I would say that Mexico is probably one of the most misunderstood countries in the world, the mainstream media. US politicians and American Movies and TV shows all paint negative pictures of Mexico. What’s true is that the positive side of Mexico is rarely shown. I can say that after visiting 45 countries, Mexico is one of my favourites and it is very much not what you think it is. People will see one thing on the news and think Mexico is not what it really is. I have to say myself I feel that it’s unfair that Mexico has such a negative image. There are quite a few misconceptions about this beautiful country that everyone is tired of hearing.
1. Mexicans are Either Psychopathic Criminals or Minimum Wage Workers
A stereotype that Mexicans are psychotic criminals who have little regard for human life is perpetuated by characters such as Tuco Salamanca from Breaking Bad. However, Tuco is merely a work of fiction. If you have been to the United States you might notice that some cleaners speak Spanish and this contributes to the stereotype that most Mexicans in the United States are just cleaners.
However, this doesn’t take into account that Mexicans are some of the most hard working people in the world. A lot of Mexican Americans are also high earners which is never shown in American films. Mexicans are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and it’s not hard to make friends in Mexico. They don’t care who you are and accept everyone.
2. Mexico is Dangerous
As Mexico is mentioned as the place where the drug dealers come from in American movies. It’s automatically assumed that Mexico is some kind of warzone where gunfights are a daily occurrence. People will go to Cancún, but will be too scared to go anywhere else as they think they’ll be murdered or kidnapped. This means they miss out on so many amazing places worth visiting.
Before coming to Mexico, I thought the northern part of the country was a dangerous place, run by drug cartels. Although once I befriended some people from the north, I found out that they just live normal lives like we do. From my own experience, places like Mexico City, Oaxaca and Puebla felt as safe as being in Europe. Of course, the reality is that there is a lot of danger related to the drug trade and pickpockets. However with sufficient caution, danger can be avoided and I’d say that Mexico is safer than you think.
3. Mexico is Poor
Although Mexico doesn’t have great social mobility and there are a lot of people living very simply or in destitution. You’ll see more homeless people in the centre of any major US city or London than in Mexico City. Moreover, there is a lot of wealth to be seen in this country. You can see some opulent mansions in the Polanco neighbourhood of Mexico City, dubbed: “Mexico’s Beverly Hills”. Furthermore, one of the richest men in the world is Carlos Slim who hails from Mexico City. What’s worth mentioning is that as a big country, this equates to a powerful economy with lots of decent jobs.
4. Mexican’s Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
If you tell a Mexican, you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo as the anniversary of Mexican independence with some Taco Bell. They will be very confused, this is because it’s not a celebration in Mexico and is only really celebrated widely in the US. This date is mistaken for the anniversary of Mexican independence, however it’s really the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. In which Mexico repelled French invaders and is also a day off work. The real Mexican independence day is the 16th of September which is one of the most celebrated days on the Mexican calendar.
5. Mexican Food is Just Like Tex-Mex
You’ll be surprised to know that Mexican food within Mexico is completely different from what you make with Old El Paso. Taco Bell or most Mexican restaurants in the UK is nothing like what you find in Mexico. Food like massive burritos, fajitas and hard-shell tacos don’t originate from Mexico and are actually from the US. Hence the name Tex-Mex, the real tacos in Mexico is so much better than any sort of imitation. Moreover, Mexican food is more than just tacos. Every state has its own kind of food and you will see foods you’ve never seen before such as Molletes, tamales and enchiladas con mole.
6. Mexicans Wear Sombreros and Ponchos on a Daily Basis
I was silly enough to think that this was actually true, the reality is that in places like Mexico City, most people dress like everyone everywhere else does. The only people wearing sombreros you’ll see are either mariachi performers, charros or American tourists in Playa del Carmen. In my 5 months I spent in Mexico, I did not see a single person wearing one of those ponchos, both sombreros and ponchos make for possible souvenirs, however they are impractical to carry around.
7. Mexicans Have Beef With the United States
Because of the words of certain politicians from the United States about Mexico and Mexicans, it can be assumed that there would be beef between Americans and Mexicans. However, from what I’ve seen, this does not extend to much more than a football rivalry and most Mexicans don’t care what country you’re from. Most Mexicans love going to the US on holiday, some have relatives who live there and US culture such as American sports and Marvel films are hugely popular in Mexico.
8. Mexico is Mostly a Desert
If an American film has a scene from Mexico, it will no doubt be set in some ugly desert in the middle of nowhere with that ridiculous yellow filter. The truth is that, for a huge country, Mexico has a vast range of biodiversity of jungles, forests and the desert is only really in the northern area of the country.
9. Hispanic is a Race
This isn’t really about Mexico in particular, however I feel that it needs to be said as there is so much ignorance about it. People think that hispanic is a race of dark skinned people from countries in Latin America and in a lot of statistics to do with race in America, hispanic will be counted as a race. The reality is that hispanic just means someone who speaks Spanish as their first language, that includes Spanish people and there are people of all races within Latin America who speak Spanish.
10. Mexico is a Dirty Place
Although the metro in Mexico City isn’t the best organised in pavements in some places can be abysmal. Mexico isn’t as a dirty place as you might think, Mexico City is about as clean as most big cities in the US and Western Europe. When I was in Mexico City, I got the impression that the people living there took good care to make sure that the streets were clean.