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Cultural Differences in S. America vs N. America

Old 03-10-18, 12:25 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
OP, when you make absolute statements like "Canada is better", "I'm sure many Mexicans would agree with me", "I think I have a fairly objective opinion on what constitutes a better country", that tells me that the main problem is your attitude. When I travel to foreign country, one of my main motivations is to experience and observe a different culture. If you are constantly comparing things to home, you'll never be satisfied.

Why did you decide to go to Latin America in the first place? What were you expecting? Why have you stayed so long given your litany of complaints? As seeker333 pointed out, you have frequently complained on this forum about a lot of different things.
I'm here because Canada's really cold and snowy at the moment. Plus I didn't know what to expect when I came here. It's been really annoying but with occasional moments of bliss.

As far as expectations are concerned I thought people would be more respectful and that trying to get parts would at least be possible in larger cities.

I came with an open mind but the longer I've stayed the fewer excuses I make for people.
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Old 03-10-18, 03:39 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by TallTourist View Post
What I'm wondering is if I were to return to Bogota or Quito and ride through Ecuador, Peru Chile and Argentina and perhaps Bolivia and Brasil also, would my experiences be the same or no?
In my travels I found Ecuador and Columbia somewhat similar and Argentina/Chile quite different. I also found Mexico different from Central America and different from South America.

Overall, I enjoyed my travels throughout all of Latin America. However, my guess based on reading your posts is if you return to South America you won't enjoy the other parts either.

I might have a slightly different outlook/approach when traveling in new places. In general, I'm predisposed to look for positive differences more than grouse on things that might be different in a negative way. For example, I found Mexican drivers to be at least as polite/patient as those in US or Canada. I found folks in small towns in Guatemala and Honduras to be friendly. I really enjoyed the bicycle culture in Columbia including how cars and trucks definitely noticed and gave room. I liked the scenery. Further south, Peru had some longer bits along the coast, but I liked the small towns. I really enjoyed being up in Altiplano areas of Peru and scenery around Lake Titicaca was spectacular. Bolivia was an interesting relief and at times a challenge with a continuation of spectacular scenery. Argentina seemed more familiar in certain ways but the small towns and travels along Ruta 40 brought a steady change. Chile and southern Patagonia were absolutely stunning in scenery. Overall, it was fun watching the differences along the way and I enjoyed connecting with people I met...

Were there some things that weren't as positive. Sure but I didn't really dwell on them. For example it took some getting used to adjusting my routine to the siesta hours in northern Argentina. While rude drivers seemed less prevalent than I've found in parts of the US, having someone make an unsafe pass or rude gesture seems to be more remembered than the 100s of drivers who don't do this. Were there some dogs that chased me? Yup, including at least two that decided to bite a pannier.

However, most of those less positive things seemed more momentary and fleeting and vastly outweighed by the positive experiences and sense of adventure, change and accomplishment I felt as I cycled through the area.

As best I can tell, you seem to emphasize 2-3 larger complaints in your original posts:
1. Unwanted attention
2. Dogs
3. Being wary of people

As far as unwanted attention goes, I'm only 6'4"" so perhaps those extra 4 inches is a huge difference. However, when I've toured in places that aren't common, I encounter people that are curious. It hasn't really bothered me and Latin America is certainly not highest on the list of places to get attention (try cycling parts of Africa or rural India or Cambodia...) I actually have fun with it. When I see someone taking a look, I'll sometimes look back and see if I can trade a smile. It is fun to see the reactions including people that occasionally feel self-conscious. Within Latin America, I found slight differences:
- In Mexico, I found people to be more reserved
- In Guatemala, at least the kids were more prominent in yelling, "gringo! gringo!" as I passed. So I joined in their games either by also yelling back "gringo! gringo!" or "Guatemala, Guatemala".
- In Honduras it was was toned down a bit again, though it was interesting to see people's interest in how foreigners might perceive their country and reputation of violence (same thing to smaller extent in Columbia).
- A lot of my travels through Costa Rica and Panama were along more developed tourist routes, so didn't necessarily get sense I was that different

I did have some occasional dogs chasing, particularly in Peru. I tried a few different things including the get off the bike and stare and point at them. That generally worked as did those occasions where I continued to cycle. Somehow my legs/feet were protected between the panniers though they did bit the panniers on two occasions.

