It is hard to say what I like most about living in Mexico. This country has been my home my whole life and I only started noticing what I love about it when I started traveling abroad. But what is Mexico known for?
Did you know for example that you have to say salud to anyone who sneezes in Mexico? You have to wish them good health whether you know that person or not. Sneezing was historically considered a sign of a disease. The first time I visited Spain I said this to a lady on the metro. She looked at me trying to explain that she had allergies. That was new to me as well. People here just thank you for the gesture. Even though I have not had the chance to visit everywhere in my country, I want to highlight two topics I love the most about Mexico.
Ever since I was a little girl, my mom always taught me to say hello to everyone in a room when we arrive at any event such as family gatherings. I never really understood why I had to, especially when I barely knew them. Eventually, I started to understand why this custom is so important.
Interacting with people you either know, or don’t, helps you to be polite, empathic, and friendly. Those characteristics are key in describing Mexicans. The biggest demonstration of this was in 2017 after the earthquake that struck Mexico City. It impacted the city in a way I have never felt before, tearing buildings down. I was so proud of how helpful my people were, going wherever they could to lend a hand without waiting for the government to show up.
I love how polite Mexicans are in their everyday life. They will always wish you an enjoyable meal in a restaurant and use please and thank you for directions. Politeness should be taken a step ahead so it can turn into help for the person in your company.
Food Reigns Supreme
A topic that I could not leave behind is food. Meals are of extreme importance in our culture, and are arguably what Mexico is known for by many. We boast a wide variety of dishes and they always start at home with your mom.
When we ate street food, we would always “spice it up”. Tacos were always our first choice. My mother’s family is from a state named Oaxaca. We visited them every year during our winter vacation and would eat all the local Oaxacan food. That included hot chocolate, seafood, mole (a traditional Mexican sauce served with chicken), and even local bread. Eventually, we started visiting other states. We always asked what the traditional dishes were so we could try them, as they were uncommon where we lived. I learned then that when you go to a new place, you have to try the local food that would be hard or impossible to find where you live.
This belief has given me the opportunity to sample tasty food not only from my country, but from others too. I always try to do some research in advance, so I know what I want to order as soon as I get to a new place. In addition, I always ask locals what they believe is the best food to try and get some recommendations for the best places to eat. Our cuisine is vast and people have their own favorite dishes. To me, tacos are always the way to go. I highly recommend visiting any taquería in downtown Mexico City.
I have not been able to try most of the Mexican food, as I mentioned before, because I have not had the chance to travel to most states in my country. It is one of my dreams to do it, plus, it would mean that I would be able to try new food from a lot of places. I believe that even if I do that. I would never be able to try everything this country has to offer.
Last but not least, I know that Mexico has had a lot of bad press recently and this makes me sad and angry. I know we live in a country that has a reputation for violence and this is the first thing that makes it onto the news.
Migration is also highlighted on the news. This topic is particularly difficult for me to talk about. I have had the privilege to go to university and that has given me the chance to travel, study, and even question things in my life. I also know that this is not possible for every young person that lives here. Others have to start working at an early age for their survival. My job and dream as a teacher are to help those who can stay here and make this country better from time to time. I wish I could see the results at some point in my life.
If reading this article has whetted your appetite for Mexican culture, check out Stephanie’s earlier piece about Día de Muertos. The Day of the Dead is a colorful celebration of the loved ones who have lost their lives. This ensures they are never forgotten.