I've finally found a useful place to start organising my travels! I'm planning to go to Mexico in June/July of 2005 and would be extremely grateful of all the information you can offer me.
Some of my initial questions:
How far can I get without knowing Spanish? I'll probably learn the very very basic words, but besides those, will be relying on a mexican/spanish phrase book!
Do many people in Mexico understand/speak English?
How safe is it for travellers to go around Mexico by themselves?
What's the chances of me meeting some friends along the way?
Where are the must go area's and what are the biggest, most common tourist spots?
How expensive are my plans to travel around Mexico!?
Finally, does anyone know any English written newspapers in Mexico?
Thank you very very very much for your time! Please please please help!
Welcome to TP. I'll start the ball rolling by answering as many of your questions as I can, which sadly aren't very many.
How well you get along in Mexico without knowing English, in my experience, depends greatly on where in Mexico you are going. For example, in the border towns like TJ, Nogales, and Jaurez a lot of people speak enough English to communicate with the thousands from America who go to those towns every week. Likewise in tourist heavy places like Cancun you'll tend to find a lot of English speaking people who make their living in the tourism industry as well.
Once you get into the "heart" of Mexico, by that I mean not close to the US border and not close to a popular beach, you'll find less English speaking people, and those that speak it will be a bit out of practice with it.
I personally have had trouble on a couple occasions in Mexico, my Spanish is limited at best which obviously works against me, but I have had a lot of con men try to work me out of money here and there in border towns, and had a run in with the Mexican police on one occasion. I'm not exactly sure why they singled me out, but it cost me $30 to get out of whatever trouble I was in.
You will find that the cost of being in Mexico varies greatly also by the area you are in. Tourist areas are more expensive than anywhere else and smaller, inland towns can be insanely cheap. Border towns tend to be cheap as well, but they have a much more seedy side than places I've been which were a bit farther across the border....
That's all I can think of right now, hope it helped at least a little.
Thanks mate. very helpful. Are there not many members on these forums? Or will my questions eventually get seen to? Do you know other places like this where I can find help also?
Do you know any publications which are worth me reading about Mexican history so I have a better understanding of the country I'll be visiting?
Also, any books about which places I should go to?
Are the 'mexico travel guide 2004' books going to be okay and fairly accurate for travelling in 2005?
Again, thank's alot.
I travelled through parts of Mexico a few years back, from Mexico City up to Texas. I felt I missed out greatly on not being able to speak Spanish (just the basics). I don't know what I expected but remember being surprised about that people in general do not understand or speak English. I found Mexicans to be very friendly, and on many occasions people came up to me and started to talk and I didn't understand what they were saying, which left me feeling a bit frustrated on some occasions
As I said I never went further south than the capital, but would definitely like to explore areas in Chiapas if I went back again. A friend of mine really liked Oaxaca, I suggest you search the web and I also find the rough guide being a good sorce as any for general info .
I liked it better in the south and thought Mexico lost it's charm the further up north I got; I found people to be more rude and not as nice and friendly as further south.
Mexico has a really good network of buses, so found it easy to travel by bus between places, but remember that it's huge though so for a better experience try to limit yourself a bit.
Read Gwen Maka's 'South of the border', she cycled through Mexico (from Mexicali) and all the way down to Costa Rica, don't know how much of a 'help' her book will be but it's very interesting entertaining reading.
It's a must to see at least one of the many Maya or Aztec monuments/cities. I went to see Teotihuacan outside Mexico City, it was amazing!
Well that's all I can think of now. Have a great trip!
Though some of this may seem pretty seem pretty obvious. I'll make a few comments then refer you to a few pages where you can find the answers to your questions on your own.
Spanish is the official language of the country thought there are hundreds spoken there. So naturally you have to consider that the possiblities of your finding someone who speaks english will be about as likely as you'll find people who speak spanish in the US. They're there but don't pull the arrogant Yank attitude expecting them to speak your language when YOU are the visitor in THEIR country.
As in the US there are good people and not-so-good ones. Mexicans are the same.
Finding friends really depends on you. Are you a fun guy to hand out with... There are loads of travellers and locals that as are you will be looking to share their experiences too. Be open and cool, you are as likely to run into other like-minded poeple there are you are at home. Ask yourself honestly if you've got an attitude that you'd like to be around.
As for Money. You can spend a fortune or as little as a few bucks a day. I tell my clients to expect to spend approx 15-25 US a day if their careful.
The rest of the info you can get at Liahonaquest.com and follow out the suggested links.
Ryan L. Palmer
Speaking of arrogant yank attitude...
I found the Mexicans to be so much more friendly when they found out I was Scandinavian/living in UK.
But at the end of the day I think it all comes down to personality, not nationality.
PS. I'm not a Yank. I'm a charming English gentleman.
i spent some time in the sonoran desert(arizona/mexico border) and would definatily reccomend visiting if you go that far north. caution though, it will be hot! also, i found knowing the little bit of spanish i do know helped out a lot. i think that for the most part they appreciate your attempts at the language and culture.
ill memorise the main phrases and words and carry a phrase book around and point to words in it to people in desperate times. is that kind enough of me? hehe
Speaking a language is one thing-Spanish verbs are regular and easy to learn, pronunciation is fairly easy as well.
However it's your listening skills that will be tested to the maximum.
I suggest a quality dictionary to ease your passage through Mexico-it can be very handy.
I've travelled/lived in various places throughout Mexico for the past 2 decades and could go on and on but suffice it to say you'll be on the well worn 'Tourist Track'-there really is nowhere else for you to go is there?