As far as being wary of people goes. I read through a number of journals including various accounts of problems. At times I took some precautions such as staying on a main route or not camping in certain areas - but overall I really didn't have any problems nor have as much as what you seem to describe as feeling people were sizing you up.

So I think overall, we're probably wired a bit differently. Yes, I expect you'll find differences in going further south in South America - but given that you don't seem to enjoy Mexico, Central America or Columbia - I don't see how you'll enjoy Ecuador/Peru/Bolivia/Argentia/Chile even if they are different - since I expect you'll find some other difference to view more negatively.
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Old 03-10-18, 08:37 PM
  #28  
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Good post, mev. I agree with a lot of what you say.

Originally Posted by mev View Post
- In Guatemala, at least the kids were more prominent in yelling, "gringo! gringo!" as I passed. So I joined in their games either by also yelling back "gringo! gringo!" or "Guatemala, Guatemala".
My favorite response was to shout, "Donde?! Donde?!" then look around wildly in an effort to catch a glimpse of this rare wild gringo. It was 50/50 whether I'd get a laugh or a confused look as the response but I enjoyed it.
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Old 03-10-18, 09:07 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by TallTourist View Post
I came with an open mind but the longer I've stayed the fewer excuses I make for people.
You should leave. Why torture yourself staying somewhere you're not happy?
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Old 03-10-18, 11:13 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
i'm sorry, but to me, that's some industrial-grade SJW bee-ess. despite our
longing to live in a world of rainbows and unicorns, that's just not reality.
people, societies, governments are all different, and some ARE better than others.
that's a fact. <snipped...>
To each his own. However I wasn’t referring to governments. Goverments aren’t the people you deal with everyday, it’s the people. I agree the some parts of some cultures are better as well as some parts are worse. I prefer to leave governments out of my equation. Lord knows our government is not a sterling example of all that’s good, and I’m not necessarily talking about todays political landscape.

I’m most likely quite a bit older than the mean on this forum, though quite active in many arenas. Life has taught me to be a glass half full kinda guy. Through that prism I’ve been able to enjoy an awful lot about life including adding to it by interacting with others unlike me. I’ve learned more that way than hanging around with people that look/act/think like me.

You view the world your way, I’ll view it my way and appreciate your thoughts. Perception IS reality.
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Old 03-10-18, 11:59 PM
  #31  
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South of the US border, Iíve only toured Costa Rica so far. I would be curious what sort of areas youíre touring. I will say we did definitely have some dog problems in Costa Rica. As for the people, Iíll never bother going to San Jose again. The people that lived there seemed nice enough, but itís just sort of a standard kind of dirty city with not a ton of appeal for traveling there. There were Definitely people there looking to just scam and take advantage of people who looked like travelers. It was pretty ridiculous. Between the scammers and lack of good stuff, the experience kinda sucked. HOWEVER, the other parts of Costa Rica were better, and the peninsula was beautiful and the people perfectly nice, normal people. We plan to go back to the peninsula someday. Itís completely different from San Jose.
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Old 03-11-18, 01:44 AM
  #32  
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How's your Spanish?

Many people won't invest time and effort on people with whom communication is stilted, incomplete, child-like, unsatisfactory. I am in Taiwan right now, and I speak no Mandarin or Taiwanese. I get it that people won't want to interact with me. Too much trouble, too much effort, and for what? I am a transient, gone tomorrow.
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Old 03-11-18, 06:38 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by 3speed View Post
South of the US border, Iíve only toured Costa Rica so far. I would be curious what sort of areas youíre touring. I will say we did definitely have some dog problems in Costa Rica. As for the people, Iíll never bother going to San Jose again. The people that lived there seemed nice enough, but itís just sort of a standard kind of dirty city with not a ton of appeal for traveling there. There were Definitely people there looking to just scam and take advantage of people who looked like travelers. It was pretty ridiculous. Between the scammers and lack of good stuff, the experience kinda sucked. HOWEVER, the other parts of Costa Rica were better, and the peninsula was beautiful and the people perfectly nice, normal people. We plan to go back to the peninsula someday. Itís completely different from San Jose.
Again I'm interested in the differences in experiences that we all have. I had to stay in San Jose for about a month for reasons outside of my control and I had no problems at all. I honestly never met anyone who I felt was trying to scam me, never once felt like I was in a dangerous situation, or that someone was trying to take advantage of me because I was a foreigner/traveler. I'm not saying it's not a dangerous city, but I didn't have one single issue the whole time I was there.

