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Five Ways to Be An Ugly American in Mexico

Categories: Five Great...
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Good news: U.S. tourists are finally starting to return to Baja California. Three friends and I just returned from yet another fantastic weekend doing the "20,000 calories south of the border" tour, and while we adjusted to "Mexican time" and had a grand time lowering our blood pressure, some of our fellow countrymen obviously were having a hard time. Following are three ways to make sure you'll have a terrible time south of the border.

Of course, these behaviors aren't specific to Mexico; you'll find ugly Americans, ugly Brits, and even ugly Canadians all over the world.

5. Insist on New England Protestant-style punctuality.

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Fact: life in Mexico is not as tightly regulated as life in the United States. Power outages happen; road closures happen; people will stop and assist at accidents, because another person's well-being is more important than being at the restaurant at 7:00 on the dot. This drives Americans crazy, particularly when the response is an unapologetic shrug. So alien to the culture is the idea of slavish devotion to the clock that when you actually want someone to show up at 7:00 sharp, you have to specify, "a las siete, hora inglesa"--at 7:00, English time. Meanwhile, have another beer.

4. Fail at polite small talk.

The US is a very, very abrupt culture. We have no problem launching straight into a conversation, even if it's someone we don't know very well. No hello, no polite inquiries into the other party's well-being. At home, that's considered efficient and being respectful of the fact that people have other things to deal with; in pretty much every other country in the world, it's considered the height of rudeness. Start every conversation with a greeting and at least a "¿cómo está usted?" before asking questions.


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