Once upon a time when I was traveling in Europe, a young lady pulled up her shirt and flashed me. At first I thought this was a customary greeting in her country, but I quickly realized it was an effort to distract me so her friend could pickpocket me. Now, when ladies flash me, which happens more than you might think, I put my hand over my pocket in case it is a ruse.
This is one of many things I have learned in my travels. On our recent trip to Mexico, the learning did not stop. Below is a list of things I learned traveling through the great country south of the border.
What I Learned Traveling in Mexico
When ordering a hot dog and they say “con todo?” – with everything, unless you want carrots, salsa, mustard, ketchup, copious amounts of fried onions, creamy cheese and jalapeños, you should not say “si.”
When eating chips and salsa, it is always wise to take a tiny amount of salsa on the first chip in order to find out just how fiery hot it is. A full scoop of salsa could lead to disaster and a desperate search for the waiter to bring more beer.
The larger the crowd outside a taco stand the greasier and spicier the taco meet.
You can get a chile relleno taco, which is a chille relleno inside a taco. Mexico is a great country.
If a Mexican says something is spicy, it isn’t a description, but a warning.
There are pork rinds the size of a small cars in the markets.
They don’t eat a lot to cheese in Mexico. Conversely, the average Tex Mex meal is 64% cheese, according to a recent study.
You can buy bacon wrapped hot dogs in quick stops. Dios es mi Amigo.
If you bump into the table of a woman selling fried grasshoppers in the market and some of her product falls on the floor, she will become very much upset.
At every cantina, there is always a local who is passed out drunk. They are not asked to leave or looked down upon. When they wake up, they are served more booze.
You should not try to drink a 300-pound American government official, whose Mexican nickname is El Torro, under the table. I learned this though observation, not participation. On a side note, Obama owes me 100 pesos.
You should not try to drink a 40-year-old Mexican government official under the table, especially if he claims to have been drinking in this very same cantina since he was 12.
When eating at a market and the only beverage options are a dubious jug of water or beer, sometimes you are forced to get drunk at lunch.
Beer is accompanied by more condiments than anywhere else on Earth. You usually get an entire sliced lime, salt, chips and salsa, peanuts fried in chili and garlic and maybe even a soup, which is usually murderously hot. It seems like a nice gesture, but the cynic in me thinks the picante food is there to encourage more beer drinking.
Mezcal, a tequila-like liquor made from the agave cactus, tastes like licking a homeless person who has been doused in gasoline. It burns, tastes of salt and dirt with a smokey finish.
Travel and Culture
Selfie sticks are banned as carry on items on domestic flights and in many museums in Mexico. Yet another reason this is a great country.
Seeing millions of monarch butterflies at once is kinda neat.
If a one-legged lady in a wheelchair is speeding towards you, get out of the way.
When a sudden rain storm hits, the cotton candy vendor is the first one to run for cover.
Mexico has vibrant indeginous communities all over the country. That makes me happy about our world.
There are communities of blond-haired, blue-eyed mennonites who wear traditional clothes in Chihuahua and Campeche. They stand out like a Mexican wearing a mariachi outfit in a community of blondes.
Buses generally leave when scheduled but arrive on Mexican time. Ironically, the only bus we took that left late was the only one to arrive early. #crazydriver
They sell some really strange man underwear in Mexico City.
My Spanish resides at that magic point where gringoes who don’t speak any Spanish think my Spanish is really good but people who actually speak the language know the truth.
Chinga tu madre is evidently not a very nice thing to say to someone.
Angangueo is really hard to say but not as hard as Teotihuacan.
Maldicion does not mean the f-word. We watched a lot of movies with subtitles. Whenever a person would drop an f-bomb, it was often translated to maldicion, which means cuss word. “Hey you mother cuss word! I am going to blow your cuss word head off with my gun!”
I can’t roll my r’s. I used to think I could.
My English is okay, my Spanish is bad but my Spanglish is poetic.
After seeing the Day of the Dead festivities, I learned that when I die I want my friends and family to parade through the streets in costume and then come to my grave every November 1, drink copious amounts of mezcal, hire a six-piece mariachi band and dance around my grave all night. If you don’t do this you are not honoring my wishes and do not love me.
Well, there you have it. Those are the things I learned in Mexico. If I could pass along one pearl of wisdom it would be this: beware the spicy salsa.
What are some valuable lessons you have learned while traveling?