How to Use the Lonely Planet Guide in South America

Never try to do anything the way The Book says to do it. It is likely the rules, prices and routes have all changed since the articles were written — three months ago.

Never count on The Book to explain just how absurd a bus ride in the Peruvian Andes might be. Eight-cent adjectives won’t smell like half-frozen mud or press against your chest with thin air or sell you giant corn boiled in a copper pot with a slab of salty cheese.

The Book will not tell you to take the giant corn and shove it inside your jacket to stay warm when fifteen-thousand feet above sea level.

Never pay a fee, tax or additional charge The Book does not mention. The Book, though vindictive, is frugal. You can rely on it to save you money.

Never stay in a hostel recommended by The Book. It is likely they have grown lazy and/or raised prices since receiving this international seal of approval.

Also, never stay in a hostel recommended by the taxi driver who picked you up at the airport, bus or train station. The dueño is a relative and the driver will return later for a kickback.

Never describe places using adjectives you find in The Book. Everyone you meet has just read the same page. They all know the air in Baños, Ecuador is charged with sexual energy. Regurgitating eight-cent a word descriptions will not get you laid.

The Book is heavy and bulky. It takes up valuable space. When you leave a country behind, tear its pages out and leave them on the nearest bookshelf.

About the author

Stephen Rosenshein is originally from Seattle and a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at San Francisco State…

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Issue 16 · October 2012

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