I'm going to keep this simple: When being a tourist in Latin America, sometimes it is better to bend the rules than not.
Keep in mind that rules here are very bendable.
And you can enjoy life here seeing cool shit when you occasionally bend one or two.
In ways that are not really that noteworthy when you've lived here long enough but might seem so to the man who has never stepped foot down here before.
On top of that, you might not necessarily be bending a rule but exploiting a certain financial difference that allows you to do more cool shit here at a cheaper cost than back home (and might not even realize you could if you haven't lived here before).
Let me give you some examples.
A Bribe To See the Restricted
One thing you might do is to just bribe someone to let you see something that you normally wouldn't be able to see in other countries.
This is especially important for when seeing places outside of the gringo tourist trail.
And given how little money to us makes a difference to someone down here, the bribe itself can sometimes be quite little.
Not really breaking the bank for us but buying someone down here a day or two of groceries when you think about it
Let me give you a quick example.
Back when I was spending time in Bolivia, I saw the Amazon Rainforest as I wrote here.
During the trip, I actually gave a tiny bit of money to some guide to see some random little village.
We were part of some tour through the Amazon and I wanted to see some random homes out there in the distance just because.
"What's over there?"
Well, we technically were not allowed in the homes or on the property.
It's not ours obviously.
But, with a little bit of money, we got to see it.
I don't remember how much I gave him as it's been almost a decade.
He brought up the idea to me actually that they might let us in if we offer a tiny bit.
It was some poor looking area and maybe I offered like 5 bucks or whatever.
They let us look around. Check out some of their stuff that they use to produce whatever crop or some shit.
I don't remember.
It seemed cool anyway.
And was like just 5 bucks to get a closer look into the life of those living around these parts.
So why not?
It actually wasn't the first mini village I saw that day as they did include some other random "ecological" village that was part of the tour.
I was just curious about that one I saw out on the side of a river and the tour guide brought up the idea of bribing our way in (in those days, that idea wouldn't have crossed my mind as I was knew to Latin America).
Funny enough, I remember a video on Youtube of some random British traveler basically doing the same in Bolivia also as you can see here.
Offers a tiny bit of money to go see some village out in the middle of nowhere.
In contrast, I couldn't imagine some random foreigner walking around the US and being like "here's 5 bucks, let me see your house."
Since then, I have had other moments where I've contemplated bribing folks to let me see shit but haven't always tried to do so.
In Mexico City, you got ejidos here and there in the south that I have come across where, as I wrote here, was told that maybe a little bribe money could help me access one in particular near Lagunas de Xico.
I didn't try but the taxi driver that told me that might've been right.
Anyway, speaking of taxi drivers....
The Lower Cost of Everything
Yes, Latin America is cheap for gringos.
Because of that, you can more easily afford to do shit down here that wouldn't fucking happen up north for the same price.
So what I'm about to say isn't bending any rules but is simply reminding you that this financial distortion due to the currency exchange rate allows you to do cool shit you wouldn't try back home unless you had lots of money.
In this case, you can hire taxis to drive you around forever and ever on very little.
In the last few weeks, I had three drivers in particular do that for me to drive me around for hours through Milpa Alta, Tlahuac, Xochimilco and Tlalpan of Mexico City.
One driver helped me for about 7 hours at a cost of something like 40 bucks.
Another driver had me for 9 hours and it was like 55 bucks or whatever it was.
Another one was with me for maybe 3 hours and it was only like 15 bucks?
In case you haven't caught on by now, you can offer Latin Americans what is considerably little money to us to do great things for us.
Not trying to paint them as servants.
Those dudes (outside of the last one who was an Uber driver) were happy to do so!
Was decent money for the work instead of driving around looking for clients.
It's the truth anyway -- never underestimate your ability to get a local down here to do something cool for you at such a low price.
I mean seriously -- drive me around for 9 fucking hours for only 55 bucks?
Jesus Fucking Christ.
Replace the Hotel with an Apartment
Thinking about checking out some touristy area in Latin America?
Might need more than a single night there?
One thing you can do is to not go for the AirBnB (with all its additional charges) or a hotel and just go for a small room being rented out in the area.
This might not always be possible or ideal though.
Maybe you can't find a small room in an ideal location of said area you are going to check out.
Perhaps you can find some spots but the landlord won't work with you.
Maybe he wants to scam you into sending money and then block your ass on Whatsapp.
But let's assume you could make it work.
For example, I have a friend of mine named Blayde who asked me how "I was just moving around" so often in Mexico City.
He lives here too and was wondering about contracts.
Do I not sign apartment contracts?
Well, I don't.
Or, if I did for some, they are worthless.
You could wipe your ass with them.
Yes, the contract says you got to live there for a year or 6 months but who gives a fuck?
You don't have any property in Mexico.
No cars and no house.
No bank account.
No local salary.
So if you break a contract, how do they force you to pay the remaining months?
And, even if you were a Mexican, they wouldn't try for some cheap ass rental because it's not worth it.
One reason Mexicans are not very litigious is because the court system to force someone to respect a rental contract would take forever and cost too much money with no guarantee of getting anything (even if it was a Mexican they were pursuing).
So, taking that into consideration, let's say you want to see an area of Mexico but don't want to spend too much time there.
Maybe two weeks.
You could opt for a hotel or Airbnb.
Though either option is likely to be much more expensive than getting a cheap, one bedroom rental in a shared apartment or house.
The hotel charges you 40 bucks a night so you get hit with 560 USD.
The Airbnb has all its extra charges it'll hit you with after you are done from what I've been told and can be expensive too.
In contrast, you pay a landlord a one month rental for some quick room that charges at most 200 to 250 bucks for the month.
Maybe even less!
Perhaps it's as low as 70 bucks.
With deposit included, it's still lower than the hotel and quite possibly lower than the Airbnb.
Another thing is you can always ask the landlord to pay the deposit "in installments."
Like over two or three payments.
Perhaps offer to pay all of the deposit at the beginning of the second month (so you don't pay any of it when using the place)?
Then, after having seen everything in the area that you wanted to see over 2 weeks to a month, you ditch.
No warning to the landlord.
Just get the fuck out and move onto wherever you want to go next.
They ain't chasing you for no deposit.
Nor will they chase you for the remaining months in the contract (assuming there was a contract which there might not have been as is often the case in my experience for these rooms).
In the last place I lived in known as Tlahuac of Mexico City, I did just that.
Agreed informally (no contract) that I'd live in the building for 6 months and that I'd pay the entire deposit at the beginning of the second month.
Ditched beforehand after seeing everything I wanted to see in Tlahuac and that was that.
Landlord was a bit annoyed with me when she realized I vanished.
Half of them are not so annoyed and just take on a "eh, whatever" attitude and others do get annoyed.
There are likely other examples one could bring up of either bending the rules or how the financial aspect to living here can allow you to enjoy life differently than back home.
And see cool shit beyond the tourist trail.
To be honest, some of the advice included here (such as the first trip), really is more suitable for those thinking of going outside the tourist trail to see cool shit.
And there's likely other examples one could bring up of being able to do cool shit by bending the rules or whatever.
To be honest too, I always find it weird when I find other gringos (almost always new ones) who don't seem to realize you can bend the rules here to your advantage.
I just don't get it.
They talk about rental contracts and other things like they are important.
But it is what it is.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
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Thanks for reading.