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What I think of Mexico
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2014-04-01 18:55:44 | Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Keywords: summary
I remember six months ago when I arrived in Mexico I had the impression to be in the third world, or in a war zone. The general condition level of everything was unlike all I've ever experienced before. I was in shock and I couldn't get past the appearances to see the country. Six months later it's much different.

Understand that the streets are very dirty, that you don't have to visit Aztec or Maya old cities to see ruins because of the numerous abandoned half-destroyed buildings everywhere. That there is no apparent zoning enforced so it's perfectly normal so see a heavy mechanic garage with its toxic products (often used and spilled on the sidewalk) right next to a school or a pastry shop. They do have cleaning squads that keep the touristic spots clean, but just go a few streets away and you'll see the real picture. Mexico is dirty but I'm sure I'll encounter much worst.

The general organization of the Mexican life is quite chaotic from a first world point of view (especially for a programmer), but it works relatively well. The way it works often escapes the mind, even the one of the locals, but it does find a way to make it happen... just learn to be flexible and you'll do just fine Since it works, who are we to say it should be done in a different way? The only thing that seems perfectly organized is the inter-city bus transportation which is best in class in the world and could be compared easily with any firs-world country (it beats Canada and USA hands down).

Once you get past all that and you really look at the daily life, at the people, you'll find every day something new that will amaze you. “Necessity is the mother of invention” can truly be witnessed in Mexico. The people always find a way to use every space (by subletting a tiny space in a store for an ice cream machine vendor for example), re-use existing vehicles for new functions (like the cart tricycle used for everything from taxi to food cart) or create new tools out of nothing (like a sharpening tool based on a bicycle wheel). Even if the majority of Mexicans are technically without a job (with a weekly salary), most of them work hard in various ways to earn an honest living. It's a real life lesson.

I've interacted with hundreds of people in Mexico and 99% of those contacts were friendly and helpful, because that's in their nature. Of course having the courtesy of speaking Spanish helps a lot to smooth these contacts, even if your Spanish isn't perfect and you supplement the information by gestures. Outside a few cities and the tourists villages spread in Riviera Maya, don't expect to be served in English. If you want to be served in English, go to Florida.

I saw some stupid reactions or comments from various tourists I met along the way. Most of them were about enjoying their Mexican experience, while they never left their touristic village and ate only in expensive restaurants. None of them dared to venture a few streets away to see the real Mexico, where people serving them in their luxury hotel live, eat and play. I don't pretend I saw all of Mexico and I know it perfectly, but I know I've been in touch with the real country not just an all-inclusive Mexican Disneyland like you find in Cancun for example. I ate real local street food most of the time (I ate only ONCE in an American fast food, because I had no choice then). In six months I've eaten in a restaurant fewer times than most tourists do in a week.

I never felt threatened or insecure even once, even in dangerous zones. I simply used street-sense and listened to my feeling. In certain cities I was accompanied by locals or asked them advice about where to go and where not. The omnipresence of all police forces (municipal, state, federal, plus the army or marine in some places) heavily armed and extremely visible in the North, made me feel safe... even if I was scared at the idea they needed such deployment. Just be wise... and it will be as safe as in any major US city, with its safe and dangerous areas. Mexico is a violent country, just listen to the local news (even if it's apparently censored and don't report anything), but the violence is amongst criminals and they usually leave tourists alone. Of course there are odd incidents... but Mexico receives over 23 millions tourists every year, so even though these odd incidents are sad they're not significant.

Overall, Mexico is a country that has lots to offer you, from mountains to beaches, from civilizations dating back to 4 000 years to modern architecture but mostly from its people who are generous and kind even though they're far from being rich. I really enjoyed my time in Mexico and it rightfully earned a place on my list of countries where I'd like to settle down if I ever stop traveling.

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left this comment on 2014-04-01 21:11:25

Content de lire me rassure dans ce que je veux vivre comme experience chez l'habitant.

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