Mexico for Dummies, The Missing Guide

Against your governments’ issued travel warnings, better judgment and your friends advice, you decided to visit Mexico. You ended up in a small, colonial town in central Mexico. Now what? What do you do? How do you proceed? After all, they don’t give you a guide at the entrance to this theme park. To fill the void, here’s one you can use in San Miguel de Allende. Or any other place in the World for that matter. It’s universally useless…

When abroad, don’t try to speak the language of the locals. They’ll laugh at you! Instead, speak English, but do it loudly and slowly, just like you would when talking to your Grandma, or a retarded person. Repeat every word several times. Use your hands often. Eventually they’ll get it! Roll your eyes and throw your hands in the air with a loud sigh if they don’t. Don’t forget, you’re doing them a big favor – how else would they ever be able to communicate?

When at a restaurant, make sure to complain about the food. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Wipe the table with a disinfectant tissue and ask the people who serve you to wash their hands. Twice. Lecture them on the service you expect and leave just a minimal tip, you don’t want to spoil them.

When sight seeing, express loudly your disapproval. Compare everything to your home town and make sure the locals know, what’s wrong with their place. Obviously their funny, little town will never be as great as your neck of the woods, but at least they’ll understand what they need to improve. Sure, they have those old buildings and cathedrals, but they don’t even have a decent mall or a McDonalds for crying out loud!

Always offer your advice to those who are visibly in need. Lecture the beggars about the importance of having a regular job, or attending a school, so that they can lift their status and maybe, one day become a contributing member of society. Tell the store and restaurant owners how to run their business. Explain to the street vendors the importance of hygiene. Just for heavens sake, don’t buy anything!

Take a lot of pictures. After all you’re on a mission to document the poverty. Take close up shots of every beggar on the streets. Obviously, you don’t need to ask their permission. Make them pose showing their sad faces full of wrinkles. Even if you’re generous, never give them more then a few pesos, you don’t want to spoil them. If, on the other hand, you want to convince your friends and family at home that Mexico is great place to visit, shoot a lot of doors, cobblestone streets, colorful, adobe houses and windows with garlands of flowers. Frame or Photoshop the beggars out.

And the most important of all – never leave El Centro! The theme park is large, but it has it’s borders. Unless you’re extremely brave and adventurous, you should never enter the parts of town that haven’t been build for tourists. The locals living in the less picturesque parts of town all all believed to be zombies waiting for a lost tourist to be robbed, raped, killed or eaten for breakfast. Or so the legend says. So far, no one’s been brave enough to verify it. Those, who crossed the line, never came back. They turned… locals!

Golden rules of Happy Families

The Bajan Family

Last Sunday, a friend of ours said something that got stuck in my head. She said, that she likes our “Family Philosophy”. Although flattered, I had to dismiss that compliment saying that we actually don’t have any. But over the week, I got to think about it, and even though calling it a philosophy would be a great overstatement, we actually do have a few golden rules or principles.

Here’s a short list (in no particular order):

  • Learn something new everyday.
    You’d be surprised how easy it is to follow this one if you’re home schooling your kids. But if you’re not, it means you have more time and you can learn something of interest to you, rather than stumbling upon yet another fact you’ve forgotten thirty years ago…
  • Don’t get attached to material things.
    True happiness comes from being, not having. This may sound a bit Zen, but one of the major causes for suffering in the World is our attachment to material possessions. We try to reduce it as much as possible. The less we own, the less trouble we have. Especially, when we attempt to travel light.
  • Try new things everyday
    Not all of us to the same extend, but we are curious about the World we live in. We enjoy discovering new things – tasting new dishes, meeting people, learning new phrases. Breaking our daily routine, often builds up excitement, sometimes causes anxiety, but more often than not, helps spice things up.
  • Eat healthy
    In the World we live in, this isn’t as obvious or as simple as it sounds. My wife could probably extend this simple rule to a full length article, or even a blog on it’s own rights, but in a nutshell we try to eat organic, unprocessed foods in a balanced mix of carbs, protein, vitamins and minerals. All in moderation, common sense applied.
  • Drink healthy
    We avoid any and all sugar based drinks. Water, pure water is all your organism needs. It has more nutritional content than any artificial drinks and it tastes great, too.  We also drink natural juices, in moderation.
  • Stay (reasonably) fit
    We are no fitness nuts. Well, at least most of us… but we try to build exercise into our daily activities. Whenever possible, we walk and leave the car in a garage (helps save on gas money and car maintenance expenses too), we play with the kids outside rather then watching television or playing computer games, etc… It not only helps us stay healthy, but also builds characters and confidence.
  • Live in the present
    Again, some of us are much better at it then others, but overall we try “not to cry over spilled beer”, leave the past behind, learning from mistakes, without drilling too much into the “what if’s”. On the same token, we don’t worry too much about the future, being aware that  our actions will shape it the way we want.
  • Smile often
    This one does not need explanation. However, for those who know the author of this text – he is working on bringing a constantly happy grimace onto his face – he’s half way there, smiling internally all the time.
  • Joke around
    Life’s a serious business, we know. But we hate when everything is pumped up, gray and boring. We spice things up when we crack a joke every now and then. Life’s much more enjoyable that way!
  • Think positive
    Things tend to work out the way we want… when we want them to work out. Instead of worrying about the future, we accept life as it is – not foolishly hoping for the best, but knowing that our actions will shape our future. And our focused, positive thoughts help take actions that lead to the desired results.
  • Spend time outdoors
    This is related, to staying fit, but being outdoors also help us of soak up the sun. The sun is the main, natural source of vitamin D. And vitamin D in turn helps us maintain good mood,  positive outlook on life and crack a joke from time to time.
  • Help other people
    We are all part of the same living organism. By helping others we really help ourselves. I don’t talk about any large scale, pompous initiatives, but simple day-to-day actions. In our experience, Newtons third rule of motion applies not only to the physical world and every action triggers reaction. Our deeds never go unnoticed, but the reaction sometime comes from totally unexpected direction.
  • Be honest
    It’s way to complicated to live in lie. Being honest is not only morally superior, it’s also so much simpler.
  • Travel
    For us traveling is the most exciting and educational activity in existence. Traveling never gets boring, ever changing environment keeps us stimulated and doesn’t allow to build up unnecessary routine. While on the road, we meet new people, make new friendships, discover interesting places, learn without even knowing.
  • Read books
    We all love books. We visit a library at least once or twice a week. That’s also why I was heartbroken, when my Kindle broke and my library evaporated in an instant. A perfect example how attachment to material things causes pain and suffering…
  • Lead by example
    We require our kids to do a lot of things. Even though difficult at times, we don’t only tell them what they are suppose to do, we actually make sure that we do it too. Starting from simple things like eating habits, through exercising, reading, all the way to being honest, we do what we say we want them to do.

Following or just attempting to follow these simple rules, we live our ordinary, but happy life. Of course we have some ups and downs, just like any family, but the core values help us navigate through tough times and decide what’s important.

Does it sound like a “Family Philosophy” to you…?