As a place where you can combine a great vacation with unique educational excursions, Mexico is unparalleled. There is a natural wonder, beautiful beaches and snow volcanoes, and a rich history with Aztec and Mayan archeological sites, colonial palaces, many paradisiacal places rich in the warmth of gentle waves and hospitable people.
Geography of Mexico
Mexico (Estados Unidos Mexicanos, United Mexican States) sits between the United States, Guatemala and Belize on the isthmus connecting North America to South America. Mexico is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico to the east.
The relief of the country is mountainous, the most part of its territory is occupied by the Mexican Plateau. The most prominent of them is the Western Sierra Madre , which is 160 km wide and rises to a height of 3 km in some places. This mountain system makes road and rail links between the west and east coasts very difficult. The northern part of the country receives relatively little rainfall and the climate is arid. Therefore, the main vegetation is represented by various types of cacti and prickly shrubs. Vegetation becomes more diverse on the coasts in the central and southern parts of the country, where in addition to cacti and shrubs, you can find forests. In the southern part, near the border with Guatemala and Belize, especially in the Yucatán Peninsula, the vegetation changes dramatically: there is rain forest, tropical jungle and wet savannah.
Map of Mexico
The state system of Mexico is the federal republic. The head of executive power is the president. The legislative power is the Supreme Court.
Climate of Mexico
Mexico has a temperate climate (north of the Tropic of Cancer), subtropical in the north of the tropics and tropical in the south. The Mexican highlands are generally cooler than the coast, where temperatures do not drop below +20°C even in winter. The northern part of Mexico receives light snowfall in winter.
Population of Mexico
Mexico has a population of more than 112 million people. The current ethnic make-up is made up of three components: indigenous populations of Indian tribes and nations (28% of the total), European settlers (primarily from Spain) and Africans. Currently, 60% of the population identifies itself as “Mexican” (“Mejicanos”) and 30% as Indian.
In 2005, there were 3.7 children per woman and the rate continues to fall rapidly. The average life expectancy of Mexicans is 76.5 years.
Spanish is the official language of Mexico, spoken by 95% of the population, while more than 60 languages are spoken by the Amerindian populations, the most common being Nahuatl, Maya and Otobi. The total number of speakers of Indian languages is about 6% of the population.
The vast majority of believers are Catholic.
Features of Mexico
Capital : Mexico City
There are seaside resorts all along both coasts, so the choice of beach vacations in Mexico is extremely wide.
Currency and airport taxes : Currency is Mexican peso, 1 USD=10 peso.
All tourists, regardless of itinerary, will be charged a $17 airport fee upon departure from the country.
Time difference with Moscow : minus 9 hours.
Electricity: In Mexico, U.S. parameters are used, the mains voltage is 120 V, the frequency is 60 Hz. American outlets with flat plugs (type A and B).
Telephone : International calls are very expensive as they are taxed at 49%, so it is recommended to be very brief.
Useful telephone numbers : Russian Embassy in Mexico: (5) 273-13-05
Holidays and Weekends : January 1, February 5, March 21, Easter, May 1, May 5, September 16, October 12, November 20, December 24 and 25.
Stores : Most stores in the resort areas are open from 10 am to 10 pm all day. Stores in towns are usually closed for the traditional “siesta” from 1-4pm. Jewelry (especially silverware), crystal, carpets, leather goods, religious art, etc., will attract your attention. It is customary to haggle in the shops.
Banks: Open from 9:00 to 17:00 on weekdays, and from 9:00 to 14:00 on Saturday. Banks are closed on Sunday.
Tips: Tips are not usually included in the quoted price. It is customary to leave 10-15% of the cost of these services.
Gastronomy: Traditional Mexican dishes include enchiladas, tacos, and tortillas. The beers and wines are of good quality and go well with the traditional local cuisine.
Water : water is considered potable, however, we recommend drinking factory-packaged water, especially in restaurants and cafes, as it can be served directly from the tap.
Sanitary Controls : No vaccinations are required to travel to Mexico. If you are going to visit the humid tropical areas, it is recommended that you get vaccinated against malaria. Check with the health authorities before you travel.
