During my life abroad in Mexico, I learned a lot. Therefore, I want to share 12 things you need to know before traveling to Mexico with you.
What you need to know before traveling to Mexico
What means “Fondo“?
Spending some time in Mexico definitely won’t help your drinking habits. If Mexicans are good at something than it is drinking.
It’s not so much about the amount of alcohol you can handle, but about the way you drink.
When Mexicans scream the word “fondo” loudly, you will need to drink upside down. The word can be translated as “ground” or “bottom” meaning that you have to empty the whole glass upside down at once. I wish you success!
Lemons and Limes
Lemons and limes are the secret ingredients for everything. Whether it is on Tacos, in the drinks or on chips.
Mexicans tend to put lemon/lime on everything they get into their hands. It does not matter if it is liquid or solid.
There are two idiomatic expressions you will need to know before traveling to Mexico. “Que onda, Guey?” will be the most common salutation when hanging out with Mexicans. It means something like “What’s up dude?”.
The other idiomatic expression is “No mames guey!”. This can be translated as “Are you serious?” or “You’ve got to be kidding me!”.
The Power of the Agave Plant
You have to know all about the power of an Agave plant. This is by far the most interesting plant I have ever learned about, during my 20 minutes stop, on the way to Teotihuacan.
It not only produces the basis and syrup for the alcoholic drink Mezcal but has further hidden secrets.
For example, you can peel off the first layer of the leaves and use it as paper to write on. The needed pen, in order to write, you get by pulling out the sharp end of the leave.
Furthermore, when you pull out the top there are also tiny threads attached to it, which are used for sewing clothes. The “pen” is so sharp that it can also be used as a needle.
Believe me, I have never been that impressed by one single plant. Plus the fact that it survives almost 100 years is incredible. So, basically you only need one plant for a lifetime.
You will definitely learn how to be patient in Mexico. It is in Mexicans nature to never come on time.
When I was in Mexico City, my friends were about 2 hours late and that was totally normal. The reason for that was permanent traffic jams.
Back home in Germany, I used to get angry when someone was late. After my long term stay in Mexico, I am not anymore. I became the most chilled person ever.
One more thing you need to know before traveling to Mexico is that besides the popular Tequila shot there is another one, called Mezcal.
Usually, there is a worm inside the bottle and whoever happens to get the last shot of the bottle needs to eat the worm. What a fun tradition.
Buses in Mexico
Bus rides in Mexico can be very luxurious in comparison to Europe. There are two big seats next to each other which are very wide, so you don’t touch the person next to you.
You can also push those seats all the way back into an almost straight position. Just as if you would be laying in your bed at home.
Furthermore, you have a TV attached in the front in order to watch movies and Internet access. This way the trip will feel very short.
Finally, you get food and drink package together with your bus ticket, which only cost me around 20-25€ from Mexico City to Guanajuato. This was a 4.5h to 5h ride. I loved it.
Another thing you need to know about before traveling to Mexico is beer mixes. Beer is often served in combination with Chili and salt on the edge of the glass. What a weird combination, right?
At the beginning, I did not like it at all, but after 6 months I actually started enjoying it. You can easily get used to it and then you only lick off the salt and Chili rather than drinking the beer (*laugh*).
Another combination would be beer with tomato juice, also knows as “Michelada”. Again, it took a little while before I could reconcile it with my conscience.
Chili con Carne
Chili con Carne is not a Mexican dish. Its origins are in the south of the USA, namely Texas state. Due to the fact that Mexicans like to cook with lots of chilis, it is said to be a Mexican dish when in reality it is not.
What is a Burra?
During my time in Guanajuato, I often went to “Bar Fly” a really authentic and alternative place to go out. There they offered a drink called “Burra”, translated as “donkey”.
It is a mix of beer, Tequila, and Grenadine. You first had to take a big sip from the beer, just enough in order to pour the Tequila shot in.
You then push the open side of the bottle against your palm and flip the bottle (Important: Don’t shake!). Otherwise, you will splash the whole drink when releasing the bottle from your palm, as I did.
Besides all negative stereotypes and bad news about the Mafia or drug dealers, I have experienced Mexicans as very friendly, warm-hearted, open-minded and giving people, who like to share almost everything with you.
They also encourage and help you to explore their culture (they will even make use of their network to give you the best experiences) and are very interested in stories from your home country as well.
Obesity in Mexico
Did you know that Mexican children are supposedly the most obese ones in the world? I did not know that. For me, those have been American children but you never stop learning.
Candy costs less than 1$ (less than 1 cent) and children often like to stop by the little shops on their way home from school to buy some candy.
Another good example of this is that you don’t even have to get out of the car when getting gas. You just drive into the gas station and already see employees waiting for you. They are happy to clean your windows, fill up your tank and take some tips for it.