Becoming Culturally Mexican?

Chido Bueno by Nikhol Esteras PhotographyPhoto by Nikhol Esteras Photography for Chido Bueno

“The thing is when you live abroad, you have to make a decision; are you prepared to give up some of your own culture to make way for the local culture to take its place?”

I have never forgotten these words spoken to me by my best friend’s brother when I asked him why he was returning to England after two years living in Brazil. There were things he was happy to give up but others that were too big a sacrifice, so he decided to return home. After that I  would often ponder what I would be prepared to give up and what I wouldn’t. Somehow however, after living in Mexico for three years I am not convinced that giving up parts of your culture is actually a choice. I have definitely become culturally a little less English and a little more Mexican, but I am not sure I was always aware it was happening. I certainly didn’t look at myself in the mirror one day and notice the change, but whenever I go back to England those subtle cultural shifts are always a little easier to spot.

Here are just a few ways you can tell if you have become a little more Mexican…

1) Your knife has been replaced by a tortilla.

2) The use of exclamation marks and emoticons has entered even your most formal letter writing!!! :-/ Oh and on Facebook you ALWAYS WRITE IN CAPITALS.

3) You answer the phone saying “Well?”

4) You say provecho (bon appetite) to anyone eating, at any moment.

5) You now believe that mezcal is the best cure for colds, stomach bugs, heartache…

6) You no longer want to be touched by the rays of the sun but instead walk as close to buildings as possible to enjoy the thin line of shade they offer.

7) You instinctively look for the salsa and the tortillas when any meal is placed in front of you.

8) Random strangers talking to you no longer make you want to run for fear of your life.

9) Now being punctual includes being 30 minutes late. Well at least you turned up!

10) Rather than sneaking out of a party quietly, you pucker up when leaving and kiss every single person goodbye, whether you know them or not.


Photo Credit: Nikhol Esteras Photography
Susannah Rigg is a freelance writer and Mexico specialist. Her work has been featured in BBC Travel, CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR and The Independent among others. Check out her portfolio here. Contact Susannah by email, info [at] mexicoretold [dot] com and join her on Instagram and Twitter.

16 thoughts on “Becoming Culturally Mexican?

  1. How about getting through an entire meal, staying neat , salsa and all, using only one paper napkin?
    Finding a use for most things you would toss out if you were at “home”.
    Using duct tape to repair just about anything and scotch tape when duct tape is not available.
    When purchasing something and the clerk asks if you have change you say no because you know you’ll need it.
    You say salud when someone sneezes and Muy amable whenever someone does the tiniest thing for you.
    “Que le vaya bien” is automatically what comes out of your mouth after an exchange with a vendor, taxista, clerk or person on
    the street.
    I know that I am not culturally Mexican yet because I still don’t have even the slightest desire to buy those plastic cups of milky gelatin treats that are available even at breakfast.

    • Yes!! These could all easily be added. I have been thinking of doing a part two because 10 just wasn’t enough! “Igualmente” comes out of my mouth a lot, but it is awkward with check in clark at the airport when he says have a nice fly and reply with igualmente…Haha

  2. Lol, a tortilla instead of a knife? Here in egypt its flat bread instead of a plate, fork, spoon and knife! Hahaha and dont even think of asking for a napkin… or salt… or pepper… I love your blog, and I cant wait to read more, I spent a summer in san blas on the west coast of mexico way back when I was 18, it was totally unforgettable! Now I’m living in egypt after eloping with an egyptian man I met online during a mid life crisis at 40 – greetings!

  3. ‘9) Now being punctual includes being 30 minutes late. Well at least you turned up!’ So true! and defo agree that you don’t have to give up your culture, every place you live in adds to your culture, not the opposite!

  4. Pingback: Interview with José Santos, Fine Artist | Mexico Retold

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