Travel Fuels Life Podcast and Show Notes
The Top Ten Things I Learned On My First Trip To Mexico (Ep. 13)
So, I've traveled all around the United States and Canada, and I've got a good start in Europe. But right in my backyard is Mexico and it's been sorely neglected in terms of me planning trips there. So, join me as I recount some of the important, curious, and sometimes funny things I discovered during my time south of the border.
Below you'll find a top 10 list of things but first a couple of curious things I cover
- Do people throw toilet paper in the wastebasket
- Do adults really go to Cancun to get drunk for an entire week?
- Towns like Valladolid may be unpronouncable to gringos.
- Time zones can be tricky in the Yucatan Peninsula.
- TV in Mexico is in Spanish. No, really it is!
- Google maps!
- It is pronounced Too-loom, not Tull-um.
10. Bring A Pen
- Mexican Immigration form
- Watch out for people with earbuds
- Have a safe place for your immigration form so you don't end up like the guy in that Hotel California song.
9. There Is Water To Drink
- Creative uses for Montezuma’s Revenge
- I found that I ate at as many Italian restaurants as Mexican
- Drinking shower water is not a good idea
8. Those Are Not Wild Beasts at Chichen Itza
- A people watching paradise.
- No NeNe, no sea turtles, no iguanas!
- Better yet, get to Chichen Itza early! So you can beat the vendors and sunset heart hands.
7. ADO Busses Kick Greyhound’s Butt!
- More organized than Greyhound where you show up at 8, stand in line behind people who didn't make the 7:30 bus. Mass disorganization. I’ve seen people actually cry.
- Shows you a movie, but in Spanish only
- But bring cash, they do not take Visa or American Express. Sorry Visa, you’re not always everywhere I want to be.
6. Double It and Add a Zero
- Pesos may at first blow your mind.
- Learning a method for quick conversion is always handy
- With Pesos, I say double and add a zero. So $1 USD doubled is 2 and then add a 0 for 20. So while right now 1 USD is actually around 19 pesos, this will still be a big help.
- Opposite way, halve it and drop a zero. A little more complicated.
- Another method is just draw equivalents on some primary currency. They have a 1 Peso, 2 Peso and 10 Peso coin.
- 10 Peso coin - half is 5, move decimal = 50 cent piece in USD
- 50 Peso bill - half is 25, drop a zero (move decimal) $2.50
- 500 Peso bill - half is 250, drop a zero = $25
- 1000 Pesos is a good amount to pull out of the ATM (about $50) when you start only had to get 400 more Pesos. Used my card (there are foreign transaction fees on some cards) - better yet, get them from your bank at home.
- ATM’s are easiest, but make sure they are with known banks like Santander, BBVA or Scotia Bank. I found Bank ATM’s in grocery stores.
- Make equivelents. 10 peso’s is 50 cent piece. 100 pesos is like $5. 1000 is like $50.
Pesos are marked with a $ symbol. Don’t let this confuse you. I walked into a store and saw a 6-Pack of Corona for $55. What! Wait? Do your math, 55 in half is 27.5 move the decimal. Holy cow, Corona is $2.75? Bonus!
5. It Is The Best Place To Buy Local
This is not just an eco-friendly tip. It is a major cost saving tip.
- For instance. Finding Corona in a 6-pack for $55 pesos was incredible. I actually splurged and bought the Dos Equis for $80 pesos, or around $4.
- However, for dinner I ordered a Johnny Walker Black. It was $115 pesos or about $5.75. Then it was in a shot glass and only 1.75 oz, vs a normal pour which is usually 2 shots. And the shot glass was for tequila.
- Even when I splurged I couldn’t spend over $20 with tip. My meals averaged between 120-240 pesos or $7 to $14.
4. You Gotta Know When To Colectivo
- Where do you find them? In the town in which I cannot pronounce, it was behind a gate, very hard to find even with precise directions.
- 35 pesos from the unpronounceable town to Chichen Itza
- They like to fill them up. Also at Chichen Itza remember where they drop you off, that is where they pick you up. Not marked.
3. Those Things That Bug You Will Bug You
- While you should be very cautious and make sure you get some mosquito repellent (Zika Virus, West Nile), there is something other than mosquitos that will find tasty legs. Sand gnats, noseeums. 15% deet. 15% deet. These things don’t care!
2. It’s Cool To Ride The Busses In Cancun, But We Aware
- Prices appear to be going up. I read 9, then 10, it was 12 pesos. Still cheap 60 cents.
- Pushing the red button when you’re almost on the stop may cause whiplash! You don’t want yourself or others plastered to the windshield
- If you waive, they may stop even if you’re not at an official bus stop.
1. It’s Good To Know Some Spanish
- Here are the words I most felt compelled to use:
- Hola - hello (Buenas Dias, Buenas Noches, etc)
- Dónde está (where is) then just try your best. If it is a boy or girl (el)
- Por favor - please
- Si - yes
- Gracias - thank you
- De nada (what you say after someone says Thank you - the equivalent to “no problem”)
- Hand signals can work - check mark in the sky.
- Perdóname (Pear-dun-aye-may)