The list of scams in Latin America is legendary.
If you go out drinking, never drink out of a beer bottle you didn’t open yourself, or else you will get roofied and chained to a toilet until all your money is successfully taken out of your bank account. Stay in a hostel and you will get hit up for money from other tourists who have “been robbed.” Go to an ATM at night and transvestites will grab your crouch as you are taking the money out of the ATM, when you push their hands away from your private parts they make off with the money. Go into a store and a man will walk up next to you saying, “Paloma, Paloma” (pidgin, pidgin). After that, he’ll pull some toilet paper out of his pants pocket and start wiping off the white stain (the supposed pidgin poop) on your backpack, as he’s doing this, he’ll slip his hand inside your backpack and take your camera. Get into a taxi to your hotel and the driver will supposedly get lost and drive around for 45 minutes looking for your hotel. By the time he finally gets there, your taxi fare has gone from $4USD to $50USD.
For your next trip you decide to take the bus. While on the bus, never stand near the exit. If you do, two guys will stand behind you pretending to be about to get off. One of them will be carrying a large dry-cleaning bag with a hook on it which he drapes over your backpack. While you stand there clueless, his buddy will slip his hand into your backpack and take your camera, passport, jacket and whatever else is in there. But, not this time. Instead of playing the fool, you feel your bag being tugged at and you quickly grab your backpack and realize it has been opened. You stare at the two guys and then stare blankly into your empty backpack. “Are you sure your jacket didn’t fall out in the front of the bus?” asks the one with the dry cleaning bag. You subsequently make eye contact with the 45 other passengers in the bus like a wet cat, hoping someone else is going to throw you a towel. The rest of the passengers do nothing but stare out the window.
Take your clothes to be washed and you better make sure you count every sock and take a picture of it with the guy who you turned your dirty laundry in to. If not, when you get your clothes back anything worth anything will be gone.
Go out on a Friday night with your buddies from the hostel, this is the time when the least amount of people are in the hostel and therefore the most likely time for the lockers to be robbed. The whole second floor lockers of a hostel in Cali, Colombia got robbed by three hostel guests with fake passports on a Friday night at 11.30pm. They checked out of the hostel after robbing the entire second floor (rooms and lockers) and actually sent the passports back to the hostel via taxi.
Border crossings – By car of by bus? By bus you will be dropped off in front of immigration area. You will then stand in line until it’s time to get your passport stamped. You walk to the other side and you will be met by 15 different money changers who will show you the exchange rate on their digital calculators. “2.79 Peruvian Nuevo Soles for a dollar,” they tell you. Perfect, you hand the Money changer $50USD. What you don’t know is that right before he does the conversion, he uses an alternate exchange rate that is saved in the calculator’s memory. He uses this other exchange rate which is 18% lower. So, instead of getting 139.5 Nuevo Soles, you get 115. In Mexico they have taken this scam to the next level. The money exchanger will actually exchange your money into the old Mexican Peso (if you look stupid enough) which hasn’t circulated since 1994.
Speaking of Mexico, say you are crossing the border between San Diego and Tijuana at 3am in a 2010 model Mazada 626 with California plates. These three miscalculations will get you pulled over to the side of the road within 6 minutes of crossing the border by a Tijuana Traffic cop. “Speeding? Are you sure officer? I wasn’t doing more than 15 miles an hour.”
You will be given two options as a foreigner – either have your car impounded until you pay the fine of $139USD, or “We can settle it right now for $100USD.” Thanking the officer for expediting the process, you pull a wad of bills out of your shoe and pass it over to the officer. Instead of counting it, he stuffs the bills into his front pocket like the money was about to explode. He then asks you where you are going and gives you directions on how to get onto the highway.
Then finally you visit the prison in Quito, Ecuador. There you wait in the visitation line. While in line, you dump a bag full of money on the sidewalk in front of the prison and nobody will even look twice. Why you ask? The reason nobody will touch it is because every thief over the age of 8-years old knows they don’t mess with people who have friends in prison.
I Speak Colombian – The Book
When the country of Peru is mentioned, one imagines a peaceful scene of an Andean alpaca grazing along an Incan stone wall. When Ecuador is brought up, we imagine a rain forest panorama of frogs jumping off branches while butterflies mate in the background. When Colombia is mentioned, we automatically picture an overturned bus, being pillaged by men in ski masks. I think it is obvious, which country, a reasonable person like myself, would choose to go to in search of a beautiful Latin lover and a more fulfilling professional career.
The 3-Hour Work Week: The Gringo Guide To Online Dating, Learning Spanish, Avoiding Deportation And Making Money In Colombia is designed to inspire people to maximize life experiences and escape an ordinary life. Inspired by the ideologies of the self-proclaimed “Internet Romeo/All-Star Budget Traveler/Worst English Teacher in Colombia,” it has been described as the holy grail for those who want to explore opportunities abroad and network with hot Latin singles.
This is the complete guidebook on how to relocate to Colombia and become an English teacher/freelance writer/actor. This book illustrates the many advantages (affordable health insurance, the lack of tipping in restaurants and affordable plastic surgery) that the gringo visitor can expect to find in Colombia.
Funny, fact filled and always informative, The 3-Hour Work Week provides the knowledge you need to make the most out of the Colombia experience, and/or makes a great coffee table book you can enjoy during the commercial breaks of the Jersey Shore. Jam-packed with practical information, The 3-Hour Work Week addresses all the concerns and taboos a prospective ex-pat in Colombia needs to know, such as finding the right job to tips on which people to filter out while surfing online dating sites. While other books focus solely on the tourist experience, The 3-Hour Work Week discusses the life beyond the typical gringo trail, providing you with an in-depth and often hilarious guide to Colombian internet culture, food, drinking, dating, health and relations with its socialist neighbor, Venezuela.
The 3-Hour Work Week is a true adventure story about a 37-year-old socially-awkward man who decided that the best way he could deal with being refused a job at Barnes & Noble was to go online and look for a girlfriend in Colombia, and then hop on a flight to Colombia’s cagey capital in pursuit of a woman he has never met.
Brian sincerely believed the trip would put him on a track towards a life of excitement, intrigue, and exotic women, far from his increasing first world debt. Instead, he unexpectedly falls into a job as an extra in a Colombian soap opera, almost gets kidnapped during an eDate, has panic attacks, watches other gringos lose their marbles, and blows half his paycheck on bootlegged DVD’s. Along the journey, he chronicles his friendships, the deranged ex-pats he meets, and his struggles/triumphs, including one fateful night in a Israeli restaurant that would change his life forever.