Back in July, I spent 17 days in Medellin, Colombia. Customs there were very different than in the USA. I wrote a previous post about some of the strange things I saw titled Weird Colombia.
I was going through my photos from the trip and I realized that I had seen a few more unusual things that I failed to mention in the original post.
Here are the additional things I found odd. Some of them were definite improvements over the American system, but some were far worse.
An interesting warning sign on the door of a busy nightclub in the wealthy area where I stayed. The “no weapons” and “No One under 18 allowed inside” signs would be right at place in any American city. The other warnings aren’t so commonly seen here.
The first one says “It’s prohibited to consume drugs or hallucinogens.” The third one says “No to child prostitution.”
Travelers should be alert for signs like these. Hanging out in places where drugs are regularly used and where juvenile prostitutes operate may not be the safest choices in a foreign country.
Think about it. Why would they need the sign unless the conduct was commonplace in that facility?
All the Colombian ATM machines had grids like this placed over the keypad. The grid is designed to prevent people watching the ATM from seeing your PIN when you enter it. It also helps prevent losses from ATMs equipped with card skimmers and micro video cameras.
I think it’s a brilliant idea, but like the signs at the nightclub in the photo above, they should give an alert traveler a warning about the area. If people weren’t getting jacked for their ATM/Credit cards in the neighborhood, there would be no need for such a keypad covering.
Like many countries in the developing world, drugs that require prescriptions in the USA are often sold over the counter without prescriptions at the local pharmacies.
Many folks in these countries can’t afford quality medical care. They go to the pharmacy and tell the pharmacist what symptoms they have. The pharmacist knows the drugs commonly prescribed for those conditions and then simply sells them the drugs.
Every developing-world country has different laws about which drugs require prescriptions. Colombia seems to be one of the more lenient vacation destinations. Just about anything is legitimately available if you ask the pharmacist.
Take a look at the box above. This is the generic version of the more potent mixture of an opiate and Tylenol commonly called “Vicodin” or “Lortab” in the USA. In the states, these pills have a street value of $10-$15 each. They are sold over the counter in unlimited quantities for about 70 US cents a pill.
For those of you who are wondering, it is legal to bring back a limited quantity of prescription medicines from foreign countries. If the drug isn’t scheduled by the DEA, the limit is a 90-day personal supply of each drug you want to bring home.
If the drug is controlled or scheduled (like the Sinalgen max in the photo above), the maximal quantity you may bring back with you is a total of 50 “unit doses” combined for all controlled prescription medications. I have additional information about buying foreign prescription drugs in my book Choose Adventure.
American fast food restaurants are very common in South America. McDonalds and KFC are the most commonly seen. I’ve seen KFCs all over the world, but I’ve never seen one with a walk up dessert window.
The window was like a separate restaurant. You couldn’t get any of the regular KFC food there. They only sold pastries, cakes, cookies, and soft serve ice cream. It was right up the street from my hotel and I never passed it without seeing at least one customer waiting in line. The dessert window was even more popular than the regular restaurant.
Foreign travel always provides amusing experiences and insights. It’s cool for me to see how differently we all live across the planet. Observing quirks like these keeps international travel high on my list of rewarding pastimes.