What originally drove me to live in Latin America wasn’t the sex, sun and salsa. Rather, it was a fascination with the politics, culture and society in this part of the world.
My interest started in university with a socioeconomics course. Insufferable Marxist indoctrination aside, it was an engaging class and responsible for igniting my enthusiasm for Latin America. I probably never would have bothered to take the jump to live in LATAM if I hadn’t taken the class.
Credit where credit’s due.
And now for something slightly different.
I don’t usually write about things that are easy to find on TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet.
One, because I’ll never beat them in Google, and two, because the kind of information asked on those sites is generally easy to find in 100s of other places on the Internet.
But when I Googled “best/interesting markets in Lima” today, what popped up was, frankly, wrong…
I’d like to tell you a story.
Not a story in the Alice and Wonderland sense of the word, but rather a cautionary tale: a few words of warning for anyone wanting to travel or live in Latin America.
It’s important to listen closely, as the advice contained in this story is counterintuitive to what most people think it takes to fit in and adapt to a foreign culture.
I’m not outgoing.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having a crew to hangout with, hit the bars with and bounce shit off of, but I am also very comfortable with being alone.
I’ve always been that way.
If I arrive to a city where I don’t know a soul, I’ll have to go out to bars and clubs solo. And after much trial and error, I think I’ve finally figured out how to do it without looking like a rapist or serial killer.
You may have seen some crazy shit on the Internet recently about Venezuela.
Mass protests, moves by President Maduro to rewrite the constitution and, of course, the perpetual food and medical shortages, crime waves and violence.
So, how did all this happen to a country that was once among the richest in Latin America?
Times have changed. Latin America has changed. I’ve changed.
Cities in Central and South America have a tendency to go through ebbs and flows. A great city to live in today might not be a great one tomorrow.
Take Medellin for instance. In the early 2000s, this was the place to live in Latin America. If you were brave enough to venture down to recently drug-war torn Colombia, as one of the few foreigners, beautiful women would be throwing themselves at you as you enjoyed an incredibly low cost of living and year-round spring temperatures.
And then word got out.
Back again, folks!
Today I’ll be talking about the best places to find a wife in Latin America…or at the very least, a serious girlfriend.
You see, as much as I like hooking up with and casually dating Latinas, I acknowledge that I’m getting a bit older and more mature (relatively, at least). And, as I’m sure many of you know, after reaching a certain number of notches, the whole chasing women just for the sake of it tends to turn to ash in your mouth.
With that in mind…
No one is ever going to entirely agree on a “safest cities” list.
First of all, it’s hard to get a read on these things. Official crime statistics simply can’t be trusted in Latin America. I raise my eyebrows in amusement when journalists claim that Mexico City has a lower murder rate than cities like Washington D.C or Boston, erroneously assuming that Mexican law enforcement agencies report murder rates with the same accuracy as American law enforcement agencies. Also, many people in Central and South America don’t bother to report crimes such as robbery (or, in some cases, even murder) because they either don’t trust law enforcement, or they know that law enforcement is so inefficient that the perpetrators are unlikely to ever be caught anyway.
Second, personal experience tends to color perception.