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The last instalment of the things no one tells you about living in Mexico was such a HUGE SUCCESS (you can read it here, if you’re interested) that I decided to write a follow-up. There’s nothing more daunting than not knowing what lies in store for you before you move to a foreign country, and if you’re planning on moving to Mexico without having ever visited before (like I did) then these cultural differences can hit you like a freight train. But enough preamble from me, I know what you’re really here for – the 10 more things no one tells you about living in Mexico!
THINGS NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT LIVING IN MEXICO
1. CHEESELESS QUESADILLAS ARE A CDMX CULINARY LOWPOINT
Alongside hating on people from las provincias, and having one of the most widely mocked accents in the country, there is one other oddity that only those in Mexico City do well – cheeseless quesadillas. OK, so this one is quite specific to the capital, but it’s something you need to know if you’re planning on moving to Mexico or even travelling to Mexico City in the near future. The official line is that in Nahuatl, quesadilla (well, the word it comes from at least) just means folded tortilla and the similarities to the Spanish for cheese (queso) are merely coincidental. I’m not buying it, personally. Anyway, always order your quesadilla with cheese in Mexico City unless you want the taste of regret and disappointment to stay with you all day long.
2. BAD PAVEMENTS BECOME THE NORM
If you’re an avid rollerblader, or just someone with a child that needs pushing around in a pram, then Mexico is not the place for you, because the pavements are atrocious. There are tree roots poking out all over the place and haphazardly covered sinkholes dot most of the city, which means the pavements are all as uneven and wonky as you’d expect. Actually, now I think about it, perhaps that explains why you rarely see children in buggies here… Anyway, it’s inevitable that you’ll trip over inelegantly at least once a week if you move to Mexico.
3. FLIP FLOPS ARE LIFE
I’m not saying you should wear flip flops all the time (in fact, if you move to a city, definitely don’t wear flip flops all the time unless you like having perpetually filthy feet and looking like a ridiculous tourist), but you definitely need to invest in a pair if you’re thinking of moving to Mexico. This is literally something that no one tells you, but they’re the one piece of footwear you will use constantly; in the shower, round your flat…the list is endless.
4. EVERYONE WILL ASK YOUR MARITAL STATUS
I’m 23 and I can’t even tell you the amount of times I’ve been asked if I’m married, despite the fact that I (obviously) don’t wear a wedding ring. Do I really look haggard enough that people think I ought to be married already?! Probably best not to open that can of worms, but, anyway, this is one of those questions that’s used as a preamble to see if you’re single and therefore might be available to date the person asking. Chances are, you won’t want to date that person, so you might as well just tell them you are married and have three kids waiting for you at home, because there’s nothing to shut down unwanted flirting like the thought of screaming babies.
5. GET USED TO SEEING VENDORS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD
It’s not unusual to see street vendors roaming up and down the middle of incredibly busy streets selling everything from cigarettes to kites and anything in between. You’ll also find people washing windscreens in exchange for a few pesos, a job which honestly gives me more anxiety than my own, given that they have to finish before the traffic lights change.
6. OBSCENELY LONG COMMUTES BECOME NO BIG DEAL
Again, this one applies mostly to Mexico City, but the up-to-two-hour each way commutes to work and back are something people rarely disclose before you move to Mexico. Even if you live super close to your place of work (which is unlikely unless you have an extravagant budget and the luck of a thousand leprechauns when it comes to renting), you’ll still find that getting there on public transport is somewhat of a nightmare to say the least. Long story short, work from home, save yourself the hassle.
7. YOU NEED TO FIGURE OUT WHERE THE PROTESTS TAKE PLACE
If you truly want to assimilate into Mexican culture, then you need to get yourself down to a protest or two. It won’t be all that difficult, because with the state of the Mexican government right now, they pretty much happen all the time. However, if you want to join either the UNAM students or the outraged Catholics (who are, admittedly, often found at very different protests), you need to know where your city’s designated gathering point is; in Mexico City, the Ángel de la Independencia is the place to be, whereas Guadalajara’s protestors can be found at the Glorieta de los Niños Héroes.
Exercise caution (and common sense) if you really want to attend any kind of march in Mexico. There’s often heavy police involvement, potential for violence and you can be deported for having participated in political protests.
8. YOU’LL BE HAWKED CHOCOLATES ON THE BUS
Just as sellers can be found traversing the many lines of the metro and wandering down the centre of busy highways, they can also be found on buses (commonly known as peseros). The typical bus-bound seller will be trying to offload chocolates nicked from Tepito, which they’ll assure you are not out of date and are usually cheaper if you buy two rather than one. They’ll also hand you the chocolates first, meaning you either have to buy them or give them back to the seller before they hop off your bus and onto the one behind. And, sometimes, if you’re lucky, they’ll wheel out the good old (totally reassuring) line about being changed men, who no longer rob people on buses, but instead sell them chocolate…
9. GET READY FOR A BANK HOLIDAY BONANZA
Oh, the glorious puente. I can’t believe I didn’t put this in my first list to be honest, so bountiful are the days off that you’ll be blessed with if you live and work in Mexico. Puente is kind of like the equivalent of a bank holiday, except unlike in many countries, they seem to happen at least once a month, so you’ll have plenty of three day weekends to drink, travel and snooze away in Mexico.
Related Post: Expectation vs. Reality of Living Abroad
10. LIMES! (OR ARE THEY LEMONS…?)
Everyone tells you about Mexico’s chili obsession. Chili this, chili that, hahaha, spicy food. Nobody warns you about the great limón fascination though. Lime juice gets added to everything, and I mean everything; soup, tacos, beer, sparkling fucking water. Just suck it up and get your Vitamin C, because there’s no avoiding it. Oh, and don’t get into an argument with a Mexican about the fact that ‘limónactuallymeanslemon, doesn’t it?!’ because it’s NOT. WORTH. IT.
Enjoyed this instalment of things no one tells you about living in Mexico? Well, what are you waiting for – go and read the first part. You can find it here.
Do you agree with my second round of assessments about life in Mexico? Let me know in the comments!