As annoying as it can be, it’s almost impossible for me not to compare a place I’m in to a place I’ve been. Mexico was no exception. I couldn’t believe how culture shocked I was just driving across the border! No lanes, a man approaching my car offering insurance, big buses emerging out of little alleys, tons of shops with tiny parking spots, barely off the road. Mexico is not the United States, and it wasted no time in showing off.
I’d like to shine light on some of the more interesting differences I noted during my short trip through the country.
Employment and Service
It seemed, and I’ve since vindicated my theory, that the unemployment rate is lower in Mexico than in the US. All the gas stations were full service, and there was usually at least one attendant per pump! At all restaurants, especially the fancy ones, the service was unbelievably good. This was due mainly, in my observation, to the volume of waiters at each establishment. Also, it was impossible to drive for more than a minute or two before being approached by someone either selling food or performing an act for tips. A sort of year round trick-or-treating.
There was the standard window washing. Then there were the more interesting: juggling, a 6-year-old magic show, a fire dancer, and lucha libre wrestlers fighting. Just a reminder to give you the full picture, these all took place next to cars at red lights!
Anyways, lots of people outside working. Maybe this seemed more significant than it was. American employees are typically inside air-conditioned buildings, off the main road. Mexicans…possibly less so.
Sitting down at El Cardinal in downtown Mexico City was an experience. And I mean literally just sitting down. Someone pulled out my chair and placed a napkin in my lap while another did the same for my friend. A third immediately squirted hand sanitizer in our hands. Menus came. And somebody was probably pouring water too. I don’t know, I blacked out. This is one of many examples of the timely and abundant service I experienced. Waiters actually waited on you, and not the other way around. The second I even thought of something I wanted it seemed to appear almost instantly. A new ashtray with every extinguished cigarette, drink and meal orders, quickly prepared food, and a REFILL! Magic.
It’s not surprising that Mexico recently surpassed the United States as the most obese nation. The food is delicious and extremely fattening. Yum. My friend kept saying “You’re having pastor AGAIN?!”
Chile en Nogada
The picture above is from El Cardinal. The fanciest restaurant I dined at.
Quesadillas and Cafe de Olla
We found a little restaurant at the base of the volcano near Mexico City. First of all, the quesadillas above were the bomb. Much more important than the quesadillas…the coffee. Cafe de Olla. Incredible. Fairly common in Mexico. And the secret is that it’s sweetened with cinnamon and piloncillo. Piloncillo is this dense sugar that makes the coffee taste ridiculously good.
I don’t recommend smoking, but if you do smoke, do it in Mexico. They have Lucky Strike filters! It brought back a number of memories of severe light headedness, nausea, and male bonding.
If you like smoking and eating, you can usually do that too. And the ashtray maintenance program they have is of the highest quality. Like I said, the second you put a cigarette out, a new ashtray is placed on the table for you. Amazing.
Also, cheap. About 3 dollars for a pack of Reds. I recently paid $9.50 for a pack of 27’s in Washington State, yeesh!
To be continued…