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Posted by: laperla not logged in ( )
Date: December 31, 2013 06:41PM

I guess I should preface this by saying that we go to small towns and stay for a week or more.

The vendors used to make me very uncomfortable. I didn't want anything they were selling.

My friend explained: Due to the enormous income disparity it's practically our job to pump some money into the economy. She taught me to have the beach vendors sit down, have a Coke, and pay them to tell us a folk tale or something about the local customs or history. Have them tell you about their family.

After she gave me that talk, I made a point of doing that and also tipping the gardeners, the room maids, etc. On her advice, I took cartons of pens and pencils to Mexico to give away. Nice ones.

The result: When I injured myself surfing and filled the hotel wastebaskets with bloody kleenix, the maids left me bandages, hydrogen peroxide, flowers, etc. More and more each day.

Each day on the beach, our friends, the beach vendors, waived and chatted even though we'd only paid them once.

We got invited to MANY birthday parties (and yes we'd bring a present) and one group threw us a New Year's eve party. We got lots of fabulous free food and an unusual, great experience. Also - RECIPES!

When I'd go into town and try to buy something, I'd give the clerk a pen. Service would skyrocket.

I'm not much of a writer (and I'm at work) but what I mean to say is that going to a foreign country is a lot more fun when the people like you - and it doesn't take much effort on your part. You also have a bunch of locals looking out for you.

One of my favorite exercises at the village market was to play "what's in your purse." The vendors don't have change and you don't want to buy 10 lbs of avocados. So we each open our purses and see if we want to trade junk. I got some cool stuff and they got a lot of pens and pencils.

If people make a mistake on your bill, it might be because they only have a 2nd grade education, not because they are trying to rip you off. They are frequently more worried about you ripping them off. Once they trusted me, they had ME figure the bill.

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Posted by: Mårv Fråndsen ( )
Date: December 31, 2013 06:59PM


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Posted by: Senoritalamanita ( )
Date: December 31, 2013 07:05PM

It boils down to this. Treat people as human beings. Be kind.

End of story.

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Posted by: Itzpapalotl ( )
Date: January 01, 2014 07:02PM

I love Mexico. The people are gracious and friendly. I was only ripped off once by a beach vendor, but that's my fault for not examining the ring more closely. He probably didn't even know it was rhodium and glass. It's still a pretty ring and it won't ever tarnish.

I'll remember the part about pens and pencils the next time I go down there. One of my favourite trips was to San Luis just over the border and chatting with a shopkeeper and his wife. We bought a beautiful blanket with an Aztec warrior and princess woven in. Also a lovely kerchief with Our Lady of Guadalupe screened on.

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Posted by: Stray Mutt ( )
Date: January 02, 2014 08:06PM

I've been in Los Algodones near San Luis a couple of times this year for optical and dental work. I had to keep reminding myself that the barkers, vendors and beggars were just trying to make a living. I felt bad when I couldn't buy something from everyone I passed.

I like Mexicans, too. On my several trips to various parts of the country I've never had a bad experience with them while having several great ones just from pausing to acknowledge they're fellow humans. We were once in a small town shooting video for a project when a wedding procession happened to come by. We got curious and followed them. We were invited to join the party.

I'm so glad I wasn't sent there on my mission where I would have harassed perfectly nice people with my ignorant LDS superiority. I had to annoy Canadians instead.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2014 08:06PM by Stray Mutt.

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Posted by: celticlass ( )
Date: January 01, 2014 07:49PM

Lovely... thanks for posting this.

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Posted by: Lostmypassword ( )
Date: January 01, 2014 09:05PM

My Dad taught me "Treat everyone with respect. You never know who you will be working for next year. Be extra polite to people who have access to your food before you get it."

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Posted by: bordergirl ( )
Date: January 02, 2014 12:13AM

This is all so true. I learned that all of the vendors, the people who watched over cars and were doorkeepers are doing small jobs that earn money for their families and provide a service. Even the job of beggar or pordiosero was a service to the person giving a donation by providing them with the opportunity to help someone else and therefore please God. Treating everyone with politeness and respect is always the right thing to do.

However, allowing someone to walk all over you is not necessary.

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Posted by: laperla not logged in ( )
Date: January 02, 2014 06:28PM

I should have said this applies to southern Mexico in tiny towns consisting of mainly indian culture. I don't know why pens and pencils are in such short supply. (Toys, like hot cars, are readily available.) I would imagine that nearer the border it is not the case. I did bring nice supplies not cheap ones, so maybe there is not enough selection locally.

Mexico is a large country with many different cultures. I love the state of Oaxaca for the food and the indian cultures that value cleanliness, quiet, and respect for others. We picked up trash one New Year's Day and many people came up to us and thanked us.

If you tip the maids every day and not at the end of your stay, it is more likely that the money will be spread around.

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Posted by: rationalist01 ( )
Date: January 02, 2014 08:21PM

When I was living in Guerrero for a while while automating a mine ore processing facility, I was in a part of Mexico that most Norte Americanos do not go. I lived in Arcelia, a classic inland city in the Tierra Caliente region. I found that the people there were kind, generous and real. I tried to be the same. Being a pale blond fellow, I stuck out like a sore thumb, but I got to know lots of great folks and I did spend liberally and tip generously. A little old woman was a special friend of mine. I don't speak much Spanish, but she presented herself as a beggar at first.. I gave her some money, but also got to know her pretty well before I left. People are all the same.. We are fools if we think we are above those who are called humble and poor. Since then, I've tried to profit from some things I learned. I have pretty much abandoned materialism and live simply, compared to most North Americans. I don't need "stuff." I am happier with my art and living a simple life. I will buy recycled stuff or used stuff and repair it for my use before I'll buy anything new. I was this way before, really... but the Mexico experience reinforced it. Of course, I really still have no concept of what it's like to be of the third world. The best I can say is that I'm typing on a ten year old laptop.. Sitting on a $40 used recliner. Those folks may never have a computer or a comfortable chair to sit on.

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