Drop down the taco and burrito jokes and discover the real Mexico. Mexico is rich in culture and history with families and religion playing a huge part in its people’s lives. However, there’s a part in Mexican culture that baffles visiting gringos. Curious what these are? Read on to know more about the shocking things first-time visitors find in Mexico.

1. Machismo/Marianismo

The Mexican culture values machismo and marianismo. Traditionally, Mexicans have clear defined roles: the men having a strong sense of masculine pride, aggressive, and not emotional; and the women portraying a submissive and dependent role in the marriage relationship. These roles are easily seen  in families with the father taking charge of family decisions and the mother responsible for cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children.

2. Familismo

The most important unit in the society, the family, isn’t just a small set for Mexicans. The composition of a typical Mexican family doesn’t stop after the parents and the children, but extends up to the grandparents or further. The individuals in the family have a moral responsibilityto aid other members of the family who may be experiencing financial problems and other life issues. These family members are closely-knit that they always celebrate holidays and special life events together and make decisions together. No matter how big they are, every member should be involved.

3. No Nos

Mexicans are known to have the problem in saying “no” even when that’s what they really want to say. They’d rather find a better word to keep the answer positive and avoid giving out a direct refusal. Yeah sure, they’re just trying to be nice but don’t expect a lot once they answer your request with a “Yes.”, “Maybe.”, “Thank you.”, “Estamos en contacto.” (“We’ll be in touch.”), or “Ahorita” (Little now.”). If they don’t really want to do what you asked, they’ll just agree and in the end, they won’t show up.

4. Lateness

Do you have a party right now and it seems like your Mexican friends aren’t showing up yet? Don’t worry they’ll be right there after an hour or two – or maybe three to four. Theories that explain about the tardiness in Mexico may include the people’s lack of responsibility, exaggerated focus on the present, generous social tolerance, and plain habit. The congested traffic in cities can be blamed. Over all, time for Mexicans is flexible and that’s fine, unless important matters require them to be punctual such as business meetings, bullfights, or probably a football match.

5. PDA

When you’re in Mexico, expect that there’d be a time when you “can’t unsee” couples doing what should be done at least somewhere else but in public: hugs turned into kisses, making out, hands going all over each other, still making out, and still making out without a care in the world. What makes it more shocking for a foreigner is how these couples can manage to do their passionate public fajar in such family-friendly places like parks and even in buses.

6. –ito, –ita, and Other Complicated Names

Angelito, Juanita, Dieguito, Alidita. It’s hard not to notice the –itos and –itas used to call someone. The diminuitives –ita and –ito are added to a person’s name as a form of endearment, just like calling someone “dear” or “wonderful”.

The name change doesn’t stop there. There are many Mexican names that have a completely alternative name that is used frequently as an official name. Examples of these names are Paco from Francisco, Lola from Dolores, and Goyo from Gregorio. Confused yet?

7. Staring

Most foreigners who have visited Mexico (or any Latin American country) ask this question: “Why do Mexicans stare?” All eyes aren’t only directed to women, but also to men. In Mexico, it’s socially acceptable for people to hold a gaze longer than normal but most would relate this trait to men’s machismo and territorial behavior that’s why it’s not unusual for them to look and judge a foreigner from head to toe.

8. Walking Slow

Another thing that surprises first-time Mexico visitors is the way Mexicans walk. As mentioned before, time for Mexicans is flexible and walking on the streets can take up so much time especially when they’re busy chatting with their friends. Even when crossing the street, Mexicans want to take it slow – which kinda pisses people off.

9. Ketchup on Pizza

Ordering Mexican pizza can be actually fun especially if you want a surprising topping – ketchup. Be experimental and try a slice topped with red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, hot sauce, and don’t forget the ketchup.

10. Hair Gel

It’s easy to notice that some Mexicans won’t be done with their hair groomed with the essential handful of gel applied to their tresses. Some mexicanos make sure that their hair is all brushed back without leaving a hair out of place. And for the girls, there’s the famous Mexican ponytail which consists of brushing the wet hair back and twisting an elastic band round the tail, making it tight as possible. All can never go wrong with a tub of hair gel.

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When On Earth Magazine is for people who love travel. We provide informative travel guides, tips, ideas and advice regarding places to see, things to do, what to taste, and much more for world travelers seeking their next dream vacation destination.

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