Living in Mexico: 7 Things That Take Getting Used To

January 12, 2015
Living in Mexico: 7 Things That Take Getting Used To

There are certain things about living life in Mexico that have taken some getting used to, even at the two-year mark. Take for example:

Life in Mexico: 7 Things That Take Getting Used To

1. Glorietas

Those perplexing roundabout traffic circles that serve as an intersection for oncoming vehicles from all four different directions, often converging all at the same time. If you are not careful, alert and prepared when you enter this whirlpool, you just might find yourself getting stuck in it, going around and around, like on a merry-go-round. Like a spin toy at a child’s playground, and feverishly trying to calculate the right moment to jump off and get out!

I have learned that I must enter the glorietas with confidence. Ready to kick ass and take on the fast and furious obstacle-like course of dodging incoming cars, trucks and motorcycles. It is likely that I hold my breath until I have exited the glorieta and am hopefully on the road of my choice. It has been on more than one occasion that I was not able to get out when I wanted to and had to take a road I had not initially intended to. But, better to err on the side of safety.

2. Left-hand turn signals

Don’t assume that a blinking left-hand turn signal means that a left turn is intended by the driver. Quite the contrary. It often means “go ahead, it is safe to pass me now—on the left.” Also, in Mexico, it is common road etiquette to pull to the right-hand side, before making a left turn. Are you following all of this?

Keep in mind too, while you are mentally and tactically assessing the road conditions, that there are often burros, horses and dogs on the shoulders that one must avoid for both their safety and yours. Again, similar to the navigation of the glorietas, stay alert, aware of your surroundings and able to respond quickly and safely.

3. Metric system

I am an educator by profession. A Spanish one with a knack for all things liberal arts, minus the mathematics. Algebra and conversion challenges, admittedly, aren’t my strong suit. Fahrenheit to celsius, inches to cm, kilos instead of pounds…’s enough to make a girl dizzy.

It’s time to get to work and study!

But I try, give it my best effort and although there is a lot of guess work and generous rounding off going on, I seem to get by okay. I do think I will make learning the metric system one of my 2015 goals however. During my first few trips to the local butchers, I held my breath wide-eyed waiting to see what the two kilos of salchicha. I wondered what I just ordered would look like. Fortunately for me, my family loves Mexican sausages and over four pounds of them could easily fit into our fridge and freezer.

4. Meat

A walk through the tianguis (an outdoor market filled with a potpourri of every imaginable local fruit, vegetable, handmade craft and meat), or into the local butchers, leaves no doubt as to the origin of it—and fresh at that—likely having been delivered that very same morning from a nearby rancho.

Sights like the following one of the beheaded pigs definitely catch me off guard and still get my attention even at the two-year mark. How could they not?

Coming from the States where people in large part depend on big box and major grocery stores, we were accustomed to purchasing our meats. Pre-packaged and shiny, at Costco, Sprouts, Trader Joes or Whole Foods with what some would deem to be the yucky, “inedible” parts cut off, discarded and not displayed for pubic viewing. Here in Mexico, most every part of the animal is considered edible, and therefore for sale, and therefore on display and available for consumption.

When I took my Mom through the mercado on her recent visit with us, she jumped about two feet. She realized that what was staring at her on the corner of a butcher’s counter that we passed by, was an intact cow’s head, eyes and all, just without the skin. I suppose if one were playing with the idea of veganism, a walk through a tianguis just might seal the deal. For us carnivores however, it is an important reminder to support farmers who are raising their animals humanely and in good conditions with proper feed.

Living in Mexico: 7 Things That Take Getting Used To.

5. Greetings

People exchange polite, sincere, customary greetings of “Hola, buenos días,” “Hola, buenas tardes” or “Hola, buenas noches”….and yes, they most often start with an “Hola.”

6. Mirrors

I am still getting used to needing to pull your side view mirrors in on the narrow two-way cobble stone streets so as to avoid a mirror collision when two cars are passing at same time.

7. Burros are still used as a form of transportation and delivery.

Undoubtedly there are many more “things” that have taken some adjusting to beyond the seven that I have listed here. Most have simply blended into and become part of my daily life. I embrace these differences, these unique attributes that contribute to my colorful, vibrant and varied life in Mexico.


Life in Mexico: 7 Things That Take Getting Used To

Related Reading

Mexico Travel Tips: Jill’s Take on Health, Safety and Romance
Travel Mexico: A Conversation with Hana LaRock
Transportation in Mexico: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
A Woman’s Guide to Staying Safe in Oaxaca, Mexico
10 Mexican Dishes You’ll Want to Try

Have you traveled to Mexico? Email us at [email protected] to share your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you. Photo by unsplash.

About Katie O’Grady

Katie O’Grady is a writer, adventurer, and mother living full time in mainland mexico. Follow her adventures here.

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