1. “Madre” becomes a good thing, a bad thing, practically anything, but also your mother.
2. You can stop a bus wherever you want, as if it were a cab.
3. Everyone around you is wearing an overwhelming amount of hair products.
4. People laugh at you because you said you love chile or longaniza.
5. Sanitation workers are equipped with a bell, a donkey or both.
6. Every celebration is overtaken at some point by a chiquitibum… and everyone there knows the whole incomprehensible litany.
7. You order a beer and you are asked if you want it “normal.” The opposite of normal can range from a little lime and salt, to an assortment of sauces, chili, tomato juice and maybe even some gummy bears… or shrimp… for real.
8. Someone gets his face smashed into a birthday cake and everybody applauds.
9. Your Spanish skills are immediately put to the test with two common and apparently simple concepts: limón and lima.
10. Fireworks become a totally acceptable substitute for an alarm clock, especially if you have a church nearby (and you’ll have a church nearby).
11. The same goes to the military band of your nearest school.
12. You have to stop your car in the middle of a lonely road because some guys are asking for money for a quinceañera party or for painting the local church. They use a piece of rope to stop random cars and have the quinceañera right there as proof of their good intentions.
13. The first cut in a birthday cake is a circle around its center and nobody has a convincing explanation for this.
14. Fresh made tortillas are available from specialized shops everywhere.
15. People suddenly forget what punctuality means… and you quickly follow the trend.
16. You look both sides of the road even when the crossing light is green.
17. It doesn’t matter what you’re having for breakfast, you’ll get a side of either papaya or frijolitos.
18. You’ll either be greeted with some superb coffee from Chiapas or with water for Nescafe.
19. The wall in front of you is painted with political propaganda, some party info featuring Polymarchs or a moralizing message from the virgencita.
20. Four people hanging from ropes cast themselves into the abyss from the top of a giant pole while playing drums and flutes and everybody acts as if that were perfectly normal.
21. Every single restaurant offers “something else”, like “tacos, tostadas… and something else.”
22. Speed bumps are used for directions… because you’ll never miss one.
23. People start favouring the caguama instead of the six pack.
24. No matter the day of the week or the time of the day, you’ll always see people taking a break or immersed in conversation in public parks and plazas.
25. The bus in front of you turns on the left blinker, but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna make a left turn, but actually that you’re free to overtake him… Once in a while, it’s actually indicating a left turn though. Go figure that out!
26. The supermarket has a complete aisle dedicated to chiles and its derivatives and your local market has that stall with dried chile products, the one that smells funny and occasionally makes you sneeze.
27. There’s also a stall that sells herbs, magic candles and other witchy stuff.
28. Conversations all around you sound like “chi…che…cha…chon.”
29. Half of the sweets available are either covered with chili or chamoy. Meaning they’re more spicy than sweet.
30. You can ask market vendors for avocados ready for a specific day of the week and they’ll comply.
31. It doesn’t matter which direction you take, you’ll run into a little piece of paradise in no time. Let’s face it… there’s no place like Mexico!