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North America : Mexico
For the Mexican State of Mexico, see Mexico (state) disambiguation
Mexico is a country in North America, lying between the United States of America to the north, Belize to the southeast and Guatemala to the southwest, it has both a Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico coast to the east and a North Pacific Ocean coast to the west.
See also: List of Mexican states
Mexico has many cities; these are some of the most travelled.
Some information in this section has been adapted from a CIA World Factbook 2002 import.
The site of advanced Amerindian civilizations, Mexico came under Spanish rule for three centuries before achieving independence early in the 19th century. A devaluation of the peso in late 1994 threw Mexico into economic turmoil, triggering the worst recession in over half a century. The nation continues to make an impressive recovery. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) was sworn in on 1 December 2000 as the first chief executive elected in free and fair elections.
From the United States
Keep your visa documents when leaving the United States of America
Travelling in Mexico is most practical by bus, car, or air. Passenger transport by train is almost nonexistent.
Due to a government scheme in the early 90's to create infrastructure, the best roads are toll roads. Toll roads can be relatively costly, 400-800 pesos is not uncommon on longer trips, but are much faster and better maintained. Buses generally travel by toll roads (and the toll is obviously included in the ticket price).
If travelling by bus, be sure to take the express buses, if available (they are called directo). Other buses often stop at many smaller stations along the way, making the trip a lot longer. If you have experience with Greyhound buses in the US, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Book direct travel within Mexico on ejecutivo buses departing in the evening. You'll be able to sleep on luxury buses with as few as 18 seats. Some even have complimentary beer. With the advent of NAFTA, some bus companies are now offering service from US cities.
For a useful website for first class schedules and prices largely in southern Mexico, see http://www.ticketbus.com.mx.
Hitchhiking possibilities vary according to region. Mexican culture is often accepting of hitchhiking and it's a common practice among Mexican youngsters going to the beach in Easter vacations, though in some cases a money contribution is expected for gas because of its relatively high prices. You should make it clear that you have no money to offer before accepting the ride, if this is the case. Hitchhiking is considered fairly safe and easy in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Over Tenosique, La Palma, by boat on the river Rio San Pedro to Naranja (Guatemala). This route is not used by many and still has a touch of adventure. Stay firm when negotiating over the price. Absolutely important! Make sure you get your passport stamped before you leave Naranja or you might catch one of the rare buses back and take a walk through the jungle as the emigrations office is part up the river between the Mexican border and the village.
Spanish is the main language. You can get by with English in most major cities or tourist destinations, but much of the country is monolingual.
Mexican Spanish is slightly different from both the Castilian Spanish spoken in most of Spain and the Spanish spoken in South American countries. All three are mutually intelligible -- it's about the same as the differences in English spoken in various countries -- but you can expect some funny looks if you speak only Castilian. Mexican Spanish is the variant most often taught in the United States of America, so if you learned Spanish there, you should be OK.
In some regions, the native language like Mayan or Nahuatl is still widely spoken.
See also: Spanish phrasebook
Beware that the symbol used for pesos is the same as for US dollars. That is, if you see a sign reading $20, it means 20 pesos (about 2 dollars). Prices in dollars (in tourist areas) are labelled US$2.
Traditional Mexican food can often be very spicy; if you are not used to peppers, always ask if your food includes it. (¿Esto tiene pimientas?).
There are also several Mexican beers, several of which are available outside Mexico, these include:
In some places you will find beer served as a prepared drink called michelada. The formula varies depending on the place, but it's usually beer mixed with lemon juice, Clamato cocktail, soybean sauce, salt and a little bit of hot sauce.
Native English speakers can pick up work, as always, as English teachers. This may require a work visa, which is difficult to get if you just want to freelance for a short time, so you might have to work illegally. The upside is that English speakers with no knowledge of Spanish are sought after, because they will force their students to practice English.
When in major cities - especially Mexico City, play it safe with taxis. Never pick up a cab in the street unless the locals have told you otherwise...always request that your hotel or restaurant call a taxi for you.
Carry money in multiple locations, especially when driving a car. As in any city, do not wave cash or cr cards around - use them discretely & replace as quickly as possible.
Drinking the water out of the tap is generally a bad idea, but some areas are okay. Check with locals.
Phone country code : 52
You can call from public phones using prepaid tel. cards tarjetas ladatel, bought at magazine stalls. Beware these are different than tarjetas amigo, viva, or unefon: they are for cellphones.
Some areas have only a few internet cafes; in others, they are plentiful. Common fees vary from 8 pesos/hour to 15 pesos/hour.
TIJ -Aeropuerto Internacional de Tijuana (Tijuana International Airport) http://www.tijmx.com