More often than not, when we are heading off to a nice vacation and thinking about a nice place to spend it, we always have a place in mind. But there are times that we really cannot decide where to go, so we start researching. Going online, doing searches, asking our friends, relatives, and co-workers. Just remember a few of these things when you do. People are not always correct, even your closest kin, who mean well, can still get some things wrong. If we rely on people and their advice, we must allow for a margin of error. Just take a mental note on the extremes they shared and store it in your myth bank. Perhaps, ask someone who you know has been to that place or that country. The same thing goes with searching the Internet. Most of the videos are sponsored, maybe for an ulterior motive of discouraging people to travel to a particular country. Why they do that, we will never know, when has tourism ever crippled a nation, right?
The many things one hears about Mexico, we will strip down, lay bare, and point out which ones are true, false, and the ones that are just out there. Truly outrageous myths about Mexico that even very reliable sources (media outlets, websites, even our own government) claim to be true. Read on and be enlightened, and while no wall is built yet, better make that trip before our jefe finishes it.
20 20. A Poor Country
History tells people things that are helpful and educational, but some of these things are no longer true today. Take Mexico, for example, people could think that this is a poor country. Some even would say that there are filthy rich people living here. The average Mexican is actually middle class now. Mexico is now a middle-class country, not a poor one. Everyone has a mobile phone and a TV at home. About half of Mexicans have disposable income nowadays, mirroring their neighbors up north, and have a healthy living and a good educational future for their own children. Despite what we see at the border.
19 19. Everything's Cheap There
Everything is cheap in Mexico. Have you ever heard someone say that when they describe the place to other people? They are very lucky because Mexico is definitely not a cheap place, and not everything there is cheaper than in the U.S. If this was true, we would go right ahead and wine and dine in their Michelin-starred restaurants, take accomodations in their luxury suites and five-star hotels. These places offer the same prices as in the U.S. It’s true, there are some things in Mexico that are unbelievably cheap, so cheap we won’t believe it. But not everything is cheap in Mexico.
18 18. Speaking Spanish
Ready your brains and memory, because you might brush up on some Spanish words when you go traveling to Mexico. Don’t overdo it, though. Some Mexicans don’t even know a single word in Spanish. The official language in Mexico is not Spanish, as most would think. It is the national language, not the official one. There is no official language, that just means it is English. Most people understand English perfectly. Most even speak it in tourist places and establishments. So just learn the usual greetings and questions in Spanish and you’ll be good to go. Lo entiendes? (Do you understand?)
17 17. Passport Required
Before packing, we’re thinking of documents we might need whenever we leave the country and that is a good practice. What should we bring with us, aside from our usual travel junk and necessities? Many will say one doesn’t need a passport when traveling to Mexico. It’s 100 percent a myth, but not entirely false. You are not required to present a passport, but you need other forms of documentation. Going into Mexico is not the problem, the issue is going back to the U.S. from Mexico. Here are the required documents: a WHTI-compliant ID document, or a PASS card. Of course, the easiest is still your passport, so just bring it along.
16 16. The Border is a Big Mess
Everything is not what it seems, especially with what you see on TV. Hello! Ever heard of fake news? Just because you saw it in the news doesn’t mean it is 100 percent true. But, isn’t that the goal of news outlets to learn and share the truth from their reliable sources and share it with the people? Some news and reports are stating that there is, to translate their terminology, high levels of violence at the U.S./Mexico borders. That’s just not true. The border is still the same boring place where you wait to get past while melting in the car.
15 15. Driving in Mexico
Reverse, Park, Drive. Some say that driving in Mexico is a bad idea. Then they might say that it’s not safe to take a taxi when in Mexico either. Any kind of public transportation is also a bad idea. Nice, then they must have walked the entire time they were in Mexico. Some would even say it’s a headache to bring an American car into Mexico, you might not get it back, it could get stuck in Mexico. All myths. It’s easy to drive in Mexico, and even easier to get past in your own car. All you need is a temporary vehicle importation permit, and this can be gotten right there at the border.
14 14. Mexicans and Driving
Trusting in a driver is essentially riding in his car, we are literally putting our life in their hands once we step into their vehicle. Although public transportation in Mexico does not always involve newer cars or other kinds of advanced machines, the drivers there are as safe as they can be, perhaps even safer than drivers in America. They actually drive just like they are every day, laid back, easy, slow and cool. Just another easy Mexican day. Mexicans are generally casual drivers, so don’t worry about getting in their vehicles, or driving along Mexican roads in your own car.
13 13. Buses and Fowl
Perhaps we’ve heard countless times how Mexicans travel in buses and bring their fruits, vegetables, and even chickens with them. This is a myth blown up by media everywhere. It’s a funny scene, watching a film with the protagonist uncomfortably riding a public bus, with another passenger right next to them cradling a chicken on their lap. Chickens are dirty animals, they are a walking, clucking, wing-flapping, and pecking carrier of salmonella, campylobacter (from their droppings), and histoplasmosis. We have every right to be afraid riding in a small space with these creatures, but it’s a myth. Take a bus ride in Mexico, it’s chicken-free.
12 12. On Chihuahuas
A chihuahua is a kind of dog that’s so small and so cute even socialites’ hearts’ like Paris Hilton get melted upon the sight of these adorable little pups. They come from Mexico, and understandably a myth is circulating the chihuahua is like the national dog of Mexico. If Mexico would have a national dog, it’s not the chihuahua. It would be the Xoloitzcuintli. Okay, let’s make it easier, they are also called Xolo, for short, or Mexican hairless dog. Remember that dog from the Mexican animated feature from Pixar titled Coco? The dog there, Dante, is a Xolo.
