So, the mornings and late evenings have taken a chilly turn here in Mexico City. Now, they say that us Brits love a good grumble about the weather, but I’ve never seen or heard anything like this before. While I’m knocking around in jeans and a t-shirt (I might whip a jumper out a couple of times a week) you’ll see hats, scarves, gloves, shivering, people huddling their coffee cups, and hear non stop complaining about it being cold. Back in England, this is what we’d call “holy shit, get the flip flops on and the barbie lit before the sun goes away” type of weather, but here, apparently, its freezing. It’s got me thinking about the other things I find quite funny about Mexican folk.
“Que crees” – translates as like “What d’ya know”, or “Would you believe it” and these two little words tend to come before a let down. When I say a let down, I mean somebody hasn’t done something I’ve asked or paid them to do but they haven’t thought to tell me about it – they wait until I ask to find out what’s happening. Let me paint a picture for you. “You can collect your laundry on Wednesday.” “OK, thanks.” Wednesday arrives. “Hey, I’m here to pick up my laundry,” “Que crees!? I haven’t done it. It’s not going to be ready for another couple of days.”
Rain – Mexicans can’t handle it. If you have plans in the evening and it’s raining, forget it. Umbrellas don’t seem to be trusted by the good folk here.
Traffic – it’s the perfect excuse to use when you turn up an hour late to something. No it’s not. It took me about a week of living here to figure out that 98% of the time there is always heavy traffic and that you should generally allow an hour of travel time to get to most places in the city. If you haven’t figured that out after spending your whole life in the city then you should probably pop yourself down to wherever it is that they do IQ tests.
Cars / Driving – I could do a whole post about this on it’s own to be honest. I’ll just focus on one little thing that confuses the crap out of me. Driving with the hazard lights on. I was under the impression that these lights are meant to be used when there is potential danger. Chilangos (people of Mexico City) have been taught something quite different. Driving with hazard lights on here means I’m telling you that I’m driving slow because I’m looking for somewhere to park my car, I might turn somewhere (but I’m not going to tell you where), I fancy looking in a shop window, it’s raining and I don’t know how to drive properly as I didn’t take a driving test – I just bought my license at the supermarket, I’m lighting a cigarette, or I’m going to stop at a corner, or I’m just nipping into the 7 eleven so everyone else should move around my car in the middle of the road.
Whistling – When mexicans aren’t happy and they’re in a crowd they like to tell you by whistling. If they’ve had to wait too long for something (the irony) then they’ll start whistling in numbers. The whistle always follows the tune of chinga tu madre (fuck your mum). Always. Totally ineffective of course, yet you can count on it when things aren’t going to plan.
Complaining about salsa being too spicy, then going back for more. They say that we like the things that are bad for us, but if you know you’re going to be paying for your meal through your arse in a couple of hours time, why torture yourself to the point of biting napkins and licking salt to take the heat away at meal times.
Urban legend in Mexico warns that if you don’t wear shoes in the house you’re going to get a cold. When I was a young lad and I ventured into the house with shoes on my mum went flipping mental as if I’d just committed a horrific crime. Take your shoes off in a house here and everyone looks at you like you’re a tramp, or they make a great fuss as if you’re about the catch the bubonic plague.
General medical concerns tickle me too – If you go to the doctor you will not be allowed to leave without a prescription for antibiotics. It doesn’t matter if you have a headache, a bad stomach, a runny nose, or a cut you will be leaving with a prescription for antibiotics for 15 days and a whole host of other crap you don’t need. 9 times out of 10 an ibuprofen will do the trick.
If you happen to need a shot / jab of any sort then it’s going in the bum. I managed to get by 22 years of life in England without a doctor ever touching my arse. I got by in Mexico for almost 2 years without needing a doctor, but a couple of months ago I had a strange allergic reaction to something and had to go get checked out. Naturally, I was prescribed antibiotics, and was then told to get a cheek out. Having never done this before I wasn’t sure of the etiquette. Do the trousers go all the way down? Do you bend over? Do you lie down? Do you just sneak a bit of cheek out of a pulled down corner? Left or right? Apparently getting a shot in the bum cheek is the most common thing in the world here. Who knew!?
As a gentleman, while walking in the street with any female I must stand on the side of the pavement nearest the road otherwise I’m pimping her out and she’s open for business. You’ll see men zig-zagging, criss crossing, break dancing, and hopping around their partners to make sure she’s not on the side near the road.
Bags are not allowed on floors. I think it means something about losing your money or having financial bad luck. Waiters will insist that your bags do not go on the floor. Even if you tell them it’s fine and that you have your eye on everything they will ignore it and bring you a spare chair or stand for the bags.
So there we have it, just a few of the everyday differences that without living here you might not pick up on.