A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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Expedia is my favorite place to book airfare, and they handle hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. I like the organization of the site for figuring out what flights I want. Click on the suitcase to take a look.

I was very pleased to win an award for this blog! Even better for you: click through for lists of all sorts of award-winning travel blogs.

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

The first six ways are here.

7. Travel with children – or dogs

Especially in Mexico, where people love children so much, yours will draw a lot of positive attention. I haven’t traveled with kids myself in years, but friends assure me that it works all over the world! When Kelly and I were in Mexico in 1979, we met an American couple because they were traveling with their baby. That woman recently turned up in our lives again… she now lives a few miles from us!

Drawing of Mexicans with children
Travel with children.

I do travel with my dogs. We left them home on this trip, but at other times, we’ve had a lot of nice conversations with other dog-lovers – and in my unbiased view, dog-lovers are some of the nicest people!

If you travel with dogs, you will frequently be doing the next method.

8. Go for a walk

Drawing of a Mexican couple walking
Go for a walk.

Naturally, this works best if you walk where other people are out and about. If you are staying in a campground, getting a bit of exercise by circling around it gives you a chance to chat with other campers.

9. Go where people are relaxing

We went to as many balnearios, or hot springs, as we could. We also found people to be talkative in restaurants (after their meal and especially if there was just one person). Going out dancing or sitting in a bar can lead to conversations too.

10. Pay attention to your own feelings

When we arrived in the town of Xico after not having found a place to stay in Xalapa, we drove past a touristy gift-shop sort of place. “I have a feeling to go in there!” I said to Kelly, not knowing if I just needed a break from the hunt for accommodations or what. It turned out that the owner of the shop directed us to a place we loved – and I bought a lovely purple blouse!

Other times, this can work in reverse. One Sunday afternoon, we were swimming and relaxing at a balneario, and many Mexicans were doing the same. Four black-leather-jacketed young men roared in on their motorcycles and settled down to ogle the bikini-clad young women who were everywhere. I was inclined to go chat with the bikers – was going to ask them how the police treated them – but I was tired and also wanted to finish catching up in my journal. So my feeling was to let the opportunity pass, and I did.

11. Be willing to be rebuffed sometimes

It’s nothing personal, but the person may be preoccupied, in a hurry, or just plain unsociable. If I am not sure, I start with a very simple comment and see how they take it. Also, if I am rebuffed and it happens to bother me, I make a point of talking to someone else as soon as possible, so I don’t get discouraged.

12. Ask if you may take their photo, perhaps with a local landmark

This is one area where I am very shy. I don’t like taking pictures without asking permission. So what works best for me is to ask, sometimes if I can take the picture or sometimes if Kelly can take it of them with me.

Photo of Mexican women in traditional garb
Ask if you may take a photo. This historical picture must have been taken in the days when you were supposed to look serious.

Kelly, who has worked as a professional photographer, is much more at home taking shots without asking – the wonderful picture of the priest chatting with visitors in the El Chorrito chapter is one result.

13. Seek out people with similar interests

If you have special interests, you can ask hotel, shop, or campground staff if they know people you could talk with. This can often arise spontaneously too. I have a Quaker background, and in one campground I met a man of my generation who had run the Quaker center in Mexico City at one time. Kelly is passionate about alternative building and got into some good conversations on the subject.

14. Go with the flow

This is related to paying attention to your feelings, but it can also be larger than that. Our last day in Bernal is a perfect example. We were quite enthralled with the town, and in the morning we agreed that we would just allow the town to show itself to us in whatever ways it did. This led to our having dinner with the only two Americans living in the town right then, whom we met during the day. One of them sold real estate and was able to give us a good overview of the market there.

15. Get introductions before you leave home

The internet makes this one easier than ever before. If you are a member of any group that might have members where you are going, see if you can email people in advance.

We met Andy Watson and Dorothy Gerhart of San Miguel de Allende this way. They had emailed Kelly at his greenhomebuilding.com website not long before we left home.

16. Travel with an extrovert – or maybe with a group

A friend of mine recently took the train across the U.S. She traveled with a friend of hers who is very outgoing, and they ended up hanging out with a varied group of people.

If you choose to travel to Mexico with a group, such as a tour group, it will be easy to get to know your fellow travelers. Whether this will help or hinder your getting to know the local people depends on the purposes of the trip. Kelly once traveled to the then-Soviet Union with a citizen diplomacy group and he met far more people than he would have if he had gone alone – which was rarely allowed in those days anyway. But in general, if you travel with a group, you will have fewer opportunities to meet the local people.

Here’s a summary of the list you can carry with you for encouragement:

1. Express appreciation
2. Ask questions
3. Smile
4. Offer to help
5. Buy something
6. Learn something of the language and customs
7.Travel with children – or dogs
8. Go for a walk
9. Go where people are relaxing
10. Pay attention to your own feelings
11. Be willing to be rebuffed sometimes
12. Ask if you may take their photo, perhaps with a local landmark
13. Seek out people with similar interests
14. Go with the flow
15. Get introductions before you leave home
16. Travel with an extrovert – or maybe with a group

[Next: pros and cons of RV travel in Mexico]

Some images ©www.clipart.com and used with permission.

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