Traveling through the Yucatan peninsula there are certain customs, details and ways that are likely to surprise you. Every culture and region has details that attract your attention, as a foreigner I assure you that it is an endless journey to live integrated in another culture. We love that 😊

When you travel through the Yucatan Peninsula, several things may surprise you, either as a foreigner or if you come from another part of the country. The Peninsula is a world apart in certain customs, a Mexican stamp with deep Mayan roots. Here are some of those lived in your own skin as a stranger to the customs of this land.

Polyuc, Mayan artisans, Quintana Roo

12 CURIOSITIES THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU WHEN TRAVELING THROUGH THE YUCATAN PENINSULA

I was born in Barcelona and came to these directions in 2007. This is the list of several of the curiosities that have surprised us and other friends who come here on a trip. I have collected them in a list that I am adding as I remember. Traveling is excellent to join with other cultures, even to the point of making your own dance.

We have adapted to several of them, and that at first they surprised us.

1- THEY CHANGE YOUR NAME THE SECOND YOU KNOW

"Hi, I'm Sandra" "Hi Sandrita, how are you doing?" they instantly change it to you, and it's something that surprised me a lot. The issue is that even in formal situations such as a visit to the doctor, the doctor changes your name at once, now I'm more than used to it, and I like it: in Mexico I'm often Sandrita 😊

2- THE UMBRELLA IS NOT USED FOR THE RAIN

Most of the times you see someone with an open umbrella, they will be protecting themselves from the sun. The rains are so strong and concentrated that the solution is to take shelter somewhere and let the downpour pass. Sure we take out the umbrella for the rain sometimes, but it's almost always for the sun. A typical image of these lands are women walking under an umbrella in full sun.

3- GIFTS, LICENSES AND ENGINEERS

If you are a university student, you may be known as the graduate. Terms such as graduate, engineer, ladies, gift or employer are used regularly. University students are called graduates. But if you are an engineer, instead of a degree they call you an engineer.

The gift and doña are also used, many times out of respect, but also cataloging people according to their economic position. Differentiating parameters are still used for those who study and those who do not study, between those who have and those who have not.

4- THE RAPIDITY WITH WHICH THEY REMOVE YOUR DISH AT RESTAURANTS

Sometimes you are in a restaurant eating the last bite and the waiter asks your permission to remove the plate; and you, with your mouth full and your eyes bulging, can't manage to articulate a gesture. We have discussed this nonsense with many friends, we are all surprised by this detail.

I don't know where this rush comes from, and more so with the generalized pause that we live here. I'm not even sure if the locals have the same perception, I never talked about it with any friend here.

5- PUT THE VOLUME TO EVERYTHING YOU GIVE

Whether in a supermarket, the gas station or the shoe store. Personally, the volume so high is something that surprises me a lot, since the Mayan population is of calm appearance and habit. Stores and businesses use music as a claim for your attention, they place speakers in the middle of the street to everything they give. What surprises me is that passersby do not flinch when they pass in front of the loudspeaker, they do not even change the sidewalk. It seems that the higher the volume, the better.

In canteens or dens (bars) sometimes it's impossible to listen to the waiter (waiter), they like the high volume. I am going to give you a tip that you will thank me: if you are in a town and are parties, do not stay in a hotel near the plaza where they celebrate the party, it is very likely that the volume of the mobile disk will not let you sleep all night.

6- THEY DON'T KNOW DO NOT WITH A QUESTION

Before giving you a NO, they invent the answer: they will give you an address even if they don't know it to avoid telling you that they don't know. It is something cultural. And how to deal with this situation? Over time you learn to know if they invent it or know it. If you see that they only smile or nod at you, they did not understand you, even if they answer "over there."

It is difficult for Mexicans in general to say no, it is like a rude way of answering, and for me it is a mess. In small towns, it is likely that they will not answer you because it is difficult for them to understand you, they will only smile at you. A curious note: surprisingly you arrive in the state of Campeche and there they say without problem, "I don't know." Did you also notice this difference?

7- FORGET TO TAME YOUR HAIR

Hair becomes untamed, so don't fight too much or bring your best methods to combat the change because this humidity will make you desperate, especially if you have curly hair.

We write it down because there have been many friends who have told me about this hair detail.

8- WHEN YOU SWEAT, WE GET COLD HERE

You will arrive at your hotel and with a heat of 28 degrees and you will see a blanket on your bed to cover you. The months from December to March here we suffer looooong cold, we dropped below 25 degrees and we bundled up, so don't be surprised to see the locals wearing a coat, hat and high collar if necessary.

Ah, in the months of December to March we live days of freezing, where temperatures drop below the 12, you're warned.

9- UNDAY IS A FACT

Some do not even appear when they remain. Here two things are mixed: between the fact that they do not know how to say no and are very late, there are times that they do not appear, and they do not warn. Informalism sometimes despairs, because the right now never comes. In fact "right now" does not really mean that they will do it now, in a while and we'll see.

Obviously, when it comes to tourist services, it is something else, there is a professionalism within the tourism area that speaks highly of the Peninsula.

10- YOU WILL FIND TRADES AND BRANDS YOU HAD FORGOTTEN

Like shoeshine professions, seeing street vendors of bread, ice cream or whatever it takes. And brands that years ago were obsolete in your locality of origin. For example, Spaniards see an orange Mirinda again and there is not one who does not buy it. The old thing stays in the retina of memory.

mirinda_refresco
Orange Mirinda, a classic in Spain that disappeared

11 DRINKING SUNDAY

More than the Lord. As I mentioned, the Mayans are of calm appearance and habit, they are kind and respectful with the foreigner, of humble and polite treatment. If you travel through towns on a Sunday you will see that it is much easier to talk to men, alcohol gives them an extra push and they look for you to talk. Sunday is drunk, and unfortunately alcoholism among the Mayan population is an Achilles heel.

My advice is that you respond like them when they don't understand: smile politely and go your way, don't get into trouble, putting up with a drunkard is a waste of time. As an anecdote, I always remember volunteering in the town of Sabacché, where we arrived on Monday and a large group of local men began to speak to us on Sunday.

12 EL YUCATERCO WITHOUT DOUBT IT IS A REALITY

The Yucatecans have a reputation for stubbornness, something that I attribute to how extremely traditional they are. I have rarely known such a society of customs: they feel good about what they know, and they repeat and repeat. If you change a letter they don't like it, that leads to funny situations.

Do not argue against a wall, you will come out bounced, look for it yourself, they do not leave their traditional vision: if it was always like that, it is. That's why we call the Yucatecans yucatercos.

13- BATHROOMS FOR TWO

A surprise on the way. It is known of the services of men with urinals in a row, what I had not seen are toilets for girls with cups in line. Even knowing that many women go to the bathroom together, I don't think we have that idea in mind: the offer is interesting, but it's not my thing. There are not many services that you find like this, but in local environments you will see it.

Not all the surprises that you will see on your way, much less hopefully expand those little details with you. Write a comment of what you are surprised traveling through the Yucatan Peninsula, sure we agree on several things. The cultures and customs we must respect them, the awareness of them is a way to get out of our own and recognize ourselves.

Good way,

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Sandra Salvadó Training photographer, traveler by vocation and certified tourism guide by the Government of Mexico. We promote natural wonders and contemporary Mayan culture. Great fan of pre-Hispanic history. Author of the blog and co-founder of The Shortest Path Travel, agency that guides you through alternative paths in Mayan lands. Social and sustainable tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas.
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