Mexican Traditions and Customs
Mexican Traditions and Customs in Mexico
For first-time visitors to Mexico, there are many things about the country that may seem unfamiliar. Mexican traditions are indeed different from those followed in Russia and the CIS countries because Mexican culture has been influenced by the Indians, the Spaniards as well as other nations. Let’s take an exciting journey into the world of Mexican traditions and legends. Then a stay in this exotic country will be more impressive and fulfilling. And perhaps some will find that they and the people of Mexico have much in common.
Traditions of Mexico
Mexicans are very emotional people who do not hesitate to show their emotions by actively gesturing while talking. They are accustomed to honoring and preserving their traditions. Although Mexican traditions have been heavily influenced by American culture in recent years, they have still managed to maintain their identity.
In Mexico, cockfights, rodeos, bullfights, and other adrenaline-pumping spectacles are often held, unaccustomed to residents of Russia and the CIS countries. Extreme sports and entertainment are common to temperamental Mexicans.
Eating habits are not very different from those of other countries. It is customary to eat three meals a day, beginning the morning with a hearty breakfast. Mexican food is spicy, flavored with a variety of spices, including hot chili peppers. Locals also eat a lot of sweets and pastries. For example, delicious tortillas made from corn flour are a staple of almost every national dish. Fast food is becoming very popular, so there are more and more very obese people, like in the U.S.
It is commonly believed that Mexicans are not particularly punctual. For them, being 15 to 30 minutes late for a meeting and not told in advance is quite normal. Of course, there are responsible, punctual people among them. But they are rather the exception to the rule.
Cultural traditions of Mexico manifest themselves in the fact that the inhabitants here do not tend to say “no”. They are friendly and open, and it is considered a sign of pride and selfishness to refuse the requests of others. Therefore, Mexicans usually agree to come to a certain event so as not to offend the one who invited them, even if plans do not allow them to fulfill their promise. It is important to keep this characteristic in mind when asking for directions from a passing Mexican. He may be uncomfortable refusing help and honestly admit that he does not know where to go. So you may hear in response the wrong direction. It is better to ask a few locals for directions.
When talking, Mexicans are at a close distance from each other. If it seems that personal space is too small, it is better not to pull away. As for a Mexican, this can be a signal of dislike and reluctance to continue a conversation with him or her. It is also normal to sometimes touch the person you are talking to, even the opposite sex. Looking directly into the eyes of the person who is talking to you is quite acceptable. Although among villagers it can be perceived as impudence and conceit. Especially when talking to elders, it is better to look away.
Greetings in Mexico are an important part of their culture. Just saying “hello” and walking by is clearly not Mexican. Locals hug their buddies when they meet and shake hands. Women also shake hands and kiss their cheeks. Men and women can hug each other if they know each other.
When addressing a Mexican, it is customary to refer to his title or profession, such as “doctor,” “director,” “lawyer,” “president,” etc. If you do not know what his job or position is, you may refer to him as “senor. If the person in front of you is a woman, “señora” or “señorita.
Most Mexicans have two last names (father’s and mother’s). It is better to call a person by the father’s surname, which is the first one mentioned upon meeting him. And don’t be in a hurry to go by the first name. It may be considered familiar. Wait until the Mexican acquaintance himself offers to address him simply by his first name.
In a restaurant or cafe you can call the waiter “senor” or “joven” (young man) regardless of his age. As for tips, in Mexico, they are always and everywhere.
One peculiarity of Mexicans can irritate more reserved foreigners. Mexicans are so sociable that they hardly ever part with their cell phones. They are always on the phone. Even during a friendly conversation at the table, they may have time to look at messages and answer calls. And if a Mexican puts his smartphone aside and focuses entirely on your conversation, you are clearly an important person to him.
Mexicans are very clean. Housewives keep their homes perfectly clean and make sure that the clothes of all family members are clean and neat.
By the way, the unusual traditions of Mexico are manifested in the clothes of the inhabitants of the country. The national clothing is bright and colorful. It is dominated by all kinds of finishes: embroidery, fringe, ribbons, patterns. Of course, the daily clothing of Mexicans is not much different from that worn by representatives of most cultures. But when the national celebrations and folk festivals take place, the Mexicans are overflowing with colorful colors and richly decorated outfits. Traditional sombreros and ponchos are an integral part of the national costume of indigenous Mexicans.
