Mucho Gusto!

By Robert & Joanne M. Birce of Alma Libre

Why Can’t I Flush? – The first thing we do with guests staying at our casa is sit them down and have “The Toilet Paper Talk”. It must go in the wastebasket, not in the bowl. Everyone here is on a septic system and some places have crazy plumbing that just can’t take the paper without clogging. Even at first-world institutions like Wal-Mart, you must use the basket. The exception is the big multi-million dollar resorts, which have their own plants, providing enough pressure to flush a Chihuahua if necessary.

pedestrian sign in Mexico
Why Can’t I Cross the Street? – You may have the luxury of pedestrian right of way at home, but here, the pedestrian is at the bottom of the list. Right of way seems to be based on who has the biggest vehicle and is the most motivated. Taxis and buses usually win. Look out for them, because they are not looking for you.

Will My Blow Dryer Work? – Electricity in Mexico is the same voltage as elsewhere in North America, more or less. The difference is the power is often unstable. In our first month living here, we suffered a series of power spikes that blew up a battery charger, two hair dryers, a fan and we had two surge protectors go up in smoke! Consider packing a small surge protector to protect your electronics and unplug everything when not in use.

Should I Tip? – YES! Tipping is very important here. Most service workers are paid very little and rely on tips to survive. You also need to tip a wider array of people. The guy who helps you back your car out and the kid that bags your groceries makes no wage at all and relies on your tips to live.

Why Am I Being Stopped? – Police and the Military routinely have permanent checkpoints on the highways. They will ask where you are from, where you are going and may wish to search your vehicle. Stay cool, show them your papers, let them look and you will be on your way in moments. Great place to try out your Spanish…on armed men.

Are You Sure You Are Covered? – When renting a car you may think you have insurance through your credit card but most cards don’t cover Mexico. If they do, make sure you have an 800 number (that works in Mexico) to call if you have an accident. Police can throw everyone in jail until they determine who is at fault. You want to be able to call for help from an insurance company lawyer anytime.

pedestrian sign in Mexico
Why Won’t They Bring Me My Bill? – We sat confused in restaurants for ages until we figured this out. Even if the restaurant is crowded, it is customary in Mexican restaurants not to rush you, so they will not bring you the bill until you ask for it. Saying “La cuenta, por favour” or using the seemingly international hand motion of pretending to sign a cheque, will produce the bill.

How Can I Live Longer, Be Smarter and Look More Attractive? - Reading a book does all these things! – Okay, we can’t prove this one, but do you want to take a chance? Visit Alma Libre Bookstore in Puerto Morelos today!


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