Always remember, YOU are the foreigner in México. YOU are their guest in their home.
Some local people in smaller villages may stare at you because they don’t always see foreigners. Just smile and always say Hola, Buenos Dias, Buenos Tardes, Buenos Noches, or you can just say Buenas. After all, it would be rude if you did not say Hi.
In many areas of México, the majority of the local people you will encounter only speak Spanish or some other native language. This includes wait staff at restaurants, hotels, taxi drivers, and those who work at the stores. So, learn some simple phrases in Spanish because they love it when you try to speak their language. You can always point, use mime, or draw on a piece of paper to try to convey what you want to say. Remember, on all our trips, you will have an English/Spanish bilingual host guide to help you out.
Some public bathrooms may not have toilet seats. Don’t question it. Don’t complain about it. It is what it is, so just smile and deal with it. This is not YOUR home, this is THEIRS and that’s just the way it is.
Speaking of bathrooms, bring a small roll of toilet paper in a ziplock bag. Many times, there will not be any. Like the Boy Scouts – Be Prepared. However, just in case you forget, your host guide will always have a roll available for your use.
In the less touristy areas of México, the person serving you at a restaurant will not automatically give you the check toward the end of your meal. It is considered very rude in their culture to even suggest to you that they are hinting that you should leave. Remember, you are on “México Time” and no one is going to rush you. So just enjoy your meal and when you are ready to go, get the attention of your server by saying, “La cuenta por favor.” Likewise, many times they will not come up to your table during your meal to ask if you would like more coffee, etc. Again, they don’t want to intrude on your meal and conversations with others in your party. If you do need something, raise your hand to get their attention and they will come over.
Need something? Forgot something at home? There are pharmacies (farmacias) everywhere. It should be no problem to purchase any toiletries you may need and some over-the-counter medicines. As for other items, yes, there are department stores (like Walmart and Cosco) in the bigger cities found throughout the country as well as small specialty shops. Note: your county’s currency will not be accepted. Your credit card may or may not be accepted. Your best way to pay is in cash with Mexican Pesos.
If you like tacos, you willl never go hungry in México. They are served hot-off-the-grill and they are great as a late night snack too. You can also find hotdogs and hamburger stands open late into the night on the streets of most towns.
The towns & cities throughout México can sometime be quite noisy. There are early morning sellers of many kinds of items using loud speakers, beeping their motor scooter horn, shouting out what they have for sale. Also, you my hear roosters crowing and dogs barking. Then add all this to the fact that Mexicans love their music. Be prepared as you may want to dance your way to the bathroom when you get up in the morning.
Bring a small pocket sized notebook and a pen. You may want to write down a unique recipe on how a particular meal was prepared, jot down an email of a new friend you just made, draw a picture of what you are trying to say (see Travel Tip 3), or keep a small journal of your daily encounters.
Ask permission first before taking someone’s photo. If they agree, show them the image after you take it. Kids especially want to see what they look like. If someone says “no” to taking their photo, please respect their privacy. Remember, you are in their home.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for uneven pavement. Tall people – look out for low hanging obstacles and signs when walking down the sidewalks. When hiking in the outdoors and you want to take a photo or just look out at the beautiful scenery, STOP, get yourself on level ground, then take that picture or admire the view. The “wilds” of México may not be like going to the local forest preserve or beach near your home. There are not always handrails, smooth paths, lifeguards on duty, and posted warning signs. Always be vigilant. Your México host guide is there to assist you. However, it is up to you to protect your own safety and the safety of your children. YOU are responsible for YOU and your family.