Observations, Musings and other Meanderings of the Mind

So many times I think that "I should write that down" and finally, I am doing just that.  This page is dedicated to those little differences, unique nuances, etc. that we have been finding along our journey.

Page 1 - Mexico/Central America
Page 2 - South America


Driving:  a pothole in your lane gives you the right-a-way to the other person's lane, regardless of which direction you are traveling.

Driving:  the biggest and slowest vehicle has the right-a-way when making turns.  And, speaking of turns, the vehicle traveling straight will always brake and avoid a collision, no matter when you turn in front of them.

Taxis:  you hate it when they cut you off, pass you tight on the right, go around your left when you are slowing down for a speed bump, etc. but love them when they do this to get you into the city for dinner.

Bathrooms:  i.e.: bring your own paper.

Bathrooms:  be prepared to place ALL paper goods in the receptacle (trash basket) provided, and that means used paper goods as well.  (It is not as bad as you think, I really have not seen any bathroom that was disgusting).

Dogs:  = total freedom.

Shopping:  looking at salesperson, "Cuantos pesos?" is one price, walking out the door, many pesos less.

Speed bumps:  we are still looking for the "speed" when going over these monstrous creations.  And, speaking of speed bumps, who was the genius that installed them on the uphill lane of steep hills?

Next life:  we want to come back as the only seller of brooms and of white plastic chairs - we will be zillionaires.

NAFTANorth Americans Freely Taking Advantage.  There are way too many US and Canadian citizens buying property, running businesses, altering the culture, etc. 

Money:  exchange $100 U.S. and you get over $1,000 pesos.  Hmmmm, if we had $100,000 U.S. we could be millionaires in Mexico.

Myth:  foreigners can only buy property with a 99 year lease - falso.  Residential land/property is held in trust by the bank until paid off (and then it is owned wholly by the non-citizen, or for 50 years and then it reverts to non-citizen ownership) or sold.  If sold to another non-citizen, the 50 year period starts over, if sold to a citizen, there is no trust.  Commercial property is owned outright, no matter the citizenship.

Dogs:  beware of dogs with a shoe fetish (see page 6 of Mexico/Central America diary).

Pedestrians:  What answer most relates:   a) sidewalks  b) crosswalks  c) moving slalom poles  d) wait for you to pass
answer c

DirectionsLocal:  "You just go left at the third turn, right at the first turn, left at the second church, around the little plaza, not the big one, and then turn sharp right".  Us: "What is the street's name?"  Local: "You just go left at the third turn,...".

Streets:  Street names?  We dun need no stinkin' street names!

Parking:  anywhere the car stops.

Road constructionRoad engineer:  "How wide is the normal vehicle?"  Workman: "About 6 feet."  Road engineer: "OK, we will make the lanes 5 feet wide, that should fit the tires well enough."

Cobblestone roads:  quaint way to test your suspension.

Kid's tactics:  "Can I have a peso?"  answer:  "No!"  "Can I have a peso?"  answer:  "No!"  "Can I have a peso?"  answer:  "No!"  "Can I have a peso?"  answer:  "No!"  "I will leave you alone if you give me a peso."  answer:  "Here, now go away."

Bathrooms:  You know you are in trouble when you rate the bathroom by whether they have toilet paper or if they have a toilet seat.

Water:  We had no idea the numerous shades of brown that water can be. 

Faux pas:  Bringing up the wrong soccer team to the taxi driver or waiter.

Making up for the faux pas:  Mentioning that you are Brazilian.

Roadside weed control:  a) horses     b) goats     c) sheep     d) donkeys/mules   e) cows     f) all of the above
answer c

:  No, this is not a sign for breast implants, but rather a very often-seen and as often-despised sign signifying an upcoming "topes" or speed bump such as these: - hateful buggars!  Do you see any town or houses or anything near the second picture?  Neither did we and rarely do...they put these anywhere and everywhere!

Policia: Talk faster than they do, be bigger than they are and smile as though you are enjoying their joke that they are actually accusing you of speeding in Cindy - then see the ticket get "waived" goodbye. 


Wet Season May through October, April, November, March, December, February and January

Roadside weed control Add pigs to list of choices above

Tumulos (ie: topes or speed bumps) means "grave" in Portuguese which makes sense.  You hit one of these without braking, you send your car to the grave.


Women:  How in the heck do they balance huge baskets, water jugs or piles of clothes on their heads and still manage to walk without tipping over!


Kids Tactics: While you are sitting at a cafe - "I am very hungry, can I have what you don't eat?"  (ok, like anyone will then proceed to eat everything on their plate...)


Nature:  Probably don't want to play with the large spiders - especially those that have a leg span of about 12", have 1/2 inch fangs and can jump over your head and literally hop across the water to land precisely on a rock, all within the time it takes you to scream.

Bridges:  In order to provide a more scenic view of the rivers under the bridges, Costa Rica provides "windows" in the bridge in which to view the river below (ie: huge potholes with nothing but rebar across the opening)

Food: Spaghetti sauce ingredients: a) tomatoes  b)  onions  c) jalapenos  d) garlic  e) mushrooms  f)  a-e
answer c

Roads:  Gravel roads are not supposed to have boulders

Warning:  Beware of locals that are too nice and know how to ride a bike

Noseeums:  Not to be confused with mosquitoes, gnats, flies or other annoying biting insects.  No-see-ums are invisible little pests which bite you and leave a wonderful little itchy welt that develops into a small hard blister and does not leave your body for weeks.  After a few days, your skin feels like a gravel road. 


Bathrooms:  You can actually flush the toilet paper down the toilet - what a concept!

Travel books:  Ratings are relative to how much the place paid the publisher and/or how well they treated the reviewer.

Hot Springs:  How do you define "hot"?

Boquete:  Thanks to Gerson, we cannot think of this town without thinking of what the word means in Portuguese.  I will give you a hint:  The wind blows and when you work you have a job.    Thanks Gerson for that bit of knowledge.

Economy:  The middle class is alive and strong in Panama

Taxes:  Property tax is not charged in Panama...but you pay it back in some fashion through the propinas (tips) or "bribes" that you have to pay the officials, the administrators, the inspectors, the police officers, the man-on-the-street that answers a question, the security guards, the clerks, the, the, the, the, the, the, the, the, the...and you pay for it with having large dogs, house alarms, large gates to protect your property...


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