It’s perfectly normal to be eating in a restaurant in Mexico, simple or fancy, and a street peddler or beggar walks in and begs/offers their wares among tables. No one bothers them and a simple “No. Gracias” will send them off. When you walk into a business, expect to meet the whole family; kids, relatives, dogs and cats. Like you’re in the neighbors home and everyone is either helping or going about their daily business. Whether you’re in a restaurant and a kid is chasing a dog around or in the hardware store and a mother is nursing her baby, there’s something endearing about embracing our humanity without pretences. Mexicans have a very healthy “live and let live” attitude that I find very refreshing! Want to wear a mask, go ahead, don’t want to wear one, that’s fine too. With very few exceptions (airports, government facilities, whenever some official feels under pressure,…etc), rules are not enforced, just like Egypt. As a matter of fact, if you replace Catholicism with Islam and Spanish with Arabic, you’d be in Egypt. The culture and social life are almost identical. A girl’s virginity is valued and protected. Socially, that creates a lot of oppression and shapes the nature of gender relations. By the age of 20, often younger, most people have a few kids already. Consequently, large families, poverty and typical third world life is the norm.
When it rains, streets flood, like in Egypt. Even in tropical areas where it POURS most of the year. Traffic rules are mere suggestions. Very few people wear seatbelts. Talking on the phone while driving, passing cars in “no passing” zones, even passing a police car with flashing lights is normal. People are not machines. They assess and make their own decisions, even if the rules say otherwise, what a concept! I got to practice my letting go and trusting attitude even more. “No te preocupes” (don’t worry) is my new favorite phrase!
In addition to all the Arabic words that made it to the Spanish language, courtesy of 700+ years of Arabic rule in Spain, Mexicans use the 2 most popular Arabic phrases: Ojalá إن شاء الله (God willing) and Gracias a Dios الحمدلله (Thanks to God)!
Mexico is full of natural wonders, rich history, diverse geography, beautiful beaches and a large number of ruins (most are currently closed because of the virus scare). Yet what makes it special, are the people; very friendly and polite, almost to a fault. If you express an opinion, they’ll agree with you. It’s hard to know what they really believe. With so many conquerers, religions, ideas passing through the land over the ages, people learnt to be flexible, adapt and get along. According to the Jade museum in San Cristóbal de las Casas, the Olmecs, who lived in this area 1600 – 350 BCE started the philosophy of “no te preocupes, se feliz” (don’t worry, be happy)!
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