How do you bring back memories of your big trip? Probably photos and maybe video? This is typically considered the primary means for remembering an adventure, no matter what the destination is. However, Latin America is such an extraordinary destination that you can bring back memories that go beyond just a photo album or video clips. Today we feature four distinct ways to bring your Latin America trip back home with you.

  1. Recipes. Outside of taking photos, recipes may be the most common way to bring a little Latin American flavor back home. While you could no doubt find a local Latin American restaurant that serves some of your favorite dishes, why not just bring back recipes of some of your favorite foods. If you have a dish that you really like, but that is unfamiliar to you, ask the restaurant, your IE Expedition Leader or Naturalists, or other locals about how to make it, or find a local market or shop that may sell a cookbook. Then you'll just have to find a nearby Latin American market, since a general supermarket often has a small selection of international foods and ingredients.
  2. Condiments. Have you ever been introduced to a sauce or dressing from another country and immediately fell in love with it? While some foods and condiments from abroad can be easy to find in a local grocery store, such as Nutella, most are not. That condiment for me in Costa Rica was Lizano, which is a Costa Rican sauce that is nearly 100 years old. You'll see the sauce at most restaurants in Costa Rica and find people dabbling it on everything from seafood to meat to rice and beans. However, brush up on food rules and regulations before grabbing a case of your favorite condiment to bring back from your trip.
  3. Drinks. It's becoming easier to find your favorite international drinks, beers, wines and liquors in your local grocery or beverage store, but that doesn't mean it isn't often more convenient and considerably cheaper to find it abroad. While Nicaragua's Flor de Caña is considered a top shelf rum by most standards in the U.S., you can get a bottle of it for just a few dollars at the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border. However, familiarize yourself with rules and regulations, as I was only allowed to bring two bottles back to the U.S. If it's a favorite beer or liquor you're after, you can often find these at the duty free store before making your trip back.
  4. Customs. This may just be the most entertaining thing to bring back from your travels, especially if you're of Latin American heritage. Latin America has a lot of pride in their customs, traditions and festivals. Bring these customs back with you from your journey by throwing a party that celebrates these traditions, such as Day of the Dead. This is a great time to show off those Latin American recipes and drinks.

Please tell us in the comments section below how you like to preserve memories from your trips!

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Story and photo by Spencer Spellman