Important Travel Tips : Mexico

My favourite view in Mexico

My favourite view in Mexico

Two wonderful weeks in Mexico – travelling between Metepec and Tequila via el DF, Querétaro and Guadalajara – requires some forward thinking. Which of course with Christmas and a house-buy looming, I didn’t bother doing – didn’t take enough clothes, the right type of clothes, didn’t have time to get pesos in the UK, booked my travel insurance the night before, and so on. I did buy a new guidebook that actually turned out to be pretty useful when we couldn’t find our way to Coyoacan, and even suggested a walking itinerary around the bohemian La Condesa district that we did, discovering new bars and parks and lovely little chocolate shops. So here are some travel tips for the more laid-back visitor :

  • Pack for the weather. Remember that Mexico doesn’t get much above 20º during Winter, so take more than just 9 sleeveless tops and dresses for the 16 days you’re going to be there. What the hell was I thinking? I think – I think, that brain was overloaded with moving-house-stress and the everlasting impression of that first year I went when it was boiling hot, all the time.
  • The flight is long, but lovely KLM give you a schedule of what films will be showing, and luckily as I fly there in December, and back in January I get a good variety for both ways. Check out the list before you go, and plan, because 12 hours in a plane is really boring unless you’ve got some good telly. I normally start off with a comedy TV, then a film and then TV again and so on until dinner-time.
  • Be really British and carry your brolly. When it rains it really rains. We took a road trip to Guadalajara, four and a half of the five hours driving were in the rain. Then when we got there it was like a ghost town with very few people in the streets, unfortunately left the city centre very grey and industrial looking, with few restaurants open.
  • Take cash with you. I tried nearly every cash machine I passed, but only two (out of about twenty) gave me any money. Make sure the bank know when you’re going away, mine did – but I still had to call a very nice lady at my bank who said it was to do with the chip. Unless you want to march into Banamex and have a go at the cashier.
  • It’s all about the breakfast. Or rather, brunch. Eggs cooked al gusto, with chilli, bacon, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, chorizo, then sweet breads, papaya, chilaquiles, frijoles, sopes, pineapple, tamales, potatoes, melon and tacos. Get up at 08h00, and prepare yourself for the biggest breakfast of your life, every day.
  • Driving in Mexico City is mad. Absolutely mad. But I never feel unsafe with Daniel driving, there’s a strange logic to it. Make sure you check the traffic before crossing the road because bikes and carts sometimes nip across on red.
  • Govenment protests happen. EPN spouting bollocks about how privatising the oil industry will be a good thing for Mexico sparked this one, cue “Peña, Mancera, la misma chingadera!”
Privatising Pemex, NO!!

Privatising Pemex, NO!!

  • Mariachi is basically the happiest job in the world. See Mariachi, they’re normally hawking round Reforma actually, and they always pose for the camera, even if they’re mid-song!
  • Learn the two basics, “Soy guëra, pero no soy gringa” (I’m blonde but I’m not American). And the “excuse me” rule, Excuse me 1 : To get someone’s attention = Disculpe. Excuse me 2 : To squeeze past someone = Con Permiso. Excuse me 3 : To say sorry = Perdón.
  • Valet Parking is amazing! You can drive straight up to the city centre restaurant, throw your keys at the guy, drink for the next six hours and and still drive home. Luckily the night we drank for six hours was really close to the house so we actually walked there. On the same note, three jagerbombs, six bottles of Corona and a whiskey and orange are actually a really good cure for jet-lag.
  • Everything is spicy. If a Mexican says it’s not, don’t believe them. “You put green chilli, then molé, then this other spice, but it’s not very spicy in the end”. Erm, yes it is, I’m not eating that.
  • Carry a few extra pesos with you. The cute factor is everywhere, children selling sweets, children doing acrobatics at the traffic lights, children just asking for money straight out in their torn jeans and dirty shoes.
  • Remember that the politics here is corrupt. A driving license costs you 250 pesos no questions asked. The national football team won the Olympic gold medal, but the Mexican FA won’t invest in player development, so games are left full of advertising and no substance. Then the last thing the government privatised was the railways, and all that’s left of that is three tourist trains, all the rest of the money left Mexico, or went straight into the politicians pockets.
  • Love the country and its people. The country has so much to be proud of, such a progressive and tolerant nation in some ways, but so humble in others. Yes the divide between rich and poor is very noticeable, but buy the little girl an ice cream, and give the little acrobatic boy at the traffic lights your 10 pesos, it’s 11pm and he should be at home in bed in the warm. But love every bit of this puebla, meet people and enjoy this rich, warm-hearted nation.
I heart MEX

I heart MEX

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2 thoughts on “Important Travel Tips : Mexico

  1. I totally LOVE this!!! Cannot believe you already mastered the “Soy guëra, pero no soy gringa” hahaha. My scottish ex-girlfriend always got mad when I called her “guera” even though she is actually brunette. We mexicans see anything lighter than brown and we always assume the best D:

    • Thank you! Mexico is such an exciting country, and I always look forward to going back. The other one I struggle with is that I stick to my very Spanish-of-Spain “¿Cómo?” instead of “¿Mánde?” Must remember that for next time.

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