Part of making good memories on vacation is interacting with the locals. Follow our suggestions and you'll be sure to improve the Gringo/a image and make some life long friends in the process!!
If you wanted a sunny vacation where everyone had the same customs, spoke the same language and had the same background, you would have gone to Florida (or Cancun ;-)). You're in a new country with wonderful differences and even more wonderful people. Expect differences and try to keep in mind that your way is not always the best way!!
If you're not familiar with the Mexican culture, you're in for a real treat! Everything goes at a more leisurely pace. This may be difficult at first, but when you start to feel impatient, take a deep breath and remember how glad you are you're not at home being rushed. Mexican people are a happy people, you'll see it on their faces and find it more in speaking with them. When your ethnocentricity (the idea that your culture is the best) subsides, realize that the people around you are probably more happy on this a typical day in their culture than you are on your average day!!
You can get by with no Spanish, not quite as easily as in Cancun, but did you really travel all this way to speak boring old English? Everyone understands that you're a tourist and they don't expect you to be fluent. However, you'll notice that it is greatly appreciated if you put forth a little effort. Get yourself a little phrase book and expand your mind. Of course you'll make a few mistakes, but it'll just inject a little humor and shows you can appreciate the effort they put forth with English!!
It is the custom in Mexican restaurants for the servers to not bring the bill until you ask. This is all part of the laid back atmosphere. If you're in a hurry or just want to be on your way, ask your sever for 'la cuenta' and be off!! The food may be different than you are used to, but you'll never find the local delicacies if you stick to the hamburguesas. Again, if you want American food, stay home!!
We tend to keep our guard up when we travel. While it is very important to keep safety in mind, if you never let your guard down, you'll miss out on some wonderful people. Mexicans are generally friendly, but remember you're on their turf. Show a little interest and that you're not just a spring-breaker from Cancun and you'll make life long friends!!
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