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Trump | © tiburi / Pixabay
Trump | © tiburi / Pixabay
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11 Things Tourists Should Never Say in Mexico City

Picture of Lauren Cocking
Northern England Writer
Updated: 21 May 2018
Mexico City is one of the coolest travel destinations of the moment, with more and more people being drawn in by its comparatively low prices, fascinating cultural history and fairly temperate year-round weather. However, there are plenty of things a tourist in Mexico City should never say if they want to avoid rubbing people up the wrong way. Here are just 11 of the main offenders.

“I’ll have a Tecate, please.”

Tecate is a brand of beer mainly favoured in the north of the country, where residents will claim it tastes better than the weak and watery mess you get served when ordering a Tecate elsewhere. We don’t know how this is true, but apparently, it is. Anyway, if you’re in Mexico City, avoid ordering a Tecate and go for one of Mexico’s better national beers, such as Victoria or León. Heck, even a Corona would be better than Tecate. Sol remains firmly in last position though.

“Le voy al América.” (I support Club América [a Mexican football team].)

One of Mexico’s most hated sports teams, Club América is the team everyone loves to hate – except the people who just love to love it. Even some of their associated slogans play into this national hatred of them – for example, odiáme más (hate me more). Even so, we advise steering clear of telling anyone that this is your favourite Mexican football team when you’re in Mexico City, the home of Club América.

“I’m American.”

This phrase is a common mistake, due to the confusing translation from English to Spanish. While saying you’re American in English is generally understood to mean you’re from the USA, as opposed to elsewhere in either North, Central or South America, in Spanish, the word americano refers to anyone from the continent. Therefore, it’s an easy mistake for non-Spanish speakers to make and one that could spark a bit of outrage from the people around you if you’re not careful. Just say you’re from the US instead, which is more in line with the Spanish estadounidense anyway.

America is not just the US!
America is not just the US! | AmberAvalona/Pixabay

“I love South America!”

Another common error is assuming that Mexico is part of South America, when in fact it is entirely North American. In case you’re not sure of the difference, just remember that Canada, the US and Mexico are in the North; Belize and Guatemala right down to Panama are generally considered Central; Colombia down to Patagonia is South America. The term you’re probably looking for is Latin America, which encapsulates all Romance language-speaking countries in that region of the world, including in the Caribbean.

“Una quesadilla sin queso, por favor.” (A cheeseless quesadilla, please.)

Mexico City is unique and bizarre in its steadfast claim that quesadillas do not carry cheese as standard, despite everywhere else in the country and the world proving this somewhat incorrect. Either way, when in the Mexican capital, remember to always ask for cheese, unless you want a soggy excuse for a taco parading as a quesadilla for lunch. Honestly though? You shouldn’t really want to eat a quesadilla without cheese in the first place.

“I love burritos!”

Saying this in Mexico is going to provoke some astounded reactions from the locals, unless you’re in a northern state where burritos are actually akin to the foodstuff you’re thinking of. Why? Well, burritos are more of a Tex-Mex dish than a Mexican dish. If a meal is heavy on beef, yellow cheese, cumin and jalapeño, then the chances are it’s Tex-Mex, so be careful what you order when in Mexico City and make sure you know where your cuisine allegiances lie.

This is what people in Mexico think of when you say ‘burrito’
This is what people in Mexico think of when you say ‘burrito’ | wokandapix/Pixabay

“Do you speak Mexican?”

This question speaks volumes about the amount of research you’ve done for your trip and, at the very least, shows how much attention you paid in high school. The main language of Mexico (amongst some 60 other indigenous languages and a high level of English in most tourist destinations) is Spanish. The dialect is Mexican Spanish, but the language is most definitely not Mexican.

“I don’t have change.”

Loose change and small notes are true commodities in Mexico, where much of the economy is informal, and stall holders are unlikely to have much cash on them at any one time. Therefore, the best thing you can do when you receive coins is to horde them for your next taco stop, bus ride or metro journey, because there’s nothing worse than trying to pay for a 12 peso tamale with a 500 peso note.

Loose change is crucial in Mexico
Loose change is crucial in Mexico | Artoprop/Pixabay

“Vosotros.”

This word is an example of where the Mexican variation of Spanish differs from the Peninsular castellano one, as people don’t use vosotros (the third person plural form of the verb, aka you plural) in Mexico. Instead, to refer to more than one person at once, Mexican Spanish uses ustedes, the polite form of the verb, otherwise known as the second person plural (they); this goes some way to explaining why Mexican Spanish has such a reputation in Spain for sounding overly courteous.

“Coger.”

In Spain, coger is a harmless, useful and common verb applied to many things in everyday speech, such as ‘catching a bus’. However, in Mexico, coger means ‘to f*ck’, rather than ‘to catch’. Just avoid saying you want ‘to f*ck a bus’ in Mexico and stick to the verb agarrar instead.

“I voted for Trump.”

This one speaks for itself, right?