Monday, January 4, 2016

Mexican myths

As a kid in San Diego, I grew up hearing different things about Mexico and Mexicans. Opinions and ideas about our neighbors to the south (as with most places) would often be nothing more than someone repeating whatever news was pumping into their American living room, certainly not any first hand knowledge. As part of a family that would venture into Mexico often, I was fortunate enough to see Mexico through my own eyes often dispelling the unkind myths about Mexico and it's people.

It always seems that those with the strongest negative opinions of how others live in a particular area have never been to the area of which they are referring to.  For those who won't visit Mexico based on the myths that it's a "dirty" and "dangerous" place, allow me to set the record straight. Having lived in Mexico  just shy of a year,  sailing thousands of  nautical miles along its coast and having driven thousands of miles through this country, I consider myself a credible source. Our girls have been to more states within Mexico than the USA! 

Mexico is dangerous. When I think of 2015, I think of a year that proved to just about every human on Earth that danger can lurk anywhere.  As an American, danger looks like the "normal" kid next door, ready to wreak havoc and end lives at malls, churches, schools...there is no safe place. Worldwide there's ISIS. I'm not wanting to start sounding like Fox "News", but you get my point. Every country has their problems. Here in Mexico, I can see who has guns as they're clearly displayed. It takes awhile to get used at the grocery store with an assault rifle only 5 feet away. 

Grocery store check out

The food in Mexico will make you sick. Our family of four is living proof that this is not true. We live off of "street food". Yes, we had rumbly stomachs for a week or so making the adjustment, as you would with any new country. The street food in Mexico can be amazing, pastor tacos, elotes (corn on a stick slathered with goodness), churros, etc. While living in San Miguel De Allende this summer, I couldn't believe the amount of people we met that had been living in Mexico for over 6 months and were still scared to eat anywhere but a fancy restaurant. Seriously? When was the last time anyone saw a health inspector? Whether you're eating in a fancy restaurant, paying triple the cost or eating off the street it's the same. At least with street carts, you can see them physically making your meal. Health inspectors and OSHA officers are like unicorns in Mexico...good luck finding one.

Pastor tacos in Mexico City

Mexico is dirty. Every country has a little dirt. Mexico is very clean thanks to all those who take pride in where they live. In our neighborhood this summer, you would always see people sweeping the dirt, right off the streets. Guaranteed, one could get lost in the cleaning aisles of a Mexican grocery store. These people take cleaning very serious. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you visited one of Mexico's border towns, and it wasn't aesthetically pleasing to the eye, the rest of the country looks the same. That would be like dropping off someone in Compton, CA and saying, "whelp, you've seen America"! 

Mañana means "tomorrow" in Spanish. Technically, mañana translates to the word tomorrow in Spanish, realistically it can mean anything. When you're looking for a boat part and someone says they'll receive it mañana, that could mean anytime this week. When your landlord says he'll hook up the dryer mañana, that means we waited 3 months and never saw the damn thing hooked up. Look at the sat like this for months. Torturous! So close, yet so far.

Mexico is nothing but hot desert and cactus. I have to admit, even I fell for this one. I was completely shocked when we sailed into Mantenchen Bay and were greeted by lush coconut palms, thick vegetation and humidity you could cut with a knife...a far cry from the dry, arid Baja Peninsula.  Last summer we were fortunate enough to drive from San Miguel to Xilitla (in the state of San Luis Potosi) which took us through 6 hours of ever changing topography...desert, cloud forest, high lands, and then arriving in a tropical rain forest. I loved the drive just as much as visiting Las Pozas which is a "must see" for anyone in Mexico. Again, don't fool yourself by visiting a border town or Cabo and think you've seen Mexico....honey, you ain't seen shit. 

Everyone in Mexico is related.  Actually, after living in Mexico for about 9 months, the girls truly wondered if everyone isn't related. Why? Because everyone treats each other like family. A perfect example is when we were riding a small bus through Zihuatenejo. A woman got on the crowded bus with two adorable twin girls about 5 years old. There was only one seat left which the mother took. The twin girls were quickly snatched up by elderly women who were already sitting on the bus and each placed a twin on their lap. It was almost as if the twin little girls had grandmothers sitting on the bus waiting for them to get on. We got off the bus and both Jess and Emma were blown away. "Did you see that!" "Those little girls just sat on the laps of total no big deal".  "I told you...everyone in Mexico is related..they have to be!" 

Mexico is a gorgeous country filled with some of the most generous people I've ever met and we couldn't be happier having decided to sail here for another season. 


  1. you know, a lot of the same can be said about Colombia. I've spent a total of just over 2yrs in Colombia for work and I had many people trying to convince me that there's drugs everywhere and there's always someone out there waiting to get you. If you know where to go and where to avoid, it isn't too bad.

    Good to see your travels have been going so well. Be safe and enjoy!

    Happy New Year to all of you.

  2. Manana means "not today" :)


  3. I couldn't agree more with you comments about Mexico! I'v been down there over the the last 30 years fishing...and annually for the last 6! I love the country and its people! We fish in a small fishing village called Los Barrilos. That community would give their shirts off their backs for you! Food is fantastic and water is safe to drink! An American clinic with a women who's started it and has been running it for 20 years serving the community all on donations! She is an angel. When I met her and heard her story I realized I had met an angel!

  4. Great post! We had a very similar experience with our own "Mexican myths" our first year cruising down.

    Grant & Denise
    s/v Maluhia

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