Puerto Peñasco’s proximity to the US may encourage you to think it is just like the states. Don’t fall for that. Mexico is another country with its own unique and delightful culture and language. While Puerto Peñasco may be a cultural blend – as many towns close to either side of the US/Mexico border are – it is still wise to remember, and adapt to a few cultural differences to most effectively get along.
Time or the Mañana Way of Life: Whether it is the sunny weather, the easy and never ending ebb and flow of the sea, or the miles of sandy beaches, time slows way down when you cross the border. You’ll be happier if you pare down your “to do list” to accommodate this difference. Most are familiar with the term mañana, however know that mañana may not directly translate to “tomorrow “as your handy Spanish/English Dictionary leads you to believe. Mexicans are generally a friendly and helpful people who would rather not say No. Mañana is a helpful answer that may mean tomorrow, but may also mean later, maybe this week or a well-meaning, when I have time.
Directions and Driving: Mexican helpfulness may impact direction giving as well. Wanting to be helpful, you will most always get an answer whether the person you ask knows the correct one or not. There are several simple maps (Rocky Point Times) that may help to navigate the directions you are being given. While your map may have street names, the streets you are traveling may not. Landmarks are essential to finding your way – be sure and ask for them.
Stop Signs: Another chapter in your learning. At a stop sign (one way or 4-way stop), you may see one stop sign and across from it, a headless sign stick or possible a sign worn clean or painted over. You are responsible for that stop and risk being stopped regardless of the shape or absence of the signs. Look to all four streets for evidence and pay attention to other drivers who may be more familiar than you. Until you are familiar it may serve you to err on the side of slowing to a quick stop. Better the driver behind you beep you on than spend the next 45 minutes trying to understand and make yourself understood by the police.
Remember Your Manners: Spanish language has two tenses, informal for family and friends and formal for everyone else. Relationships matter and as such, greetings, manners and respect do as well. Remember you slowed down when you crossed the border. Take time to say good morning (afternoon or evening), and please and thank you. You will be rewarded with friendly, helpful and accommodating service.
Family: Most Mexicans would place their family (immediate and extended) as most important in their life. While you may be saying to yourself “Well, I value my family!”, if you are like most citizens of the US or Canada, your behavior (and the research) would indicate that your definition of valuing family is very different from Mexico’s. To expect your Mexican friend, employee or neighbor to choose between a commitment with you and a family member’s need will only set you up for disappointment. Try to see it as admirable, expect it and when it does not happen you will be pleasantly surprised.
Money Matters: Many establishments in PP accept both Pesos and American currency and will give you your bill in both. They may ask you, “Puedo yo darle su cambio en pesos?” (Can I give you your change in pesos?) If you want US dollars in change be prepared to wait as the checker goes to find dollars. It will save you time if you anticipate how much you intend to spend and either have that amount in pesos or accept a small amount of change in pesos. Bananorte (Fremont & Sinaloa) ATM dispenses pesos and dollars. Some of the resorts also have ATMs that dispense dollars however the surcharge is higher. IVA Mexican tax rate on all items and services is 17.80
Note About Tips: Those very young or old people bagging your groceries get paid in tips. To the right of the checker where your groceries land to be bagged you will most likely see an assortment of peso coins. You may add some pesos to that collection if you are so inclined. The same is true for the helpful man in the parking lot that puts your groceries in the car, returns your cart, and makes sure you back out safely. You don’t have to tip, but considering your groceries cost you from 20-40% less (depending on the exchange rate) you can afford to help these folks make their living with dignity. 5 pesos a bag if you have 2-5 bags is good. While we’re on the topic of tips, you might be wondering, “who are all those people running up to me every time I get out of my car or stop at a stop light? As I say to my grandchildren, “Everybody has a job, our job is to let them do their job.” In Mexico, you can get your car guarded, your window washed (or your car), buy a newspaper, produce, a drink or a tamal while you wait for the light to change – or when you park your car. You can also simply be amused by a juggler or acrobat. All the services merit 10-20 pesos. If you want to buy one of the offered items just ask “how much (cuanto cuesta)?” Every opportunity is optional, however if you don’t want it (particularly the window washing), clearly say and signal No as you are approached.
Specialty Stores: As you become more familiar and comfortable, you may want to venture into one of the neighborhood specialty or Mom and Pop stores. Some love to support the local economy rather than do all their shopping at the major chain stores.
Posted By Linda Taylor