Mistakes expats make in Mexico

CasaColibri :

Yes, alleycat.  Mexicans are North Americans,too,  Just passing on what some Mexican friends told me years ago.  Have heard savvy gringos just say "soy de (name your state)  That can spark interest and continue a discussion, too. "Oh yes, I have a cousin there!..."

Sounds like your Mexican friends years ago were playing with you.   ;)

CasaColibri :

Know this is an old thread, but I  have found that family members who visit me here in Guanajuato  (high desert), are sometimes bothered by the low humidity.  I advise them to bring a saline nose spray.  Helps a lot.   Also, to make a transition or while travelling, eat yogurt daily, drink beer instead of water if in doubt and chew a Pepto tablet once-a-day. Dehydration can be a real problem, too, so drink LOTS of water (bottled if you're not sure about it....the drink beer, not water could be a problem in quantity!  Also the alcohol in it won't hydrate you.)

  RE: mountain visits.  Be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness.  It's not uncommon to experience a lack of energy, headache for the first few days at higher altitudes.  Take it easy! Your body needs to adjust.

I've seen a number of tourists take a tumble while trying to step back and focus for that perfect photo. Sidewalks and stairways are often uneven.  So I tell guests to observe the "Walk or Gawk" rule.  STOP to look around but watch where you're walking when you move.

Ok, as a medical person, you got my attention,
I would not advise you to take your advice except for the water.  Pepto bismol is not something I would advise using prophetically, it does have side effects including making any symptoms worse , hearing loss and of course black tongue and stools. Yogurt is not a probiotic its too processed and full of sugar. Beer does dehydrate you  and then there is the inebriated part. I would stick to bottled water and believe it or not fruit as in berries, watermelon , oranges. All veggies and fruit contain the best type of water. Studies have shown one of the best ways to clean the fruit is mostly water right before you eat it, but if you have a particular concern rise with baking soda and water.

Thanks, medical person.  I make no claims to be one. These are just suggestion from locals.  The Pepto effects you describe sound pretty icky!!  Re: fruits (and especially leafy veggies) Mexicans have long used iodine drops to mix with water and soak produce because they are often fertilized with "black water" and can carry some pretty nasty bacteria.  Will water and baking soda remove that kind of stuff? Have  even heard from some gringos here that melons can be especially problematical because they can absorb these bacteria while they're growing on the vine., and that you can't fully clean strawberries because the bacteria can become lodged under the seeds. (You can't soak strawberries or they turn to mush anyway.)  Will slide on over to google  to check fact or myth.  Opinions?  BTW, I do the 20-minute iodine soak just for veggies I'm going to be eating raw.  Rinse after soaking to remove any iodine residuals.  Have followed this local practice 25 years and very rarely had any intestinal disruptions.

to Travellight

You don't agree with staying hydrated, being aware of altitude symptoms and taking it easy first few days at a higher altitude,  relieving a dry nose with saline, and not walking while gawking??


Maybe, maybe not.  Have heard from more than one Mexican friend that they prefer hearing Norteamericano (even though that technically includes Canada and Mexico). Maybe it's just here, just older generation in smaller towns and villages.   Anyway, not to go round and round on a discussion that linguists, geographers and travelers have beat to death without ever deciding on correct terminology even in English, my permanent resident card and other official documents lists my nationality  as estadounidense. When I say "Soy ALASKANA", the eyes grow large and the questions tumble out!

My Mexican husband lectures me often on this subject. He basically uses the same logic that you have used. I may start using “Gringo”, as that seems to put most folks at ease.

Thanks for your opinion on this sensitive topic.


CasaColibri :

to Travellight

You don't agree with staying hydrated, being aware of altitude symptoms and taking it easy first few days at a higher altitude,  relieving a dry nose with saline, and not walking while gawking??

I didn't say don't be hydrated , if you reread my post you will see that. I am also aware of what the locals do.
I am just pointing out that some of your suggestions may not be the right  thing for others to do..

travellight :

No of course not, kidding Ja Ja Ja.

The biggest one was the car. Yes it was fine for awhile , then the street got flooded, my car was tough and sailed through snow , but didn't do well with feet of water. the engine stalled, feet of water can do that, I had to open the door to get out so I then had water in the car. the electrical failed, and the car could not be locked, so someone took everything they could from the car, The insurance thought about what to do for 2 weeks . The car sat in a lot untouched .

Yet it was a truly valiant well designed car, it survived and I drove it back to the US after it lost 1/2 of its value and sold it. It was mechanically sound despite the mechanics the insurance company insisted on.

Wow! Sorry you had all that happen! I saw in a different post that you purchased a different car in Mexico that can handle the environment better. Do you mind telling us the make/model? We will need to do the same,  and are interested in a new/used vehicle,  although we have heard there are pitfalls with the used variety. Any advice on that process will be appreciated!

Hi Jan.

I bought a Mazda M3 and have had no problems with it . It has some of the more advanced features my Audi had so it makes me feel more at home and it is very good on gas.

What I can say about used cars is be very careful. There are a lot of problems you can have going down that road. I knew someone who bought an SUV on the advice of a friend at one of the car auctions in Merida. Her car was more in the shop than not.

Private party sales can get you into a situation where the title isn't quite clear so I personally would avoid those. Like some people in the U.S. some people in Mexico feel it's good to rev the engine to fix the car and they do it a lot. What that does is shorten the life of the car. It's a old, rather fixed idea based on old classic cars that were cold blooded , so they required help to keep the engine actually running. Those cars are long gone, but the belief still exists, and is still handed down father to son in the U.S. and here. Modern cars do not do well with the idea.

So , what would I do ? well I bought a new car, but if that was not an option I would have dealt with a dealer I trusted to find a used possibly under warranty , clear titled car. They would also be very helpful getting your plate and title all set up. I saw two cars I briefly considered, one at VW and one at Audi. I had heard good things about the Mazda from people I knew so I checked there, really liked the looks of the car and that was that. The dealer did all the running around and they have been very good about servicing.

Thank you,  that is very helpful! We want to avoid as many problems as we can up front and the dealer route seems like the best option,  especially for newbies like us. We find that avoiding problems whenever possible is far easier than trying to solve them later! Ounce of prevention,  ha ha.

Your car story reminds me of a "joke" about a young woman who always cut both ends off of a pot roast before cooking because her mother always did it, no other reason. Come to find out her mother's cooking pot was too small for the roasts to fit. Lol!

MikeGB :

I am currently living in San Miguel de Allende (and this is my starting point in living in Mexico). One thing I have found that I have not made a decision about yet is that starting in mid-March the air becomes quite dry which irritates my nose. I have been told this will last for several months. I have a small humidifier but it doesn't help that much. Perhaps using more humidifiers might be a solution. Which also means consuming more electricity.

In actuality the cost of electricity here is much less than what it cost me in Canada so relatively not a huge problem. My electricity bills in Canada (in a 2 bedroom house) were always over $100 for 2 months (even in the summer) and reaching just under $200 in mid-winter. Here they have been typically $60 cdn for 2 months and that is running an air conditioner for half the day and a humidifier almost all day.

It might be that I will find an alternate place to live where the humidity is higher. I am considering Mazatlan, for one.

Running the A/C will really dry out (dehumidify) the air in your house (no matter where you live). You might consider cooling with some older technology. A swamp cooler would probably allow you to get rid of the humidifier altogether.

does anyone live in a small village?

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