I definitely agree that it is one boring city though! There are great restaurants and a pretty solid craft beer scene add... that's about it. There not much to do otherwise, and I probably won't go back for that reason.

Oddly enough, I'm in Quito now and I have had several sketchy experiences, but even so I absolutely love it here. It's a really vibrant, fun city to spend time in.
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Old 03-11-18, 06:47 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
i'm sorry, but to me, that's some industrial-grade SJW bee-ess. despite our
longing to live in a world of rainbows and unicorns, that's just not reality.
people, societies, governments are all different, and some ARE better than others.
that's a fact.

unless i'm wrong...in which case a country/society/people that condones slavery,
institutionalizes corruption, and celebrates the practice of shaving the clitoris off
of little girls is equally worthy as a society/country that does not, like switzerland.

to the OP, as someone who has been living and traveling over a decade in some of
the world's most racist, xenophobic, backwards cesspools, my advice is accept that
their country/society is barbaric and there's nothing you can do to change it. enjoy
the sights and the adventure, and when it gets too much for you to bear, leave.
you cannot change them. they don't want your advice.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
Thank you for that, I needed a good laugh. I was feeling pretty depressed at the backlash from my opinions until I started thinking of the kind of crap I've been putting up with.

I agree, and I'm definitely leaving. Hanging out in Mexico City for a bit to hopefully get some parts to upgrade my bike and wait for Europe to warm up a bit and then I'm headed over there. Should be good.

So how is Thailand for touring and living? I was loosely planning to go to China and I might still do it but I'm starting to think after doing some research that it's going to be even more annoying than Latin America in some significant ways. I've heard really nothing but good things about Thailand but I'm not so sure the people I've consulted are telling me the whole truth so what's your take on it? Should I focus on learning Thai and leave Mandarin on the back burner?
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Old 03-11-18, 06:49 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by DanBell View Post

Oddly enough, I'm in Quito now and I have had several sketchy experiences, but even so I absolutely love it here. It's a really vibrant, fun city to spend time in.
Do tell.
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Old 03-11-18, 06:52 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by BillyD View Post
You should leave. Why torture yourself staying somewhere you're not happy?
Just waiting on some repuestos, a custom made sun shirt and the weather to warm up a tad in England

Been off the bike most of the last week, it's been tolerable.
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Old 03-11-18, 08:08 PM
  #37  
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Mr Tall Tourist- maybe world traveling isn't a good activty for you? Perhaps stick to your house/ block/ neighborhood / city and wait till the end? At least you'll know what to expect?
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Old 03-11-18, 08:27 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by TallTourist View Post

So how is Thailand for touring and living? I was loosely planning to go to China and I might still do it but I'm starting to think after doing some research that it's going to be even more annoying than Latin America in some significant ways. I've heard really nothing but good things about Thailand but I'm not so sure the people I've consulted are telling me the whole truth so what's your take on it? Should I focus on learning Thai and leave Mandarin on the back burner?
I've toured in SE Asia several times including twice in Thailand. I liked it a lot, but I think it's probably best if you stay away. I just can't see you adapting to a culture which is even more different from North American culture than Latin American culture is. And your language barrier will be even greater.
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Old 03-11-18, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
I've toured in SE Asia several times including twice in Thailand. I liked it a lot, but I think it's probably best if you stay away. I just can't see you adapting to a culture which is even more different from North American culture than Latin American culture is. And your language barrier will be even greater.
Yes, I suspect you're right about that. And from what I've heard Thai is quite tricky to learn and I can't even nail the Spanish accent, haha. Thanks for the info.
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Old 03-11-18, 10:01 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by M1T View Post
Mr Tall Tourist- maybe world traveling isn't a good activty for you? Perhaps stick to your house/ block/ neighborhood / city and wait till the end? At least you'll know what to expect?
Funny stuff.

