Our last blog was about 12 things Americans miss about the USA when they’re in Latin America. But of course, for every thing you miss, there is another thing you’re so happy to have. So, without ado, here are 12 things Americans love about Latin America.
- Welcoming people We know you’ve heard this one before, but we’re saying it again because it is so true, and so key to what makes Latin America such an amazing place to go to: Latinos are generally incredibly open and hospitable people. They will invite you to spend time with them, take you into their home, feed you until you can’t eat anymore, and tell you to come back again any time you want. Generally speaking, a feeling of friendship will form between you and a Latino person much faster than it would with many Americans or Europeans. Which is something to feel very grateful for in an unfamiliar place.*Remember, if you speak some Spanish, your ability to meet and learn from these amazing people increases tenfold! It is the key that will unlock the magic of Latino culture.
- Delicious food
Now, this depends to some extent on which country you are in. Not every country is as well-known for its cuisine as Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, etc. But no matter which country you’re in, you can expect to find deliciously-prepared beans, tender meat, sweet fruit, interesting seasonings and sauces, and a variety of fried goodness. Best of all, everything you eat will be fresh—not much in the way pre-made frozen food here. It’s a great return to respecting food and mealtimes.
- Snacks, snacks everywhere
You may find yourself missing hot dogs and fries, but the snacking options that are available on the streets of Latin America more than make up for it. As just one example, take empanadas. The best part of Latin American street food is that it’s all prepared fresh, by real people, who will also often come right into your bus or up to the window of your car so you don’t even have to get up. In our list of things Americans miss, we mentioned the lack of drive-thrus—consider this the Latin American alternative.
- No open container laws
This is a great one for those that like to party, or just like to enjoy a beer outside without any potential for hassle. In America, open container laws prevent you from being able to legally sit on the beach or in the park and drink a beer. Sure, you can, but if a couple officers roll by and feel like citing you, they can do it. None of that mess in Latin America! You can accompany any pleasant activity with a drink. Another benefit: it is often more acceptable to drink in the afternoon. We’re not advocating getting drunk all day, but isn’t an afternoon just a little better when punctuated by a single drink? Latinos know this.
- Bars don’t all close at 2am
Okay, this one is only really exciting if you like to party late. In most places in America, bars must close or stop serving alcohol at 2am or earlier. No such laws in Latin America—partying can go all night. If you’re in a large, lively city, there will be no lack of open bars even in the wee hours of the morning. If you’re in a small village, of course, the situation is different—unless it’s a holiday, and then the party keeps going until it dies down. And in Latin America, there are a lot of holidays…and Latinos do love to party.
- Almost everything is cheaper
This is a big, big plus. Just about everything in Latin America is several times cheaper than its equivalent in America, maybe except for rent in some big cities. But food, transportation, clothes, etc.—Latin America will feel like a playground for someone on a budget.
- Taxis are everywhere, and affordable
Taxis are just one of those cheap things—and they’re everywhere! Very useful for getting around without having to deal with public transportation or directions. Also, very useful for safely returning home from those all-night parties in #5. You’ll get spoiled on having a de facto chauffeur always available at the wave of a hand.
- Affordable nannies
Another important thing that’s cheaper in Latin America: childcare. In America, a nanny can sound like an extravagance that only the well-off can afford. But in Latin America, great nannies are affordable and in abundance. So if you need to work, or to have a relaxing afternoon just for the adults, you can comfortably hire a nanny and trust you’ll come home to children who are well-fed, stimulated and happy.
- Amazing nature
All of that extra money you’re saving can be used on traveling around to see one of the most wonderful things Latin America has to offer: its own land. Latin America is full of breathtaking landscapes, from jungles to beaches to mountains, and the richest biodiversity in the world. Because it is also less developed than the Western world, much more of this nature is untouched, and many more animals are thriving. Expect to see everything from toucans to monkeys and more.
- Less tourists & tourist traps
Setting aside places like Cancún or Machu Picchu, Latin America has far less tourists than Europe or Asia. Hopefully, part of the reason you travel to another country is not just to see the sights, but also to experience the culture. And if you’re surrounded by tourists, it can be difficult to feel you’ve had an authentic experience. Locals also tend to be less interested in talking to you if you’re one of the thousands of tourists invading their city. In some places in Europe, tourists seem to outnumber residents. But here, you’ll frequently be one of the few Americans in sight. Latin America is a place where you can feel you’re experiencing the real thing, not just a series of curated experiences designed to get tourists to spend their money.
- Great weather (at least compared to the Eastern US)
If you come from the West coast, the weather of Latin America may be nothing particularly new to you. Depending on where you live, you may even find it rainier. But if you hail from the Midwest or East, you will wonder how you ever survived back there, with those long, cold winters and cloudy days. Welcome to the land of sunshine and temperatures that generally don’t drop below 60°, or even 70°. Bring your sunblock, your swimsuits and your sundresses, friends. The water’s fine.
- A simpler way of life
Last but absolutely not least: people in Latin America appreciate the benefits of a simpler way of life. It’s probably a combination of the gorgeous nature, the hot and humid weather, and a silver lining of the lack of great economic opportunity—but “the daily grind” is a whole lot slower here. In America, we live in the land of opportunity, but as a result, it can often feel like a rat race to get to the top, or just to stay in the middle. We tend to buy things we don’t need, feel pressure to work more than we signed up for, to always be “on call.” In Latin America, these “first world problems” are not an option for most people. Instead and as a result, they understand the importance of quality time spent with family, friends, or just relaxing and enjoying the moment. And this is undoubtedly one of the sweetest pleasures of life in Latin America.
Well, friends, that’s our list of 12 things you will love about Latin America! No doubt, there will be even more. Have you been to Latin America? What did you love about it? Tell us in the comments!