20 things that surprise me about Mexico

1. Not so surprising I guess but there is COLOUR everywhere! On everything, why have beige when you can have rainbows? Our guide told us, as we drove out of Mexico City that people paint their houses the colour of their chosen political party... I'm not sure if this is true everywhere, but it was here. 

 Trying to dance in Merida.

Trying to dance in Merida.

2. Mariachis are like a live juke box. Anything from 20-100 pesos gets you a chosen live song by a full band. 

3. You can't take food or drink or backpacks in anywhere. Not to museums. Not to zoos. Not to art exhibits. Rehydrate before you go in! 

4. Whole towns break out into salsa dance on Sunday evenings serenaded by a live band. People teach you to dance if you don't know how to and they don't seem to mind if you completely suck at it, either. 

5. There is hardly any litter. 

6. The food is great if you like spiced meat/ cheese/ corn based carb.  Don't expect many vegetables, though the free basket of tortilla chips that instantly arrive at your table almost makes up for that  

7. Cenotes. (Se-note-es) are limestone sink holes filled with fresh water and are mainly in caves. They are only found in the Yucatan peninsular to the east of Mexico and are so spectacularly beautiful they make you get in the water to swim despite the bat poo. 

8. People tell you that no one speaks English here. Outside of the tourists areas, this is completely true. Google Translate may well just save your life (or your dinner).

9. Everyone says 'Buenos Dias (morning) / Buenos Tardes (afternoon) / Buenos Noches (evening). Yes, you have to check your watch before you greet anyone or say 'Hola' which means you are a lazy layabout who doesn't know what part of the day it is.

10. We have felt safe everywhere we have been. No banditos. No cartels. It's been totally fine. Yes, we have picked our destinations (fairly) wisely but for us, the dangerous reputation of Mexico is far worse than the reality.

11. The police have machine gun turrets on their trucks.

12. The wildlife is unbelievable. Iguanas and crocodiles, parrots and butterflies. There are mother flipping Jaguars still wild here- it is literally the jungle. And desert/ mountain, depending on where you go. Mexico HAS IT ALL. 

 Friendly Iguana at Chichen Itza.

Friendly Iguana at Chichen Itza.

13. Heritage is king. Despite the Spanish invasion all those years ago, Mayans still speak Mayan when your Spanish speaking friend tries to haggle for a taxi. (I LOVE THIS!)

 Swimming with the stalactites. Cenotes are the bomb. 

Swimming with the stalactites. Cenotes are the bomb. 

14. All the Margaritas here are delicious. None of this sugar syrup rubbish. Sour, fresh, delicious. 

15. There are 4 different types of police. Transport, Tourist, Municipal (the most common) and the Federales. The Federales are like the FBI of the police. For those who have travelled in Asia, getting pulled over for ie. a blown indicator light is easily rectified by a bribe....  the same is true here, unless it's the Federales that stop you apparently. Sorry. 

16. The temperature changes radically. Mexico city has a high altitude and is cool and rainy. Yucatan is humid and hot. Oaxaca, I hear has mountains and is cooler still. 

17. Chilli con carne DOES NOT EXIST. It is nowhere. Nada. It's a Tex-Mex thing not Mexican, so definitely don't big it up to your kids before you get there and make them all disappointed.  

18. There are speed bumps everywhere.

19. Ditto ancient remains. We literally drove past a ruined pyramid today- not even a sign announcing its presence. Must have been 1000 years old at least.

20. This place is way more welcoming, way more accessible than I thought it would be. With the diversity of wildlife, the friendliness of the people and the richness of culture we have not done it justice in staying for one month. We love you Mexico. We really, really love you. 

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