Thing is, if I never try to go out and enjoy myself I wouldn't know if I'd like it or not so, as annoying as it's been on this tour at times, I still don't regret it. One less thing to grate at me on my death bed
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Old 03-11-18, 11:20 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by TallTourist View Post
.....So how is Thailand for touring and living? I was loosely planning to go to China and I might still do it but I'm starting to think after doing some research that it's going to be even more annoying than Latin America in some significant ways. I've heard really nothing but good things about Thailand but I'm not so sure the people I've consulted are telling me the whole truth so what's your take on it? Should I focus on learning Thai and leave Mandarin on the back burner?
some love it, some hate it. i'm afraid you'd really hate it. there are
cultural differences here that can drive a person insane, so many little
things that can build up until you explode. even though it's "worng,"
you just have to accept that's the way it is; you canna change it.

hardest thing for a cyclist is that the drivers are so so so very bad!
they've downloaded the traffic regs from the western world, but have
failed to implement them. driving twice the speed limit on the freeway
while tailgating a meter behind other vehicles, driving the wrong way
if it's convenient, passing/driving on the shoulder, driving drunk. they
employ the buddhist mentality of karma, that if it's your time to have an
accident and die, it's just your time. bus drivers often flea the scene,
leaving dying passengers. i've read of motorcyclists who have survived,
up until the other guy backs over them intentionally then drives off.

police are more interested in making "tea money" so no enforcement of
the written laws. thailand is #1 in the world for traffic fatalities....BUT...
they only count if you die at the scene. die in the ambulance or hospital,
and they're not counted in the traffic statistics.

china will drive you nuts if you're just moderately tall. kids like to sneak up
behind you in packs, one or two of them will jump and try to get his hand to
just above your head. gosh, it's cute, it's harmless, but sooooo annoying.
no concept of personal space. men will sit next to you on a bus, start
stroking the hair on your arm or leg. sometimes when standing on a
crowded bus, an old lady will grab your junk and say "it's twoo, it's twoo!"

you will enjoy europe.
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Old 03-11-18, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
some love it, some hate it. i'm afraid you'd really hate it. there are
cultural differences here that can drive a person insane, so many little
things that can build up until you explode. even though it's "worng,"
you just have to accept that's the way it is; you canna change it.

hardest thing for a cyclist is that the drivers are so so so very bad!
they've downloaded the traffic regs from the western world, but have
failed to implement them. driving twice the speed limit on the freeway
while tailgating a meter behind other vehicles, driving the wrong way
if it's convenient, passing/driving on the shoulder, driving drunk. they
employ the buddhist mentality of karma, that if it's your time to have an
accident and die, it's just your time. bus drivers often flea the scene,
leaving dying passengers. i've read of motorcyclists who have survived,
up until the other guy backs over them intentionally then drives off.

police are more interested in making "tea money" so no enforcement of
the written laws. thailand is #1 in the world for traffic fatalities....BUT...
they only count if you die at the scene. die in the ambulance or hospital,
and they're not counted in the traffic statistics.

china will drive you nuts if you're just moderately tall. kids like to sneak up
behind you in packs, one or two of them will jump and try to get his hand to
just above your head. gosh, it's cute, it's harmless, but sooooo annoying.
no concept of personal space. men will sit next to you on a bus, start
stroking the hair on your arm or leg. sometimes when standing on a
crowded bus, an old lady will grab your junk and say "it's twoo, it's twoo!"

you will enjoy europe.
WOW! Yeah you just saved me probably a couple grand in airfare; thanks! That sounds horrible and annoying. Maybe it IS worth learning German and Norwegian after all
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Old 03-12-18, 12:26 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by TallTourist View Post
You're right, I definitely view this place and compare it to Canada and unapologetically so, my country is quite simply better.

I judge people here.

This is the most thread I've seen in a while.
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Old 03-12-18, 12:36 PM
  #44  
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I know the OP seems a bit out of place on this forum, as well as in the places he chooses to tour, but I can certainly sympathize with him. Touring certain areas is just not for everyone. I, for one, don’t need to travel to Mongolia to find out it is not for me. Perhaps a remote area like Patagonia would be nice, but larger cities in many so called developing countries are, quite frankly, not up to Western standards. When I’m done seeing all the “nice” places in the world, maybe I’ll venture further afield, but that will probably never happen.
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Old 03-12-18, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I know the OP seems a bit out of place on this forum, as well as in the places he chooses to tour, but I can certainly sympathize with him. Touring certain areas is just not for everyone. I, for one, donít need to travel to Mongolia to find out it is not for me. Perhaps a remote area like Patagonia would be nice, but larger cities in many so called developing countries are, quite frankly, not up to Western standards. When Iím done seeing all the ďniceĒ places in the world, maybe Iíll venture further afield, but that will probably never happen.
Yes, but at least you are smart enough to realize all this before-hand.

