Best destination in Latin America for an outrageous American gringo

Inspired by this thread, what’s the best place for a stereotypical American gringo to visit in Latin America? My definition of “Latin America” includes the countries of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean that primarily speak a Latin-descended language, except for French speaking Canada (which is traditionally not considered the same, even if it is technically Latin). I’ll allow an answer of Puerto Rico or a place in Puerto Rico even though it is actually a US territory.

Specific suggestions of things to consider are crime rate (I’ve been told that some of the Mexican border cities are crime-infested crapholes), especially crime against tourists or random bystanders rather than organized drug smuggling gangs that live and let live unless you interfere. the extent to which locals and tourist industry workers understand English (e.g. fairly good in Puerto Rico, especially San Juan), the general attitude of locals toward gringos (e.g. warm, lukewarm, contemptuous), availability of facilities, and the overall enjoyability of the place.

Costa Rica might as well call some places Americatown. They’re so safe they don’t have an army. I can’t vouch for the wildlife one way or another.

I hear Argentina is practically a European country.

That along with Chile, Uruguay and southern Brazil. Lots of Germans, Italians, Croats, and others in that region even some Englishmen (Borges was part English I think).

San Andrés, Colombia

Very gringo friendly. Many locals speak English.

How about Belize? I’ve been to Central America but not there. But it’s listed in one poll as a top 10 or 15 place for Americans to retire to. And it used to be British.

Belize has a strange situation in that English is the official language but not the majority language. I have no idea how strong their tourist industry is, it’s not one of the countries which advertise in Spain.

“The best country” would depend a lot on what you want to do, but I’ll second Costa Rica as one that’s absolutely gorgeous, has tons of different things to do and where a lot of the tourist industry is geared towards visitors from the US. Dollars accepted even by government officials: when I was there, in 2005/6, there were fees that were only acceptable in USD, you could not pay in colones.

When I think stereotypical American gringo, I think of someone who wants to get hammered every day, show off one’s bicep tattoos, lay out in the sun until lobster-red, and ask dumb and offensive questions of tour guides. If that’s what the OP means, the real answer is Cancun.

Rio de Janeiro is laid-back, cosmopolitan, sensual, scenic, and not to be missed. Of course you need to act like you’ve got some sense, but it’s astonishing. Two direct quotes from the Wikipedia article on Cariocas:

  1. “Brazilians, especially the Cariocas of Rio (as citizens here are known), want very much to be seen as simpático. And going out of one’s way to assist strangers is part of this image.”

  2. “Cariocas love beach, sun, sea and parties.”

Nuff said.

Here’s the description of The Ugly American from the other thread:

Haven’t been there, but I’ve known a couple of Argentines & have done some research. In Buenos Aires, definitely the main stop on any Argentine trip not a trek through Tierra del Fuego, the Ugly American couple would probably be considered slobs. If they upgraded their look, they could probably get by…

When I was there in the late 70’s, the coastal area, where most of the tourist industry is, was dominated by blacks who spoke English with a heavy Carribean accent that sounded beautiful to my ears but was a bit hard to understand at first. Inland, the country was occupied more by Spanish-speaking mestizos and native-speaking Maya Indians, although there was usually someone around who understood English.

We avoided the cesspool of Belize City as much we could. I hear it has since become a bigger cesspool with a thriving drug trade. But the world’s second longest barrier reef is off the coast of Belize and has great snorkeling, with modern hotels and beaches on the islands.

Having been to Cancun enough to be sick of the place, this.

I have a good British friend here who used to be a London banker before he got laid off, maybe back in the 1990s or very early in the last decade. (He’s been over here about 10 years.) He received quite a large settlement, and he and his fellow banking buddy who also got laid off spent a year in Rio, doing nothing at all, by his own account, except drinking and screwing girls. Nice work if you can get it.

Ahem I should clarify that by “girls,” I mean “young ladies of legal age.” He’s no pedo.

I would say Cancun, too.

Buenos Aires is not the most English friendly city in the world (though they do have an English-language daily paper) and there can be a bit of street crime, especially if you stray from the well-traveled areas. But the Ugly American would enjoy the dirt-cheap steaks and leather goods. People are usually friendly since tourists are a realtively new phenomenon. The more Ugly Americans go, the less this will be true.