5 Things I’ve learned in Mexico: Part 1

#1: EVERYTHING (except ground beef and certain desserts) is supposedly better with limón– what we would refer to as lime in the US, even though it’s technically different. It’s not that I beg to differ regarding the deliciousness of this little green fruit; I simply do not see the need for an overdose of lime juice on everything I consume.

[Update, as recommended by a US friend who has spent time in Mexico: at sushi restaurants, the norm is soy sauce WITH LIME. The mayonnaise in my fridge also has “a touch of lime.” Limón is a national obsession.]

#2: Mexicans can sometimes come across as not trusting of others– but there is a reason for this. Given the frequency of political corruption and sketchy activities like the “cloning” of credit cards, people who live in Mexico have very valid reasons for being cautious.

This often translates to requesting that your server bring the credit card reader directly to the table, rather than running the transaction somewhere in the back of the restaurant, out of sight.

#3: Political campaigns and PSAs like to capitalize on the importance of family as a persuasion technique. For example, signs along the highway say things like, “Maneje con precaución. Su familia lo espera,” which means something like “Drive with caution. Your family is waiting for you.”

In one of my favorite books, Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, the highways and bus stations also feature a similar type of weird little reminder. One that comes to mind is: “If you try to rush or zoom, you are sure to meet your doom.”

#4: An intentionally bad accent in Spanish is the perfect schtick and will always make Uber drivers laugh.

#5: There are roughly a million different noises that vendors/merchants use to get your attention. Here is a sampling:

  • The people who buy used metal and resell it drive around in a pickup truck, usually stacked high with mattresses, and blare a recording on a loop: se compran colchones, tambores, refrigeradores, estufas, lavadoras, microondas, o algo de fierro viejo que vendaaaaaan. (Translation: we buy mattresses, drums, refrigerators, stoves, washers, microwaves, or any old iron you’re selliiiiiing.) A friend of mine has a t-shirt with these words written on it in the shape of an oval. And fun fact: the little girl who did the recording is now an adult and a professional clown.
  • The guy who sells tamales: another recording. Acerqueseee y pidaaa sus ricooos tamaleees oaxaqueñooos. (Step right up and order your delicious Oaxacan tamales.) But what’s great is that the guy’s voice is the most comically nasal one I’ve ever heard outside of a cartoon.
  • THE STEAM WHISTLE. OH MY GOD. The poor man who sells camotes (hot yam-ish things) in my neighborhood must be deaf– truly– from the most high-pitched and ear-splitting whistling noise I’ve heard in my entire life. He pushes around a cart that looks like a miniature steam locomotive. I’d love to try the camotes, but the instinct to preserve my hearing trumps my curiosity.
  • The trash collector guys ring a hand-held bell– like a much larger version of the ones that rich folks in period pieces use to ring for their servants. It’s actually quite pleasant but VERY loud.

There are so many more– a little horn, a guy yelling something indistinct– that they merit their own post. One day!


One thought on “5 Things I’ve learned in Mexico: Part 1

  1. Pingback: 5 Things I’ve learned in Mexico: Part 2 | The Fearless Fresa

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