Its like the OP knows he doesn't like Chinese food, so he goes into a Chinese restaurant, orders a ton of food, doesn't like it, then goes onto an international food discussion forum and complains about Chinese food because its not hamburgers.
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Old 03-12-18, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I know the OP seems a bit out of place on this forum, as well as in the places he chooses to tour, but I can certainly sympathize with him. Touring certain areas is just not for everyone. I, for one, don’t need to travel to Mongolia to find out it is not for me. Perhaps a remote area like Patagonia would be nice, but larger cities in many so called developing countries are, quite frankly, not up to Western standards. When I’m done seeing all the “nice” places in the world, maybe I’ll venture further afield, but that will probably never happen.
What you're basically saying is you want to tour only in places up to "Western standards". I don't know which particular standards you mean, but I understand that some people want certain creature comforts when they travel, whereas for others, that is not a major concern. But since apparently you haven't been to any developing countries, you might be surprised by the experience.

My first trip to Mexico was biking in the Yucatan with a friend one February. We found good roads, friendly people, not too much traffic except along the Caribbean coast, nice hotels at low prices (though the Caribbean coast has much higher prices), & great food. No need to carry camping gear or cooking gear. We didn't feel like we were sacrificing anything.

I've been to Mexico City many times. It's a world-class city. In terms of what might be considered Western standards, Mexico City has a great and inexpensive subway system (which functions a helluva lot better than Metro in DC or the T in Boston). It has some outstanding museums. It has fantastic food, and you can eat very well in nice restaurants for a fraction of the cost in developed countries. You can also get great cheap food in the markets and on the street. You can stay in a nice hotel for a fraction of what a similar quality hotel would cost in developed countries. And during my last two visits, I saw more and more cyclists on the streets, as well as a shared bike program. (But it's also true that in much of the city, traffic is horrendous.)

The first time I was in Mexico City, I was with a friend who hadn't been anywhere in Mexico before, and who spoke no Spanish. Mexico City was at the end of our trip, but my friend said after we had been in Mexico City for a couple of days, that "the people in Mexico City are just as friendly as the people we've met everywhere else in Mexico". For one of the world's most populous cities, that's impressive.
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Old 03-12-18, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by fantom1 View Post
This is the most thread I've seen in a while.
It's a gift.
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Old 03-12-18, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
What you're basically saying is you want to tour only in places up to "Western standards". I don't know which particular standards you mean, but I understand that some people want certain creature comforts when they travel, whereas for others, that is not a major concern. But since apparently you haven't been to any developing countries, you might be surprised by the experience.

My first trip to Mexico was biking in the Yucatan with a friend one February. We found good roads, friendly people, not too much traffic except along the Caribbean coast, nice hotels at low prices (though the Caribbean coast has much higher prices), & great food. No need to carry camping gear or cooking gear. We didn't feel like we were sacrificing anything.

I've been to Mexico City many times. It's a world-class city. In terms of what might be considered Western standards, Mexico City has a great and inexpensive subway system (which functions a helluva lot better than Metro in DC or the T in Boston). It has some outstanding museums. It has fantastic food, and you can eat very well in nice restaurants for a fraction of the cost in developed countries. You can also get great cheap food in the markets and on the street. You can stay in a nice hotel for a fraction of what a similar quality hotel would cost in developed countries. And during my last two visits, I saw more and more cyclists on the streets, as well as a shared bike program. (But it's also true that in much of the city, traffic is horrendous.)

The first time I was in Mexico City, I was with a friend who hadn't been anywhere in Mexico before, and who spoke no Spanish. Mexico City was at the end of our trip, but my friend said after we had been in Mexico City for a couple of days, that "the people in Mexico City are just as friendly as the people we've met everywhere else in Mexico". For one of the world's most populous cities, that's impressive.
Iíve traveled all over the world. Not by bike necessarily. Turkey, Greece, Balkans, Central America, for example. There may be exceptional areas within each country or region, but on the whole, you are going to have to deal with lower standards. Just the way it is. These are poorer areas, and I donít fault the people living there, but donít particularly enjoy traveling there.
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Old 03-12-18, 02:45 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
...larger cities in many so called developing countries are, quite frankly, not up to Western standards...
I've cycled through parts of Miami that aren't up to Western standards
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Old 03-12-18, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
I've cycled through parts of Miami that aren't up to Western standards
Most of the DC area is not up to Western standards. I donít ride there unless Iím going to the ballpark.
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