How To Get in With a Mexican in 9 Easy Steps
1. Sing us Las Mañanitas for our birthday.
Celebrating our birthday while abroad is always a bittersweet moment. Yes, there will always be new friends to make sure we have a good time and they’ll probably buy us some cake and sing us Happy Birthday… This is really cute and we really appreciate it, but while you’re singing, we’ll be fantasising with our family and friends back home singing us Las Mañanitas. That’s the real birthday deal for us! Now you know it, if you wanna see a Mexican overflowing with happiness, learn a verse of Las Mañanitas… it’s not that difficult, is it?
2. Eat until you can’t eat any more, praise the cook and have some dessert.
If this is your first time in a Mexican house, you’re gonna be surprised with the amount of food your hosts are gonna receive you with. Take whatever is offered to you, eat until you can’t take anything else and accept just a little more because it’s so delicious. Don’t hurry your way out of the table. In Mexico sobremesa (time spend at the table after eating) is an ubiquitous tradition and it can get quite long. Take some dessert, accept that cup of coffee, relax a little bit and let the conversation flow.
3. Don’t be shy — tell us how kind and friendly we are.
We know we have a cultural surplus of kindness and we like to be reminded of it. Some people might think that we force our friendly side a little bit too much, but that’s the way we commonly get along among us: with too much por favor and gracias, dissimulating imperatives and giving cryptic negatives that could easily confound newcomers. It’s not a conscious effort or an exaggeration… it’s just the way we were raised.
4. Ask us for help to construct a Day of the Dead altar.
We’re gonna love you so much with this one. For once, you’re gonna be implying that you know and are interested in one of our dearest local traditions. Also, you’re gonna be giving us the perfect excuse to introduce you to the roots of our culture through one of its better known expressions. We’re gonna help you choose the right papel picado, we’re gonna give you a comprehensive lesson of every single detail involved in the altar and we’re not gonna leave you alone until everything turns out perfect.
5. Show us that your knowledge of Mexico goes beyond the typical cliches.
Mexican culture is quite a thing nowadays and although we love being recognized with familiarity, we really hate when that recognition is based on stereotypes. Don’t expect a smile or any sign of approval if you approach us shouting (always shouting) “Mexico, tequila, sombrero, fiesta!”. We don’t hate you, it’s just that we hear that kind of ingenious phrases more often than you think. You don’t have to be really knowledgeable of Mexican culture to jump that stereotype, and every bit of effort will be appreciated.
6. Start a sincere and meaningful relationship with our chiles.
Chili is one of our greatest pleasures and a fundamental part of our culinary identity. We’re obviously eager to share it with the whole world; a difficult task considering that the common foreign visitor seems to be scared of even getting close to spicy food. If you’re one of those natural born masochists wanting to try everything and you don’t mind a little bit of fire in your everyday meals, I predict you’ll have a good time among my fellow Mexicans.
7. Get comfortable with Mexican Spanish.
But don’t get ahead of yourself, listen to the way we speak and how we use expressions. “Órale, pinche pendejo cabrón!” is not the most common of greetings for Mexicans and even when this and other expressions can be funny to hear in your no r’s rolled Spanish, you’re gonna be flirting with that stereotypical zone again. Say “está padre” to indicate something’s nice, try changing affirmative answers for an “órale” once in a while and call us “güey” if we use the term with you. This little incursions are really appreciated and we’re gonna love you for making an effort and start getting more familiar with us.
8. Once you’ve gone through the basics of Mexican slang…
Ask a Mexican friend to teach you how to use albur. Hours of fun are waiting for you and even when you’re gonna start your learning by voluntarily making a joke of yourself, you’ll eventually get the idea and will be able to pay your teacher with the same coin. You’re also gonna stop asking “what are you laughing at?” at every Mexican reunion.
9. Tell us that Mexico is a piece of paradise on Earth.
We’re clearly aware of it… but we just love when you remind it to us!