Mexico City was once described by a friend of mine as being ‘an extreme sport’ and in many ways those few words encapsulate it well. Whilst it is not anything like a world city on the scale of London, it simply doesn’t need to be, and I wouldn’t want it to be really. It has an aura all of its own. Mexico City is a crazy, unhinged, yet calm and positive place. A place of poverty, and of riches, with the various echelons of social classes and strong divides that come with it. It is often ugly, yet strikingly beautiful too. Chaotic, pedestrian unfriendly, fun, and many more things besides.
The People: Of course like anywhere in the world (except Belgium which is too boring to have variation) the people vary, there is the mix of odious, criminal, corrupt, and these characters famously abound in the City. However there is a diametric opposite in abundance too. One thing that should strike the tourist (tourists in Mexico City! Good luck) is the overwhelming positivity and amiability of just so many ordinary folk. Many have an immediate approachability, and an attitude of warmth and friendliness. Many have a welcome familiarity, with an attitude of ‘mi casa su casa’, whether they really mean it or not.
This brings me to another point. Many Mexicans love to be positive to the point of absolute naivety. Don’t get me wrong I love them for it but god it could drive a Brit mad at times. Never be surprised if a Mexican considers the very improbable to be very likely, it’s simply inbuilt to many. It’s very endearing. Certainly many lack the ingrained world weariness and cynicism that we Brits and often many Europeans possess. This is of course all generalisations, but many will find that there is a distinct difference of aura at times inherent in the culture.
Oh and be prepared to hand over your mobile phone number every 5 minutes, but be prepared to have only 1% of those people ever ring you. They didn’t do it disingenuously you understand; the intention is always a positive.
With this in mind Let us take a look at a short list of things you will come to notice after a while.
1. You find it normal when peseros race each other at the risk of their passengers’ life. It’s actually ok with you because you’re probably running late anyway. – You don’t get mad when you invite friends over at 4pm and they arrive at 5:30pm. In fact, you’ve anticipated this and start getting ready at 5pm.
2. When four days of cloud and rain is sufficient to bring on a bout of the Winter Blues.
3. A wedding is at 8:00 p.m., you get there at 10:00 p.m. and nobody has arrived yet.
4. You will often have lunch and dinner at the same restaurant on the same day…without actually leaving
5. You believe a shot of tequila cures everything. See ‘tea, England, United Kingdom’.
6. You have more prescription drugs in your toiletry bag than Eckerd does and you don’t have an actual prescription for a single one.
7. You enjoy drinking beer with lime, salt, ice, Tabasco sauce and still think it’s the orange juice in the morning that gives you heartburn.
8. You eat tacos, enchiladas, morcilla, moronga, and medula, but believe hamburgers are unhealthy.
9. When someone tells you “I’ll call you,” you assume that he won’t.
10. “Tomorrow” means “not right now”, “never”, or “screw you.”
11. If you want 50 people to show up for your party, you invite 150.
12. It’s normal for people to create even worse bottlenecks by congregating in terrible bottlenecks in the street.
13. Its normal to see security guards with shotguns/miniguns at the entrances of malls either in case of armed robbery or terrorism or someone stole a packet of m&m’s.
14. You simultaneously criticise the Gringos but absolutely borrow and integrate many aspects of their political and consumerist systems and culture.
15. You go to parties and drink out of a never ending supply of big red cups.
16. You think adding salt to your beer is a good idea.
17. You think adding chilli to your EVERYTHING is a good idea.
18. Traffic lights are merely an indicator not a rule.
19. All cars come factory fitted with the horn on and this horn must be used even when stationary in traffic for 2 minutes.
20. You will at some point end up paying for too many peoples drinks in the bar because you have to wait for the bill at the table:
- You will forget who drunk what and paid for what.
- You will get so drunk you have no idea. Nor will anybody else.
- People will arrive or leave at their leisure.
21. Are not surprised at having a waiter serve you in a nightclub.
22. Are not surprised by weather girls with huge breasts being wolf whistled live on television.
23. Notice there is no inherent difference between day time and nighttime programming on TV.
24. Realise neck braces on females are not a new fashion but a result of excellent mobile phone related driving.
25. Begin to notice there is almost no limit to public affection with a couple virtually eating each other in your way on the pavement.
26. Having people say ‘Bueno’ when you ring them, meaning ‘Good’ instead of hello for christsake.
27. The machismo culture. Certainly haven’t seen girls in bikinis on my pharmaceutical products in the UK.