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Impressions of Mexico
Christopher Codrington

There are as many opinions of Mexico as there are visitors and residents. To some it is home, to some it is a mysterious paradise; still others just plain don't like it. Having lived here for just about 6 months I can tell you that there is a lot more than meets the eye.

The most striking impression of Mexico I have developed is an enduring love for the people here. In short, they are the most warm, friendly, family-oriented culture I have ever had the pleasure to live among. It is not uncommon for the poorest of families here to share their last little bit of food with a stranger in need. They do this with a smile and a welcome that you feel to the soul. Not every person here is that way, I don't know of a place that doesn't have a few bad apples, but overall the people here are the warmest, kindest people I've met. They have an enduring love for family old and young and a lot of respect for their fellow man.

My roommate is a Mexican national, and I have been given a unique perspective on people here. Any time a friend or acquaintance stops by he immediately offers them food and drinks and gives a kind, sincere, warm welcome. Routinely guests will stay late into the evening, enjoying a kind of hospitality that you just don't see too much anymore in the US and Canada. There are wonderfully hospitable folks in both places, but sometimes it can be the exception instead of the rule.

Here I have experienced that spirit of hospitality on many occasions, including New Year's Eve night when a cabbie took me back to his neighborhood where I was given all the food and drink I could handle and welcomed like a member of the familia.

Another thing I have noticed is that the people here have an incredible work ethic. One thing to keep in mind is that the average wages for a person in Mexico are very much lower than in the US and Canada, sometimes as little as 50 pesos for a full day's work. Most of the construction work you see is being done by hand, pickaxes in place of jackhammers, etc. Many of the workers in restaurants depend solely on tips for their income and in most cases work at least 6 days a week (something to keep in mind when it's time for a tip) Basically I can say that anyone who thinks Mexicans are lazy is more than welcome to come down here and work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for 50 cents an hour. In the US people would be on welfare a long time before they'd do that...who's lazy?

Generally speaking, to me Mexico is a paradise, a place where the senses and the soul can be cradled, healed, awakened, and sometimes shocked. It is the kind of place that, unless you spend a lifetime here, you'll never know completely. The people, however, can go from stranger to lifelong friend in minutes, and they can be the kind of friends that you will never forget.

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