Toilet paper is not a required item in bathrooms. Public bathroom are everywhere, but you will hardly ever find them stocked with this precious commodity. I’ve been told its because it gets stolen the second it gets stocked. It took me a month of being back in the USA to stop carrying rolls of toilet paper in my bags.
5. Long-term buses are kept about 2 degrees above freezing.
Water will condense because of the cold and likely drip on you if you have a window seat. Even if you are in the middle of the jungle, if you plan on taking a long trip bus, also plan on bringing jackets, long pants, a winter coat and a blanket or two.
Buses are freezing!!!
You may feel like a tool heading to the bus with all that, but everyone is carrying bags upon bags of winter gear. And you will likely die totally regret it, if you don’t.
6. Wash your fruits and veggies.
This is not North America people. Even at the corner stores, your fruit was likely picked the same morning you bought it, and still covered with dirt. Especially be careful of lettuce. Because if you don’t wash it, you will find a worm in your salad.
Its like eating from a garden all the time. Delicious, but sometimes has a bug or two, and it goes bad fast. But your tomatoes will actually SMELL like tomatoes. It is awesome!
7. Colombia is not a giant cocaine field.
Contrary to the popular stereotype (created by, oh hey, the good ‘ol USA who consumes 90% of cocaine in the world), Colombians are not a bunch of coke fiends, and Colombia is not one giant cocaine farm.
Colombia is not one giant cocaine farm. Stop asking me how the coke is/costs/where to buy it.
It is actually quite a modern country (especially Medellin, which is on the forefront of public transportation and hold first in the world records for their metro cable and outdoor escalators). Colombians hate the stereotype (for good reason) and the only people who I ever heard ask about, or use coke, was tourists. Good old tourists…perpetuating bunk stereotypes. That’s not to say coke doesn’t exist or get used down there, but nothing like the level you’ll find here in the USA.
8. Ecuador loves metal music!
I never in a million years expected to see a sea of black-laden-metal-heads the second I arrived in Quito. Ecuador rivals those Scandinavian countries on production of awesome metal music. I spent 6 weeks in Quito going to rock and metal shows. Historic district, smishtoric district. Bring on the rock!!!
9. Quito loves Middle Eastern food.
That was another gigantic surprise…a numerous amount of kebab and middle eastern food all over Quito. I guess there was a giant influx of immigrants from this area in the 50’s, and they brought some of the most delicious food with them. Sick of South American fried foods? Head to Quito and get your kebab on!
10. Not everyone speaks English.
I know we are all told this, but it’s a lie. Yes, some people speak some English, a few people speak really good, fluent English, but the majority of people speak…oh my god.. SPANISH! Go figure.
In South America most people speak Spanish.
I know this may be a hard concept, but its true. Learn a few polite and direction words, and it can get you far. But if you go thinking you’ll be fine with just English, your in for trouble. Luckily, many people and many places offer to teach people Spanish. Mine still sucks, (especially in Paisa country), but its ok, and I learned a lot while down there (and am still learning more).
Also, Portuguese is not Spanish. People will not understand it.
About Dani Blanchette
I am a freelance travel and music photographer and creator of GoingNomadic.com.
I love music, food, and exploring cities without guidebooks. I’ve flown a helicopter, hitchhiked down the east coast USA, and once snuck into the back of a zoo (in Serbia) and pet a lion.
I am always up for an adventure, and sometimes I videotape them.