Mexican Customs and Family
Mexican Customs and Family
Family ties in Mexico are very important. Divorce is not as common here as it is in Europe, for example. The head of the family is the man whose authority is readily recognized by the other members of the family. If the husband has made a decision, the family tends to respectfully support him. A woman is assigned the role of hostess, helper to her husband, and caring mother. Although there are areas where there are many working women who hold even leadership positions, this is still the exception.
Holiday celebrations are often held in a large family circle. So do the events surrounding the funeral of someone in the family. No one is left out. Relatives come to support and comfort the bereaved.
In Mexico, abortion is frowned upon. Therefore, there are many children in families who are considered a blessing from God. Children are raised with love, and they try to pay attention to each one. The family is high on the list of priorities for native Mexicans.
Many Mexican traditions and customs are inextricably linked to various celebrations, of which there are many. Every day is a celebration of some kind.
You can highlight, for example, an unusual celebration on the occasion of the 15 years of young Mexican women. In some states, Mexican families celebrate this event with great fanfare. The girls are dressed in lavish outfits – fancy dresses with crinolines. A mass is ordered in the church in their honor. And then the assembled relatives have a riotous revelry. The girl is given a “last doll” as a sign of parting with her childhood. With this doll she spins in a symbolic dance.
Such traditions date back to before the Spanish conquest of Mexico. The native Indians seem to have invented such a celebration, and the Catholic Church, as has often been the case, has adopted it. To many parents, this celebration only creates additional, unwarranted expenses. So this tradition is slowly dying out.
Cattle ranching, with its brave charro cowboys, is what Mexico has long been famous for. The traditions and customs associated with the wedding ceremony once again confirm this. For example, the newlyweds swear eternal fidelity to each other with a lasso on their shoulders. True, this lasso no longer looks very much like a harness for catching cattle. Rather, it is made in the form of a beautiful ribbon or a rosary with large beads. It used to be a real cowboy lasso that served as a symbol of the eternal union for the couple who were getting married.
Mexicans are a very musical people. The national musicians, the mariachi, are frequent guests at weddings and other celebrations. They usually dress in traditional Mexican costumes and perform folk songs and rousing melodies. Their main instruments are guitars, violins, trumpets, and the marimba, a type of xylophone. Among the songs sung by the mariachi are peculiar ballads about the political situation in the country, the “corridos.
Mexican folk dances absorbed more Spanish than Native American traditions. The dances are energetic and quite complex in content. To learn how to dance the popular Mexican dance “Jarabe Tapatio,” you have to practice for a long time. But you will have a lot of unbelievable emotions.
New Year in Mexico: Traditions
New Year in Mexico
New Year in Mexico is a combination of turkish and Spanish influences. The popular festivities begin on December 12, when the patroness of Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe, is celebrated. The next two weeks are filled with holiday performances and carnivals. For example, the week before Catholic Christmas (December 24), children’s processions can be seen on the streets, celebrating the journey of the biblical characters, Joseph and Mary, to the city of Bethlehem. However, the origins of this tradition go back to the time when the ancient Aztecs celebrated the birthday of the deity Vizlipuzli. Many of the traditions are adopted from the Indians.
During the Christmas season, Mexicans everywhere create nascimentos, images of biblical scenes of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, etc. The local markets sell a huge number of such figures, decorations and sculptures.
On the night before Christmas, some locals perform ritual Indian dances celebrating the birth of Jesus. This is followed by a lavish feast in Mexican homes. For the most part, Christmas is celebrated in a quiet, family circle. The main dish is roast turkey.
Mexican New Year, which is also associated with ancient Indian traditions, is celebrated noisily with feasts, songs, dances, and heavy drinking. Many go out into the streets, partying loudly and partying until sunrise.
Legends of Mexico
Many Mexican legends are the legends of Native American peoples that were passed down by their descendants and have survived to this day. The interesting thing about them may be that Native American legends about the creation of the earth and humanity are similar to the stories described in the Bible.
For example, many Indian nations have legends that the first man was created from mud (the elements of the earth according to the Bible). The Supreme Lord of all things, Tlok Nauak, created a man and a woman, from whom all humans on earth descended. Also the legends mention the earthly giants who feuded with people, the first two human sons who sacrificed to the Creator, the beautiful garden, and of course the Flood. And these legends are found among the most isolated peoples who did not communicate with Europeans and could not learn these stories from them.
It can be seen that the events recorded in the Bible cannot be fiction, but occurred in reality. Mankind does have from common ancestors and is, in fact, one family.