Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: valladolid, mexico
Coming to Mexico?
Hola. Some of you have expressed a desire to come to Mexico. I wrote the following in order to help with your visit.
1. Always ride in front of the traffic. The view is better. And it is much safer. The reasons are numerous. If the car in front of you has brake lights, enjoy them it is a rarity. Cars, trucks stop unexpectedly in front you. Picking up passengers, freight, talking to friend, asking directions, etc. If you find yourself coming up on a line of vehicles following behind a slow vehicle, twist your throttle and get to the front. One of the beautiful things about this bike is you don’t have to spend much time in the passing lane! Also (on the highway), slow moving vehicles in front of you will give you a left turn signal. This means okay to pass. A left turn signal in town could mean anything, or nothing. Be careful.
2. Check your rear view constantly. I like to ride in front (see #1). But sometimes, I get distracted with the beauty and may slow down. Cars may pass you within inches of your bike. There is no respect for your lane. The first time this happened to me, I about filled my diaper. Mexicans have an uncanny perception of the space of their vehicle. Down to the millimeter. It is incredible.
3. Topes. These are the speed bumps in México. With insufficient police to patrol, they rely on these devices to slow traffic. If there is a sign for the tope, it is at the tope. No forewarning. Keep a lookout for the topes.
4. Checkpoints. There are many. Inhabited with federal police carrying automatic weapons. They are mostly looking for drugs and weapons (don't bring any). But there are times when they are looking for supplemental income. Their risky jobs don’t provide a living wage. They may say you need a sticker, or broke a law. Pay the money. It is always the better choice. I have never heard of them asking for more than 500 pesos. And I am sorry if that is a lot of money to you. But I can assure you that the alternative to paying the 500 pesos will be considerably more. Your job is to smile. Mexicans are very proud of their country. Anything you can do that will convey México is beautiful will help you. They enjoy hearing it. Please note that I have heard of them seeking supplemental income from locals, too. Of course, you are easier prey, and may have better cash flow. A friend of mine who travels to México often (via motorcycle) says he has never had a problem at checkpoints. Hopefully it will be the same for you.
5. Don’t give a rich appearance. Leave your gold chains, rings and Rolex in your home country. Keep your stash of pesos in another pocket. Keep separate the money you will use for today. In other words, don’t wave a lot of money. I have never had a bad encounter in México. The people are very friendly, and enjoy a laugh. They could have the worst job imaginable, but always find an opportunity to laugh. But, I have been told there are bad people in México. And a billboard that says you are rich may attract them.
6. Avoid drunks. This never has a happy ending. If you see one (a drunk), give plenty of room and exit the situation. Unless you like fights, this is always a good rule in any country.
7. Smile. Be the first to smile. They people of México won’t smile first. But, they cannot refrain from smiling after seeing your smile. This will open up many doors to you.
8. Begin every conversation with a greeting…Buenos dias, buenas tardes, buenas noches. After that you can get on with your transaction…beer, gas, food, etc. Always conclude with gracias.
9. Propinas (Tips). In some cases this is the only income they will receive. For example, the person who bags your groceries, is not an employee of the store. Their only income is from tips. 3-5 pesos is sufficient for the bag person. If service is good at a restaurant give 15%. If it is excellent and you plan on eating another meal there give 20%. On your next visit, you will lack nothing in food or service.
10. They will laugh at you. You are a novelty. Unless it is #6 above, they are not being mean, just looking for an opportunity to laugh.
11. Never ride a motorcycle after drinking. This is common sense in any country. But especially so in a foreign country. There is so much more information to process. You don’t need to be impaired.
12. Money. ATMs are plentiful, and are bilingual. There is a $1.50 US charge for each transaction. Some cards charge a one percent fee in addition. You will receive pesos.
13. Gasoline. All the gas stations are Pemex and state owned. They are numerous, but be aware of where the next one will be and fill up accordingly. Buy the good stuff. There are two grades. Always observe the pump being reset to zero, before they begin filling your tank. Tips are welcome here. Five pesos will get you lots of extra service for air, etc.
14. They think your bike is very cool! Most motorcycles here are in the 100-150cc range. When in towns, wave to kids. They love it!
15. Avoid riding at night, or early morning before it is light. There are too many unknowns.
16. Time has a different meaning here. Nothing happens fast. If you are in a hurry…slow down. You are in a foreign country. Accept their ways, and go with the flow. You will enjoy it more.
17. It is probably not a good idea to spend time in a border town. News reports I have seen indicate there could be violence there. Enter the country and keep going south, away from the border.
This is not meant to be a complete guide. It is based on my observations after living four years in México. The intent is that you will enjoy your visit here. It is an incredible country!