11 11. Getting Sick There
Now, this is another thing about Mexico that should not be specific to the country alone. Anyone, not just Americans, should be wary and careful when traveling and drinking the water from where they are staying. It is mostly from the water that people get sick in foreign places, not the food. Why do you think people still feel sick after eating nothing and just drinking water? Mexicans don’t even drink their own tap water. So just avoid the tap water, buy and drink bottled water, enjoy the street food (yes, street foods are safe, at least if it’s cooked), and no diarrhea shall come your way.
10 10. Mexican Dishes
Great-looking and great-tasting delicacies wait for us when we travel to Mexico. It’s a myth that all you can eat in Mexico are burritos and tacos. There are a lot of true Mexican dishes that the Mexicans are very proud of. Be sure to try the following dishes on your visit, enchiladas, pozole - a traditional Mexican soup, cemita with milanesa, cochinita pibil, a luscious slow-roasted pork, and of course mole, Mexico’s national dish. For dessert, these are the must-trys, tres leches, a kind of cake, cajeta, cochinito de piloncillo, looks like cookies, and of course, you gotta have the authentic Mexican churro.
9 9. Burritos and Tacos
As we’ve shared in the previous item in this article, Mexico offers a wide array of dishes for our palates. Contrary to popular and very inaccurate belief, Mexico is not all burritos and tacos. In fact, the taco is not even a popular Mexican dish. Tacos in Mexico are never hard and crunchy. They normally make soft tacos, kind of like what they use in burritos, so generally a different-shaped burrito. Do not expect to find a hard taco like they prepare at Taco Bell, it does not exist in Mexico. Just enjoy the street food, they are not unclean, and be open to new things when it comes to food.
8 8. There's Not Much to See Here
Now we’ve also heard some people say that there is nothing to see in Mexico, that it’s all just deserts and small towns. That’s what one can see looking from the border in the United States. But over that big area of land with nothing on it, lies a country with so much culture and history, a 3-day vacation is not enough to explore them all. Here you can find the Mayan ruins in the ancient Mayan city of Coba in Quinatana. If the kids are with you, see if they will enjoy the Xcaret Park, also in Quintana. Again, also located in Quintana Roo, is an aquatic park called Xel-Ha Park.
7 7. Your Valuables
Reports of lost property, pickpocketing, and other petty crimes is not rampant in Mexico. It happens, no doubt, but doesn’t every other country in the world have the same problems? We might hear some advice that when you take your valuables with you when you go out and explore Mexico, you are doomed to lose them. Well, that’s true if you are one clumsy, ignorant person who doesn’t use much common sense. Stop reading and referring to articles, blogs, and comments. Start using your instincts and trust your gut if it has not let you down before, which we’re sure it hasn’t, right?
6 6. US Department of State Advisory
Extrapolating further on the common sense aspect of travelers and their base instincts are the advisories that the U.S. Department of State issues every now and then. This is a blanket approach on things, not only applicable to traveling tourists, but to businessmen, politicians, and other entities that the government has the inclination of over-protecting. Another thing is that the U.S. government tends to flare up the safety issues of neighboring countries to discourage their citizens from traveling and contributing to that country’s development through tourism. The point is, that Mexico is as good a destination as any to have a nice vacation in.
5 5. Bribing Cops
Good food, good tourist attractions, and good cops. That’s what you would expect from Mexico. Try to bribe a Mexican police officer right off the bat and one would see themselves in more trouble than they originally were supposed to be in. A myth blown up again by media, with perhaps a little truth to it. But corruption is not exclusive to political figures, it trickles down to some public servants as well. So, if ever you come across a corrupt cop trying to take advantage of a tourist in Mexico, just ask to talk to or see their superior officer, or their jefe, and they will quickly send you on your way.
4 4. All-inclusives
All-inclusives are good and proper, if one is a traveler less likely to explore on their own and more likely to just sit back and relax and let the itinerary take its course. In Mexico, much like in all other foreign countries, there is so much one can explore, do not limit yourself to the confines of an all-inclusive. Yes, it’s good, you don’t have to worry about other expenses, or where you will be eating. But sometimes, travelers enjoy the feeling of gratification in finding an authentic restaurant, and affordable too, without the aid of tour guides. Timeshares are also not a good idea, unless that’s your thing.
3 3. Ice Cubes
So tap water is no good, that would mean ice in Mexico is a bad idea as well. Ice has a different story. Most assuredly, having a drink with ice in it is safe. Ice is made not from tap water in Mexico, it’s made from a cleaner kind of water, just like the water you drink from bottles. Safe ice is that which are served to you in hotels and restaurants. But if you have a walk and enjoy the street food, maybe bring with you a bottled water to avoid the drinks offered in those places.
2 2. Margaritas
It is an absolute myth that margaritas are a popular and traditional drink in Mexico. Hotels and restaurants in Mexico might have this available in their bars and menus, but ask any local, chances are, they’d point you to the local girl named Margarita living right up the street. Mexicans take tequila straight, followed by sangrita as a chaser. Sangrita is a non-alcohol fruit-based drink. If you want to look like a true-blue local to the Mexicans, order tequila, then just take a sip of sangrita, one shot one sip. Never ask for lemons or salt. Sangrita is good, that’s all you’ll need.
1 1. Cinco De Mayo
Probably the most widely known myth about Mexico is the Cinco De Mayo. First of all Cinco De Mayo is not even a regular holiday in Mexico, only in the small city of Puebla is it recognized as a holiday. Cinco De Mayo is supposedly the celebration of the independence of Mexico, but Mexico’s independence day is September 16th and not May 5th. The unlikely victory of the Mexican Army over the French back in 1862, that transpired in Puebla was the Cinco De Mayo that people know of now. It’s more of an American celebration than a Mexican one. Go to Puebla in May and enjoy the festivities of Cinco De Mayo right at the heart of it all.