Practical Information in Tarapoto

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Fluent speakers of Spanish will get many questions about themselves, since anyone outside of Tarapoto is an interesting subject for most Tarapotinos.  Speaking with most folks in Tarapoto is not a problem, but if you don´t recognize a word, it might not be your everyday Spanish, because many Quechua words, words from other jungle dialects, and Spanish slang are mixed liberally throughout conversations.  Also, native speakers in Tarapoto add "ita" or "ito"(which everywhere else in the world means small, but not necessarily in Tarapoto) to everything, including peoples names.  Miguelito doesn´t have to be small boy here -- he might be a tall (by Peruano standards) old man.  So figuring out what someone is saying might be simply a matter of removing the suffix.  For example, if one orders an Inca Kola (one of the very few softdrinks that outsells Coca Cola in any given country) in a restaurant or refrigerios (snack bar), the wait staff might ask, "Heladita?"  One must simply take the "ita" off, add back the "a" at the end, and the result is "helada," meaning cold.  Similarly, if someone says they want their food calientito, they mean very hot, not a "little" hot as the word might imply elsewhere.  By hot they always mean hot hot, not spicy hot.  There are not too many dishes here that are spicy hot.  But if it is hot outside, which is the norm in Tarapoto, they might say, "Calorzaso," which is what you might expect, "big hot", with "aso" meaning "big."  Travel just two hours uphill from Tarapoto to Moyobamba, and you will find that, instead of "ito" or "ita," they add "aso" or "asa" to everything.  Travelers might notice another quirk when listening to Tarapotinos speak.  They often end a statement by saying, "si" or "ya."  It sometimes sounds like a question, but it is usually just the period they put at the end of their statement.  The population of Tarapoto is growing quickly, with many people moving in from outlying jungle communities, so language differences are starting to become less apparent.  Native Tarapotinos might not necessarily know where someone is from, but they can tell in an instant if they are from outside Tarapoto, even if they are from only a couple of towns away.

There are many schools that teach English in Tarapoto, so it is not unusual to find an employee in any given business who speaks at least enough English to help you find what you want or make a purchase.  People who do speak little or no Spanish might have occasional difficulties communicating, but many people who don´t speak Spanish manage to get around Tarapoto regularly.  Most of the people in business in Tarapoto are interested in helping their customers, so they will be very patient with people who try to speak Spanish, but not very fluently.


February 11, 2008 new by approaching genius (1 point)

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Getting Cash

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Probably the best place to get cash from the automatic teller machine in Tarapoto is at the Banco Contenental sitting on the Plaza de Armas.  They will charge a flat rate of $3 US per transaction, and the machine dispenses US dollars. 

Getting dollars changed into soles is just a matter of walking across the street to the Plaza de Armas.  Tourists will find several men who change money for a better rate than the banks will give, usually one or two soles per hundred dollars better.  Now in the middle of February 2008, a typical amount one will more..

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