Posted by ZihuaRob on January 15, 2000 at 21:04:43:
In Reply to: Making a wrong turn here will get you killed... posted by KAP on January 15, 2000 at 07:00:42:
Jim and Paul both expressed the situation very well. This is not Tijuana, L.A., Chicago, New York, Miami, or Mexico City.
The state of Guerrero in general is known for its warm-hearted and friendly people. It really doesn't take much to make a friend here. Number one is simple respect followed by courtesy. If you don't speak their language then clear simple English (without idiomatic expressions, please) will usually be enough to get your message across. And when someone tries to teach you a word in Spanish repeat it and try to use it instead of making a big deal about the word in English. Please don't shout if they don't understand you.
Many visitors make the mistake of openly comparing Mexico to the place they come from. Believe me, we're not interested in how things are done "back home". And anyway, most people from "developed" countries ignore the third world in their own back yards, so to speak. As poor and uneducated as some people are here, they aren't any worse off than the poor and uneducated in "developed" countries.
This is a place to "live and let live", to forgive others their shortcomings and faults. Their equivalent of the U.S. Civil War, the Mexican Revolution, occurred more recently in their past and its effects continue to linger and have more relevance than the suffering and division our war caused us do today. For this reason Mexicans are very respectful of the sovereignty and self-determination of other countries and only ask the same for their country, culture and customs.
Here if you go to a small local store and find yourself at the counter without quite enough cash to pay for everything, instead of having to embarrassingly return things, the proprietor will more likely than not simply say something like "for the next time" meaning you can pay what you owe the next time you pass by. Most of us who live here run tabs at stores and restaurants without any problem if we are short on cash. Of course, I've seen some visitors take advantage of this and not pay their tabs before leaving here. Nothing like ruining a good deal for the rest of us!
If you find yourself lost it would be nothing unusual for a local to go out of their way to take you where you are going or at least make sure you get there. People who have missed bus stops and ended up in the wrong town completely have been not only taken back for free to their original destination, but often invited to a local's house for lunch or refreshments before going on their way.
And something that really denotes a difference in our cultures is this: back in the U.S., Canada, or Europe when someone invites you to go to a restaurant or bar they almost always mean that you may accompany them and nothing more. But when a Mexican invites you for ANYTHING it means that he or she is treating you and will pay the tab completely. No exceptions! There's a lesson there for our more "civilized" cultures I believe.
So a wrong turn here will more than likely not only get you pointed in the right direction, but you'll probably even make a new friend in the process!