Living with them taught me a few things about their culture. And I’m talking about real things- not just the fact they don’t ride donkeys down the street, that they have their own Mexican Spanish and that they eat tacos.
*Just keep note, I got to know maybe about 50 Mexicans, out of Mexico’s 122.3 million population, and out of those, lived with only three of them, so I’m not an expert.
However, I found these 7 little facts make them who they are:
1. Extremely generous.
This is one thing that I’m glad I learnt. First let me describe what I mean by generous. Throughout the semester our house turned into the local hangout. People would often be over, just to chill -at all times of the day. Eventually we had to eat, so we would cook what we had and offer it to whoever was there. It was nice, where there’s food, there’s happiness. By the end of it, it did happen quite frequently and offering food did put a strain on our refrigerator. However, people noticed and soon the favours were returned and people shared their food with us, invited us to their house or came over with something.
2. They need flavour.
I’m actually not sure if i’m happy that I adopted this trait as well because now I need to add salsas to everything. By flavour, i’m referring to spice, chile, lemon, sauce, salt, pepper, herbs.. you get the picture. Lucky for me I often had a meal already prepared for me straight from their Mexican hands. It was full of flavour: there would be some type of chile mixed into the recipe, a good amount of salt and a salsa of some sort. It was tasty. Yet when we’re all sitting and ready to the eat, there’s three more types of sauce bottles sitting in the middle of the table, additional salt to add and a bowl of lemons ready to squeeze -as if there was a need for more flavour. But that’s exactly what they added – more flavour, so every bite was literally overflowing with zest. This is great, but if it comes to something a little plainer, they may not enjoy or appreciate it as much. However, I must admit Mexican cuisine is delicious!
3. Family first, work later.
This sounds great, and it is, but there’s a little more to it. By “work later” I literally mean, work once they’ve finished studying. I feel that university students in Australia are almost expected to work alongside their university course, but it wasn’t quite the same for my Mexican friends. Most of them focused solely on their university degree. Working as a student in Australia, gave me the opportunity to travel and do more things, but it also took away the time we could dedicate to our family and our studies. On the other hand, I found the Mexicans focused more on their studies, on having a good time and spending time at home.
4. Enjoy a good party.
So like i’ve just explained, they prioritise family and friend time over work. This also includes a good party. Good food, good drinks, good company. We always had some type of event or party to attend each week, usually more than twice a week.
5. Proud of who they are.
There’s certain things that unite them. Actually these aspects probably fit in with the stereotypes of Mexico. Think about the mariachis that sing in the streets, the cactus that grow in the hot countryside and the taco stalls on every corner. Now if we apply it to who they are, many of the Mexican friends I made were able to sing a handful of Mexican traditional songs (not just mariachi, but some Juan Gabriel, some banda, Maná, Molotov… quite a few varieties). When the Mexicans lived in the colder temperatures of Conce, they greater appreciated their hot sun (more so those, that came from the north.) And whenever we strolled through the supermarkets for our weekly shop, they struggled to find the chile’s they’re used to buying, the salsas they’re used to seeing on the shelves and the flavour they’re used to adding to their food, which probably made the love for their Mexican food so much stronger.
6. They’re not just about sombreros and burros, but they do own cowboy boots.
Just had to add this one in. Not completely true, and like all places it is more common depending where you live and where the need for them arises. However, it made me smile when my friends proudly took out their cowboy boots they had stashed away in their cupboard. Imagine something like the boots pictured on the right, just minus the extended toes of the boot.
7. Last of all, they look out for each other.
This is pretty much a culmination of all the above points. They’re willing to feed anyone that’s in their company, they’re happy to spend time with their friends and family and at the end of the day they’ll be there for you when you need them.