South America is basically adult (Latin) Disneyland. It's crazy, it's different, and - most importantly - it's fun.
Below are the (un)official rules of traveling through South America. Heed these wisely, but also - never be afraid to break the rules.
1. Get fruit wasted.
Mangoes that cut like buttah, avocados the size of your head, papayas the size of fat babies...there is no better place to go ham on some tropical fruits than South America. Seek out the mercado central (there's bound to be one everywhere you go) and load up on nature's candy at prices so cheap you might shed a tear.
2. Find your coco-man.
Speaking of fruit...I'm in love wit da co-co. Co-co-NUT. It gets HOT in many areas of Latin America (Ecuador, I'm lookin' at you) so you need to stay hydrated, and coconut water is nature's Gatorade. There's a good chance, especially if you're beachside, you might see a vendor rolling a cart of fresh-from-the-tree coconuts. Grab one (or two, to be safe), take a seat, and drink up that goodness. After you finish the water, go back and ask them to cut out the meat for you. They'll whip out their machetes and deftly slice out that delicious coco for you.
Warning: never go coco-loco. Unless it's going to be "that kind" of night.
3. Reggaeton is love, reggaeton is life.
Accept it. Once that ever-familiar beat comes on, you can't help but shake your shoulders. You'll hear the same songs playing over and over, so look up the lyrics to one or two, study the heck out of them, and then belt them out next time your song comes on in "da club." The locals will be both surprised and delighted, and (be warned) will probably want to party all that much harder with you.
4. Don't drink the water. Among other things.
Maybe not for the faint of heart, but don't expect your healthy digestion to survive a trip to américa del sur. We'll leave it at that.
5. Just go with it.
At the end of the day: There are no rules in South America. It's the most magical kind of anarchy you'll ever experience. You are not in control of your days - the continent is taking you on a trip. And you'll be hard-pressed not to enjoy every second of it.