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MEXICO: Local Customs

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The Mexican people value the family above all else. Many times business is always secondary to family. Because of this, the Mexican people have lunch breaks in the middle of the day and often close their shops early in the day (by American standards) so that they can spend more time at home. Shops will close at their closing times and the owners and workers will head for home to be with their families.

Due to the value that Mexicans place on the family, there are many family oriented restaurants throughout Mexico. Unlike some upscale restaurants in the United States and Europe which tend to frown on young children, many fancy restaurants in Mexico welcome families with children. If you'll be traveling with young children, don't hesitate to take them to a nice restaurant. Use your international mobile phone rental to make a reservation.

Greetings are more formal in Mexico than in the United States. If you're a man, use a handshake when greeting other men, or when greeting a woman for the first time. If the woman is a friend or acquaintance, a kiss on the cheek is customary. If you're a woman, a handshake will do for first meetings of both men and women, but with friends and acquaintances, both men and women, a handshake and a kiss on the cheek. It may feel awkward at first, but remember that it seems perfectly natural to the Mexican people.

Should you be invited to visit a Mexican home for dinner, drinks, or just to visit, understand that this is quite an honor no matter how humble the home is. It is customary to bring a small gift such as a bottle of wine or flowers to give to your host. It is best not to discuss business or money in these private settings. Better topics would be family, friends, or how lovely their city is. By showing that you take an interest in their values and their culture, you will earn their trust and admiration.

When dining out with a Mexican family, it is common for them to treat. Though you should offer to pay, it is not likely that they will concede and let you buy dinner. It is best to graciously accept their offer but insist on paying for drinks and tip, or to offer to take them out to dinner on a later date to return the favor. In general, it is best to avoid money as an issue in Mexico.

In dealing with strangers, whether they be a taxi driver, a store owner or a hotel desk clerk, it is always best to be polite and courteous. Remember that you are a guest in their country and that their values are different. While they'll gladly accept the money you throw around, they won't go out of their way to provide excellent service. The best way to get excellent service in Mexico is to show respect, courtesy and manners to everyone you deal with.

If you are from a country where nude or topless beaches are common, you should know that most Mexican beaches aren't so liberal. Always where a bathing suit. Bikinis are fine for women, but don't go topless on public beaches.

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