I've posted enough pictures of ancient ruins to be able to jump over stating some of the obvious differences between Mexico and the USA. So what are some of the not so obvious idiosyncrasies between these two countries?
1. People in Mexico love snacks. Perhaps it draws on the street food culture in many of the towns here, but there are always vendors selling all sorts of snacks from bicycle powered carts and woven baskets.
2. It's very rare that you will see a person exercising in public. There are certainly professional athletes (I've seen road and mt. bikers in every town we've stayed), but the average soul out for a jog? It just doesn't really happen.
3. The dress code is much more traditional than I'd imagined it would be. Sure, you'll still see ladies walking around in backless tunics with their bras exposed in Tulum, but that's an exception. Most other places in this country women wearing anything that hits above the knees is a rare site.
4. The food isn't spicy. You can always add picante to everything, but the food that arrives on your plate will very rarely have any heat. There is a difference between spice and flavor - el sabor de comida is typically unique and insanely delicious.
5. It is loud here. The cars are loud, the collectivo (shared public transit vans) drivers are always yelling out the window at people on the street. The gas truck, the water truck, they play music at top volume as they drive slowly through town. The birds in our garden are loud! Every time I'm on a call for work, my co-workers comment on how they can hear the birds very clearly. There's always a dog barking somewhere. There are fireworks going off 80% of the time. People never stop talking. The vendors are always approaching people and to sell their goods. And there is something comforting about that noise. Now quiet has become a strange sound.
The first time I went back to the States for a visit I noticed two things:
1. Everything seemed very bright. Isn't that weird? I don't know how else to describe it.
2. Everything seemed incredibly orderly. Traffic obeyed the signals, people stayed in their lanes. The streets were clean. The buildings were built to code. We were living within a grid, there were social rules that were subdued and assumed.
In Mexico, it's chaotic. Taxis weave all over the place. No car stays in their lane. At a restaurant, the waiter will never ask if you want your check (I love this). You'll need to say "la cuenta" or you will sit forever. Children will try to sell you gum, and, scarfs, and cigarettes. There is so much beauty. Gosh, I feel like the luckiest person to have the opportunity to spend time getting to know Mexico.