Jaza's World Trip

South America checklist

I've been thinking for some time about how I should wrap up my entire, colossally incredible six months here in South America. And I've decided that a conventional wrapup is simply out of the question. Too much to say. Too much already said. And really, no regular little reflective summary could ever do this experience justice. So instead of attempting such a futile endeavour, I have instead embarked upon another, less crazy, more fun little challenge: I have composed a "checklist" of my time down here! The checklist "ticks off" the things that every South American backpacker should do during their time down here, and that I can honestly say I've done. Plus, I've added a section down the bottom, for a few more that I haven't done, and that I should have done — or that it's perhaps good that I didn't do. Read, laugh, and enjoy. Por favor. And if you want to check off a few more South American experiences of your own, feel free to add them as comments.


  • Eat guinea pig.
  • Sit on the crapper for a week straight, with diarrhoea.
  • Have two cameras nicked in two months.
  • Spend so long in the Andes, that you start to believe that it's actually normal to live 4,000m above sea level.
  • Learn the name of the most popular local beer, before you learn anything else, for every new country that you go to in the whole continent.
  • Become addicted to Reggaetón music — da me mas gasolina!
  • Learn to despise all Israeli backpackers. They're my bruzzers — but oy vey are they stingy, and rude, and everywhere!
  • Watch and play fútbol with the locals.
  • Get offered every illicit narcotic substance known to man, about 10 times within the space of 2 hours, at least once a week.
  • Buy alpaca clothing.
  • Jump in a taxi with 7 other people. That's a hatchback taxi.
  • Ride in combis where there are twice as many people as there are seats, where you have no idea what the destination is, and where there's so little room that your ass is touching the roof, and your head is halfway through a small girl's stomach.
  • When asking for directions, come to expect such useful responses as más arriba ("further up"), más abajo ("further down"), or simply por allá ("over there").
  • Walk through a line of riot police, a stack of burning tyres, and 10km of barricaded road.
  • Narrowly avoid such mass disasters as earthquakes, hurricanes, and political upheavals the size of some Pacific islands.
  • Attempt, and fail miserably, to learn how to dance salsa.
  • Consider taping a sign to your forehead, saying: "Aussie, been gone for x months, got y months left, been to countries a, b, and c, going to d, e, and f, Peru's cool, Bolivia's mad, Chile sucks, I can't remember Mexico I had too much Tequila, stay at hostel bla when you get to blabla, check my blog for more details, now you can kindly f$#% off and not ask me those 10 questions you were about to ask, because I've already answered them 15 times to 15 other gringos at this hostel, and that was just this morning".
  • Forget what Aussie money looks like, or is worth, and get to know US dollars very well.
  • Plan to "meet the locals" and "experience the local culture", but actually spend 2 weeks in a hostel full of gringos, drinking lots of beer and not speaking a word of Spanish.
  • Spend 12 hours on a bus going down an unsealed windy mountain road, wedged between a massive chola (indigenous woman), her 13 screaming kids, and her 7 bags of potatoes.
  • Hoard small change as though it were made of solid gold, and come to accept that every day is a new struggle to break a fifty.
  • Grow a big hairy traveller's beard.
  • Become a connoisseur of dodgy Internet cafés.
  • Come to learn that in every country you visit, the taxi drivers will invariably ask you: "¿te gusta [insert country here]?" ("you like [insert country here]?"), and "buenas chicas aquí, ¿si?" ("nice girls here, eh?"); and wonder what would happen if you ever answered "no" to these questions.
  • Get lost in the Andean mountains.
  • See lots of llamas.
  • Become strangely deaf whenever walking through town squares, out of bus stations, or through major tourist sites. Miraculously regain your hearing when past the hordes of "¿postcard amigo?", "¿guia amigo?", and "¿massage amigo?" locals.
  • Get stuck with counterfeit money.
  • Wish you never had to eat another potato again.
  • Learn about 5 new card games.
  • Cross international borders while under the influence of alcohol, and with blood pouring out of your head.
  • Visit Machu Picchu.

Not done

  • Do cocaine.
  • Get held up at gunpoint / knifepoint.
  • Get airlifted to a hospital.
  • Lose my passport.
  • Go to Colombia.
  • Buy one of those stupid floppy-eared alpaca beanies.
  • Make a half-assed attempt to learn Spanish, and fail even at that (sorry guys — but I actually learned it properly :P).
  • Spend a few weeks in the jungle.
  • Drink a substance that is 96% alcohol.
  • Bribe a cop.
Filed in: LimaJust for funWrapup