Five months in Mexico passed and I’d like to share a personal flashback to my first two days in the country, my expectations and the reality.
Coming to Mexico I spent my first night at the airport in Cancun. I had my flight from there to Guadalajara the next morning although there was one about 2h after my arrival I could have easily taken.
My thought when I booked my flight for the next morning: “I’ll for sure need some time to enter the country and to get my baggage. I won’t make it to the flight 2h after arrival – I mean, it’s Mexico. Nothing works quickly there. And in case I’m faster, I can still ask them to switch my flight or sleep in a hotel close to the airport.”
Well… My flight arrived early, the immigration took me about 2min (thanks, Austrian passport), the baggage was there faster than ever and I was done after about 20min.
FIRST THING I LEARNED:
Actually not EVERYTHING works slowly in Mexico.
The next 2 flights to Guadalajara (yeah, I had 2 options then) were both booked out and so was the only hotel close to the airport. So my only option was to go to the city by taxi (about 30€ one direction), sleep 5h and come back. Having in mind you shouldn’t take taxis in Mexico (which is actually not that generalizable I later learned), I decided to stay on the airport. My first night in Mexico I spent lonely and freezing in the only restaurant that was opened 24h on the airport in Cancun.
The next morning I finally got my flight to Guadalajara where my landlord and future friend Andre picked me up at the airport.
We passed Tlaquepaque, where Andre ordered juice out of the car at the corner of an open building that seemed like a normal family house. Then he picked up something in another house, returned to the corner, got us the juices and payed – again, out of the car. I was so confused, it took me a while to realize that this “family house” was actually a proper shop selling meat and juice. Later I learned that many “shops” in Mexico looked like this.
We drove through the city of Guadalajara – that seemed big but not really nice – to my future home. The house I lived in was in a community guarded by securities and even for European standards it was extremely beautiful! I’d be happy if I could afford such a “villa” one day back home!
You might think now “well, living luxurious is just so much cheaper in Mexico”. That might be true for the costs of living but I learned that brand products like clothes, cars or phones are sometimes actually even more expensive than in Europe.
SECOND THING I LEARNED:
The gap between poor and rich is stricing in Mexico.
The next day I went for breakfast with an old friend I knew from back home. He picked me up and we went to the center where we parked in a “parking lot” that looked more like a construction site.
THIRD THING I LEARNED:
Things a lot more basic in Mexico (not to say: most buildings are quite shabby). But if you learn to appreciate that, you’ll love it. Later I would miss the streetfood stands and simplicity I lived with for 5 months.
After the breakfast he had to leave and as we were already in the center, I wanted to have a look at it. I asked my friend “Is it safe to walk here?”.
Internationally Mexico is perceived very insecure. Whenever talking to people about my stay here they would say things like “Take good care!” and “Be safe!”. Therefore in the beginning I completely overestimated the issue and first had to get used to how it actually is.
FOURTH THING I LEARNED:
You’re actually way safer than you would think. But because this is such a big topic, I wrote a complete post about security in Mexico.
I arrived in the center and searched for a tour I could take. There’s basically only one company doing bustours through the city. It’s called “Tapatio tours” and everything is in Spanish. Yes, even in the tourism sector you’ll have a hard time finding English offers in Guadalajara. Some free walking tours are offered in English as well though.
Even at the airport it’s really hard to find someone who speaks English and all the announcements are in Spanish so if you plan to come here, at least learn some basic expressions before!
FIFTH THING I LEARNED:
You’ll have a hard time without knowing any Spanish. But it’s the best country to learn the language.
You can already imagine from that: Guadalajara doesn’t receive a lot of international tourism. I personally enjoyed that a lot because you still find many very authentic spots!