It’s a very negative, cynical sort of statement to make, kind of what my mother would tell me before I venture away to another questionable destination. But it is my advice to anyone on their way to South America – don’t trust anyone. Or to be more specific and little less threatening – don’t trust anyone while you have your belongings on you. If you’re not carrying anything important or valuable then go ahead; meet people, practice your Spanish, make new friends. Overall they are great, amiable people who love meeting foreigners and are proud of their countries and are happy to have you there. Unfortunately, however, there are also cunning, creative thieves who see backpackers as easy targets. Peru was the worst.
South America is old as shit. I know European cities have been around longer and the North American countries are roughly the same age, but in these places they are constantly upgrading their buildings and infrastructure and sewerage system. In South America it looks like everything was built in 1650 and nobody has bothered to add a coat of paint since. And in this the 21st century you still can’t flush your fucking toilet paper.