50 things i learned while traveling in central america
by anna piller

having had a little time to reflect upon my encounters and escapades in central america, i've compiled this list of useful facts and tips i learned along the way. here it is:

1) the amount of fun you have traveling is inversely proportionate to the weight of your backpack.

2) many of the best days traveling are spent on buses.

3) there's a world of difference between a traveler and a tourist.

4) people who travel with curling irons and high heels are not travelers.

5) european travel is luxury travel. and never complain about greyhound until you've been on a bus in central america.

6) new york drivers are relatively tame.

7) stopping at stop signs causes accidents.

8) there are more potholes than road in el salvador.

9) you can store anything in a plastic baggie (coca-cola, refried beans, leftover steak, soup...)

10) no matter how dirty, grungy, smelly, or ridiculous you look, the catcalls keep coming.

11) for every creepy guy out there, there are three more looking out for you.

12) soccer isn't a sport; it's a religion.

13) email should never be taken for granted.

14) normal vegetables don't all look the same.

15) "middle-class" is just a title north americans use to make themselves feel less guilty.

16) it's strange: we've gotten europe out of a few jams and they hate us. we've done nothing but devastate central america, yet they love us.

17) now i know where all our bad music, d.a.r.e. t-shirts, and clunky schoolbuses ended up.

18) nothing will make you more ashamed or appreciative of your country than travel.

19) traveling is just a series of mistakes and frusterations separated by a few outrageously amazing surprises.

20) you can travel solo forever and never be alone.

21) a good guidebook is more sacred than a bible.

22) 3 nicaraguans and an american girl can't eat a 13-pound dolphin.

23) the best way to get yourself lost is to ask a nicaraguan for directions.

24) don't trust anyone with more gold in his mouth than teeth.

25) the only safe place to keep anything is in your cleavage.

26) be suspicious of any cheap hotel room that comes with a condom how-to kit.

27) the yankees:mets fan ratio in central ameria is about 500:1.

28) there are 5 times as many americans in costa rica as in the rest of the central america.

29) there are 25 ways to flush the toilet in central america, but not of them work.

30) white folk really can't dance.

31) gallo pinto (rice and beans) never get old.

32) real quesadillas don't come with cheese in them.

33) enchilada means something different in every country.

34) anything deep-fried, chopped up and thrown into a taco tastes good (including cow brains, stomach-lining, eyes, and tongue, chicken bones, and pig's feet).

35) in mexico, lime and chile powder go with anything and everything.

36) everything tastes better eaten with your hands.

37) if nothing else, mcdonald's always has clean and free bathrooms (thank god for american imperialism).

38) there's nothing more humbling than every 5-year-old having a larger vocabulary than you.

39) contrary to popular belief, clothes don't just clean themselves (this is particularly true if you've been wearing them for 2 months straight).

40) travel light, in spirit and baggage.

41) absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

42) it's possible to have nothing and yet everything you need.

43) for every bad situation, there are 5 people coming out of nowhere to help you solve it, one of whom usually know's what he's talking about.

44) it's not about being there, it's about getting there.

45) there is no such thing as a direct route in central america: EVERYWHERE is a bus stop.

46) you can always fit just one more person on a bus. always.

47) i'm not the only person who organizes her life with plastic bags (i must have some latin american blood in me).

48) anything that can be cured with grapefruit extract isn't appendicitis.

49) at my age i should be married with two kids.

50) sooner or later, your luck runs out and you're left with a hole in your stomach and toothmarks on your legs.

50 things i learned while traveling in europe
back to homepage